Reading Today Online tags "Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo" as a Favorite!
Posted on 26 January 2013
A primer on the use of commonly employed idioms as well as an amusing story about the triumph of the weak and seemingly helpless over the powerful, this picture book would be especially useful for anyone learning to speak English fluently. The idioms are sprinkled generously throughout the story and are then listed with an explanation of their meanings in the book’s back matter. The story itself revolves around Stu whose proximity to the zoo allows him to savor the sounds of the captive animals from his home each evening. When an untrustworthy businessman, Mr. Cooper, devises plans to turn the zoo into a mall, Stu concocts his own plan to amplify the animals’ musical notes and conduct “a symphony of sounds” (unpaged) so that the area’s residents will pay attention. His plan works, and the animals receive a great deal of publicity and attendance at the zoo skyrockets. Mr. Cooper is forced to abandon his plans, and he gets his just desserts with a job cleaning up after all the animals. Young readers will love the message, Stu’s quick and creative thinking, and the animals themselves with their “squeaks and bellows, gurgles and chirps” (unpaged), all proof that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, to use another idiom not included in the book.