Don’t Feed the Boy

Irene Latham, Author, Stephanie Graegin, Illustrator
Irene Latham, illus. by Stephanie Graegin. Roaring Brook, $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59643-755-5
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-59643-833-0
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-250-04428-0
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Living at the zoo sounds pretty sweet, but 11-year-old Whit has soured on the experience, having spent his whole life at the Meadowbrook Zoo in Alabama, which is run by his busy and distracted parents. Both Whit’s parents and his homeschool teacher, Ms. Connie, have taught him a great deal about exotic animals, though he’d rather be surrounded by a more ordinary species: other kids. When Whit notices a girl who visits the zoo each day to sketch the birds, he sets his heart on getting to know the “Bird Girl” and finally making a friend his own age. Unfortunately, being a good friend to “Bird Girl,” whose actual name is Stella and who has troubles at home, involves taking dangerous risks and breaking rules that test Whit’s courage and his parents’ trust. The unusual setting and the characters’ tricky family dynamics add tension and zest to Latham’s (Leaving Gee’s Bend) empathetic friendship tale, as do Graegin’s pencil drawings, which portray the story’s upsetting and uplifting moments with gentleness. Readers won’t soon forget Whit and Stella’s adventures. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Oct.)
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