Hall’s "Zoo" offers deceptive simplicity and gorgeous graphic design – with heart

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Children’s Literature Finalist:

My Heart Is Like a Zoo
Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Category Sponsor: Books For Africa:


Excerpt from an interview  with Michael Hall:

“In my work I use shapes to express concepts. In thinking about the work I was doing as a designer, I wondered if I could use simple shapes to tell a story.”

This bright picture book features twenty animals created out of heart shapes. The book encourages children to familiarize themselves with the animals, discuss emotions and feelings, and explore shapes and colors.


Michael Hall is an award-winning graphic designer who studied biochemistry and psychology at the University of Michigan and worked in biomedical research before becoming a designer. This is his first book for children. 


“Colors are so vivid and rhymes and rhythm are perfect.  Unlike other books that have a ‘theme,’ this one actually has a story – the last pages bring it all together.” – Minnesota Book Awards Preliminary Judge

“The bold digital collages of zoo animals in this debut picture book are clear and bright, and the simple rhymes about feelings will have preschoolers savoring the words, joining in, and pointing at every playful zoo scene, each featuring one animal per page. Even toddlers will enjoy talking about the scenarios, especially after they see the final spread with the small “zookeeper” asleep in his bed, his beloved animal toys snuggled around him.” – Hazel Rochman (ALA Booklist editor)

“Michael Hall’s My Heart Is Like a Zoo is a combination of deceptive simplicity and gorgeous graphic design. Colorful, fun, and thoroughly enjoyable.” – Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Caldecott Honor Artist and New York Times bestselling author

Book trailer:

Learn more about Michael Hall on his delightful website (Flash required)





Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read My Heart is Like a Zoo? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!





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