An amusing, highly readable book about the perils of being 12 in a snake-eat-snake world.

HOW TO OUTRUN A CROCODILE WHEN YOUR SHOES ARE UNTIED

From the My Life Is a Zoo series , Vol. 1

Living in a zoo wouldn’t be so bad if the whole school didn’t know about it.

Middle school is tough under the best of circumstances, and 12-year-old Ana certainly isn’t living under those. Her best friend has moved to New Zealand, her parents have moved the whole family to a zoo, and her world-famous grandfather is visiting, which means she’s required to appear on television with him. For a shy person, things can’t get much worse. But they do! The social bullies get word of her pending moment in the spotlight and use the opportunity to score extra material for torment. Luckily, Ana finds new friends who help her discover her true seventh-grade self and who even help with the seemingly impossible: passing her math finals. Following in the tradition of Judy Blume and Paula Danziger, debut author Keating delivers a fun-filled, pitch-perfect book about one of the most fraught stages of life. Humor, poignancy and fascinating zoological facts infuse the narrative with a warm conversational tone that welcomes readers into the drama that is middle school. The dollop of romance is refreshingly appropriate for middle school readers, and the angst Ana feels over the idea of performing in front of a crowd will touch plenty of sympathetic introverts.

An amusing, highly readable book about the perils of being 12 in a snake-eat-snake world. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-9755-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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90 MILES TO HAVANA

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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