Featured ā†’ Picture Books

Little Polyglot Adventures (Vol. 2): A Wild Day at the Zoo

By

Loved it! šŸ˜

A fun, cheerful account of a day spent at the zoo, involving multicultural families, animals and a chicken: what could go wrong?

Victor Santosā€™Ā A Wild Day at the ZooĀ is the sequel ofĀ Dylan's Birthday Present, both from theĀ Little Polyglot Adventuresseries. What happens when a multicultural family goes to a zoo similarly inhabited by different species of animals from several parts of the world? What could go wrong? This book provides an answer to this question with a pinch of humour and a good mixture of fun and didacticism.


The most striking feature about this book is definitely its layout: the text is framed by gorgeous full-page, colourful illustrations, drawn by an undoubtedly talented hand. The characters are portrayed in a cute and soft way, very aesthetically pleasing, and I can only assume this would be all the more so to the curious eyes of a child. The tints chosen are equally tender, with their pastel shades, ranging from pink to baby blue to lovely greens, and it truly is a pleasure to look at the drawings and flip through the pages. This is a very important characteristic, almost inalienable, when it comes to childrenā€™s books since, in the childrenā€™s book genre, illustrations are meant, by definition, to enhance and expand the reading experience, acting as valves to stimulate the outpouring of the imagination and the creative faculties.


Unfortunately, all of this is not matched by the text, which is rather bland and looks very awkward on such a wonderfully fanciful arrangement of illustrations: in fact, I have to say it is even painful to look at, especially side by side with the stunning illustrations, which enhance this clumsy disharmony. Considering this is a childrenā€™s book, I was expecting a rather more eccentric and fun font, but I was disappointed in that the beauty of the drawings is not paralleled by the one chosen: I cannot see how one could possibly agree with the employment of a bold, black, Arial text to narrate aĀ multiculturalĀ (no pun intended!) story.


To turn to the plot in itself, it is very fun and made me giggle a lot, although I did not find it as successful asĀ Dylan's Birthday Present,Ā but it may have to do with the truth universally acknowledged that sequels are never as good as the originals. The moral and the message of solidarity and acceptance it does not shine through as well in this one, and the narration unfolds in ways that are a bit banal and do not leave space for a throughout exploration of the covert meanings. Childrenā€™s books usually do that through the exploitation of symbols, tokens or animals and, while this book would ideally fall into the last category, the interaction between the humans and the animals of the zoo remains only sketched out. The interaction with the other families too is on the margin, mentioned but not develop, while I did not find any concrete attempt in the plot at unifying and exploiting multiculturalism in its utterly cohesive force, a feature which is indeed present inĀ Dylan's Birthday Present,Ā on the other hand. Lastly, but not least, the reason why this book has footnotes still escapes my comprehension: the conventions of the childrenā€™s books genre do not entail footnotes, unless one wants the book to be more like an academic essay than a family story. On top of that, there is already a QR code and a disclaimer for foreign words at the beginning of the book, so footnotes are very redundant and again, very fastidious to look at even as an adult who has written many academic essays with a full apparatus of footnotes throughout her career. Perhaps this is exactly the reason why it bothers me so much to see them here: they feel very out of place.


Overall, I would recommend this book to very young children and parents who want to read a light-hearted story without heavy moralizing or too much of a didactic aim, and who in turn would be willing to explain its message to their children and make the hidden connotations manifest. The idea of having a polyglot series is nevertheless genius, in my opinion, and I would love to see more books of the same theme in the future, as it is important to promote acceptance and inclusion even more so nowadays, during theĀ difficult and uncertain timesĀ we are living in.

Reviewed by

I am in the senior sophister year of my BA in English Literature and Classics, writing a thesis on John Keatsā€™ poetry and 19th-century Victorian literature. I majored in English and I am specialized in reviewing children's books and classics. Tips for my work are greatly appreciated!

Synopsis

This is Book 2 in the award-winning Little Polyglot Adventures series and the sequel to Book 1 (Dylan's Birthday Present).

The city zoo is holding a very special event. Today, guests can bring their own pets to the zoo! Of course, all city residents want to join in on the fun. Dylan and Isabella, the little polyglot siblings, see this as a great opportunity for Kiki, Dylan's pet chicken, to meet her animal friends. However, things get a bit out of control when Kiki is left unattended. In this fun, colorful, and multicultural story, children will learn about the importance of thinking outside the box and using their imagination and creativity to solve difficult problems.

While reading this book, kids will learn six new words in different languages and feel like little polyglot themselves!

This book is also available in a large number of other language editions.

About the author

A second language learning expert, an award-winning author, and a father to two amazingly funny trilingual children, Dr. Victor Santos founded Linguacious with the goal of helping other families and educators worldwide support the learning of other languages in children. view profile

Published on September 14, 2020

1000 words

Genre: Picture Books

Reviewed by