What a Zoo!

Music review by
Jessica Dawson, Common Sense Media
What a Zoo! Music Poster Image
Indie rock with a spotlight on animals; great for families.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Educational Value

Kids -- and parents -- will definitely learn a thing or two about animals.

Positive Messages

Positive, educational songs about all kinds of animals, from manatees to butterflies, and the importance of taking care of them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Song "Tofurky" is about trying something new, even if you're afraid, and -- in this case -- saving a turkey in the process.

Violence & Scariness

Talks about swatting mosquitos, or having a "good ol' fashioned smackdown." Also, lyric "someone hit a possum."

Sexy Stuff

Very mild: "Mosquitos...are such a pain in the rear" and "doesn't have a turkey tushy."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this album is animal education and fun from start to finish. There's nothing to worry about here except how much your kids are going to want to listen to the songs. Kids might giggle when they hear that mosquitos are a "pain in the rear" or that turkeys don't have "tushies," but that's the worst of it. "Tofurky" may raise some questions about vegetarianism.

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What's the story?

Indie rock and NYC-based musicians Joanie Leeds and The Nightlights take their music to the jungle, the ocean, the zoo, and even Carnegie Hall on WHAT A ZOO! From saving the sea cows and whales to learning about the metamorphosis of a butterfly, this upbeat album covers everything related to animals. Preschoolers and parents will get a little dose of Ecology 101 while happily singing along to fourteen catchy, family-friendly songs about furry friends, many-legged critters, pesky bugs, and farm animals.

Is it any good?

Joanie Leeds isn't new to the music scene, but found a real niche in children's music with her first album City Kid, and again with I'm a Rock Star. What a Zoo! lets Leeds let loose her animal tendencies, as well as her soulful voice, singing about what seems like every animal, from mosquitos to whales, but with purpose that goes beyond quacking like a duck. Kids will discover manatees in "Sea Cow," the mystery of "Tofurky," and a caterpillar's destiny in "My Butterfly." Leeds's vocals are warm and expressive (think Colbie Caillat or Sara Bareilles), but fit for Broadway, and her indie rock that samples light punk, blues, folk-rock, country, and a tiny bit of rap will keep all your little ducks in a row (at least while listening to this album).  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be a vegetarian or to "eat organic." Why do you think it's so important to some people to choose to eat this way?

  • What does it mean when an animal is an endangered species? The song "Sea Cow" is about saving manatees. Can you name other animals that might need "help" in the same way? What are some ways that we can help endangered species?

Music details

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