Zoo Do! Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park
XANDER PLANNED A PANDA PARTY. YES, A DANDY WHOOP-DE-DO!
BUT XANDER WAS THE ONLY PANDA. JUST ONE PANDA AT THE ZOO.
XANDER SAT AND CHEWED BAMBOO.
HE CHANGED HIS PLANS AND POINT OF VIEW.
How do you host the perfect party?
Pro party planners advise assembling invitees with something in common for a simpatico guest list.
Well, that's Xander Panda's plan, but there's one big problem. With zero other pandas in his zoo, Xander broadens his reference group to... bears. There are the usual suspects nearby--Black Bear, Brown Bear, both Polar Bears.... Grizzly, and, well, Koala?
An all bear bash it is, with an omnivore menu of berries, honey, eucalyptus, bamboo, plus fish and grubs. But then Koala brings up the little matter of, er, genus:
"I AM NOT A BEAR, I SWEAR. I AM A MARSUPIAL!
MARSUPIALS ARE RATHER RARE. WILL I NOT BE WELCOME THERE?
Xander gives the matter a lot of bamboo-chewing thought.
Okay. He widens the guest list to everyone with fur, a mammalian celebration! Xander hands out new invites!
But now Rhinoceros has a problem that seems at first absurd.
"I WON'T COME WITHOUT MY BIRD."
Having forgotten about the rhinoceros-bird symbiosis, Xander has to rethink his list. All right, a fur-and-feather fest it is!
But then Crocodile, beguiling smile and all, points out the evolutionary connection of reptiles with birds, and asks for an exception for his kind. It's back to the bamboo patch for more mulling and chewing. Can he eschew reptiles? This party is getting totally out of hand. Too much for one panda to do!
But there's a hostess with the mostest at hand.
"NICE TO MEET YOU, XANDER PANDA.
I'M AMANDA SALAMANDER.
With Amanda handling the details, and her family of amphibians on board, it's Calling All Creatures at the zoo, with people, too, for the perfect panda party, in Newbery-winner Linda Sue Park's new picture book, Xander's Panda Party (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2013). The author of award-winning historical fiction, Park proves herself quite the poet in her latest rhyme-fest. Matt Phelan's illustrations are picture perfect in black line and water-colored artwork that portrays a lion-and-lamb peace truce in which the koala snoozes in a coil of python and Brown Bear and Croc trip the light fantastic, while Xander discovers someone new at the zoo and the pandas are now two! Park's verse flow naturally in a a prose layout, and her story has a lot to say about expanding the circle of friends in a perfect party after all. This is a delightful picture book which, with its naturally charming rhymes, will practically read itself.
Park even appends an author's note that explains how her son's enthusiasm for all things panda inspired the book and adds a simple explanation of symbiotic relationships in in nature and how with DNA testing, pandas have recently switched their taxonomic classification from the raccoon family to the bear family.