The Art of Zoo Animals in Picture Books | Il Sung Na, Illustrator of The Opposite Zoo

| March 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

Il Sung Na | The Children’s Book Review | March 17, 2016

The Art of Zoo Animals in Picture Books | Il Sung, Illustrator of The Opposite Zoo

The zoo is a great and fun place for children indeed. They can enjoy the amazing and beautiful animals that they don’t see in every day life. People can be inspired by a lot of things at a place like the zoo.

I was not sure how to illustrate this story at first, but I really wanted to do it differently for sure, not in the same way I’d been doing.

I tried a few monoprints and also tried my old favorite materials, ink and colored pencils.

These are very first color samples for my dummy book.

Il Sung Color Sample 1Il Sung Color Sample 2

Although I love the textures from monoprint, I felt using ink and colored pencils would portray the animals in a livelier way. That’s the reason I chose these materials for this book.

The images below are from the original dummy book of “The Opposite Zoo” and are not included in the final book.

Il Sung The Opposite Zoo Dummy 1

Il Sung The Opposite Zoo Dummy 2

And these are final illustrations in the end.

Il Sung The Opposite Zoo Illustration 1

Il Sung The Opposite Zoo Illustration 2

One of my favorite illustrators, Brian Wildsmith, lives for color. He has illustrated a lot of animals and he is certainly one of my big influences. He believes that “beautiful picture books are vitally important in subconsciously forming a child’s visual appreciation,” and that children really do appreciate details as well as color. Although his animals are simpler and with fewer colors in “Zoo Animals” than his other books, they are still vivid, imaginary and whimsical with lively expressions.

Zoo Animals by Brian Wildsmith

Zoo Animals by Brian Wildsmith 2

“Zoo Animals” by Brian Wildsmith (Star Bright Books, 2002)

Another picture book that takes place in a zoo from my lists is “Slow Loris” by Alexis Deacon. Slow Loris is so slow, very very slow, that all the animals and visitors think he is boring. However, he is doing things at night secretly, which is revealed as a surprise to the other animals. Alexis Deacon uses a soft brown and grey palette with just enough details for children to enjoy exploring animals over and over.

Slow Loris by Alexis Deacon

Slow Loris by Alexis Deacon (Kane/Miller Book Publisher, 2002)

“Slow Loris” by Alexis Deacon (Kane/Miller Book Publisher, 2002)

And here is Bruno Munari, internationally acclaimed artist, designer and children’s picture book author. His Zoo book is more graphically done with bright and bold illustrations. This book starts with a sign of the zoo and goes on to tell about the different animals.

Bruno Munari’s Zoo by Bruno Munari (Chronicle Books, 2005)

Bruno Munari’s Zoo by Bruno Munari (Chronicle Books, 2005)

“Bruno Funari’s” Zoo by Bruno Munari (Chronicle Books, 2005)

The Opposite Zoo by Il SungThe Opposite Zoo

Written and Illustrated by Il Sung Na

Publisher’s Synopsis: Whimsical and stunningly illustrated, THE OPPOSITE ZOO, by critically acclaimed author/illustrator Il Sung Na, is a charming picture book about animals with opposite appearances and traits. Reminiscent of the textural beauty found in A Book of Sleep, THE OPPOSITE ZOO is sure to enchant young readers and is the perfect bedtime book.

Visually striking, with spare, lyrical text, Il Sung Na’s THE OPPOSITE ZOO gives readers a simple introduction to opposites through the eyes of zoo animals. Utterly bewitching, each animal is shown with a simple, raw illustration coupled with one word.

Featuring a sleeping panda and an awake owl, a hairy lion and a bald hippo, Il Sung Na revels in the beauty and wonder of zoo animals in the night when the zoo is closed.

An enticing read, THE OPPOSITE ZOO is sure to both calm and enchant youngsters, and is an outstanding new book from the critically acclaimed author/illustrator of A Book of Babies; A Book of Sleep; Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit; and more, Il Sung Na.

Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0-553-51127-7

Available Here: 


About Il Sung Na
Il Sung Na

Il Sung Na

Originally from South Korea, Il Sung Na studied illustration at Kingston University in London. A Book of Sleep was his first picture book, followed by The Thingamabob; Hide & Seek; Welcome Home, Bear; and more. To learn more about Il Sung Na and his work, please visit

Discover more books like The Opposite Zooby Il Sung, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with , and Animal Books.

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Category: Ages 0-3, Ages 4-8, Animal Books, Art, Picture Books

About the Contributor ()

The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

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