'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day

Books 4 Learning - March 2011

Through the entertaining text and beautiful illustrations, children will learn about animal habits and temperaments, the zoo keeper's job, poetry, and rhyme.

Katie's Literature Lounge - July 1, 2009

This adaptation of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is sure to having children laughing! The zookeepers are in the midst of preparing for "Zoo Day," or the day when the school children will be visiting the zoo for their field trip. The holding areas must be cleaned... the animals, too, despite all their mischief!

This book is really fun! The rhyming text along with the somewhat predictable nature (if children are familiar with 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) and illustrations (for use of context clues) make the book perfect for beginning readers. I could totally see using this book with a group of kindergarten, first or second graders if they are taking a field trip to the zoo. The teaching activities provided by Arbordale give teachers almost an entire weeks worth of morning work activities that would be perfect for the week leading up to a zoo field trip - writing prompts, word searches, Who Am I? riddles, silly sentences (nouns, adjectives), animal sorting activities, zoo vocabulary, Venn diagrams... Definitely worth checking out!

Animal Keepers' Forum - March 2008

This delightful adaptation of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas shares zoo keeper and animal preparations for the upcoming "Zoo Day." But things aren't going according to plan... the llamas won't quit spitting, the giraffes are drooling, and the zebras aren't happy at all with their stripes. Meanwhile, the zoo keepers are scurrying this way and that, cleaning up poop, ringing mealtime bells, and trying to get the animals bathed. Will "Zoo Day" go off without a hitch?

The illustrations are delightful and the Creative Minds section in the back of the book offers matching activities, fun animal facts, information about zoo keepers and more. A great gift for that special child on your gift list. Appropriate for ages 3-7 years old.
- The Journal of the American Association of Zoo Keepers, Inc.

ForeWord Magazine - March/April 2008

"'Twas the day before zoo day, when all ’round the park, the creatures felt restless and wished it were dark.” If this rhyme sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a clever take on The Night Before Christmas, updated and told as a tale about how zookeepers care for their animals.

Readers will discover the amount of work required to prepare for a zoo visit. Workers must feed the animals, clean their dwellings, and clean the animals too. They’ll also find that the animals, like children, are sometimes restless and want to play. Funny examples include naughty elephants that use their trunks as sprinklers and get the workers soaked, and llamas who must be persuaded to be polite and not spit on everyone.

Catherine Ipcizade is an author and writing mentor for children. She has written three other books about zoo animals. In addition to writing picture books, Ipcizade has published more than 400 magazine articles. Illustrator Ben Hodson won the 2007 Ben Franklin Award for “best interior art” for How the Moon Regained Its Shape, and received the 2004 Glass Slipper Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Canadian Conference.

Children will love this story for its bold colors and familiar meter. Parents and educators will enjoy using the educational materials, which includes a picture–word matching exercise, animal fun facts table, a zookeeper fact sheet and an online supplement. (February)
- Angela Black

Ready Set Read Reviews - Dec 2008

Twas' the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore was always one of my favorite Christmas stories to read. I loved the rhyming lines, and the jaunty flow. When I was given the opportunity to review a few books for Arbordale I immediately had to raise my hand for the book Twas' the Day Before Zoo Day by Catherine Ipcizade for that very reason. Nevermind that my family loves going to the zoo, and we go countless times every year - so much so that we more than pay for our membership several times over. I wondered though would a book with a play on the title like this end up following in some format the story of Moore's I've grown to love over the years? The answer, when the book arrived, was a quick and unequivocal, 'yes'.

The way the author wrote the story has a very similar feel. I couldn't help but read the lilting text in the same way I would read the text from Moore's Twas' the Night Before Christmas. The story itself though is, obviously, about something entirely different than Moore's. Instead of getting ready for Christmas morning and a visit from Santa, in Twas' the Day Before Zoo Day readers follow the zoo staff around as they prep the zoo for a visiting class field trip. They feed and wash the animals, clean the grounds and even lecture the animals on how to behave. The animals, meanwhile, take it all in stride. Some get excited, yet others maintain their lazy disinterested position (just like they do when you're actually there visiting them).

This was cute and very cleverly thought out. My 3 yr old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations by Ben Hodson, but I will say of all them I really didn't care for the monkeys or gorillas. Pretty minor complaint there though. So, no worries.

Another plus factor to mention about this book, is like with the other Arbordale titles we've had the pleasure of reading/reviewing this one comes with a fun and handy "For Creative Minds" section in the back. These extra four pages provide educational information that kids will both learn from and enjoy. On the first two pages they can play a matching game. Readers can read the habitat and survival clues to help determine which animal picture it belongs to. Younger children who aren't yet old enough to follow along with the facts can simply tell you the name of each animal as they go through the picture list. On the third page readers will find an extensive list of Animal Fun Facts for the animals featured in the story. They'll learn which class each falls into (bird, mammal, amphibian, etc), what the baby is called, weight at birth, family group (herd, band, pride, etc), and what they eat (omnivore, herbivore, etc). Again this might be a little advanced for the younger readers in the group, but it's a great teaching tool that even they can benefit from. Last but not least, on the fourth page there is a fun fact section about Zoo Keepers and what their jobs entail. Then at the bottom there's a fill in the blank section with five questions your child can read and respond to regarding animals and taking care of them.

With as much as my girls love animals and trips to the zoo, I know this book is sure to become a regularly read selection in this house.

Thanks again to Arbordale for the opportunity! OUR RATING: 4 hearts

Resource Links, Canada - January 2009

In this adaptation of Clement Moore’s classic poem The Night before Christmas, zoo keepers are making last minute preparations for a class visit. The workers make the rounds, feeding and watering the animals. They also encourage the critters to be on their best behavior: “The trainers begged the llamas to please be polite/ ‘Don’t go around spitting. It’s just not all right’”. Animal facts are conveyed in the rollicking verse and readers learns that monkeys “hang down from their toes,” giraffes use “their blue tongues to drink and to slurp” and “rhinos weigh as much as a car.” The American Association of Zoo Keepers is acknowledged for verifying the accuracy of the information presented. The oil illustrations show friendly, anthropomorphized faces on all of the zoo animals. The scenes are detailed and show a variety of animals engaged in different activities, from meerkats nibbling on bugs to snakes shedding their skin. Story stretching ideas such as an “Animal Fun Facts” chart, “Adaptation Matching Activity” and information on the zoo keeping profession are included at the end of the book.
- Linda Ludke, Resource Links, Canada

School Library Journal - June 2008

The zookeepers are busy getting ready for Zoo Day. They are cleaning cages and bathing and feeding the animals. Some of the creatures, like recalcitrant children, are ill-behaved. The llamas are spitting, the giraffes are slurping. “While out in the dirt, naughty elephants rolled,/not listening at all to what they’d been told./They frolicked in mud to cool down from the sun./Their trunks became sprinklers and soaked everyone.” Finally, the sun goes down and the workers go home. The next morning, the animals and their babies prepare themselves for the crowds of children arriving on yellow buses. . . Back matter has a fill-in matching activity, some “animal fun facts,” and a writing exercise about zookeepers.
Linda Staskus, Parma Regional Library, OH

Armchair Interviews - January 2008

Catherine Ipcizade’s ’Twas the Day Before Zoo Day is a clever adaptation of the classic, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, complete with rhyme. Hang on for a ride, parents. This book is a ‘giggler,’ and you’ll have to fight to keep from laughing out loud while you’re reading it–and you’ll be interrupted by the children’s laughter while you’re reading it to them. But that’s a good thing.

Every person and every animal is getting ready for Zoo Day, but there isn’t much that’s going the way it should. The animals are not cooperating. Whew! Perhaps when Zoo Day arrives the llamas won’t spit, the giraffes won’t drool or burp, the elephants won’t roll in the dirt and soak everyone with trunks filled with water, and the zebras will finally be satisfied with their stripes. But even then, there are so many more animals in the zoo and other things might happen. Will Zoo Day be successful? You’ll just have to read the book to see! I’d watch those pesky monkeys though.

‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day is destined to be a child’s favorite with the comical telling of the story and the fun illustrations. The added attraction is the activities and animal fun facts at the back of the book.

Armchair Interviews says: Boys and girls will love ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day.Andrea Sisco

Reading to Know blog - February 26, 2009

No, the weather is not accommodating enough for us to hit up the zoo just yet. Moms in rainy Oregon are looking for a goodly amount of indoor activities to keep the kids contained and energized. A few more months and we'll be free to explore the outdoors again and one of the things I am looking forward to doing is going to the zoo with our young squire. In the meantime, we dream with a few good books.

