Sunday, April 1, 2012

We Bought A Zoo by Benjamin Mee => Book to Movie (Review + Prize Pack Giveaway)

Genre:Memoir, Family Drama, Comedy
Publication.Date  November 22nd 2011
Published By:  Weinstein Books  | 
WebsiteBenjamin Mee

We Bought A Zoo - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received  in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

In the tradition of "Marley & Me" comes an unforgettable memoir about the mysteries of the animal kingdom, the power of family, and the triumph of hope over tragedy in this chronicle of the Mee family's purchase of the Dartmoor Wildlife Park, a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside.Weinstein Books (Goodreads)

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.
And for once, Donald Rumsfeld, in the news at the time over the Iraq war made sense to me: "As we know," he said, famously, "there are known knowns-things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns-things we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns- things we don't know we don't know.

     A perfect blend of family drama and comedy that makes for a charming, uplifting, and inspiring read. I had a wonderful time reading this book. Not only is it very moving and thought-provoking, but it's also simply enjoyable and funny. In a very well-balanced, relaxing way. We Bought A Zoo is a great story, even more so because it's real. It's also charming, emotional and entirely satisfying, a perfect comfort read for a rainy day.

      After his wife died, Benjamin felt lost, heart broken and in desperate need of a change. The house, every corner of the town, even his old job - everything reminded him of his wife, bringing pain and restlessness. He needed to get away, and what's a better way to start over than buying a new house, relocating your family to the countryside and taking on a big project? A project grand enough to keep you well occupied for a long time. Like, say, refurbishing and reopening an old zoo...

      We Bought A Zoo is memoir. Written by a former DIY columnist for The Guardian, it recounts the based-on-real-life experiences of buying and renovating Dartmoor Zoological Park in England (in the movie the zoo is called Rosemoor Wildlife Park). As far as memoirs go, this was an excellent one. Benjamin Mee writes with surprising tenderness and smoothness, keeping an even story flow without overwhelming the reader with too many facts, dates or names. Instead, he focuses on emotions. The grief is overpowering at first and omnipresent throughout the whole book. It's always there, even when the characters seem entirely focused on their new project. It's the motivation, the driving force behind their actions. It was fascinating and heart-wrenching to see the characters struggle to fill in the emptiness created by the loss of a family member. I was very moved by how Dylan (Benjamin's son) dealt with it. All the characters in this book, especially Benjamin and his two kids, were delightfully easy to connect with, their story - captivating and resonant. Watching them come together as a family to save the zoo, and - ultimately - themselves, was a wonderful and unforgettable experience. A journey from a dark and empty space into a brilliant future filled with hope, dreams, new love and happiness.

I highly recommend it.

Movie Talk:

     Heart-warming, moving, funny, and beautifully acted - We Bought A Zoo is a very enjoyable family movie that will both lift your spirits with its graceful humor, and make you reflect on life and family related issues thanks to the profound message it carries. It's a fantastic adaptation of  Benjamin Mee's memoir, and one of the most delightful movies I've seen in recent months.

      Colin Ford, who plays the troubled son, was absolutely fantastic in his role. Sympathetic and real, he really brought his character to life with his convincing acting. And so did Matt Damon. Now, I'm not a huge fan of Matt Damon, but I must admit that he really fit into this role perfectly. You could tell that he enjoyed himself and that definitely elevated his performance. Scarlett Johansson surprised me. To be honest, I did not think of Johansson when picturing Kelly Foster while reading the book. I imagined someone taller, tougher and more obviously kick-ass. And yet when I saw Johansson on the screen I knew she was the one! She wasn't her usual girly self, she appeared stronger and fiercer than ever, and I really loved that about her. She turned out to be the perfect girl for the role. 

     It's not very often that I prefer the movie adaptation over the book its based on, but that's exactly what happened with We Bought a Zoo. I enjoyed the book a lot, but I loved the movie even more. Maybe it's thanks to the fabulous cast and their expressiveness, maybe I loved the animals, or the soundtrack and the uplifting atmosphere it created. Or maybe it's a little bit of everything and how it all came together, exploring the complexity of life, family relationships, grief and love. I don't know. All I know is that I really loved this movie. It moved me. I feel that I learned something important while watching it. It was a magical and enriching experience and I'll definitely recommend watching We Bought A Zoo to all my friends.

Featuring Family Friendly Audio Track The Whole Family Will Go Wild for this Heartwarming Adventure Starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson On Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download April 3 

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents an inspiring adventure based on a true story of one man who brought a zoo back to life and family back together in WE BOUGHT A ZOO, arriving on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download April 3.   

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) and starring Matt Damon (Contagion, True Grit), Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Thomas Haden Church (Easy A, Sideways), WE BOUGHT A ZOO is “a sweet-natured tale…that you’ll want to see with your kids” (Liz Braun, Jam! Movies).

Thanks to the fabulous Mandy from Think Jam I have a wonderful prize pack giveaway for you today, my lovelies!

You can win a DVD of We Bought a Zoo and novel on which it is based!

Giveaway rules:

You DO NOT have to be a follower of this blog.
Open to: US/Canada
Ends: April 10th

To enter:
Leave a meaningful comment on my review.
For extra entries: Tweet the giveaway (+5 entries)
Read the study guide and answer one or more questions inlcuded there (+5 for each question answered)

Don't forget to leave your email address!


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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Natalie said...

YAY! I've been DYING to see this movie since I first saw the trailer. Unfortunately, I couldn't convince any of my friends to go see it in theatres with me because none of them are Matt Damon fans...Boo! I'm glad to hear that you liked it though because that means I probably will too! And I had nooo idea it was based on a memoir! THat is SO cool! I LOVE memoirs! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

Natalie said...

oops! And my email is nspaan89 at!

Anonymous said...

I loved this movie - it really struck me how much devotion there was to the family, despite the obvious changes made to the story. I've wanted to read the book since then, but it's just never made it on the list.

The concept of family in the movie was so emotional - not only the core structure of parent and child, but also the extended family of the caretakers and the zoo. It was actually far better a movie than I had been anticipating, and I ended up needing a lot of Kleenex (who knew??).

From the study guide:
Yes, I've experienced the "death" of something in my life that has led to something greater; the end of a long-term relationship is something to mourn, but it forced me to make decisions to change my life for the better. I firmly believe that something that is devastating at one point in your life will lead you to another path (the whole when one door closes, a window is opened...).

I've tweeted this link:!/lostingreatbook/status/186451594458578944
My email is:

Thanks, Evie!!

Stephanie said...

I saw the movie and I loved it! I would love to win this prize pack, thanks for the giveaway!!

Answer from study guide: Yes, I have experienced things before that I thought would be the death of me and then actually turned in to a great experience. There was a college that I wanted to get in to for my whole life and planned for that and when I didn't get in I was really sad and discouraged and didn't know what I was going to do. What I ended up doing was a better alternative and changed my life for the better.


Na said...

I have heard about the movie but didn't know it was based on the book, which means I would aim to read the book first before seeing a movie. I think it has a unique premise and gives me a look at how people deal with a death, in this case refurbishing a zoo. It makes me curious what they will learn.

I haven't experience anything that I can consider the death of me. One part is that I've been lucky and another is that I always see the positive in something. An end of something may not be the end all of everything if I keep ooking and trying. If anuthing the lessons learned is already something gained.

Another study question:
I think Jesus may well be the perfect role model for many people. He is a model for perfect acts of love because people him, in themselves and their actions. No matter your beliefs, I do think people need to find something or someone to believe in when it comes to overcoming sorrow in their life. It's what keeps hope alive.



Na said...

I tweeted:!/FieryNa/status/186562067979960320


Chrisbails said...

I would love to win this movie. I love Matt Damon and the rest of the cast looks great also. Have seen plenty of previews and my daughter wants to see really bad. Thanks for the cool giveaway.
christinebails(at)yahoo(dot)com said...

This really sounds like a good book and movies. Please enter me in contest.

Shadow said...

