In the midst of so many books in children’s literature comes a novel that truly stands out, Zebra Forest. Eleven year old Annie and her little brother, Rew, live with Gran and her secrets at the edge of the Zebra Forest, so named for its white birch and oak trees. Abandoned by their mother and their father dead, the two spend time together sharing their favorite novel, Treasure Island, and imagining what their father was like. But, then one day an escaped fugitive breaks into their home, “unending everything they thought they knew about their family, their past and themselves.” (book jacket) Being held hostage forces the lies from the past to come crashing to the present. This is a remarkable debut novel full of so much emotion: Gran’s denials, Rew’s anger, Annie trying to hold everything together, yet it is never over dramatic. I was caught up in Annie’s narration from the first page. And the life’s lessons of love, hope and forgiveness cannot be underestimated. The impact of Zebra Forest will stay with me for a long time.
Review by Renee Larsen, Hillside Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grade 5 and up
Author Website: www.adinagewirtz.com
Written by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
Release Date: April 9, 2013
ISBN: 9780763660413 (hardcover)