The idea for this story came about as I was (once again) pondering the different ways adults and children perceive time. Specifically, I'd been thinking about how hard it is to get children to leave various activities—playdates, playgrounds, parties. I’ve come to think of it as “extraction”. Children will be happy to leave when they’ve finished what they want to do. Period. It’s not about time, and it will (almost) never coincide with an adult schedule.
I began with the first two spreads, scribbled in pencil in my sketchbook. I loved the humor and range of emotion as we turn the page from Zoe’s fantasy to her reality. Thankfully, my editor agreed.
In this first spread, we see Zoe in full explorer mode, narrating the action as she swings through the jungle.
Turn the page and we are faced with reality—an interruption by a mother that CLEARLY does not understand the importance of Zoe's quest. The shift from fantasy to reality underscores Zoe’s irritation.
The spreads alternate throughout the book between fantasy and the playground. This gave me an amazing opportunity to think about how Zoe’s fantasy emerged from the reality. Above, a jungle scene in which Zoe crosses a crocodile infested river on a log.
On the next spread, we see that the log is a balance beam, the river is a water play area, and the crocodiles are just toddlers.
So, that’s it for show and tell. But with summer just around the corner and playground time in full swing (ahem, no pun intended), Zoe’s Jungle is just the thing for your book bag. Pick one up at a book store near you. As always, I am happy to send a signed, personalized bookplate if you mail me a SASE. (Contact info is here.)
I’ll be reading Zoe’s Jungle and doing some fun activities at Diesel in the Marin Country Mart on June 6th (6:00pm). There will be cookies. And pajamas! And there’s a playground just outside for those who want to recreate Zoe’s adventure or have one of their own.
More about Zoe’s Jungle
“Zoe is full of spitfire and dash…How are young readers to resist?”—Kirkus Reviews
"Charming pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations reveal to readers both the lush green jungle teeming with wild animals and bright flowers, as well as the impressive playground just ripe for imagining. Wonderful vocabulary introduces such words as “glimpses,” “stealthy,” “relentless,” “ingenuity,” and “unfathomable.”—School Library Journal