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From the Secret Zoo series, volume 3

by Bryan Chick

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-198927-8
Publisher: Greenwillow

In the third installment of this fantasy series, the four Action Scouts, Richie, Ella, Noah and Megan, must band together to save both the magical world beneath the Clarksville Zoo and their own from the evil “Shadowist” DeGraff and his army of Sasquatches.

Together with the teenage “Descenders” and a team of amazing animals, the Scouts go further into the world of the Secret Zoo than ever before, moving from portal to portal through the Grottoes in a desperate attempt to keep the Shadowist from infiltrating the Secret Zoo and creating an army of creatures to “storm the Earth.” While the plot has page-turner potential, the narrative gets mired down in description, costing the novel much of its sense of suspense. Chick dwells far too long on the history of the zoo and traveling through the intricate system of portals and far too little on developing characters and building a sense of urgency—two things that would go a long way toward keeping readers invested in the story.

While there may be enough interaction between the Scouts and zoo animals like Podgy the flying penguin and P-Dog the prairie dog to please animal lovers, readers looking for a fast-paced thrill will likely be disappointed. (Fantasy. 9-12)