I recently discovered Arbordale Publishing. I was initially attracted to them because they seem to have a good set of artists who provide the illustrations for their books. (I reviewed Little Skink's Tail last week which was another Sylvan publication and the illustrations in that book were fantastic also.) Sylvan has a title called 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day which tells the story of the zoo as it is before the kids come. Zookeepers are bustling about cleaning animals. Animals are resting comfortably as well as keeping the zookeeper's busy with their individual antics! All of this is told in rhyme and is quite clever. Thanks to Horton, we're particularly fascinated by elephants and I'm pleased to say that the elephants make a few appearances within the pages of Zoo Day. In fact, he loves the elphants in this book so much that I'm frequently prevented from turning the page away from them. When we're done with the story I am obligated to return to the elphant page and the book will remain open on the floor, where they can be viewed conveniently as a full page spread (and floor decor). My one and ONLY objection to this book is that animal "doodoo" is referenced which kinda bugs me as the mother of a boy. I'd rather him not use that word but since he can't read yet I can substitute another word in its place without affecting the rhyme. Otherwise, the book has great kid appeal and - again - love the illustrations! - June 2008

Reviewed by Cayden (age 4) and Max (age 2) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

“’Twas the Day Before Zoo Day” is a play on the popular classic “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  In this book we explore how the zookeepers ready the animals in the zoo for Zoo Day.  Many of the animals aren’t exactly cooperative though as we see the llamas spitting and the elephants rolling in mud and spraying water.

Cayden:  “Look at all of the animals on the cover!  Can we name them?”
Max:  “Animals!”
Cayden:  “My favorite animals are the monkeys!”
Max:  “Mouse!”
Cayden:  “There is a mouse on his shoulder!  Why is that mouse up there?”
Cayden:  “I thought monkeys hang by their tails and not their feet!”
Cayden:  “Rhinos eat grass.  See?”
Max:  “Grass!”
Cayden:  “Why do those things eat bugs?  Look that bug is running away so they can’t eat it!”
Cayden:  “What is a doo-doo?”
Max:  “Spray!  Spray!”
Cayden:  “The elephant sucks the water in his trunk and sprays everyone!”
Cayden:  “Why aren’t the zebras happy?”
Max:  “Bus!”
Cayden:  “The bus is bringing the kids to the zoo!”
Cayden:  “My favorite part was the game at the end where we matched the animals!”

Parent’s comments:
“’Twas the Day Before Zoo Day” is an excellent book that teaches children a lot about the different quirks of the animals in a zoo as well as the job functions of a zookeeper.  My children loved looking at the pictures of the animals and even learned some new ones, like the meerkat.  Just like “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this book is written in the format of rhyme.

At the end of the book there is an educational section entitled “For Creative Minds” that contains learning activities based on the material presented throughout the book.  My children had a lot of fun with the “Adaptation Matching Activity” and learning about the tasks that the zookeeper performs.  “’Twas the Day Before Zoo Day” is a super learning adventure for children and we highly recommend it!

CLCD - March 2008

As the title suggests, this book is modeled after the familiar “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” tale. Anyone who liked the Christmas tale is sure to like this playful, rhyming story that goes through the process of getting the zoo ready for opening day. An array of animals, including flamingoes, monkeys, llamas, giraffes, and meercats carry out some fun antics while the zookeepers prepare for the big day. Anticipation mounts throughout and ends with the arrival of a busload of kids eager to see the animals. Readers and listeners can gather an amazing amount of animal information from the text. They can learn about how the animals look, feed, and act as well as something about their habitats. After a few reads, youngsters will be able to participate in reading some of the text that fits well into the sing-song rhyming pattern. Colorful, humorous illustrations enhance the story and plenty of extras are available for teachers and parents in the Creative Mind section at the back of the book. It includes a matching activity, animal facts, and information about zookeepers. This book will fit well as a supplement for science, social studies, and language lessons. BIBLIO: 2008, Arbordale, Ages 3 to 7, $16.95.
- Nancy Attebury

The Well-Read Child - January 2008

'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day is an adaptation of Clement Moore’s classic poem “The Night Before Christmas.” As the title implies, it’s the day before “Zoo Day,” when lots of children and their families will be visiting the zoo. The trainers and zookeepers are in a rush to make sure everything is clean and all of the animals are on their best behavior, but the elephants can’t resist the mud, and the llamas won’t stop spitting. Through this entertaining story, we learn many fun facts about animals. For example, did you know that lions sleep 20 hours a day and that rhinos weigh as much as a car? And who wouldn’t have fun reading text like this?: “Giraffes used their blue tongues to drink and to slurp. ‘We might drool sometimes, but we try not to burp.’” The rhythmic text makes for a great read aloud, and children will laugh out loud more than once, especially at Ben Hodson’s vivid illustrations of the animals with hilarious facial expressions. If you have a child who loves animals, this would be an excellent choice. As with all their books, Arbordale has a wealth of teaching activities and more supplemental materials for parents and teachers.
- Jill Tullo

