Book Review: Good Night, Gorilla

Rating: ★★★★☆

Good Night Gorilla is a charming, nearly-wordless book about a gorilla living in a zoo.  When the zookeeper bids the animals good night one-by-one, the gorilla filches the ring of colored keys from his belt and lets himself out of his cage.  He then follows him around the zoo, matching the keys to the cages of the same color, and letting the animals out.  The animals parade quietly behind the zookeeper as he walks home across a field, bids his wife goodnight and turns off the light.  When all of the animals answer her “Good night, dear,” the wife gets up and returns them to their cages, except for the gorilla who sneaks out a second time to steal back into the couple’s bed.

The simple humor of this story is very accessible to young children, and the bright artwork, softened by evening shadows, evokes a warm, comforting mood.  Children will enjoy the absurdity of animals trooping into a human house, and delight in being “in the know” about the gorilla’s secret plan.  As in the Curious George books, children may vicariously enjoy the gorilla’s mischievous actions, then enjoy his warm feeling of security as he happily falls asleep between the husband and wife who care for him.

(Families who feel strongly that children belong in their own beds may want to read this book with an instruction not to follow Gorilla’s example.)

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Publication Information: Rathmann, Peggy. Good Night, Gorilla. G.P. Putnam. 1994. ISBN: 0399230033.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 00-04, Honey For a Child's Heart, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on July 10, 2009

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