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Books - Zoo - Zoos - Zoology - All ages
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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
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Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to find out more about the books and how to buy them.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.

Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch.
Kristen's parents just can't seem to do anything right. First they have their baby at the zoo, not in a hospital. Then, they accidentally bring home an baby alligator instead! After it bites everyone on the nose, they return to the zoo and come back with a baby seal! Kristen sees that she will have to solve this problem herself. She bikes to the zoo and finds their baby with . . . a gorilla mommy. When the baby bites the gorilla on the nose, Kristen sees her chance--and takes home her new baby brother!

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
This tale based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo will capture the hearts of penguin lovers everywhere. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are "a little bit different." They cuddle and share a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the others start hatching eggs, they want to be parents, too...

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True! by Karma Wilson, Margaret Spengler.
What's a zookeeper to do when the lions and tigers and bears refuse to roar and prowl and growl? And when little Sue, who has been waiting all year for this trip to the zoo, enters the gate, will the animals decide to give their strike a break?

Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham.
When Billy left his pet spider, Helen, at the Zoo, the animals suddenly became happy and contented. The lions snoozed all day long, the elephants enjoyed their baths, and the zebras ate their hay in peace -- all because Helen was spinning webs and catching flies. But one day Helen's webs were swept away. The Keeper had the cages cleaned for the Mayor's inspection tour. Soon the flies were back again and the animals were miserable once more. But not for long...

Chowder by Peter Brown.
Chowder isn't like other dogs. For one thing, he likes people toys better than dog toys. He liked to read newspapers rather than fetch them, and he would rather surf the internet and look through his telescope than bury a bone. He just doesn't fit in with the neighborhood dogs, and that makes Chowder lonely. When a petting zoo opens nearby, Chowder is determined to make friends with the zoo animals...

Corduroy at the Zoo (A Lift-the-Flap Book) by Don Freeman, B.G. Hennessy.
Corduroy and his friends are taking a trip to the zoo-and you're invited to join them. As Don Freeman's lovable bear leads the way, discover clever surprises hidden by flaps on every page. Find the mischievous monkeys playing hide-and-seek in the Jungle Walk, or spot the wombats in the Australia exhibit. Visit lions, giraffes, parrots, and crocodiles too. Also, learn fun facts about different species, just like you do at a real zoo.

Curious George Visits the Zoo (Curious George) by Alan J. Shalleck, Margret Rey.
Curious George and the man with the yellow hat visit the zoo. A hungry Curious George snatches a pail of bananas from the zoo keeper. Though he shouldn't have taken the bananas, George soon changes the zookeeper's shouts to praise with his clever, helpful ways.

Dumb Bunnies Go To The Zoo (Dumb Bunnies) by Dav Pilkey.
When the Dumb Bunnies visit the zoo they let all the animals out of their cages because they mistake a butterfly for an escaped lion.

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles, Rod Clement.
Tired of his life as an emu, Edward decides to try being something else for a change. He tries swimming with the seals. He spends a day lounging with the lions. He even does a stint slithering with the snakes. But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may be the best thing after all. And so he returns to his pen, only to find a big surprise awaiting him...

Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War by Yukio Tsuchiya, Ted Lewin.
A zookeeper recounts the story of John, Tonky, and Wanly, three performing elephants at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, whose turn it is to die, and of their keepers, who weep and pray that World War II will end so their beloved elephants might be saved.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.
"Good night, Gorilla," says the weary watchman as he walks by the gorilla cage on his nightly rounds at the zoo. The gorilla answers by quietly pickpocketing the guard's keys, stealthily trailing him, and unlocking the cages of every animal the oblivious fellow bids goodnight to. The uniformed guard traipses home toward his cottage, while the lonely zoo animals softly parade behind him. The animals slip into his bedroom and nestle unnoticed near his sleepy wife--until the bold little gorilla goes so far as to snuggle up beside her as she turns out the light...

Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo by Diane deGroat.
That meanie Lewis always teases Gilbert. So why would Lewis invite Gilbert to his party? Gilbert goes to the party armed with a cheerful grin, a brightly wrapped package—and a plan to get even for Lewis's rotten behavior. But this birthday has a much bigger surprise in store for Gilbert...

