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Urban Zoo

Wildlife meets city life in a story that both a child and caregiver can relate to their daily lives and experiences.

Photo of Sunil Manchikanti
4 3

Written by

Urban Zoo

Good morning.

    The city is asleep.

Good morning, Baby Giraffe.

    Do you need to stretch? 

    Stretch. Stretch. Streeeeeeetch. 

Good morning, Hippo.

    Are you hungry?

    Yum yum yum

Good morning, Ostrich

    Do you need the bus?

    Run! Run! Run!

Good afternoon

    The city is so busy!

Good afternoon, Elephant. 

    Playing with your friends?

    Fun! Fun! Fun!

Good afternoon, Piggy.

    Are you going to the office?

    Work. Work. Work.

Good afternoon, Rabbits.

    Enjoy your lunch.

    Munch. Munch. Munch.

Good evening.

    The city is dark.

Good evening, Monkey.

    Just got home?

    Hug. Hug. Hug.

Good evening, Pup. 

    Time to sleep?

     Shh. Shh. Shhhhhhh….

Good night

     The city sleeps until morning.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

A book that creates a back-and-forth engagement between the caregiver and child. I hope with repeat readings, children will participate in call and response format and eventually start to recognize the characters and story beats.

Share your suggested book title

Urban Zoo

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

See above

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

In end, I want to enable involvement and playful engagement: "It seems clear that the most effective efforts to help low-income children get an early start go beyond teaching numbers and letters—they involve the family, community, everything. " (Everything We Know About Early Childhood Has Changed Since Head Start) One of the most resonant themes in the childhood research was the importance of the engagement between caregivers with children (Cox Campus). I integrated many tier one vocabulary words, while also putting the character in settings that can be referenced outside of reading time in the everyday life of a child. I place animals in daily tasks to open a dialogue between child and caretaker about their specific relationships of those daily tasks, an opportunity to infill with personal culture. Tonia Durden, Elsa Escalante and Kimberly Blitch advise parents in Culture Matters to "Be a resource." "Did you know that YOU are a cultural resource?", they posit.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I hope that most of the events in the book are relatable to the caregivers and children, and connect to their everyday lives. The setting for each image would be drawn from Philadelphia and relatable urban environments. If we show a home, it will be an apartment. Transportation will be public. Streets can be busy. Parks will be surrounded by buildings.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department

New York

Location: City


Website URL (optional question)

Book Design and Illustration: User research sample:

Tell us more about you / your team

User Experience Designer with a background in publishing and illustration. I will use my passion for children’s literature in combination with human centered design processes to create an engaging experience for both caregiver and child. As part of the first generation of my family born in the United States, reading was essential to both the development of my language skills and that of my family. The approach to cultural learning in Urban Jungle is what I know best; growing up in Western Kentucky, my caretakers were the only connection I had to my own culture.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Although I have an illustration background, I don’t necessarily have to illustrate the project. Using design research methods and “user” testing, I would explore the style and how children respond to the images in combination with the manuscript. The visual style should also be informed by the evolving vision of a child, utilizing contrast and colors that are inclusive to infants from age 0 to 3 as outlined by The American Optometric Association (Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age)

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists
  • Human centered designer


Join the conversation:

Photo of Robyn Campbell

Great job. I wish you the best of luck. Love how you left room for art.

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