Monday, October 21, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Don't Feed the Boy

Today's feature is a book that's been on my to-read list, but was moved up as it was nominated for the Cybils. I was drawn in by the main character, Whit, and felt an emotional connection to the story, always a plus for any good book.  So, let's get right to it.

by Irene Latham and illustrations by Stephanie Graegin
Roaring Book Press 2012

From Goodreads:
No kid knows more about zoo life than Whit. That's because he sleeps, eats and even attends home-school at the Meadowbrook Zoo. It's one of the perks of having a mother who's the zoo director and a father who's the head elephant keeper. Now that he's eleven, Whit feels trapped by the rules and routine of zoo life. With so many exotic animals, it's easy to get overlooked. 

But when Whit notices a mysterious girl who visits every day to draw the birds, suddenly the zoo becomes much more interesting. Who is the Bird Girl? And why does she come by herself to the zoo? Determined to gain her trust, Whit takes the Bird Girl on his own personal tour of the zoo. He shows her his favorite animals and what happens with them behind the scenes. For Whit, having a friend his own age that he can talk to is an exciting new experience. For Stella the Bird Girl, the zoo and Whit are a necessary escape from her chaotic home life. Together they take risks in order to determine where it is they each belong. But when Stella asks Whit for an important and potentially dangerous favor, Whit discovers how complicated friendship and freedom-- can be.

Why kids will love it - The emotions of Whit and Stella are common for many tweens. Readers may understand things in their own lives better by reading how Whit and Stella deal with their own unique situations.  For kids that have grown up going to the zoo, reading about what happens behind the scenes might interest them.

What I learned as a writer - The voice of this book is perfect. The dialogue between Whit and Stella is so important to the book and so believable. I also felt the secondary characters were brought to life and developed, not just thrown in to make the story work.

Thanks for stopping by today. For those of you who also blog, if I don't stop by as much over the next month or two, it is because I have my head in a book somewhere. Over 100 books have been nominated so far in the middle grade fiction category of the Cybils. Amazing!

Have a great week!