Did you hear the one about the writer and illustrator who walked into a zoo? No, neither had I until a copy of Pandamonia by Chris Owen and Chris Nixon landed on our shelf, kindly provided by Fremantle Press! Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
When visiting the zoo, whatever you do, DON’T WAKE THE PANDA! Join
in the fantastic fun as one grumpy panda sets off a frenzy of wild partying.
Fremantle Press seem determined to outdo themselves with picture books that might inspire a less scrupulous reader to find the nearest box cutter and carefully remove individual pages in order to frame and display said pages on the wall as works of art. The artwork in Pandamonia is certainly worthy of such display, from the monochromatic endpapers, featuring the titular panda in a variety of somnolent poses, to the inner pages that become increasingly crowded with bold, cheeky prints of animals of all descriptions. I can safely say that I have never seen a cuter tapir, nor indeed a more striking and noble yak as those contained within these pages.
The text takes the reader on a journey through a remarkably extensive zoo, all the while exhorting the reader not to wake the panda, under pain of wild rumpus from the zoo’s other inhabitants. Beginning with the near-negligent threat of some jumpy hippos and tickly termites, the dangers become ever more complex as more animals and birds are added to the mix. For teachers looking to introduce the concept of onomatopoeia to enquiring young minds, one could do a lot worse than to read them this tome as it is replete with yowling, screeching, yakking, humming and all manner of words that bring the sounds of the zoo to chaotic life.
The rhyming text begs to be read aloud and the changes in rhythm throughout allow the reader to speed up or slow down the pace as the need arises. The amount of text was just slightly too much for the eldest mini-fleshling at 5 years old; he was desperate by the halfway point for the panda to awaken! But as with all rewards worth having, good things come to those who wait and the reveal at the end was satisfying and funny.
The only thing that could have made this perfect for me would have been the inclusion of a few images of the sleeping panda throughout the book, as a counterpoint to the building cacophony of the other animals. As it is though, Pandamonia is a marvellously visual picture book that neatly showcases the power of the read-aloud to incite controlled anarchy and joyous din for mini-fleshlings of an adventurous (and slightly subversive) countenance.
To ensure that the anarchy is spread around, I am offering one Australian reader the chance to win a copy of Pandamonia, thanks to Fremantle Press. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter link below:
Until next time,