Family Briefs - January 2008

I recently received a couple of books from Arbordale Publishing that I agreed to review (I’m always on the lookout for good children’s books). The mission of Arbordale Publishing is to bring science and math to children through literature, so I was a little skeptical - I didn’t expect an educational book to have much entertainment value.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, by ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day by Catherine Ipcizade. I read this to my three oldest children, who are 8, 5, and 3 years of age. They all enjoyed the story, which held their attention right through to the end.

The story line has the zoo keepers diligently working to get the animals and the zoo all cleaned up and ready for the next day. All along the way, the author drops in interesting facts about the animals and their habitats. For example, did you know that African meerkats eat bugs? Since my 5-year-old no longer insists on watching the Lion King every day, I’d actually had the opportunity to forget that.

My children thought all the things that go wrong in the zoo were rather funny. They laughed and laughed about the llamas spitting, the alligator that gets stung in the eye, and the elephants that roll around in the mud (sometimes that sounds like my day around here!). My 3- and 5-year-olds were most interested in the animals, and they both giggled when the one of the zookeepers cleaned up the turtle doodoo.

While the book doesn’t offer an inspirational lesson or a meaningful moral , it is a cute poem full of animal facts that are bound to interest any child. The wonderful illustrations by Ben Hodson give a unique, child-like detail to all of the zoo inhabitants.

What’s really neat about the Arbordale Publishing books, however, is the “For Creative Minds” section that follows the story. These educational activities are a wonderful way for children to learn more about some of the characters they’ve just read about, in addition to providing some opportunities for discussing further ideas with your child. Great for some quality one-on-one time!

My 8-year-old liked the book too, but he was most interested in doing some of the activities in the back. The book certainly has appeal for a wide range of ages - that’s good news for a mother of four!

If you’d like to learn more about Arbordale Publishing, you can visit their website at They have lots of free online resources like teaching activities, English and Spanish audiobooks, reading comprehension and math quizzes, and Learning Links for deeper science study. They even have stuffed animals for sale that correspond to favorite book characters.
- Karen Herring

Art of Creativity - June 2008

What happens to animals in the zoo when there are no people there to observe them? This engrossing book by author Catherine Ipcizade takes us behind the scenes at the zoo the day before people arrive. The text is in humorous and informative verse depicting varying animals’ behavior and habits. You meet monkeys, rhinos, llamas, lions, alligators, and elephants, to name a few.

Ben Hodson’s illustrations are a delight as he adds extra touches and more fun. Watch each zookeeper’s shoulders for their pets and the pets’ antics! The creative pages at the end of the book add even more information, questions to answer, and a matching activity. Wouldn’t it be fun for a classroom to playact the different jobs people can have at a zoo? Likewise, children at home will enjoy mimicking the animals or just curling up reading the book either by themselves or with mom and dad. A must have for a home or classroom library for ages 3 – 7.
-Judith Nasse - February 2008

”Daddy's takin' us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, Daddy's takin' us to the zoo tomorrow, and we can stay all day!”* All children love learning about animals, particularly the big, scary wild animals of legend found in zoos. I suspect that if given the opportunity to identify their most favorite places to visit they would say zoos. That knowledge provides the inspiration for Catherine Ipcizade’s book ’Twas the day Before Zoo Day. Just what does go on behind the scenes?

Set to a familiar rhyme readers see what might happen before the zoo opens—I’m certain you’ll recognize the story.

"’Twas the day before Zoo Day, when all ‘round the park,
The creatures felt restless and wished it were dark.
Zoo rangers all scurried to get things prepared.
Flamingos stood antsy on one leg and stared.

Before the kids arrive with their cameras the monkeys might practice dancing, singing, and hanging upside down. Giraffes drink and slurp water with their blue tongues (they try not to burp) and the llamas are asked to be polite and not spit.

Through the clever use of Clement Moore’s story, young readers are introduced to a variety of zoo animals and hypothetical thoughts about what might happen behind the scenes. They not only see some animals being silly, but watch zoo keepers at work. The two zoo keepers in this story need to keep the elephants in line, although I think the elephants won when they showered the keepers. They scrubbed and bathed elephants, fed turtles, cleaned up doodoo, threw food to the bear family, and scolded llamas.

