If I Could Be a Zebra
If I Could Be a Zebra by Zarle Williams, illustrated by Stef Grinder, is a humorous, beautifully illustrated alphabet book with the kind of whimsical verse that little kids love. The odd shape of the book—tall and narrow with ring binders that make turning the pages fun for kids—adds to its charm and readability. Each letter of the alphabet is featured with a corresponding animal and illustration.
One of my favorites:
If I could be a slippery eel,
elbows wouldn't count,
next time I poked my sister's ribs
she wouldn't even shout!
And (because kids love dinosaurs):
If I could be a dinosaur
dancing to my own tune,
I'd rock and roll the whole day through
and never clean my room.
The illustrations make this book a special treat for younger kids. The dinosaur verse is paired with a witty picture of a spike-headed dinosaur playing electric guitar on its bed while a brontosaurus calmly walks by the window; this was skillfully drawn, and visually fun for parents and kids alike. The colors are bright and cheerful, and the animals are rendered in ways that suggest movement and action.
As a special treat, the book closes with a page that focuses on the child reader. A mirror at the bottom of the page invites the child to become part of the experience:
But...if I could be an animal,
any one from A to Z,
just think of all the fun I'd miss
by never being me.
Possible improvements would include having each letter appear at the top of its corresponding animal page. Kids love learning their letters, and seeing a large D on top of the dinosaur page would be of pedagogical benefit. Sometimes the verse doesn't scan well and could have benefitted from some reworking.
The book is built for wear-and-tear, with thick pages that have a waxy finish for easy cleaning. The author's photo shows the author "being me", a perfect complement to the book's theme. The book does not have any bothersome chemical smell, which has been an issue this year with graphic novels and children's books.
To purchase this book, please email the author.