Thursday 28 February 2013

The Children's Zoo

Having recently visited the Adelaide Zoo I thought it might be fun to do a post on all kinds of animal books. A lot has been written and spoken about the more obvious animal characters such as those portrayed by Beatrix Potter or Alison Uttley, but what of the less well known ones. 

Catherine Porter in Collecting modern books states: Initially used mainly as moral emblems, animals come alive to children and can easily and memorably be given different attributes. Animals, whether realistic or anthropomorphised (the act of giving the characteristics of humans to an animal, a God or an inanimate thing) in a natural or make-believe setting, bring home the sense of wonder and variety in the world, two of the most important factors in determining the children’s literature that rises above the norm and proves to be timeless.

I could not have put it better myself!

Children's Zoo with pictures by V. Junek published in 1961. Very pretty book featuring twenty different animals, including hippopotami, giraffes, monkeys and lions, each short descriptive paragraph is accompanied by a full-page colour illustration.

Feed the animals by H. A. Rey published in 1960. With transforming pages (life the flap to reveal the animal underneath).   Told in rhyme - Harry the keeper is ready to bring a bag which is tied at the top with a string. Now WHAT's in the bag, and for WHOM will it be? Just open the flap, and then you will see. Animal lore and disorder by James Riddell published in 1950. Turn over the flaps to join the top half of an animal with the bottom half of another. This produces some weird and wacky animals with strange names like cophant, cog and elemel!

Pookie by Ivy Wallace, published in 1955. Pookie is no ordinary rabbit - Pookie is a little white furry rabbit, with soft floppity ears, big blue eyes, and Wings! Nice early copy. Pookie is now sold, thank you for your interest.  Squire rabbit's adventures by Mary Warden, published in 1946. The Babar Frieze by Laurent de Brunhoff, 1981. The ever-popular Babar and his friends and family appear in this colourful set of friezes, perfect for the nursery.

Ameliaranne at the zoo by by K. L. Thompson 1st edition, 1936. The pretty illustrations are by Susan B. Pearse. One of a series of books published between 1920 and 1950. This is an unusual series as it involves eight different authors working with a single illustrator. Ameliaranne is the oldest daughter of Mrs Stiggins who also has five other children. I assume there must be a Mr. Stiggins but he is not mentioned in any of the books. In this story Ameliaranne looks after the neighbours' pets while they are away on holiday. After a few weeks she has enough money to take her brothers and sisters on a visit to a real zoo.

Battle of the beasts written and illustrated by Diz Wallis published in 1993. Beautifully illustrated story based on the Grimms' tale, the willow wren and the bear.

Billy Monkey a true tale of a Capuchin monkey by Rose Fyleman 1st edition, 1936. Illustrated by Cecil Leslie.  Here come the lions by Alice E Goudey. 1st edition, 1964. Two stories about a family of lions.  Oworo by Rene Guillot published in 1959. The story of Oworo the chimpanzee from his birth on the Ivory Coast.  The illustration in the background is from the little folk’s picture natural history, 1902. It's in damaged condition but is much too beautiful to throw away so it's another that's found a home on my shelves! 

The panda carts were a big hit with Zoe and Lilly. We are always sad when we fly home and leave our family in Australia, but the memories are very special.    

When we went to the Zoo we saw a gnu,
an elk and a whelk and a wild emu.

We saw a hare, and a bear in his lair, 
and a seal have a meal on a high-backed chair.

We saw a snake that was hardly awake,
and a lion eat meat they'd forgotten to bake.

We saw a coon and a baby baboon. 
The giraffe made us laugh all afternoon!

We saw a crab and a long-tailed dab,
and we all went home in a taxi-cab.
Jessie Pope

I've read lots of animal books – Rudyard Kipling’s the jungle book, Anna Sewell’s black beauty and The Incredible Journey, by Scottish author Sheila Burnford, are three I've enjoyed.. What about you – do you enjoy animal stories? 

All the books featured here are now sold, thank you for looking.

Update July 2016: March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I do still blog here at March of Time Books and always appreciate your visit. 


