Letters to the Zoo

Books, mostly.

Month: May, 2016

Moomin’s Guide to Identity on Brain Pickings

Moomin comic brain pickings

Dear Zoo,

It’s cold. That’s not a complaint, but a fact. It’s actually properly cold. I’m partially in my red tartan sleeping bag drinking steaming hot tea and looking at the sky that is, for want of a more sophisticated term, having some serious mood swings.

This month has been a bit of a whirlwind of Weird Stuff. Rain for days, big decisions, messy assignments, waving my bro off at the airport (he’s Europe-bound, the bastard) and oh yes, receiving my wedding dress in the post (just casually) (insert every excited emoji, screaming hashtag, and Friends gif here).

This morning I read this article on Brain Pickings about Tove Jansson’s Moomin comic strip. It made me feel all warm and peaceful (maybe that’s just the tea?). In case you don’t know Moomin, they’re a series of children’s books written by Finnish author Tove, that started its life as a comic strip in a paper. Moomin for me, started life as a recording on a video tape that I would watch snugged-up on the couch whenever I was sick as a child (the Japanese made the TV series). Moomin is my jam. Read the article, it might be your jam too.

And now the sky is blue and I will return to the slog of end-of-semester study. Sigh.

Yours rugged up,



Few Sittings, Good Book

Dear Zoo,

I really like books! Like, a lot. Sometimes I forget what it is precisely I like about them. I like their feel, turning the pages, seeking them out, excellent covers that make my eyebrows jump up, witty characters. Mostly though I like books that basically grab you buy the limb/ ear/ hair and drag you Quentin Tarantino style through the story. It sounds violent because it is: you can’t stop, you sit all scrunchy and hunch-y and miss meals and your tea goes cold and your eyes ache because you’ve read all through the afternoon and now it’s dark and ominous and just one more chapter. And then you turn the last page and you know all there is to know and you’re flooded with relief and exhilaration and you flop out your scrunched up limbs and take a grimacing sip of cold victory-tea.

This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it’s more like a slow plod. A dawdle. A sigh-filled saunter. You smile a bit at the prose. Your limbs are ready to get up. You contemplate a delicious snack (PB sarnie?). These are all symptoms of the Average Read. I think Average Reads are okay if a) you literally have nothing else to read b) there is a distinct purpose for reading the book other than enjoyment and happiness c) there is a good chance that its about to get really good (get references).

I just read The Girl on the Train and remembered why I love to read – Average Reads don’t tend to remind me so much. They make me think maybe I actually really like Facebook/ cleaning the coffee table/ listening to the radio on the bus (Glen Campbell anyone?). Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I just read The Girl on the Train in about 3 sittings. The amount of sittings directly relates to the goodness of a book. Less sittings equals better books. The wonderful irony of this is that you can read more books when they’re better. Good books allow you more time. The wonderful irony of that is that you have to find another good book to read which is less easy.

Tomorrow I’m going to pick up some reserves for the library. I’m hoping for a good read (never mind my two assignments due Monday). Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to hear about them!

Yours on a sunny afternoon,


Heart-Eyes for Dewey

dewey cotton candy







Dear Zoo,

If you were alive (when were you not?) at some time in the early 2000s you will be familiar with the glamorous lives of the Malcolm in the Middle family. The thing is that you might not have given the show the eyeballs it deserves. That’s a shame. It seems these days our interests are only piked when peoples heads are decapitated…and put on pikes. (Did I ruin your dinner? Sincerest apologies). But it’s kind of true right? There’s like a blood quota that modern shows have to fill. Ick. I’m not really for that. I have fond television viewing memories sans blood (watching Smallville every Friday night –  there is still room in my heart for Clarke Kent). But I also have a lot of  love for the situation comedy (#rossandrachelforever). The thing is with this genre, on first glance it’s just empty comedy. It’s one belly laugh in 20 minutes or a few LOLs – you know, just kind of amusing.

Scratch a millimeter below the surface – watch the whole show, a whole season, all the episodes end-on-end – and something different this way comes. There is a profoundness to this genre. Because in comedy lives brilliant characters. I’m not saying that’s the only place they live, of course not. But a good sitcom sure has its gems. Like Chandler. I will always love you Chandler Bing. But, we aren’t here to talk about him today (for some reason that is no longer clear to me). We are here to talk about my most recent favourite: Dewey. Good grief I love Dewey. His character is just delightful. He has a giant heart and this great love for all living things – flies to stray dogs. He is also wickedly clever, endlessly curious and wise beyond his years. The thing about sitcoms over, say, meth-making bandits, is that at the end of the show you feel really happy. Like there is a warm glow radiating from within (that’s probably just your dinner. Cottage pie? Saagwala?). I don’t come away wanting to punch people or feeling a bit green, like I’ve seen one too many corpses. I just feel pleased. And head for the cookie jar (who is an owl named Jasper).

Dewey made a piano out of house parts he snuck when his father wasn’t looking. He pretended he ate an entire roast dinner to protect his new stray-dog friend (and subsequently visited the hospital). Moreover, Abba’s Fernando will forever make me grin (and want to climb onto the nearest dining room table). So here’s to the little guy and the shows that got forgotten with the arrival of blockbuster television.

I was just going to write a sentence, maybe two, to accompany Dewey and his cotton candy animals, but you know me, right?

Yours with square eyes,


P.S if you made a sitcom, who would it be about?