Book Review: What Do You Do If Your House is a Zoo?


What Do You Do If Your House is a Zoo?
By: John Kelly
Illustrated by: Steph Laberis
Reviewer: Eileen Hanning

When his parents say Oscar can have a pet, he doesn’t know which animal to choose, so he puts a personal ad in the newspaper: “Could you be the pet for me?” The next day he’s buried in responses. Letters from all kinds of animals come pouring into his house: cat, bull, horse, gorilla, ants, fish, whale, goat, and more. Every letter makes the choice more difficult. To make matters worse, the animals start showing up, causing a big ruckus in the neighborhood. Surrounded by a zoo-full of animals, Oscar realizes that none of them wants to play with him. Oscar’s newfound clarity about what he’s looking for in a pet coincides with him finding an overlooked letter from a three-legged dog name Rufus. It’s a match made in heaven, or maybe just through the mail. Rich and comical illustrations reminiscent of a tv cartoon convey whimsical details as well as important plot points. Careful observers will notice that the story even extends into the end papers. Like other picture books that use letters to tell the story, readers will enjoy exploring each letter, although this format could make reading the book aloud to a large group challenging. This zany story of a common childhood dilemma happens to feature a biracial couple as Oscar’s parents, but the focus is all on Oscar and how he comes to find the perfect pet. This engaging picture book invites readers to imagine what it would be like to have an exotic pet and, more importantly, what makes a pet “just right.”
Children’s Literature is a division of CLCD, LLC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Read & Shine