cover image Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest

Adina Rishe Gewirtz. Candlewick, $15.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6041-3

As summer vacation starts, 11-year-old Annie has the same three wishes as always: to get taller, to have an adventure, and to meet her father. She’s not holding her breath—nothing ever happens in her tiny town, and although Annie and her younger brother, Rew, spend hours spinning stories about their father, they know he’s dead. They live with their grandmother near a jail, and when an escaped prisoner holds them hostage in their house, two of Annie’s wishes come true in ways she never imagined. Debut author Gewirtz successfully conveys the terror and tedium of being trapped, as well as Annie and Rew’s pain and emotional turmoil over learning their father isn’t who they believed. While the situation may frighten some readers, the matter-of-fact way Annie and Rew make the best of difficult circumstances (beyond being held hostage, their mother is out of the picture, and their grandmother is in and out of touch with reality may be comforting to those whose families don’t match the ideal. An emotionally honest family story with an ending that’s hopeful without being implausibly upbeat. Ages 9–12. (Apr.)