Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Zoo Box

Cohn, Ariel (Author)
Steinke, Aron Nels (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2014. 48 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9781626720527 (hardcover)
9781466877238 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Humour

Text Elements:

point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Fantasy, adventure and a quiet humour colour this ‘What-if’ story that questions the tradition of keeping wild animals in captivity. Erika and Patrick are home alone one evening; if they are good, the whole family will visit a zoo the next day.

Dialogue bubbles in spacious, readable type convey the tale, while signage fills in the back story and sound effects create mood, such as when Patrick finds a zebra-striped hatbox (“DO NOT OPEN”) in the attic and a menagerie of wild animals escape: “I’m going to open it.” “Here goes.” “EEK!” “ACK!” “POP!”

The comic art uses a graphic simplicity, with flat colour fills and simple lines that create textures in animal hides and backgrounds. As panels show the children following the wild creatures through the night, one full-page spread shows them queuing behind a giraffe, a duck and a wild boar, as glowing red lanterns illuminate the entrance to a nighttime zoo. A series of nearly wordless panels provides opportunities for discussion as the children realize the zoo houses people. When the children are discovered to be human, a chase scene ensues. A full-page panel casts a bright yellow glow and radiant lines, as the children brandish the zoo box and the pursuing animals are sucked back inside.

The end sequence shows rushed bedtime rituals and a leap into the bunk bed, just in time for their parents’ return: “Looks like we’ll be going to the zoo tomorrow.” The final image shows Erika and Patrick, wide-eyed in their darkened room—contemplating tomorrow’s treat.

  •  

    Read up to page 11, then predict what will happen next. Finish the story and review your predictions to see if they were accurate.

  •  

    Consider the pros and cons of opening the box. Get a partner and set up a debate with two other people to argue the benefits and drawbacks to lifting the lid.

  •  

    What would it feel like to be a human in a cage being observed by animals? Write about a few days in the life of a caged human in your reader-writer’s notebook. Write what you have learned about animals in captivity.

  •  

    Discuss what you think Erika and Patrick’s next visit to the zoo will be like.

  •  

    Examine the book cover. In pairs, discuss which animals can be found in the box.

  •  

    Look at pages 3-6. What do you think the parents mean by “If you are good”? In small teams, make a Do and Don’t list for when your parents are away. As a group, discuss the impact of this list.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk and discuss the story. How is the point of view different from what you know of a zoo? What would it be like if animals were to observe human behaviour?

  •  

    Discuss what you think Erik’s and Patrick’s next visit to the zoo will be like.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture