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The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

The Opposite Zoo

by Il Sung Na

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Talented expatriate Korean artist Il Sung Na, whose previous picture-book offerings include the lovely bedtime selection, A Book of Sleep, as well as the beautiful Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit, which explores the changing seasons, turns in this latest title to the concept of opposites. Using a roving monkey as his connective thread, the author/artist examines various opposites - hairy vs. bald, fast vs. slow - as they are exhibited by a series of zoo residents.

Less of a storybook than a meditation on a theme, The Opposite Zoo is a fun introduction to its eponymous topic - opposites, as seen at a zoo - and marks a bit of a departure, in terms of its creator's artistic style. The colors seems a little gentler, a little more pastel, than those used in Na's previous books, and there were less of the little visual details - the spirals and designs often found throughout his books - that I have come to expect. I enjoyed this new offering, but can't honestly say that I appreciated the artwork quite as much as in previous books. Recommended to anyone looking for engaging concept books for younger children. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Aug 19, 2016 |
I have long been fascinated by Il Sung Na's unique illustration style and charmingly odd perspectives and I was excited to explore this new picture book, where he branches out into a new art style.

The book opens with a dreamy blue-gray sky, dotted with tiny stars. We follow a keeper into...The Opposite Zoo. The zoo is closed, but there's a monkey loose and ready to explore. The reader follows the monkey on a journey of discovery as we compare very different animals to each other. An owl is awake, a panda is asleep. A chameleon is shy, a peacock is bold. Seals are black, swans are white. Each pair of opposites is shown with a single word for each contrasting trait. Finally, the sun rises, the monkey returns to its cage, and The Opposite Zoo is open and ready for visitors!

Il Sung Na's style in his previous books has been very specific - he uses what looks almost like collages with lots of background patterns. I love it and it's colorful and amazing, but I'm excited to see he's using a new technique in this latest book. His new art style retains the wonderful colors but has a much more sketchy and loose feel. The vibrant colors pop off the page - an orange an yellow line with a swirly mane, blue and green hippo, rainbow tortoise with watercolor swirls on its shell, and small, spiky hedgehog with reds and purples under its black spines.

From a purely professional standpoint, I am quite pleased that Il Sung Na has added another style to his repertoire, since I can now feature him in one of my We Explore Favorite Artists programs this summer - with both collage and watercolors. I also love the details that are still include although he's branched out into a less-stylized medium.

Verdict: Great for teaching kids about opposites, featuring in programs on art, and just reading for fun. Don't miss this latest book from Il Sung Na. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780553511277; Published 2016 by Alfred A Knopf; Galley provided by publisher; Purchased for the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | Apr 8, 2016 |
beautiful illustrations, unusual opposites
  saltedcarmel | Mar 20, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553511270, Hardcover)

From the creator of A Book of Sleep and A Book of Babies comes a beautiful new book of animals—and opposites!
The sky is dark and the Opposite Zoo is CLOSED. But the monkey's cage is OPEN! Time to explore. . .
Follow the monkey as he visits all the animals in the zoo: fast and slow, big and small, noisy and quiet, soft and prickly! Filled with energetic illustrations, friendly animals, and a clear, simple text—all wrapped up in a gorgeous package—The Opposite Zoo is a fun and lively introduction to animals and opposites for the youngest picture-book audience.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:52:56 -0400)

After the zoo closes, monkey slips out of his cage to explore the zoo, introducing the reader to the other animals and the idea of opposites.

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