Cute animals + word play = happy kids

posted in: Aaron Zenz | 4

Do you know the fabulous children’s book blog, Bookie Woogie? It’s a real breath of fresh air and originality; author/illustrator Dad, Aaron Zenz, and his kids review books through conversation with each other, and pretty much every post will make you laugh, smile and delight in the artwork the kids produce to illustrate their review.

I’m a longtime follower of the reviews by Aaron and his family, so today’s post makes me a little nervous; I’m turning the tables, and reviewing two of Aaron’s own books, and not only that, but in Zenz-Family Style!


Zoe: So can you tell me a little about these books?
M: Oh yes! This one is all about animal mums and that one is all about animal dads… [laughing] HUGGABLE dads! That’s funny!
J: I want to draw a chick… or a rooster…
M: They are SOOOOOOOOOOO funny! They have word jokes! I love ewe mum…. Geddit?!? [giggles] I like how the animals are having fun together.
J: Mummy…. LOOK! Cockadoodledoooooo!
M: Mum, what’s a Mummy Turkey called?
Zoe: Oh, I don’t know, shall we see if it is in the book?
M: Ha ha ha! Look, look, a mummy octopus is called a hen! That’s crazy!…. oh, I like Flyer*… that sounds like she flies all the time.
J: I think the pictures are pretty funny… they make me think of the animal bop book.
M: [singing] Doing the animal bop bop bop!


Zoe: Who do you think would like these books?
M: All animal and joke lovers!
J: Mu-um… my swan has a scarf on! [lots of giggling]
M: Actually, I think some of the names for mummies are quite surprising…
J: And the pictures are cute cute [in a high cute voice] CUTE!
M: I think the pictures have been drawn by a very, very very good draw-er. That’s three very’s Mum. But I do think spelling MOM M-O-M is a bit silly.
J: Mommy, mommy, moomy, mimmy, mummy!
M: Cluck, cluck, ooh ooh ah ah!
[giggles from everyone]
[things rapidly descend into chaos]

*A mummy kangaroo

J's illlustrations inspired by I Love Ewe and Hug a Bull
J’s illlustrations inspired by I Love Ewe and Hug a Bull
M loved the idea that a Mummy lobster is called a hen
M loved the idea that a Mummy lobster is called a hen

So you can see… these books induced lots of laughter, some learning, and a whole lot of delight (even if American spellings don’t go down well with my 8 year old ;-)). Like many jokes based on word play, especially those created and enjoyed by children, the text may not be full of literary sophistication, and the cutesy, animation-like illustration style may not sing to the hearts of adults who like coffee table children’s books, but Hug a Bull and I Love Ewe definitely got the kids’ seal of approval, and on that basis alone I encourage you to seek them out.

Once the animal noises died down, out came our box of plastic animals and the kids got stuck into matching up baby animals with their parents:



Music we listened to whilst sorting our animal families included:

  • Animal Dads by Two Of A Kind (you can find the lyrics here)
  • Mama Hug by Brady Rymer (you can hear it for free on Brady’s MySpace page here)
  • Daddy-O by Frances England – a gentle love song celebrating Dads!

  • Other activities you could do alongside reading Hug a Bull and I Love Ewe include:

  • Making paper animals using this tutorial from First Palette. By printing so that you get two images per sheet you could produced “child” sized animals to go with the full sized “adult” animals.
  • Reading the series by PatrickGeorge all about animal collective nouns – I’ve reviewed theme here.
  • Creating a joke books about animals using word play – this might appeal to older kids especially. Here are some to get you started:

    Q: What do you call a sleeping bull?
    A: A bull-dozer.

    Q: What happens when a cat eats a lemon?
    A: It becomes a sour puss!

    Q: What do call a bear with no ears?
    A: B!

    Q: Why are fish so smart?
    A: Because they live in schools.

    Q: Why is it hard to play cards in the jungle?
    A: There are too many cheetahs!

    Q: What happens when a frog’s car breaks down?
    A: He gets toad away.

  • When you’ve finished groaning, why don’t you share your favourite animal joke or name for an animal parent?

    Disclosure: I consider Aaron a blogging buddy of mine. He sent me the books for review and asked if I would be happy to share them on my blog, and I am indeed happy to do so 🙂

    4 Responses

    1. Aaron Zenz

      Thanks so much for the super fun review, ladies! And those are some great drawings! I especially loved the horns on that first guy, and a baby lobster in a stroller is so funny – wouldn’t that be fun to see in real life?

      While it’s not in the book, a girl turkey is called a Hen, just like most girl birds. I don’t think that’s fair! She should have a name every bit as silly as “Gobbler.” Maybe we could make up a new one.

      I don’t have a animal joke that comes to mind right away, but here’s one of my favorite poems (it’s by Ogden Nash)…

      The panther is like a leopard,
      Except it hasn’t been peppered.
      Should you behold a panther crouch,
      Prepare to say Ouch.
      Better yet, if called by a panther,
      Don’t anther.

      Thanks again M, J, and Z!

    2. Chels

      I love the Zenz reviews, how fun for you to do it with your kids!

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