Not Yet, Zebra is a delightful rhyming tale about Annie who is making paintings of animals representing the entire alphabet. She asks them to all line up in order and starts with aardvark, then bear, then crocodile. But what is this? Instead of dog, here’s Zebra pushing in out of turn.
Annie politely points out ‘Z’ comes at the end but Zebra just can’t wait that long. As the other animals come along to be painted in their proper turn we see Zebra wearing a false beak and a pink tutu pretending to be a flamingo and minutes later he has donned a furry golden hamster suit to try and sneak in early:
‘What did I say? Not yet, Zebra. Please go away’.
Julia Woolf’s illustrations are very clever with Zebra sporting a fantastic range of disguises to jump the line, even resorting to tying a toy zebra to his tummy to pretend he’s a kangaroo carrying a joey! By the time we get to X, represented by FoX, Annie’s getting just a little bit cross. Zebra has donned a pair of foxy ears and stuffed the fox in a box so he’s out of the way:
‘Not yet, Zebra. You are not FoX. Don’t be so naughty. Let him out of that box!’
The simple rhyming schemes and the wonderful pictures will hold the reader’s interest right to the end when we get a clever twist in the tale. All this time Zebra has been trying to jump the queue and get in before his turn but now Annie has reached the end of the alphabet and Zebra is nowhere to be found. But she can hear snoring. With all his running-around in disguises and trying to get in early, Zebra has worn himself out and is fast asleep!
The book ends with a fabulous two-page spread of all of Annie’s paintings of the animals and their appropriate letters with Zebra, finally, in the right place.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: April 2018
RRP: $19.99 hardcover