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Zoe and Her Zebra (Barefoot Beginner) Hardcover – September, 1999

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

PreSchool-K-A visually tactile phantasmagoria. Rendered in "felt with braid, buttons, beads and assorted bric-a-brac," the illustrations beg to be touched. Each page features a letter of the alphabet written in upper and lowercase, with a child being pursued by an animal. Both of their names begin with that letter, e.g., "Ss is for Sita-but who is chasing her?" as a blue-and-green snake slithers behind her. The youngsters suggest a wide variety of ethnicities as do many of their names such as Farooq, Gopinder, Hamadi, Pedro, and Takeshi. Some preschoolers may be frightened by all this chasing and few are likely to know animals such as jackal, umbrella bird, or xoona moth. Nevertheless, most will enjoy the guessing and devour the visuals, and the key on the last three pages will clear up any confusion. This companion book to Beaton's One Moose, Twenty Mice (Barefoot, 1999) is an obvious choice for read-alouds and a fine addition that may even inspire youngsters to create their own felt art.
Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Beaton's ingenious felt creations transform the standard alphabet book format into an exotic blend of colors, creatures, and children's names. Every letter, shown in uppercase and lowercase, appears in a child's name and is also the beginning of the name of the creature chasing him or her: ``Cc is for Carlabut who is chasing her?'' A cat is shown, but left for children to name; the refrain is repeated for all 26 letters. Setting the volume apart, in addition to the boldly colored, multi-textured illustrations, is Beaton's selection of names and animals. Ben and Luke play alongside Farooq, Gopinder, Sita, and Takeshi; next to the usual cat and fox are a quail, a xoona moth, an umbrella bird, and others, all named in the back. The only discord comes in the facial expressions of the children, who are often glum, apprehensive, or dismayed. However, the combination of vivid hues, curious creatures, and repetitive text make for an exhilarating foray into the world of ABCs for preschoolers. (Picture book. 2-6) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 470L (What's this?)
  • Series: Barefoot Beginner
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Barefoot Books (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902283759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902283753
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 10 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,484,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 18, 2002
Format: Board book
Without question, Clare Beaton's appliqué illustrations are gorgeous, and it's great that the text emphasizes diversity, but stick to her other books, like _How Big Is a Pig?_ or _One Moose, Twenty Mice,_ which are excellent and in the same visual style as _Zoe and Her Zebra._ This book is likely to frighten younger kids, with its depictions of frightened- and unhappy-looking children being chased by snarling animals.
I don't understand what Beaton and Barefoot Books were thinking with this book; what exactly is the point of using scary pictures to introduce the alphabet?? No doubt some people will point to Grimm's fairy tales and the like, to demonstrate that fear has a place in children's literature (which is absolutely true, it does have its place), but it's a poor rationale in this instance. First of all, most of the Grimm's fairy tales aren't intended for as young an audience as this book, and secondly, the Grimm's tales are *stories,* with plots and morals and some context for the scary parts, whereas this book has none of those things. The element of fear here is gratuitous; the author could just as easily have used non-threatening language and images without changing the substance of this book.
The fabulous illustrations are the only real redeeming factor with this book, and that bumps it up from a 1 star rating to a 3 star rating, in my opinion, but overall I would not recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My three year old loves this book -- we first saw it at a play space we go to frequently. Every time we go there, she sits and has me read it to her and then 'reads' it to me.
I saw some other reviewers talked about it being scary -- I can see that since it has animals chasing kids, but it hasn't ever phased my daughter, so don't let it scare you away, if your kids aren't easily scared.

The names used in the book for the kids are a great variety of unusual names which I also think is great.

And I appreciate that some of the animals are unusual too, like xoona moth and umbrella bird. I like for my daughter to learn new words when we read, so I'm glad that it's not exactly the same as every other alphabet book on the market.

Clare Beaton's illustrations are wonderful with the felt and beadwork -- this is yet another of hers that's a must have for us.
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Format: Board book
I'm a huge fan of books illustrated by Clare Beaton. The felt images are colorful and imaginative. In fact, I'd even consider buying an original to hang in my home if I could find one.

Zoe and Her Zebra is as good as Clare Beaton's best work. Each alphabet letter is gorgeously illustrated with a child whose name begins with that letter, being chased by an animal who also begins with that letter. For example, Ben is being chased by a Bear.

I also appreciated Beaton's efforts to make the cast of children multiracial and international. Alice and Ben are accompanied by Hamadi and Naiser, Olga and Pedro.

I have only two complaints. First, most of the children are also carrying an object which does NOT begin with the relevant letter. Why is Ben carrying a yo-yo instead of a ball? It seems like a missed opportunity to reinforce the letters.

Finally, and more importantly, almost all of the pictures are of scary situations, and the children are mostly frowning or sad. Poor Luke's hair is being parted by a Leopard's claw. And Pedro has a Porcupine quill stuck in his foot. It's only when we reach Z that things are happy, and Zoe is chasing the Zebra rather than the reverse.

Overall I love the book (and so does my 15-month old son), despite the somewhat grim context.
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By A Customer on May 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you haven't seen Clare Beaton's illustrations yet, you are missing out on a real treat. Beaton's illustrations are unique. She uses felt, buttons, beads and bric-a-brac, creating truly colorful and eye-catching pictures that toddlers will enjoy.
Each letter of the alphabet has its own page, for the most part with an animal "chasing" a child, ranging from "Carla" being chased by a cat to "Wendy" being chased by a wolf. The wolf looks rather ferocious so I imagine some children might find a few of the illustrations frightening. (Then again Grimm's very grim fairy tales have been told to children for centuries...)
To be truthful, the title of the book is what first caught my eye--my daughters name is Zoe... Because there are probably other people out there who would like to find a book with their child's name in it, here is the list of names used: Alice, Ben, Carla, Dylan, Erin, Farooq, Gopinder, Hamadi, India, Jacob, Kylie, Luke, Martha, Naiser, Olga, Pedro, Queenie, Reuben, Sita, Takeshi, Ursula, Victor, Wendy, Xavier, Yoko, and Zoe. As you can see from the list, the book is somewhat multi-cultural, an added bonus.
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