I absolutely loved this book! Okay, yes, I've had it since October, but life is strange and the to be read pile is never ending, but finally I managed to get to it, and it's wonderful.
|From Roaring Book Press. Available on Amazon.|
Of course, I'm slightly prejudiced because I love the author,
but that doesn't change the fact that this is a good book.
You may think you'd like to live in the zoo, but Whit, who really does live in the zoo, would change places with you in a minute. Whit's mother is the zoo director and his father the elephant keeper. The business of the zoo keeps his parents so involved with the animals that it's easy for Whit to be overlooked. He even wonders if he should have been born another species.
Whit hasn't had many friends besides the animals. He is homeschooled by a tutor and seldom goes anywhere outside the zoo. When he discovers Stella, the Bird Girl, Whit is determined to become her friend. He takes her on tours and into places only the zoo people are allowed to go. When he breaks the rule never to leave the zoo and goes to Stella's house, he is confronted by a problem that is way too big for him to solve. But that doesn't mean he won't try.
Whit has "normal" problems with his parents. Problems most eleven-year-olds experience. Stella's problems are much more threatening. Yet Irene handles both situations with respect and sensitivity.
I love the scene when Stella realizes that Whit understands her situation. He doesn't feel safe in her house, but he doesn't want to leave her.
She grabbed his arm. "So now you know. And that's why you can't complain about your parents. Because what you have is so much better than this."
Whit stared at her.
What she said was true.
And it wasn't.
Yes, it was an awful situation. Clearly Stella's family needed help. But that didn't make Whit's problems any less important. Stella telling him that he couldn't complain was like saying you can't complain when you have a sore throat because there are people in the world who have cancer.
Oh, he could complain all right. Stella didn't have the corner of the market on unhappiness. It was just different, that's all. Their situations were completely different.
Nice, huh? No spoilers here, but you'll breathe a sigh of relief for both characters as the book comes to a satisfying end.
If you have a young reader on your Christmas list, it's perfect stocking stuffer.