Wisdom Literature: Put Me in the Zoo

Dear Lewis,

Once upon a time there was a man who was rarely seen without a book in his hands. He loved all kinds of books. Classics, like The Brothers Karamazov. Epic fantasies like the Lord of the Rings. Books by spiritual giants such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and D.L. Moody.

Then, the goblin prince was born. The man who loved books was charged with becoming the goblin prince’s servant, caring for the prince night and day. For months the servant was unable to read the books he loved.

One day, while the man was scrubbing the prince’s dishes he felt a tug at his pants. The prince had brought his servant a present: a hardback book. Although it was small, brightly colored, and written by an unfamiliar author, the servant was grateful for the chance to read again.

So the servant escorted the goblin prince to the royal play mat, and then began reading Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire.

The story would change the servant’s life forever.

Put Me in the Zoo

I will go into the zoo.
I want to see it.
Yes, I do.zoo14

We do not want you in the zoo.
Out you go!
Out! Out with you.

Why did they put me out this way?
I should be in.
I want to stay.

Just wait and see what I can do.
Look! Now all his spots are blue!

And now his spots are orange! Say!zoo13
He looks very good that way.

Now look at this! What do you see?
Spots as green as green can be!

Violet spots!
Say! You are good!
Do more! Do more!
We wish you would.

I can do more.
Look! This is new.
Blue, orange, green,
and violet, too.

Oh! They would put me in the zoo
if they could see what I can do.zoo16

We like all the things you do.
We like your spots, we like you, too.

But with all the things
that you can do,
the circus is
the place for you!

This is where I want to be.
The circus is
the place for me!


Lewis, my goblin prince, I love serving you, reading with you. Your namesake, C.S. Lewis, once told his Goddaughter, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” I’ve always loved fairy tales. But today, I’m finally old enough to read, listen and understand Beginner Books again.

We all have a Zoo we desperately want to get into. For some it’s a career. For others, it’s a relationship, or a church. But just like you with your shapes box, we are square pegs trying to force our way into round holes.

We mistake our failure to fit in for rejection, instead of recognizing it as a steppingstone toward finding our place of acceptance.

I’ve spent a lot of years trying to get into my own Zoos, bending over backwards to show what I can do and why I belong. The sorrow that comes from not being allowed in, the anguish of sometimes feeling flat out rejected, can be paralyzing.

It turns out I was banging on the wall of the Zoo when God was inviting me to walk through the front door of the Circus the whole time.

There’s nothing wrong with the Zoo. Zoos are great. Zoos are safe. But Circuses are wild, dangerous places, filled with strange people and strange things. I belong in the Circus.

Lewis, as you get older I hope you’ll keep Put Me in the Zoo on your bookshelf. As you begin to recognize your gifts and talents, as God molds you into the man he wants you to be, always pray, “God, do I belong in the Zoo, or is the Circus the place for me?”

– Dad

Have you tried desperately to fit in, to find your place, only to be told you don’t belong?

Yes, we all have flaws and weaknesses. But what if, this time, the problem isn’t you? What if it’s just that you don’t belong in a Zoo? Is the Circus the place for you?

Share your story and encourage others by leaving a comment below, or by joining the conversation on Facebook.

Want to read more letters like this one? Check out the suggested letters below.


  1. Gigi Hardin   •  

    Oh my goodness, Paul! This letter stopped me in my tracks today! Wow, I try so hard to fit into many many places. Especially with adding the role of “mom” to the many roles I serve in now. Like…I wanna be a certain type of mother. I want my body to look a certain way (which has probably been the “zoo” most daunting to join.) I want certain people to like me. I want to be a certain kind of educator…maybe it’s the “roles” that are my zoos. However, I don’t think my problem is the rejection of others, it my OWN rejection that hurts me most. Why can’t I be okay with my unique flaws and differences? Why can’t I love my different colorful spots? Why can I accept the admiration of others, but I can’t admire myself? My own self loathing keeps me from even enjoying my positions…whether they be in the zoo or circus. What I received today…love myself. Love myself enough to know that I am useful and needed somewhere. Lewis is a lucky young man. Thank you for sharing!

    • Paulie Godbout Paulie Godbout   •     Author


      I understand the struggle of accepting your own unique flaws and differences – your spots! What I keep telling myself is that God created me to be ME, and to be no one else, that I’m the only one qualified to tell my story. The same goes for all of us. We’re all “useful and needed somewhere.” Take care, Gigi!


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