A beautiful story about appreciating that beauty comes in many forms...
There is back story to The Beauty Contest at the Zoo that I hope the author won’t mind me sharing – and I only do so because I believe that knowing it makes this silly rhyming tale something special and allows you to better appreciate its meaning. Kevin Price suffered the tragic loss of his young daughter, Maisie in 2009. The Beauty Contest at the Zoo is the culmination of a father’s devotion and grief for his daughter.
Maisie is at the zoo helping her father, Bertie the zookeeper with the animals before it opens. But there’s a problem – the animals are all bored and want something to do. Then, Maisie has a fabulous idea – a beauty contest! Each animal is convinced that they deserve to win; each testifying to the fabulousness of their respective spots, stripes, long necks or sharp teeth… how on earth is Maisie to choose the winner?
The illustrations throughout are bright, fresh and simply gorgeous; with an impish Maisie dancing across the pages performing pirouettes and arabesques in amongst being grappled by a snake, riding a camel and hanging upside down from a tree branch! The rhyming text is delightful, swooping and diving, crawling and climbing… you get a real sense of partnership between the words and the images on the page. Price also manages to thoughtfully convey titbits of educational information about each featured animal intermingled with a good-sized dollop of silliness. Yes, if we have to nit-pick, there is the odd typo that should have been edited out. And yes, there are a couple of couplets that fall a bit flat - but overall, this is an irresistible read that trills and prances along like a merry jig. It makes me think: wouldn’t you just have loved to have met the real Maisie? Price is an inspiration to all parents and a poignant reminder that you have to taste the bitter in order to appreciate the sweet.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012