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)