Calm Down, Zebra by Lou Kuenzler and Julia Woolf

Calm Down, Zebra is a madcap rhyming story that introduces young children to colours, animals and the joy of art and painting. We love cheeky Zebra who is determined to have fun and takes Annie’s painting lesson into a wildly creative new direction!

The Story: Annie is helping her baby brother, Joe, to learn his colours. She asks animals to bring her the paint that matches the colours of their skin or fur but things start to go wrong when the polar bear appears with pink stripes! Zebra is revealed as being involved and his mischief is infectious, soon the animals are painting each other with spots, stripes and intricate patterns. At first Annie is cross but then realises that everybody is having fun expressing themselves through art!

This colourful caper gets more and more messy as the characters get more and more ambitious with their paintings, it’s a real celebration of the joy of creating art! There’s also a sparkly surprise inside when an unusual bird appears…

Julia Woolf’s illustrations are bold and colourful and get progressively messier as the story unfolds. Toddler Joe’s grin gets bigger and bigger as the animals get more creative with colours and patterns and by the end of the story he has painted a whole set of black and white pictures using his own choice of colours. Zebra also looks extremely colourful too!

Calm Down, Zebra has an easy to read rhyming text and would be a great story to read aloud to groups of children in Early Years. It can be used to stimulate colour recognition activities and children could also be encouraged to sort animals according to colour. A Calm Down, Zebra wall display would make a wonderful addition to a classroom wall, children could follow Joe’s example and paint black and white animal pictures.

The story reminds me of a teaching practice I did with a class of seven year olds. Two of them asked me what they should paint and took me literally when I said “Why don’t you paint each other?” – I meant a picture of each other! Fortunately the parents saw the funny side and I still passed the teaching practice but it gave me a great lesson in giving clear instructions!

We’d not met Zebra before but we’re definitely going to look out for his first book Not Yet, Zebra in which Annie looks at the alphabet.

Age Range: 3 +

Author: Lou Kuenzler / Illustrator: Julia Woolf

Thank you to Faber & Faber for sending a review copy of this colourful crazy story 🙂

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