20 May 2011

The Midnight Zoo

by Sonya Hartnett

Penguin. Australian, Young Adult. Hardcover RRP $24.95

Reviewer - Sandy Fussell
I review a lot of books. I read even more. Most I pass on to other readers and school libraries. This one I am keeping on my bookshelf.

The Midnight Zoo is a paradoxical telling – a gentle tale of violence. Two gypsy boys, Andrej and Tomas, carry their baby sister away through a war ravaged land. They are tired, hungry and have seen things no child should.

They stumble into a zoo with a motley assortment of animals trapped in their cages, without care and food. These animals can talk – the lioness, the wolf, the bear, the eagle, the chamois, the seal and even a kangaroo. And they don’t like humans much.

As the children and the animals share their stories, they find similarities in the loss of freedom and once enemies, man and animal, find a new trust.

The Midnight Zoo is a wonderful combination of beautiful, emotive writing and a compelling story. It teaches and entertains. There is always hope.

          … and in its cage, the eagle shook its wings and readied itself to fly.

The Midnight Zoo was shortlisted for the 2011 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year for Older Readers.

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