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Phyllis Newman Reading "What's New at the Zoo?"


On Saturday, December 3, 2011, Phyllis Newman, the Tony-award winning actress and illustrator of What's New at the Zoo? by Betty Comden, came to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building's South Court Auditorium to read from the book. Kids from PS 212 sang the book, which is actually the lyrics to the song in a Broadway Show, Do Re Mi. The cover of the book features a monkey, flamingo, giraffe, panda bear, snake, turtle, penguin, and blue birds, all in various states of alarm, which leads the audience to wonder — what exactly are they so worried about?!

Mountain Zebra., Digital ID 413150, New York Public LibraryElizabeth Bird, Supervising Librarian at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, introduced Newman. First, Newman asked the kids what they wanted most for Christmas. She got various answers, including a flashlight, Barbie, and even Kindle Fire. The book has much rhyming, and pictures and pages from the book were projected on a huge flat screen in the auditorium — the presentation of which somewhat mimicked an ebook. It was awesome because we could read the book along with Newman. In the book, animals are constantly stepping on each other due to overcrowded conditions. At the end, a quartet from PS 212 sung the book, which had the refrain, "Let us out! Let us out! Let us out! The zoo is overloaded. The population has exploded."

Staten Island Zoo'sFamous Chimpanzee Judy with her baby Patsy, Digital ID 105160, New York Public LibraryI thought it was great to have the musical element, since the book was born from a song. The students from PS 212 were adorable, and they were vocally talented as well. It was also great to have a famous actress read from a book that she illustrated, and the projection of the book onto the large flat screen as it was read made the multimedia experience a dynamic one.

Animaux Du Jardin Des Plantes., Digital ID 821832, New York Public LibraryI am totally an animal person. Anyone who knows me well knows this about me. I currently have three cats, and I grew up with cats. In addition, my mother brought home from school, on different occasions: a dwarf rabbit and an iguana, Capri. The iguana lived in my room and liked to walk all over the room, which I found charming. This was a really nice iguana. My mother also liked taking me on field trips to visit her friends' animals, including a puppy and a herd of rabbits on one occasion and three ferrets on another. I've also been riding horses for over 20 years, and I continue to do so today. Therefore, of course I was delighted to go to any program or pretty much do any activity related to animals. I also volunteered in the library of two zoos in different cities (the animals do escape sometimes). 

I also love the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which was built in 1911, and celebrated its Centennial in 2011. I love attending children's programs there, whether they are held in the Children's Center at 42nd Street, South Court Auditorium, or Margaret Berger Forum. The architecture is so grandiose and majestic, and the staff and patrons are so nice.


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