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If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss

If I Ran the Zoo (1950)

by Dr. Seuss

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If I Ran the Zoo is a fun and silly story about McGrew Zoo, a fictitious zoo that houses some of the world’s most diverse and eccentric animals. It all started when a young Gerald McGrew visited a zoo but was less than impressed by its collections of mundane animals. He starts telling a story about how if he had his own zoo, he would travel the world to find the most unusual animals to bring to his zoo. With Seuss’ clever rhyming and word-play, this story was exciting from start to finish.
My favorite aspect about this story is how big Gerald McGrew’s imagination is. He is a young boy visiting the zoo for the very first time and immediately notices all the things he would change. I think this is a subtle yet great way to encourage children to dream bigger and to be adventurous. The sky is the limit in Gerald McGrew’s world.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book was Seuss’ style of writing. His words always rhyme and his stanzas are very punchy. Reading this story felt like I was reading an exciting poem of tongue-twisters and giggles. As I was reading, I noticed I was gradually increasing my speed as the story went on. I sensed that the book had its own rhythm that readers could catch on to. Once I found the rhythm, the story gained incredible amounts of flow and the words were rolling off my tongue.
The illustrations in this book are simple yet very colorful. Each page is filled with vibrant yellows, bold blues and radiant reds to draw the reader in. The drawings themselves remind me of doodles and sketches, but once combined with the bright colors, really come to life and highlight the silliness of McGrew Zoo.
Overall, this book is incredibly silly and lighthearted. I think this is a fun yet effective way to have kids practice with rhyming words and word families. This story may seem juvenile and meaningless; however, the ending of this story says otherwise. Dr. Seuss wanted children to think bigger than what was imaginable so one day they could open an extraordinary zoo of their own. ( )
  dluna1 | Mar 10, 2017 |
If I ran the zoo will stimulate and child's imagination. As all children love to imagine and be silly. Dr.Seuss always rhymes and illustrates his pictures well. They always have the same color scheme I find. The pictures are fun and playful and I think kids would love to read this. Just looking at the photos I do not think the pictures tell the story but they do convey the silliness from the text. I had a good time reading this story. I like how it's about a boy dreaming about running the zoo and we are reading about his dreams. A fun project could be to allow students to write a small page about their dreams and draw a picture to go along with it. ( )
  Phallan | Feb 8, 2017 |
a discussion of what a little boy would do if a little boy was in charge of a zoo
1 book
  TUCC | Jan 23, 2017 |
If I ran a Zoo, is a story where a young boy by the name Gerald McGrew imagines if he owned a zoo how he would run it. He talks about "new" is good and is needed for his zoo. He would unlock all of the pens. Talks about all the different animals in his zoo like the sort-of-a-hen that roosts, an elephant cat, and flustard the furry beast. He talks about where the animals come from and what they eat or do. His zoo the McGrew Zoo is the best zoo! ( )
  Hayley.Hustead | Jan 19, 2017 |
I have fond memories of reading this book at the home of a friend. It must have been 1950 or '51. I was in first or second grade. I loved the way that phonics plus rhyme let me figure out all the nonsense words.

My apologies to those who hated the book - I must admit that whatever racism was there, it went right over my head.

I probably won't ever read it again. ( )
  CarolJMO | Dec 12, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394800818, Hardcover)

"It's a pretty good zoo," said young Gerald McGrew, "and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it, too." But if Gerald ran the zoo, the New Zoo, McGrew Zoo, he'd see to making a change or two: "So I'd open each cage. I'd unlock every pen, let the animals go, and start over again." And that's just what Gerald imagines, as he travels the world in this playfully illustrated Dr. Seuss classic (first published back in 1950), collecting all sorts of beasts "that you don't see every day." From the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant to the blistering sands of the Desert of Zind, Gerald hunts down every animal imaginable ("I'll catch 'em in countries no one can spell, like the country of Motta-fa-Potta-fa-Pell"). Whether it's a scraggle-foot Mulligatawny or a wild-haired Iota (from "the far western part of south-east North Dakota"), Gerald amazes the world with his new and improved zoo: "This Zoo Keeper, New Keeper's simply astounding! He travels so far that you think he would drop! When do you suppose this young fellow will stop?"

But Gerald's weird and wonderful globe-trotting safari doesn't end a moment too soon: "young McGrew's made his mark. He's built a zoo better than Noah's whole Ark!" Some of the text and illustrations--imaginative as they are--are obviously dated, such as the following passage: "I'll hunt in the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant/ With helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant,/ And capture a fine fluffy bird called the Bustard/ Who only eats custard with sauce made of mustard." And your children may be the first to recognize that attitudes have changed since the xenophobic '50s. But that doesn't mean this tale need be discarded; instead, it should be discussed. Ironically, Seuss was trying here--in his wild, explosive, and sometimes careless manner--to celebrate the joys of unconventionality and the bliss of liberation! (Ages 4 to 8)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

If Gerald McGrew ran the zoo, he'd let all the animals go and fill it with more unusual beasts--a ten-footed lion, an Elephant-Cat, a Mulligatawny, a Tufted Mazurka, and others.

» see all 3 descriptions

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