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Calm Down, Zebra

Calm Down, Zebra

Published: 2 Apr 2020

Paperback / softback, 32 pages

Recommended for age 3+

By Lou Kuenzler

Illustrated by Julia Woolf

Published by Faber & Faber

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A celebration of colours and patterns from the pair that brought you bestseller NOT YET, ZEBRA. Annie said to the animals, "Let's help baby Joe. He's learning his colours, which he doesn't yet know.

I'll paint pictures of you - please line up for me. If I use the right colours then Joe will soon see. Everyone's favourite, enthusiastic zebra is back, eager to get in on the act as Annie tries to teach her little brother about colours. But although things don't turn out quite the way she imagines, together they make the world a brighter and more beautiful place!

Tagged colours and zebras

Reviewed by Jo Bowers

Calm Down, Zebra by Lou Kuenzler is a deceptively simple tale of a boy, new to the neighbourhood, trying to join in with those around him, will charm, engage and prompt deep thinking in young readers. This picturebook sees the return of the incredibly excitable Zebra and Annie with her paints of Not Yet Zebra, which was a fun rhyming picture book in which Annie is painting an animal alphabet, and Zebra gets in the way. This new book is once again full of rhymes, colours and animals with Annie trying to teach colours to her young friend, Joe, and Zebra deciding to join in to paint all the animals different colours and patterns.

Much like Jordan Wray’s Rosa Draws, this is more than just a rhyming picture book about colours. It is also about imagination and creativity. As the story progresses, the painting gets messier and more colourful, with a giraffe covered in multi-coloured flowers and a peacock covered in shimmering silver and gold. By the end, Annie sees that this kind of painting is fun and encourages everyone to come together to create their own art.

With its rhyming patterns throughout, Calm Down, Zebra is a great read-aloud book for 3-5-year-olds. It also has excellent potential for colour and animal recognition while, at the same time, encourages us to have fun and be bold and creative in colour and patterns when we paint ourselves. It is a picturebook full of bold and colourful illustrations throughout by the talented Julia Woolf that I am sure will inspire some follow-up painting activity after reading.

Jo Bowers is a Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She joined the university ten years ago and prior to that was a classroom teacher and English leader in a primary school for nineteen years. Jo has been editor of, and currently sits on the Editorial Board of English 4-11 for the English Association and the UKLA Publications Committee. Jo runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teacher Group for teachers in Cardiff and sits on various shortlisting and selection panels for children's book awards, currently the English Association Picture Book Award and the Books Council of Wales Tir na n-Og Award. Jo is a Wales representative for UKLA, reviews books for Just Imagine and writes for English 4-11. She is passionate about children's literature and is happiest when she is reading and surrounded by books.