  1. Hi Barbara, love the pictures of Zoe & Lily, and that Jessica Pope rhyme. 'meat they'd forgotten to bake' made me laugh. Books on the zoo are a huge hit. My favourite these days is a wordless picture book by Alison Jay titled 'Welcome to the Zoo.' Here's an Amazon link if you'd like to check it out:

    As for putting the prices on your blog posts, I don't think it'll hurt. Maybe you could add a caption below each picture so that it's clearer for your readers? ('For Sale at a Special $xxx' with an 'Add to Cart' button) For those you're only sharing and not intending to sell ~ 'From my beloved collection. This book/card is too dear to part with!' and you won't have to add the cart button. Whichever way you decide, I'm sure the buyer would still end up buying the copy if she/he is a fan of the book. Good luck!

  2. Sigh - Black Beauty. I read that book so often and cried everytime, so my mother wouldn't allow me to read it anymore. lol I could have a full room collecting of children's animal books because they're just soooooooo fun.

  3. Hi Barbara...I always enjoy posts like this, those that we can join in with.... ..'. Charlotte's web' by E.B. White..... was the first book I read and fell in love with in my younger years....It helped me learn and appreciate. and I must confess gave me a wee soft spot for spiders and all animals........I also fell in love with Water ship down, which is the story of rabbits .I remember in secondary school reciting for our English language, project....'The plague dogs by Richard Adams again! Animals are my great love! ~ Thank you for kind visits....Leaving you with a smile :) Maria x
    Ps~ I had the biggest crush on Richard chamberlain too! hehe..

  4. I often read books to my neice and nephew, and more often than not they contain animals. My nephew is at that stage where every animal name is followed by whatever noise it makes, which is quite entertaining in itself... especially as he seems quite font of cows and sheep at the moment!

  5. barbaraannefisher28 February 2013 at 22:12

    Hello Claudine, thank you for the link to ‘Welcome to the Zoo’ – I love it, as you knew I would! I’ve just added it to my ‘must send a copy to Australia’ list.
    Thank you also for the advice about pricing, I had no idea I could add a cart button to the blog – I will have to check that out. I also like your wording re things being from my beloved collection – that sums it up perfectly! Thank you very much Claudine I knew I could count on you for some good advice.

  6. barbaraannefisher28 February 2013 at 22:16

    Hello Donna, I know just what you mean! I still cry every time I read Black Beauty! I also cry over the Incredible Journey, but sometimes it’s good to cry.

  7. barbaraannefisher28 February 2013 at 22:24

    Hi Maria, Charlotte’s web is fantastic – I forgot that one. I bought myself a new copy a couple of years ago so that I could read it now that I’m all grown up, and it still made me cry. But I still don’t like spiders! Have you seen the film of Watership down? It’s so, so sad. I’ve not read the plague dogs so will put that on my list.
    I hadn't thought about Richard Chamberlain in years – now I can’t stop thinking about him! : )

  8. Pookie and Animal Lore jump out to me right away! All the books look great- but those two just tug at my heart. :) So many of us love animals and I think that connects us to the stories we read. Great selections. As for prices- I am always curious about the prices of the books (I know so little about this area). I think it would be interesting to know the prices. :)

  9. Barbara, I love animal's illustrations and especially when they are doing "human's things". I love Squire Rabbit's Adventures.
    Your granddaughters are so sweet...lovely photos, I understand you must miss them a lot.

  10. Barbara

    Claudine's idea re from my beloved collection is a good idea, although if I had a blog and then a website where books are for sale, I would keep things separate as in no prices on the blog, just a link to the website as you already do - and linking is good:)

    I do like animal books and I have to admit to liking the Hairy Mclary books by Linley Dobbs.

    Your grandchildren are adorable Barbara, I can see why you would be sad to go home.

  11. I love the animal books you show here. They are all so beautifully illustrated in stunning colors. I do enjoy animal stories, but I don't like to read them when the animal is hurt or killed (I still haven't gotten over Old Yeller)

    The grandchildren are precious and I can see why you hate to leave. I think Australia must be a wonderful place to visit.

    No, I don't think putting prices on your posts is a good idea (maybe a link to the books is better) When I want to know that information, I click on the website. But I have always wondered, do you have a bookshop or is it strictly online?

