cover image How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied

Jess Keating. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $7.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-4022-9755-7

Wry, honest seventh-grader Ana tries to make sense of the middle-school feeding tank while grappling with her best friend's move to New Zealand, the school "Sneerers" clique, and her longtime crush. Then there's Ana's family: her annoying twin brother, whose best friend is suddenly looking kind of cute; her zookeeper parents; and her celebrity naturalist grandfather, who just showed up to make a movie showcasing the whole family. Ana wants to shake her paralyzing fear of public speaking so she can do a presentation at the zoo and also nail an art project meant to express her identity, but she's not sure she has it in her. Readers should find it easy to become invested in Ana's troubles as she looks for the right boy, seeks her moment of glory, and defines herself on her own terms. Keating, a zoologist, enriches her debut novel with fascinating animal facts, awkward moments with a variety of wild species, and "creature files" Ana use to amusingly classify her peers. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (June)