She introduces some adaptations and behaviors in the rhyme and children are encouraged to listen,

"The lions just slept, not a care to be found
Their heads on their paws, they nestled the ground
When you’re king of the jungle, these things are okay,
So they sleep and they sleep--20 hours each day.

This zoo also has rhinos, African meerkats, toucans, alligators, and zebras, as well as snakes, geckos, and antelopes. At the end of the day the keepers say goodbye and before long it’s show time for the animals and Daddy’s bringing everyone into the zoo.

The author created a playful story drawing inspiration from the classic holiday poem and her own child’s interests, while illustrator, Bill Hodson creates charming, friendly, and mischievous zoo animals. His attention to detail encourages young readers to look closely and many will enjoy the mouse that follows the zookeepers through their day. The combination of story, rhyme, and illustrations should have most readers giggling and eager to visit the zoo. While at the zoo they will be watching the animals—is the giraffe’s tongue really blue?

Home school parents and teachers appreciate the book’s “Creative Minds” section and online “Learning Links” that guide the learning experience. Focusing on adaptations, one activity matches animal images to the appropriate adaptation. Which animal has long, curved claws and long tongue that helps it grab insects? For the educational content I would have liked tighter alignment between the adaptation mentioned in the story and the adaptation identified in the matching activity--especially for the younger readers.

The “Creative Minds” section includes the book’s last four pages. Animal Fun Facts and (animal, class, babies are called, birth weight, family group, and food type) and images extend the learning. Online you can get learning standards and 33 pages of activities appropriate for early elementary grades, and links to great website. While I think the language arts and comprehension suggestions will be greatly appreciated by any teacher, the coloring pages will be loved by all. These are taken from the book.

As always, I rave about the Arbordale books and their attention to detail and to the needs of educators who want quality science books for the younger elementary grades. No, this is not an accurate depiction of what really happens in the zoo, but it does provide an age-appropriate introduction. The clever re-use of the Clement Moore story, combined with the zoo experience and the introductions to zoo animals, makes this a winner. I recommend this for first and second grade use in classrooms, but also for just reading to three and four year olds.

*I first heard Tom Paxton’s song sung by my sister-in-law, who probably first heard it from a recording by Peter, Paul, and Mary many years ago. Educational activities can be found at Just select the book and follow the links.
- Patsy Side

Baton Rouge Advocate - June 2008

By Catherine Ipcizade,
illustrated by Ben Hodson
Arbordale Publishing, $16.95

Forget about presents and Santa Claus and throw in a lot of animals in a zoo and you’ve got this entertaining adaptation of the classic ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. Told in the same rhyming form as the classic story, in this one the crew is getting ready for a special day, Zoo Day. However, the animals have other things in mind, spitting and drooling and throwing mud and such. The poor alligator is so unnerved, he mistakes a bee for a fly and get stung in the eye. It seems the lions are the only one unaffected by the expected onslaught of visitors for Zoo Day — they’re just sleeping it off. Little by little, everyone gets bathed and fed and the big day arrives. The rhyming component keeps the story moving along, and Hodson gives personalities to the animals with his wonderful illustrations. At the back of the book are three pages of activities, fun facts and information on being a zookeeper. A good choice for any little animal lover.

A Patchwork of Books - May 2008

'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day, written by Catherine Ipcizade and illustrated by Ben Hodson, is a selection both my husband and I really enjoyed. To the tune of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, the reader gets to learn just how the zoo animals and their keepers get ready for the big day at the zoo. Unfortunately for the keepers, none of the animals want to cooperate, making for a very crazy day, filled with silly animal antics.

I read it out loud to the baby every few days and Aaron read it to my belly last night. The illustrations are adorable and the rhyming is perfect. I also really like how different activities are included in the back of the book, allowing the reader to do worksheets and puzzles on the different animal facts they learned throughout the story. It's a cute, educational selection that will definitely be kept on my shelves.
- Amanda Snow

M. G. Paregian - January 2018

Another delightful and fully-illustrated booklet for children produced by the prolific publisher. This is the story of Zoo Day when on the day before, the animals "felt restless and wished it were dark." In this full-color, with artwork to the edge of the pages, the following animals are included: Alligators, Giraffes, Rhinos, Antelopes, Gorillas, Snakes, Black Bears, Llamas, Zebras, and many more! This interest-holding technique includes the many zoo animals woven into the story of Zoo Day.