Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham and Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 288
Ages: Middle Grade (8-12)
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository
Publishers Summary:

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.

In nearly every kid’s dreamworld growing up in a zoo would be the ideal life. No “real” school, no “real” homework, all of your chores are around exotic animals and you have freedom to go where ever you want as long as it’s inside the zoo. For Whit, an eleven year old boy who’s grown up in this very situation, this is anything but ideal. When he discovers a frequent visitor to the zoo around his age Whit can’t help but be excited at the possibility of friendship and adventure, but what secrets might “The Bird Girl” carry? Is her friendship worth testing out and possibly losing? As Whit dips his toes in these new waters he quickly discovers that sometimes life and friendship is worth the risk.

Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham has been a joy to read! So much so that I’ve started reading it with the Turkeybird now that I’ve finished up my reading. This could easily be a basic story about a boy who grows up in a zoo wanting nothing more than a few friends and experiences outside of his small existence, but there was so much more to it. Don’t Feed the Boy was certainly about friendship, but also about learning who you are, being happy with what you have and making hard choices. So much of this will ring true for young readers who are experiencing these very same obstacles and it will likely provide a great deal of comfort, not to mention some very entertaining reading.

The main character, Whit, was so authentic and perfectly fit a typical eleven year old boy that I couldn’t help but fall in love with him as he struggled through the many new situations he found himself in. It was fun to see a middle grade book featuring the life of a home schooled kid who’s wavering between loving his situation to wishing for more. What kid wouldn’t want to grow up in a zoo? Not many, I would imagine. But what Don’t Feed the Boy addresses is the fact that whether you grow up in a zoo, on a farm or even in the city, life is what you make of it and sometimes you need to speak up to get the help you need. For Whit, he needed friends and opportunities to grow in new ways. I’m sure some who are very pro-homeschooling may not like where Whit ends up by the end of the book, but the way Irene Latham approaches his schooling is handled very well. In Whit’s case, his parents simply could no longer provide what he needs, and that is truly what it’s all about. It was refreshing to see both his parents and himself taking responsibility for some of the situations Whit gets into because his need aren’t being met.

What was extremely fun about Don’t Feed the Boy was reading about Whit’s interactions with not only Stella aka “The Bird Girl”, but the other kids he comes in contact with. Toward the beginning of story Whit’s contact with the outside world is very minimal and watching him waver back and forth at not knowing what he should expect from others was really fun. As his relationships grew Whit was also challenged in new ways relating to the new friends he had and how big of a risk he was willing to take for them. This is something we all deal with and sometimes it’s hard to make decisions that could potentially damage a great friendship, but that could save a friend from peril. Seeing Whit make these choices when it came to his new best friend Stella and the sad home life she came from was inspiring and will no doubt touch readers.

Reading Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham has been the highlight of my last few weeks, especially when I’m able to read it aloud to the Turkeybird. This is a story that shares powerful messages of friendship, taking chances and making the right choices for the ones we love. Whit’s character was one that I instantly connected with and couldn’t help but love as he struggled to know what exactly was going on within the head of his new friend, who also happened to be a girl. Whit is quirky, fun and loving, a character you want to show the world to one layer at a time. And Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham has been a delight to read!

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 5 to 12. Wonderful messages about friendship, making good choices, knowing yourself and taking chances. This is the perfect read for young readers at that “awkward age” who are trying to figure out who and what they are and who they want to friend.


Thanks to the wonderful publisher, author and ladies at Blueslip Media I have the opportunity to giveaway one copy of Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham to one There’s A Book reader. Thankyou! Be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter form below and as a note, this one is open to US residents only. Good luck!

Find Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham and Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads

Thank you so much to the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, on their blog MacTeenBooks and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham

  1. latanya says:

    the lion

  2. William says:

    I’m really not keen on the idea of zoos, but I like elephants.

  3. Victoria Zumbrum says:


  4. apple blossom says:


  5. Kathleen Armstrong says:

    I love the elephants.

  6. Heidi Grange says:

    I love the big cats, lions, tigers, mountain lions, etc.

  7. Mary Alise Herrera says:

    I always like the sea lions and seals! The book looks great.

  8. Elephant stories usually make me cry. Which isn’t a bad thing…but will I cry?

  9. Maria says:

    Personally, I like the large cats, but the 3yo likes the monkey house, so that’s where we spend the most time 😛

  10. Renee Richardson says:

    I always love seeing the elephants. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway 🙂

    fattybumpkins at yahoo dot com

  11. Karen says:

    I always liked the chimps!

  12. Sara says:

    Probably not very popular, but I love snakes, so the reptile house is one of my favorite places to go. That said, they are often more lethargic than interesting, so my other favorites are the big cats. They are intimidating and stunning.

  13. The highlight? How nice 🙂 Sounds good.

  14. Kristie says:

    I like Giraffes 🙂

  15. Emaginette says:

    The book sounds fun to read. 🙂

  16. Chauntelle says:

    This looks and sounds like a really great book! I’ll have to check it out 🙂

  17. V(Bookborne) says:

    That would have been my dreamworld when I was a kid for sure. This sounds like an awesome read.

  18. Maureen says:

    My favorite is the polar bear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *