The Midnight Zoo

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The Midnight Zoo
Author Sonya Hartnett
Illustrator Andrea Offermann
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Juvenile fantasy
Publisher Walker & Company, Candlewick Press
Publication date
1 November 2010 (2010-11-01)
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 186
Awards Carnegie Medal (shortlisted)
ISBN 9781406331493
OCLC 692664057
LC Class PR9619.3.H3345 M53 2010

The Midnight Zoo is a 2010 novel by Sonya Hartnett. It was first published on 1 November 2010 in Australia and was then released in the United States a year later. It follows the story of two gypsy boys that find an abandoned zoo after leaving their destroyed village. The novella has gained critical praise for its "lyrical" prose and for the illustrations in the United States version, done by artist Andrea Offermann.


Taking place in World War II, two Roma boys named Andrej and Tomas have escaped their community after it has been destroyed by the Nazis. They come across an abandoned zoo filled with anthropomorphic animals. Over one night, each of the animals tells how they ended up at the zoo. The animals all want to escape but are scared of what lies beyond the zoo.

Critical reception[edit]

The Midnight Zoo received positive reviews from critics, mostly for the "lyrical" prose and the illustrations from Andrea Offermann in the American version. Kirkus Reviews called it "[a]n evocative story" with "lyrical, spare prose".[1] Booklist was similarly favorable, but it said that the ending "may confuse some readers".[2] A reviewer for the Daily Mail called it a "powerful and sensitively handled fable about war, freedom, and loss", and praised the author's writing and use of anthropomorphism.[3] Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and said that Harnett "mak[es] a profound case for the futility of war while exploring questions about responsibility and freedom."[4] Library Journal also gave it a starred review, saying that it was also good for adults who were "interested in wartime fiction and thought-provoking, fable-like tales",[5] while its juvenile companion School Library Journal called it a "beautiful and sad book [that] will stay with readers long after the story is done."[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The Midnight Zoo won the CBCA Children's Book of the Year Award for Older Readers in 2011.[7] It was also shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2012.[8]


  1. ^ "Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett, Andre Offermann". Kirkus Reviews. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Dean, Kara (August 2011). "Midnight Zoo, by Sonya Hartnett". Booklist. Retrieved 29 July 2013. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Morris, Sally (November 12, 2010). "Children's Books". Daily Mail. Retrieved July 25, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Children's Review: The Midnight Zoo". Publishers Weekly. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Selwyn, Laurie (1 November 2010). "The Midnight Zoo". Library Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Tesauro, Caroline (1 September 2011). "The Midnight Zoo". School Library Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "There's more to the story". The Age. 20 August 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Knight, Gavin (Summer 2012). "Literacy Standards". NATE Classroom. 17: 67+. (Subscription required (help)).