Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Midnight Madness at the Zoo by Sherryn Craig

Midnight Madness at the Zoo by Sherryn Craig, illustrated by Karen Jones
Rating: 5 stars


Just in time for March Madness--a basketball picture book! Add animals, a top-notch rhyme, and practice counting to ten and you've got a winning bedtime (or anytime) book.

What do the animals do after the last guest leaves, after the zookeeper locks up the gate for the night, after the last car exits the parking lot? Play basketball, of course!

The animals must warm up first / before they can roam free.
Some new officials take their place: / three zebras referee.
The trumpet of the elephants / calls players from their pens.
But for a game of basketball, / they'll need a group of ten.

Kids listen and see as one by one, an animal is added to each team, until two teams of five are formed. Then they have a fun game of five-on-five--luckily, these are rule-following animals so no elbows are thrown or fouls earned.

Kiefer has had this book in his room for a few weeks now, and I've read it to him at least five times, which means it has scored high enough to be reread more than once or twice. Ben does his best to pretend that he only reads chapter books, but he stood in the doorway for this one. He couldn't help but be interested in it--he's the child in the family who plays and follows basketball.


This book is near and dear to my heart because the author, Sherryn Craig, is one of my critique partners. When I met her nearly two years ago, this book had been purchased by Arbordale and I got to follow along in the publishing process. In the beginning, I simply heard how she and her sons went to the Reston Zoo and wondered why the animals all looked so sleepy. "I think they must play basketball all night," her son said. And just like that, an idea was formed.

It was so fun to see the first sketches by Karen Jones sprawled out on the table in front of us at the coffee shop at which we meet. It was even more fun to see the cover in black and white, then color. But the best part? Seeing my friend with her debut picture book in her hand, smiling proud. A close second? Seeing Midnight Madness on our own shelf, or in my kids' hands as they read through it for the very first time.

Congratulations, Sherryn!

Sherryn will be having a few events around town to celebrate and promote her book:

Sunday, March 13th, at the Greene Turtle in Fairfax from 6-8 PM she'll be selling and signing her book while the NCAA Tournament teams are announced.

Saturday, March 19th, at the Reston Zoo 9 AM-12:30 PM she'll be selling and signing her book to celebrate the zoo's opening (after its normal winter closing). Book readings will be at 10 AM, 11 AM, and 12 PM.

More information can be found on Sherryn's website.

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