As if being a pre-teen girl isn’t complex enough: add in all the intricacies of living with your family in a zoo. Forget image. Imagine being paranoid about the smell of croc and hippo in your hair? And then your best friend moves to New Zealand “with the sheep and hobbits”. It’s hard.
HOW TO OUTRUN A CROCODILE WITH YOUR SHOES UNTIED by Jess Keating is a fun and humorous story. Everything about this zings with personality. It’s kind of like that wimpy kid’s diary meets a clean version of that girl with the eccentric parents from the movie MEAN GIRLS. Remember that scene from the movie where she’s at the mall and imagines all the kids as animals gathering at the water hole. Yeah, kind of like that. Ooh-ooh-ahh-ahh and such.
Don’t let that MEAN GIRLS comparison throw you off. I’m just talking the animal kingdom comparison. In this book, the protagonist Ana (named after the snake, hisssssss) keeps “creature files” on the different species she encounters in seventh grade life. Each chapter has some cool animal facts. And, this is MUCH cleaner. For you concerned parents out there, the most vial word is nimrod, and the sexiest thing outside of a brief mention of animal copulations is a quick mention of pink strings hanging out of trousers. Not too bad, right?
Beside the normal girl anxieties, the two big pushes of this book are a school “about me” project, a television taping of her families’ zoo life, and presenting the animals in front of a crowd. Sounds stressful enough, even for an adult.
The wittiness, fun, and charm persist throughout the book. This is an entertaining read that kids will enjoy, and probably many adults, too.
Thanks to the folks at Sourcebooks for providing me with an electronic review copy of this book.