By Irene Latham
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
289 pages – ages 10+
Published by Roaring Brook Press on October 16, 2012
What 11 year-old kid wouldn’t LOVE to live in a zoo??? Whit Whitaker, that’s who! Whit did not like living in a zoo, but he had no choice. His mom was the zoo director and his dad was the elephant keeper, but his parents seem more interested in the animals than him. Whit hated living at the zoo. He wasn’t allowed to go out of the zoo at all. He was even home schooled (or is that zoo schooled?) right in the zoo by a tutor. Whit didn’t have any friends and parents that didn’t know he existed most of the time.
Whit notices a girl that comes and draws pictures of the birds at the zoo. He sees her almost every day and decides to talk to her. Whit and Stella (the Bird Girl) start meeting every day at the zoo and become good friends. Whit learns that Stella’s father abuses her family through violence and she comes to the zoo to get away from her home. Whit wants to help his friend, but helping her may get him into a lot of trouble.
This was not the usual action adventure story I love to read. In fact here wasn’t much action and maybe just a little adventure, but I really liked the story. I cared about what happened to Stella. I wanted Whit’s parents to pay attention to him. They were both great characters. Ms. Latham’s writing style really let me get to know the characters. I liked that they both needed each others friendship and they helped each other. The story had a strong message about abusive families (both kids had abusive families, although Stella’s was a violent one and Whit’s parents just didn’t pay attention to him). There was some cool stuff about all the behind the scenes at the zoo in the book when Whit shows Stella around. I really enjoyed reading about that. Although the book talks about abusive families, it is written really well for kids. I was sad I found some editing errors in the book (misplaced periods, a couple of places Whit’s name wasn’t capitalized), but I liked the story so much I didn’t think about that when I gave the book my rating. I recommend this book to kids 10+ only because it deals with the subject of abuse.
Five out of five bookworms for excellent friendship story “Don’t Feed the Boy.”
To learn more about Ms. Latham and her books, including “Don’t Feed the Boy,” Please visit her website HERE.