Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Zippy is a zebra. She doesn’t like her stripes. She really wants to look like all her friends. Then her mother tells her, “Your stripes are a special gift that never ever ends!” Zippy wants to find out what special gifts her other friends have. She learns that her friend, Duck, doesn’t like her webbed feet, but at least they help her swim. And her friend, Owl, doesn’t like his hoot; “I don’t always like the sound I make, but it’s better than toot, toot!” But these are all special gifts unique to each of Zippy’s friends. It’s what defines them and makes them special. That makes Zippy realize that her stripes really are a special gift that makes her unique.
Therese Van Ryne’s picture book story, Zippy’s Special Gift, is a clever, positive way to teach young readers to enjoy the uniqueness of who they are. Following Zippy’s journey to discover her friends’ uniquely different special gifts, Zippy and young readers learn the importance of each special gift and accepting it. The plot develops nicely and the use of different animals with their different characteristics is a fun way to allow young readers to recognize differences. The colorful illustrations help carry the story along. This is a positive, compassionate telling of differences and why each difference is so important. It will help youngsters realize that they are each unique and perfect in their own special way. An important message that we all need to remember and sometimes re-learn. Beautifully told.