Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Zoo Orchestra by Manuel Diaz

Everyone is invited to the Zoo Orchestra!
Enter the delightful world of the Zoo Orchestra, where animals embody the instruments they masterfully play.
The fanciful sounds of the clarinet are played by the angelic pig, who, like his instrument, has a circular snout perfect for making all kinds of sounds.
The gravity-defying squirrel uses a piccolo to whistle out tunes; its pocket-size is very much the large bass players’ envy!
Don’t forget the gentle koala, whose rich-sounding viola is an important addition to every orchestra.
The gravity-defying squirrel uses a piccolo to whistle out tunes; its pocket-size is very much the large bass players’ envy!
Author Manuel Díaz combines his own imaginative paintings with the knowledge and experience as a concert viola player to present a world where any age of reader can learn about the world of classical music. Zoo Orchestra uses humor, imagination, and original art to create a magical symphony of animals that all audiences will enjoy!

I was intrigued by this book because the painting on the cover reminded me of Chinese paintings.

In Zoo Orchestra, readers get to see paintings showing animals playing instruments, and they get to learn more about the instruments and animals depicted.

Honestly, I thought this would be a picture book or a children's book, since one of its NetGalley category is Children's Fiction. I didn't notice the Teens & YA Category until I was ready to review the book. The book, I think, is more of a middle grade book than a children's or teens' book. The text explaining each instrument is usually long, and there are many words that most young children will not know, such as leverage. There are also some technical jargon (instrument parts, etc.) that may be hard for some kids and preteens to imagine if they have no experience with instruments.

All that aside, I thought the concept of this book is interesting. The descriptions for each instrument not only described it, it also sometimes had historical facts included. Some of the lines were pretty funny too. The descriptions for the animals were shorter, but that's okay since most kids will already be familiar with most of them. I really liked the Listen part for each painting the most. Here, the author suggests a song or part of a song featuring the instrument that was just mentioned. It's a great way for kids to hear the instrument at work, as well as listen to classical music.

I thought the paintings, while not always at par with professional artists, were usually excellent likenesses of the animals. However, the overall effect of the paintings may not appeal to some children, especially those who are used to or prefer drawings that are more cute and pretty.

The only thing that I really didn't like was the layout. The arrangement was painting, then description of the instrument, then description of the animal, then the listening suggestion. Each section had a header in a different font and color, but everything else was just plain text on white background. It was a bit like reading a report for school. I think this book would benefit from more color and variety when it comes to the layout.

Thanks to NetGalley and Mill City Press for the e-copy.


  1. You learn more about instruments.
  2. The paintings are generally quite good.
  3. The Listen part of each painting is a nice addition. 


  1. The layout could be more exciting. 

The bear in the painting is mad at the conductor for giving a small suggestion about playing "in tempo." 

  1. Your child likes instruments.
  2. Your child likes animals.
  3. You want to encourage your child to listen to classical music. 



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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