Monday, September 15, 2014

MG Book Review: How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, by Jess Keating

General Information
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Year of publication: 2014
# of chapters: 20
# of pages: 263
Genre: Contemporary
Next book in the series: 
How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel
(January 2015)

Plot summary (from Amazon):
Ana Wright's social life is now officially on the endangered list: she lives in a zoo (umm, elephant droppings!?), her best friend lives on the other side of the world, and the Sneerers are making junior high miserable. All Ana wants is to fade into the background.

Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Creature File for Ana Wright:
Species Name: Anaphyta Normalis
Kingdom: The Zoo, Junior High
Phylum: Girls Whose Best Friend Just Moved To New Zealand; Girls Who Are Forced To Live In A Zoo With Their Weirdo Parents And Twin Brother
Weight: Classified
Feeds On: Daydreams about Zackardia Perfecticus and wish cupcakes
Life Span: Soon to become extinct due to social awkwardness

Positive Points
This book made me laugh (and tear up once or twice, but mainly laugh), especially Grandpa's girlfriend and Ana's interactions with her twin brother. Whoever has siblings or kids can relate. They love each other, really.

If you love animals, this book is for you! There are plenty of animals throughout the story, ranging from crocodile to parrot to camel, and a fun animal fact at the beginning of each chapter. The author knows her stuff, being a zoologist.

I can relate with Ana, an average girl who is trying so hard to be invisible at school, to fit in and be a normal kid. Not easy to do when your best friend moved to another country and you have to stand up for yourself. But she is a special girl, and not just because her family lives in a zoo (no, literally!). She discovers who she is, little by little, and finds the courage to be all she can be. This kind of novel with a lot of character growth always moves me. 

This book captures the voice and nature of a middle school girl. I almost felt like I knew Ana from my childhood. And she is funny!

Negative Points
With the humorous title and back cover, I didn't expect so much bullying going on in the story. I know kids can be mean to each other, but I was expecting a lighter, more cheerful theme for this novel. She does stand up for herself in the end, so it's all good. Hey, I had to find at least one negative point, or everyone would think the author paid me to only say good things.

What makes this book unique
The grandfather's girlfriend! Just kidding. Sugar is definitely unique, but what makes this book really stand out is that the main character lives in a zoo! How is that for trying to blend in at school?

Overall Impression
This was a great read, and I'm looking forward to the sequel! And I wish I were an armadillo to sleep an average of eighteen and a half hours a day.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


Anonymous said...

You're right. I expected a fluffy fun book but instead found a much deeper story. And I still enjoyed sooo much. :)

Greg Pattridge said...

Love the title. I'm going to search this one out based on your review, plus you supplied a link. I'm getting a bit weary of the bully theme, but the living in a zoo part won me over. Thanks for featuring.

Rosi said...

This one is on my TBR list. I LOVE the title and I think bullying is such an important topic. Thanks for the review.

Jenni said...

Love this title too! I agree that a bullying theme can really drag a story down, but this sounds like an interesting read with the zoo!

Annie said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

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