Bethanie Deeney Murguia. Zoe Gets Ready. New York: Arthur A. Levien Books, 2012. 30 pages.
This delightful picture big is an absolute joy to read with your little one–though, I’m guessing, substantially more joyful to read with a little girl than a little boy. The plot is simple: it’s Saturday and Zoe, who looks to be somewhere between 4 and 6, gets to decide what she’s going to wear for the day. And, for the rest of the book, she thinks about what kind of day she wants to have, and imagines herself wearing the appropriate clothes.
It sounds like a simple enough idea, and you’re probably thinking that it sounds suspiciously like a similar sequence in Olivia. But Zoe is a much, much better protagonist than Olivia, and not just because she’s innocent of torturing the cat or destroying a priceless world heritage site in Venice (but that’s the subject of another review). The little nuances Murguia gives her show Zoe’s sense of wonder at it all. You wouldn’t think that a closet full of clothes could be so magical, but it’s easy to see how, in the eyes of a toddler, it is. And, in the hands of a skilled artist, we, the reader, get to share in that magic.
There are a lot of little details I love. for example, as Zoe is standing in front of her closet, her little sister and dog wander in, and they join her in each of her imagined adventures. On first read you might not even realize it, until, on a page where Zoe imagines herself hidden in a tree while her sister and dog play below, a word balloon from her mother breaks in, asking is she’s seen her sister.
There’s a lot to love about this book.
Let’s face it–if your kid ends up liking this book, you’re going to be reading it again and again and probably even again. Zoe Gets Ready is one of those picture books with enough little details to keep you enjoying the read as much as your little one. Most kids’ books are pretty much identical on the big things–they let you bond with your child and share some sort of positive message about the power of imagination, perserverance, acceptance, or whatever. It’s the ones that get the little things right that you don’t mind reading time after time. And Murguia definitely gets the little things right here.
Bottom line, this is a great book–especially recommended for reading to an older toddler with a younger sister.