1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle (a review)

The Library Adventure uses affiliate links, see our policies for more information.

Disclosure: The Library Adventure uses affiliate links, please see our policies for more information.

Book: 1, 2, 3 To the Zoo
Author/Illustrator: Eric Carle
Publisher: The Putnam & Gosset Group; ©1998
Format: Picture Book, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0399611728
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Reading Level: Pre-K

This is a beautiful picture book about a zoo train. With every turn of the page, there is a two page picture featuring a type of zoo animal in a group on a train car equal to the written number on the page (going from 1 to 10). The final page is the zoo where all the animals from the train are now in their cages and the train is empty. Besides the written numbers, there isn’t any other dialogue, making it a true picture book.

My Thoughts

What is not to love about an Eric Carle book? He creates books that just are filled with delights for the visual senses. I love that this book is solely illustrated which makes it very easy for my three year old to “read” on his own. He can count the animals and then identify the number. This is exactly what we are working on with him in our Pre-K curriculum, making it an ideal book for us during this year.


Something else I love is that along the bottom footer of the page is a miniature version of the zoo train and each page has the train PLUS the cars it has added in the pages previous. So on the page for #2, it has the engine and then the animal car for #1. The page for #3 has the engine plus the animal cars for #1 and #2 and so on. On the page where the zoo is featured, it shows an EMPTY train and cars with all the animals now in their cages. It’s just a cute little extra that adds for extra number practice/repetition.

This book is definitely geared for the Pre-K learner without very much knowledge the numbers-or for those who are just beginning to identify quantities and numbers. I think it would be great review for a Kindergartner at the beginning of the year to make sure their number recognition is there. That being said, my seven year old LOVES Eric Carle and happily sat through this book engaged with the illustrations of the creatures. He will also “read” it to my three year old going through each page and leading him to count and identify the numbers.

Beyond the Book

This book would be a great add-in for themes relating to:


Another idea would be to have a snack of animal crackers/cookies while reading this book and sorting the animals into groups and numbers. There is an excellent coordinating activity to go with this book (including a printable) available at The Gift of Gab. And did I mention coordinating flashcards? Talk about a great resource to keep using once the book has been read!

This book is a definite must-have for any in the 2-4 age range, but will be appreciated by all ages—Eric Carle wins again!

About Lisa McKinney

Lisa’s been married to the love of her life for 11 years after being transplanted from the city life in Washington (the state!) to the farm life in Kentucky. They have two amazing boys and are embracing the country life. She enjoys bringing some of her family’s farm adventures to life on her blog including posts about homeschooling, cooking, the farm and just life in general. She has a love for cooking, is a glitter junkie and a book hoarder who dances around the kitchen to old movie musical soundtracks. The glass is absolutely half-full in her life and she thanks God for all the little things that He shares with her every day.

Speak Your Mind