What I’m Reading Wednesday: How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied

croc

What would middle school be like if you lived in a zoo?

Ana didn’t ask to be named after an anaconda. She didn’t ask for zoologist parents who look like safari guides. And she definitely didn’t ask for a twin brother whose life goal seems to be terrorizing her with his pet reptiles. Now, to make matters worse, her parents have decided to move the whole family INTO the zoo! All of which gives the Sneerers (the clan of carnivorous female predators in her class) more ammunition to make her life miserable-and squash any hope of class tennis stud, Zack, falling in love with her. Ana tries to channel her inner chameleon and fade into the background, but things are changing too quickly for her to keep up.

This book is everything I love about middle grade. You just can’t find such a fun idea in any other category. It is hilarious and charming with all the necessary contemporary components and an endearing zoology twist. So, so fun.

Ana is such a fun protagonist. She is shy and a bit overshadowed by her zany twin brother Daz. She’s terrorized by a group of girls at school named The Sneerers (how perfect!) and her best friend Liv is has moved to another country. This is the all the set up Ana needs to overcome her insecurities, find her strengths and come into her own. 

The plot was perfectly paced for the target readership. My seven-year-old was enamored with this story from beginning to end, and so was I, so I would say this book will charm a large variety of people. 

I loved how each chapter started with a quote or a species identification that Ana put in there, because after all, zoology is in her blood and she’s living in a zoo and what a fun way to insert some facts into your fiction? 

Also, because Daz is a very prevalent secondary character, this book will relate to boy and girl readers alike, which really just adds to the appeal for me. Keating writes with such insight into the middle school life and fills the story with so much personality and humor, this book just really shines and is a must recommend for me.

Jess Keating is the perfect author for this story. She is a zoologist turned author and it shows in how she includes the facts and makes them fun for the reader. I am officially going to read any book in this series, or any other works she puts out. Her website is awesome too! It has a newsletter, a section for teachers and all sorts of fun. I have a feeling Keating is around to stay.  

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