Footloose by Kenny Loggins, illustrated by Tim Bowers (Murdoch Books) HB RRP $19.99
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
Ahh, the things that zoo animals get up to once the gates are locked at night! Many a story has been written about after-hours animal antics and now, there’s a song too. Take it from the one and only Kenny Loggins … if there’s a full moon, then you can be sure the animals are losing their blues and cutting footloose!
Loggins has rewritten the lyrics of his catchy, chart-topping 1984 hit, Footloose (co-written with Dean Pitchford). A CD of the newly recorded version is also included with the book, so kids can sing along and dance with the animals in the story.
Tim Bower’s bright, vivid illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the story. The visible paintbrush strokes create some great texture in place of flat colour. The animals are all dressed-up in their dancing finest. I love the hippo in her cowboy hat and boots – a subtle nod to the movie Footloose movie perhaps, for which the song received its Golden Globe Award nomination. Kids will enjoy tracking the little sub-story in the pictures too, for it seems not all the visitors left the zoo that day …
In a note at the back of the book, Loggins notes that he wanted to perform ‘Footloose’ and create a dance party for his granddaughter, hence the inspiration for a children’s version of the song. It is targeted to kids aged 2–6 years. Adults who know the original lyrics will have a bit of a chuckle and appreciate the way in which they have been modified. The names from the original song are characters in the book – Jack is a zookeeper, Louise a chimpanzee, Marie a lemur and Milo a wombat.
I had a go at reading this as a narrative but didn’t make it far – you definitely need to sing it. (The challenge will be to not accidentally sing the original lyrics, once you get going!) It’s fun and bouncy so put on the music and go with it … and get out your dancin’ shoes if you’re game!