Review By HOMA WOODRUM
A little boy imagines what would happen If All the Animals Came Inside, and it pretty much spells disaster from the get-go in this book by Eric Pinder and illustrated by Marc Brown. I received a review copy of this hardcover large format picture book and my 3-1/2 year old daughter and 1-1/2 year old son enjoyed the lively illustrations that are a mix of photographs, drawings, and collage.
The chaos that results from the title scenario acts either to reinforce animal stereotypes or impress upon imaginative children that wild and exotic animals do belong out in the wild. I leaned to the former interpretation as the animals elbow their way into a family’s daily life – hogging the television and breaking things with abandon – but my kids definitely had the latter view.
On the opening page we learn that if the animals came inside the people in the family would cry and hide while the dog and cat would bark and hiss. Our narrator, however, imagines doing things like taking a ride on an elephant as glass shatters or playing hide and seek with monkeys and hippos. The verse is energetic and the refrain as each animal and accompanying activity is introduced is “Oh, what a terrible mess we would make!”
As the story progresses the animals become more boisterous and loud:
From sunset to sunrise, the wolves and the owls would keep us awake with their hooting and howls.
We’d have nowhere to sleep, so we’d stretch and we’d yawn.
We’d pack up our tent and go play on the lawn.
As fun as a house full of critters could be my dog and my kitten are plenty for me.
But oh, what a wild and wonderful ride when all the animals came inside.
I think the book is fun and well illustrated and my kids certainly enjoyed it. I just want to give fair warning that the tone is not entirely complimentary to the animals. As I mentioned above, this could serve as a reminder that animals are happiest in their own habitats and I did like that the boy acknowledges that traditional pets are just right for his home. If you do decide to check this one out, two great companion stories would be Quick as a Cricket by Audrey and Don Wood (a fantastic book in its own right) and Children Make Terrible Pets (Carolyn reviewed it previously for Vegbooks) so that you could discuss perspectives on what is “proper” behavior for different beings.