Peek-A-Boo Zoo, written by Dian Curtis Regan (who is also the author of the Princess Nevermore books) and illustrated by Amanda Gulliver, is a cute, lift-the-flaps board book for preschoolers. Each page features a different animal, partially hidden by a shrub, rock, water, or other natural element. The displayed text is a rhyming couplet/riddle missing the last word. For example: "Strutting through a friendly flock, Spread those feathers ...". Turning up the flap reveals the word "Peacock!", along with the full picture of the peacocks. I think that toddlers will enjoy guessing which animal lies behind each flap - there are certainly plenty of clues, between the partial images, the text of the riddle, and the rhymes.
Amanda Gulliver's watercolor illustrations are appealing, with distinct brush strokes that look colorwise like a child's drawings (though with subtleties the likes of which a child couldn't produce, like translucent water splashing over the otter). Each page has a distinct color scheme, different even on facing pages, though the overall style is harmonious.
The back of the book says that this book is for ages 3 and up, because of a potential choking hazard. Is that true? Do toddlers rip the cardboard flaps off of books, and put them into their mouths? I guess toddlers put everything in their mouths, but in this case the flaps are pretty large, three or four inches across, and study. I'll defer to parents to decide for their own kids. But certainly in a shared reading experience, I think that two and three year olds would enjoy picking out the animals with a parent.
Peek-A-Boo Zoo is hardly ground-breaking (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?) has had rhyming introductions to different animals for a long time). But it's a well-constructed, thin-page board book, with easy to lift flaps. The text in the riddles is relatively advanced, using strong verbs like strutting, waddling, and slurping. The illustrations have plenty of examples for testing colors. Overall, I think that it would make a nice addition to a pre-schooler's library.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.