In this picturebook we meet a little boy confused by the mixture of feelings he is experiencing. His changing emotions are personified as a zoo inside him – with a wide range of creatures anxious to break free. These are mostly real animals but also include the fantastical too. In turn he is fizzing with excitement like a dragon, mischievous as a monkey or doleful as a llama. At other times he tries to hide his emotions, quash the zoo inside him and try to fit in or even to hide like a chameleon.
Addressing the reader, the book ends with the child narrator making a plea for acceptance and friendship although he may appear different. There is a reminder that we are all complicated and may have our own zoo partly hidden below the surface.
This is a book which aims to increase understanding of the range of emotions in all of us and to raise awareness and acceptance of neuro diverse children. It may also increase curiosity in some of the creatures described and pictured, some likely to be familiar to young readers and some lesser known such as ‘mustang’ and ‘skylark.’ Some of the vocabulary chosen for the rhyming text is likely to be unfamiliar too, and at times it is quite ambitious eg foraging, igniting. Attractive and colourful illustrations bring the range of emotions to life.