  12. Such a wonderfully inspiring and informative post and especially now that I'm looking for books for our great-nephew, 26 months.

  13. barbaraannefisher1 March 2013 at 15:23

    I love it when little ones start recognising and repeating the noises. Our granddaughter in Australia loves to sing Ee i ee i oh! to us on the ‘phone from Australia. She is just two, so Old Macdonald is pretty hard for her to say, but she has no problems with the ee I ee I oh bit!

  14. barbaraannefisher1 March 2013 at 15:40

    Thanks Stephanie, that’s an interesting point of view. I’ve always hesitated about adding prices as I feel the blog is a place to enjoy the illustrations rather than think about the price. However, maybe it is a bit annoying having to click through to the website. Good choices with the Pookie and Animal lore books they are both lovely.

  15. barbaraannefisher1 March 2013 at 15:42

    Hello Silvina, we miss Zoe and Lilly every single day but our son and daughter-in-law always try to involve us with everything that’s going on in their lives, so we are very lucky.
    Squire rabbit is a beautiful little book. x

  16. barbaraannefisher1 March 2013 at 15:49

    Hi Michelle,
    That’s the other side of the coin. Would it annoy people if I suddenly started adding prices – maybe they would feel I’m trying to coerce them into buying something? Decisions, decisions, why is everything so tricky?! Maybe I could compromise by adding a line saying something like – nothing here cost more than £10 or prices of these books range from £5 - £50. Just thinking aloud I don’t really expect you to make my mind up for me.
    I love Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – I should have included some of those!
    Zoe and Lilly are absolutely gorgeous but then I’m sure every grandparent feels like that.

  17. barbaraannefisher1 March 2013 at 16:00

    Hello Alex,
    I will answer your last question first. Owning a bookshop has long been a dream of mine but with things being very difficult on the high street, I’ve decided to remain on online-only seller (for now). I used to take my books along to local book fairs so that I could meet and chat to customers but have all but given that up. Books tend to get a lot of wear and tear being put into and out of boxes. I can jealously guard them now that they are just online. Thanks for your input re the pricing issue, it really helps to get other people’s views.
    I’ve not read Old Yeller, but I’m sure it would make me cry, like Black Beauty and the incredible journey do, so I probably won’t read it.
    Australia is a wonderful place to visit. It's also a very hard place to leave.

  18. barbaraannefisher1 March 2013 at 16:01

    Thank you very much! You’ve come to the right place to look for children’s books, and I’m glad there are some you like.

  19. What a lovely post. I'm so glad you had fun visiting with your family. I'd say no to listing your prices, you would be doing folks a favor by encouraging them to check out your store to peruse all of your gorgeous offerings.

  20. The other trouble with including prices is if/when they sell you'd have to backtrack to the old blog and take them off again or else you;d get people messaging you to buy merchandise you don't have. I think instead perhaps a little blurb like "if you're interested in the books pictured here or others please visit my website at... for pricing and more information" - maybe at the beginning of the blog post? Just a thought any way :)

  21. barbaraannefisher2 March 2013 at 07:41

    Thanks for your kind words and good advice, and for calling in.

  22. barbaraannefisher2 March 2013 at 07:51

    That is a very good point, Joleene! Your suggested ‘blurb’ is very good. I always struggle to think how to put things like that – that’s why you are a writer, and I’m a book seller! Thanks for calling in.

  23. Hi Barbara,
    A great post. I just wanted to offer my penny's worth here by saying that, for me, as I'm sure for many others, your blog is a thing of beauty and as such I personally think that it would be the poorer for price tags. I hope you don't mind my saying that. I think the books you have to offer are a little above the typical Amazon range and (hopefully) buyers know and respect that.
    I hope that penny's worth was of use!
    Best wishes as always

  24. barbaraannefisher4 March 2013 at 09:56

    Hello Jill,
    I’m delighted you could pop in and add your penny’s worth, thank you so much for taking the time and for the kind words. Reading the comment's, there are more Nays than Yeas, so I won’t be including prices (sorry to the lady who emailed requesting them!)
    Thanks again Jill, your penny’s worth was worth far more than a penny!


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx