Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo celebrates Books and Beasts

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo welcomes Bethel author Donna DiMaio Rooney and Bridgeport illustrator Lizzy Rockwell on Saturday, Aug. 5, from noon-3 p.m. for an afternoon of readings, book signings, mystery animal encounters, and author meet and greets. Beginning at the Hanson Exploration Station, guests who wish to attend the first part of the event, from noon-1:30 can do so without a ticket to enter the Zoo grounds.

“We’re excited to offer another community-based education opportunity to our guests,” said Jim Knox, curator of Education at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. “To make the event accessible for as many children as possible, we’ll start our Books and Beasts celebration at noon at our Hanson Exploration Station — no ticket required.”

“Children will have an opportunity to meet Donna and Lizzy, see an illustration demonstration, and enjoy live animal encounters,” added Knox. “At 1:30, we’ll move into the Zoo for book signings, a scavenger hunt, and more readings. That portion of the day will require guests to purchase a ticket to enter the Zoo.”

Donna DiMaio Rooney is the author of DANI and the Day the Bully Changed Everything  (Sheepy Press), a story where farm animals are confronted with bullying, and wrestle with how they can end it and take back their farm. Daniel Kelleher, M.D., an assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Rutgers University and Board-Certified in Adolescent & Child Psychiatry, said, “School age kids who read this book will gain an understanding into how to deal with bullying. Highly recommended!”

Rooney says she wrote her chapter book DANI and the Day the Bully Changed Everything out of a deep concern for youth and the bullying epidemic. Since the launch of the book, Rooney has been speaking at schools, camps, and various venues, empowering children to replace fear with power to end bullying, plus challenging them to be kind.

Lizzy Rockwell is the illustrator of Zoo Day: A My First Experience Book (Simon & Schuster, 2017). Detailed watercolors rendered in soft hues complement a little boy’s narrative of a day at the zoo, giving readers a firsthand view of the zoo’s residents.

Lizzy Rockwell is the illustrator of more than 25 children’s books by a variety of authors, including her mother, Anne Rockwell, author of Zoo Day. Rockwell often meets with children in kindergarten, first, or second grade, but loves presenting to all ages, including high school and college. She explains the creative and technical process involved in creating a picture book, showing rough drafts of manuscripts, thumbnail sketches, the book dummy, art materials, and original paintings. She takes questions, and ends by making a drawing on an easel. A resident of Bridgeport, Rockwell says she wants to inspire children’s love of reading and encourage their own powers of self-expression.

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $15, children (ages 3-11) is $12, senior admission (62 and older) is $11, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge.