cover image The Zoo at the Edge of the World

The Zoo at the Edge of the World

Eric Kahn Gale, illus. by Sam Nielson. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-212516-3

In this fantasy-tinged historical novel from Gale (The Bully Book), young Marlin's legendary father, the adventurer Ronan Rackham, is also famous for his resort in British Guiana%E2%80%94a lavish zoo built on an ancient pyramid. The zoo boasts 87 species, feeding demonstrations, and grand gatherings (excerpts from the guest brochure appear throughout). Marlin, constantly bullied by his older brother and the resort workers, fears he'll always suffer pity and ridicule because of his stutter, which disappears when he speaks to animals. After a jaguar, which purportedly killed one of the natives employed by Marlin's father, is captured and brought to the zoo, the jaguar takes to Marlin, teaching him the gifts of healing and the language of the animals. These gifts help Marlin protect the animals as the zoo's precarious financial situation drives Ronan to commit desperate and cruel acts. Augmented by Nielson's gentle full-page illustrations, Gale's touching story addresses the importance of empathy for all living things as it examines the delicate relationship between humans and animals. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Author's agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)