As the sun rose on another beautiful day on the Sunshine Coast, an enormous Burmese python slithered slowly into a bedroom. In the distance, the call of the ring-tailed lemurs signalled the start of a new day. Lying asleep in bed, the young girl didn’t notice the snake’s progress.
Hisssssssssssss. The snake took a leisurely route towards the bed, slowly winding up the bedpost until its head came to rest on the pillow. The snake’s tongue flickered in and out, touching the girl’s face.
The girl’s face twitched a little, but her eyes remained closed. The snake let out another quiet hisssssssssssss.
It’s Bindi’s eleventh birthday and it’s not only a big day for her, it’s a big day for everyone at Australia Zoo. Her birthday will be celebrated with everyone at the zoo, animals, staff and visitors too. The theme is underwater and everyone is dressing up in costume, including Bindi, her brother Robert, her mum Terri and all the staff. It’s going to be a big event. But there’s one visitor, Zac who really would rather be somewhere else. His sister is thrilled to be here, but it’s his birthday too and he wouldn’t have chosen this for his birthday party. His grumpiness is noted and Bindi and Robert both try unsuccessfully to cheer him up. Zac cooks up his own plan, but Robert, Bindi, with the help of macaw, Chilli, find a way to keep the zoo animals safe and improve Zac’s day.
Australia Zoo is well known as being the home of the Irwin family as well as for its collection of animals, particularly crocodiles. Terri, Robert and particularly Bindi are well known personalities, both at the zoo and beyond. This is Bindi’s first adventure of four, with a second four released in August. Bindi provides a foreword, but the story itself is written by Chris Kunz in third person. Although there is a conflict with a grumpy ten year old, the resolution has been carefully tailored so that Zac escapes the potentially serious consequences of taking an animal home. Trouble at the Zoo concludes with Animal Fact Files on the two animals featured: the Eastern Water Dragon and the Green-winged Macaw. There’s also an invitation for young people to join Australia Zoo’s Wild life Warriers. Recommended for mid-primary readers.
Trouble at the Zoo , Chris Kunz
Random House 2010
Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.
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