What an awesome giveaway! Ive been wanting to see this movie. It looks so cute! :) I really love how the zoo brings the family together. Great review! Thank for sharing! I tweeted:!/LuvToRead09/status/186897145041924097
Have you ever had an experience where what seemed to be a death for you actually ushered in life? Have you ever taken a chance on doing the right and loving thing in faith and found that God blessed it and bought joy out of it? Yes i have. I cant really think of anything on the top of my head.
Have you ever found yourself in a flood of trouble? What sort of Ark did you use to ride out the storm? How does your flood and Ark point to the hope of Christ? Yes. Lets just say that in my late teens, i ended up in some trouble. I ended up turning my room into my salvation. I made it into my own personal library and i immersed myself in the books. The books really helped take me away and they also helped give me a new look on life. They helped changed me. :)

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

Thanks for drawing attention to the fact that this movie is a hopeful one, and a memoir at that. So often we only hear negatives and it's imperative that we be reminded that we can make it thru even some of the most difficult of emotional times! Thanks again.

Lena said...

Wow, I really want to see this movie. I love Matt Damon and zoos! I am glad that you liked the movie, i heard some different reviews....

my tweet!/LenaMarsteller/status/186949297558921217

Erica said...

I love how much deeper and touching you make this one sound than from what I was gathering from the previews. I really cannot wait to see this one!
And I RTed your tweet on twitter @thebookcellarx :)

thebookcellar @

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to see this movie and read the book. Your review makes it sound even more touching than I originally expected. Thanks for the great giveaway.


Julie Witt said...

I've been dying to see this movie since it came out, and to read the book two would be really awesome! I'm not a huge fan of either Matt Damon or Scarlet Johanson but I'm glad to hear that they were realistic in their roles. Thanks so much for the very awesome giveaway:)


jwitt33 at live dot com

SweetShenanigans said...

I've actually heard of this before but never seen or read it. I love that it's a memoir and having enjoyed Marley and Me, I have a feeling I'll like this one too!
I tweeted:!/Alliegal101/status/187327176981491712
girl23rocks at hotmail dot com

GMR said...

Great post! I ADORED the movie....the story itself was heart wrenching but the steps the family took to get back to some form of normalcy was breath taking. Really a great story of life, love, and of course, I have to read the book! Thanks for sharing your point of view...and the chance to win. I echo your recommendation for the film though...REALLY an excellent choice. Happy watching AND reading! ^_^


Holly said...

I've really been wanting to see this. I've heard nothing but excellent reviews. Thanks for the chance to win!!/betweenbookends/status/187934866359320576

hollyjolly89 at gmail dot com

Totally Booked Solid said...

Loved this movie .. made me all misty eyed

Anonymous said...

I've heard of this before both book and movie but haven't yet read or seen it. I want to though. It's sounds like a lovely book and movie.

Enbrethiliel said...


I'm probably not going to watch the movie because I can't stand Matt Damon (LOL!), but if I can find a copy of the book that doesn't have his mug on the cover, I would love to give it a try.

Real-life people doing extraordinary things (or even just ordinary things that are told by an extraordinary storyteller) are so much more interesting than the most fantastic characters and plots. The death of a loved one is something that happens every day, but not everyone gets to deal with their grief in the way Benjamin and his children do. I feel that if I had a choice between the C.S. Lewis classic A Grief Observed and this book, We Bought a Zoo would win, hands down!

crystaley73 said...

I would love to read the book and see the movie. I haven't had the chance to see it yet! crystaley73 at yahoo dot com Thnanks

Jaime Lester said...

This movie caught my eye from the second I saw the preview. It looks incredibly sweet and heart warming, and sometimes that is just what I need. Usually I am more for the horror stories, or shoot em up bangs. But, sometimes. I had no idea the movie was based off of a book. And what is more surprising? The movie was better. That is almost inconceivable. I think I will have to check out both. Thanks for the book and movie review.

izz said...

I really want to watch this movie, yep because Matt Damon, I'm a big fan of him since The Bourne :D

marybelle said...

This looks like a fun story & I would love to read this book & maybe watch the movie.

Karina A. said...

I haven't watched the movie yet and I don't know if I should just watch it or read the book first.

Biondy said...

sounds great story and it's turned into movie as well. might try this one :D

Aliaa El-Nashar said...

Hmm... well I saw it in the theatres but it didn't sound interesting. Maybe I should have given it another shot.

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