If I Ran the Zoo (Classic Seuss) by Dr. Seuss. (first published 1950 - Ages 4-8)
"It's a pretty good zoo," said young Gerald McGrew, "and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too." But if Gerald ran the zoo, the New Zoo, McGrew Zoo, he'd see to making a change or two: "So I'd open each cage. I'd unlock every pen, let the animals go, and start over again." And that's just what Gerald imagines, as he travels the world in this playfully illustrated Dr. Seuss classic, collecting all sorts of beasts "that you don't see every day."

Mixed-Up Chameleon (The) by Eric Carle.
The chameleon's life was not very exciting until the day it discovered it could change not only its color but its shape and size,too. When it saw the wonderful animals in the zoo, it immediately wanted to be like them -- and ended up like all of them at once -- with hilarious results.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle.
What will you hear when you read this book to a preschool child? Lots of noise!Children will chant the rhythmic words. They'll make the sounds the animals make. And they'll pretend to be the zoo animals featured in the book-- look at the last page!
Oso polar, oso polar, que es ese ruido? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle. In Spanish.

Put Me in the Zoo (Beginner Books(R)) by Robert Lopshire.
Review: "A hilarious story for a first-grade pupil to read. Shows that reading can be fun even if the vocabulary is very limited."

Sammy the Seal (I Can Read Book 1) by Syd Hoff.
A seal at school! What happens when Sammy, the adventurous seal, leaves the zoo for the day? He goes to the city, finds a school full of kids and new things to do -- and he even learns to read!

Snappy Little Zoo by Derek Matthews, Dugald Steer.
Takes kids on a trip to the zoo, where they encounter a fantastic collection of ten amazing pop-up animals -- from zany zebras to playful pandas and gawky giraffes. It's an adventure that's full of fun from beginning to end!

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Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers, Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them for more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
To retell these stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
Storytell posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) Do you know "Noisy Gecko"? I used to have to explain what a gecko was, but now everyone knows because of the Geico ad! It has lots of sound effects and is cumulative - quite similar in length and strength to Squeaky Door that was recommended.

Brief bones:
Light, humorous story of Gecko who keeps villagers awake. When questioned, he and villager go through a series of animals who noises are waking each other up. Villager tries to find the ORIGINAL cause of noises at night. Ends with message that "we all have our place in nature." (It's similar in that vein to the more serious story of "Who killed the Otter Babies?" which sort of does the food chain.)

P.S. Found this bit longer summary of "Noisy Gecko," Indonesian Folktale. (found in one storytelling book for preschoolers, a Pellowski one) is a cumulative tale that ends with Rain telling Gecko that he must let each animal (being) do his/her job. If rain doesn't fill the holes in the road with water then MOSQUITO won't have a home, and Gecko won't have anything to eat. So he must let ox fill the holes with dung; beetle carry the dung off the road; frog go gump, gump, woodpecker go tak-tak-trrrr; firefly flash his light in gecko's eye; gecko go to-kah, to-kah, to-kah and wake headman up at night.It's great fun to tell.

2) I just got back from telling the zoo stories to the preschool sleepover and thought I'd share a little of the fun. There were about 50 kids with maybe 10 adults present. As I entered the playground, the kids started telling me all about the fun that was planned for the night. Stories, pizza, shooting off a rocket, s'mores around a campfire, and the biggest hit of all -- going on a walk around the block with flashlights shining. We tend to forget how easily little ones can be entertained.

With all the suggestions that came in, I found it easy to pull together a set. I thought I'd share some of the in-between things that come in handy when telling to really young kids. I started with a monkey puppet to grab their attention, having them copy the monkey's actions.

Monkey see, monkey do, can you do what monkey does?
Clap your hands.
Monkey see, monkey do, can you do what monkey does?
Scratch your ear.
Monkey see, monkey do, can you do what monkey does?
Nod your head.
Monkey see, monkey do, can you do what monkey does?
Hide your eyes.
I've used this one before and it is always a hit and gets attention focused
on the teller very quickly.

