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PUBLISHED: 12:08 PM on Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Fun-filled rhymes make 'Zany Zoo' delightful
Though she does other work, most readers know Lynn Munsinger as the illustrator of the popular Tacky the Penguin series by Helen Lester.

Munsinger's artistic talent is showcased in a new book called "Zany Zoo" by William Wise (Houghton Mifflin; ages 4-9).

Munsinger's witty touch complements the fun, pun-filled collection of rhymes about animals. Introduce youngsters to Daisy the watermelon-eating dog; Kermit and Kit, elephants who play in the Little League; Lulu the skunk, who has "the good sense" to smell like fancy perfume; and a gaggle of geese that perform Shakespeare.

With her pen-and-ink watercolors, Munsinger brings the creatures to life. And as usual, if you linger over her images, you'll learn a little more about the characters than the text reveals. For instance, Sabrina the carefree snake has a penchant for hair accessories. And notice how Olga avoids "otter" confusion in her large family of mammals. (Hint: She employs another tactic besides dressing them in shirts with their names.)

Now that you're in the gaze-and-discover spirit, here's a trivia game to play as you read Zany Zoo. Remember that all the answers are in the pictures.

1. Which old school cat has the groovy moves and fashion taste of Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever?

2. What does the biggest crocodile in the estuary use to season his food?

3. Lambert the Lion hawks fast food. What do the mice on his page prefer to eat?

4. Bess the Indian tigress needs to go shopping for something ruined by the bad weather. What is it?

5. Which television station records the short journey of Charley the Chicken crossing the road?

Zany Zoo is a picture book aimed at the grade-school crowd, but don't miss the opportunity to talk about word play and vocabulary with older readers. For example, in the Hope the Hyena poem there is a line about "springs eternal." Mary the mouse secures her slice of cake "through a window of opportunity," and a couple of birds decide "one good tern deserves another."


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