Reading/Interest Level: Preschool
Author: Joshua Button
Illustrator: Robyn Wells
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Steve is just an ordinary gorilla at the zoo. He’s confident in his routine and knows what to expect. However, this ordinary gorilla gets a taste of the extraordinary when he misses his zookeeper, Antonio, and escapes to the spectacular upheaval of Rio during Carnival in search of him. Steve wanders the streets getting an up close and personal look at the sights, sounds, and colors of Rio and its famous celebration. Even amidst the glitz, glamour, and beauty of the city, Steve nevertheless finds his way back home to the zoo—in the city he loves.
Steve Goes to Carnival shines in terms of its unique illustration style, consisting of hand-drawn details set over looser, watercolor backgrounds. The vivid color throughout certainly screams true-to-life Rio, but the story line falls a little flat in its unelaborate “walk through the city” predictability. The illustration style isn’t terribly detailed, so while the intent of the author and illustrator may have been to give readers a taste of the sights of Rio, the attempt falls short of conveying much lifelike similarity to actual landmarks, besides showcasing the wealth of colors. This book could be used with younger preschool and even toddler readers as a way to practice talking about and identifying colors.