I told "Monkey Face" next, using a dry erase board to illustrate the outrageous drawing on monkey's mother. Next was a song, sung to the tunes of The Wheels on the Bus. I mentioned at my workshop in Madison that if you know 3 basic songs and aren't ashamed to sing loudly with preschoolers, you can change the words to fit many circumstances and be a huge hit. Next was a song, sung to the tunes of The Wheels on the Bus. It's called "If you want to be a ..." and I've known it for ages and don't remember where I first heard it.

If you want to be a monkey, jump up high.
If you want to be a monkey, jump up high.
If you want to be a monkey, if you want to be a monkey,
If you want to be a monkey, jump up high.
If you want to be an elephant, swing your trunk.
If you want to be a lion, roar out loud.
If you want to be a giraffe, stand up tall.
If you want to be a parrot, flap your wings.

The next story was "Pulling the Zoo keeper out of the mud," similar to the Giant Vegetable. Hippo, bear, monkey, elephant, alligator, tiger -- all tried to pull him out singly, but it wasn't until the mouse came along who suggested that we work as a team that the animals were successful. We had large puppets from Folkmanis for the kids who participated up front to use and I stayed in the role of the zoo keeper, firmly planted in one spot until the entire line of kids held hands and tugged in unison. Elephant's wrestling match was another story, which Judy Sierra adapted from a Bulu folk tale.

And we finished with "Going on a bear hunt," but adapted to our zoo theme.
Going on a bear hunt, going on a bear hunt. (Audience repeats the second time)
Let's go to the zoo, let's go to the zoo.
Here's the gate that lets us in, here's the gate that lets us in.
Creak creak, creak creak.
Going on a bear hunt, going on a bear hunt.
Let's go to the zoo, let's go to the zoo.
Up a flight of steep stairs, up a flight of steep stairs.
Huff puff, huff puff.
Going on a bear hunt, going on a bear hunt.
Let's go to the zoo, let's go to the zoo.
Wait, I'm hungry, wait I'm hungry.
Buy a hot dog, buy a hot dog.
Chomp chomp, chomp chomp.
Going on a bear hunt, going on a bear hunt.
Let's go to the zoo, let's go to the zoo.
Now I'm thirsty, now I'm thirsty.
Buy some juice, buy some juice.
Slurp slurp, slurp slurp.
Going on a bear hunt, going on a bear hunt.
Let's go to the zoo, let's go to the zoo.
Do you see a bear? Do you see a bear?
Where, where? Where, where?
Over there, over there.
In the den, in the den.
In the dark den, in the dark den.
Let's call him, let's call him,
(all together) here bear, here bear.
Here he comes, ROAR!
Run back, quick ...
drink the juice, slurp slurp,
eat the hot dog, chomp chomp,
down the stairs, huff puff,
through the gate, creak creak.
Whoosh, we're safe.
But where's the car?

Then just because, I twisted balloon animals for everyone. As you can tell, it was way too much fun.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Classic Board Books) by Helen Oxenbury, Michael Rosen.
I'm Going on a Bear Hunt by Sandra Stroner Sivulich, Glen Rounds.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury, Michael Rosen. This is an audio version.

Further post:

I hope your tongues aren't tangled up trying to fit those zoo words to the wrong tune. I suppose it can be done, but the correct song from last night is "If you're happy and you know it". As I said, I literally use only about 3 songs for the tunes to use new words. "If you're happy and you know it",
"The wheels on the bus", and "Skip to my Lou".
An example of "Skip to my Lou" is
Ants at the picnic, what'a we do?
Ants at the picnic, what'a we do?
Ants at the picnic, what'a we do?
Have to eat our food real fast.

There are a couple of sites online that are great for preschool antics, with crafts, songs, and fingerplays. Some of the songs listed there scan well and some do not, but I always take liberties with singing anyway. With such a low voice as mine, I have to. The only site I have earmarked on my computer at home is

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Created 2004; last update 9/20/09.

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