1/17/2011 ** When I first skimmed through this book, I was disappointed that it had won the Caldecott while my recent favorite, JIMI SOUNDS LIKE a RAINBOW, didn't even get an honorable mention on any of the lists. However, a closer read revealed why it won.
This book feels like a throw-back to GOODNIGHT MOON in terms of the very small details and the color separation techniques. Young children will enjoy looking for the small creatures who tag along with the larger zoo animals - a bird carrying books, the bird sitting on top of a bus, and the mouse waiting at its own small bus stop. Readers will puzzle over the balloon - it appears on the title page, is in the background as the zoo animals troop to Amos's home, settles slowly to earth so the penguin can catch it, and is then floating in Amos's bedroom.
As befits a Caldecott, the writing fully supports the calming illustrations. I didn't experience a single jarring moment as I read the story. The rhythm is flawless and the compassion shown by each character to the others is a welcome respite from the sometimes spiteful world of pop culture.
Finally, do notice the dedication of the author & illustrator (a husband/wife team) to each other.