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Kitchen Table Reviews: Zoobreak

This light-hearted heist story is a fun romp for animal lovers.

By Mir Kamin | January 22 , 2009
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<i>Zoobreak</i> by Gordon Korman
Zoobreak by Gordon Korman

Griffin Bing and his fellow 6th graders are always ready to spring into action for each other, so when Savannah’s pet monkey is kidnapped and shows up on a seedy floating zoo, there was no question as to whether or not the gang would band together to bust her out. The only question, it seems, is whether or not it would work… and how many things would go wrong along the way.

Me: Alright, animals lovers, did you love this?

Son: I really liked it because I like all the animal stuff, plus it’s really full of action and suspense. But then I went and read the book that comes before this one [Gordon Korman’s Swindle introduces the characters featured here] and kind of wished we’d read them in order.

Me: Really? Why’s that? I mean, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from not having read the other one.

Son: Well, they made a few references to it. It made more sense after I’d read them both.

Daughter: Now I kind of wish I’d read the other one, too. But I liked this. You didn’t need to read Swindle for this one to work. I liked all the animals, and I liked that all the kids each had a certain skill.

Son: I liked that the monkey and the Doberman were best friends! It was so funny how protective he was of her, and just the idea of this monkey riding around on the back of a dog all the time.

Daughter: Yeah, but… well, they never tell you how Savannah even got the monkey in the first place. That seemed a little unbelievable, that a kid my age would just happen to have a capuchin for a pet.

Me: That was the only thing that was a little unbelievable?

Daughter: No, the fact that they really never even got in trouble was pretty unbelievable, too.

Me: It sort of reminded me of every Curious George book, you know? He does something and it all goes wrong and is a disaster, and everyone gets mad, but then they say, “It’s okay, George! Nevermind!”

Daughter: Yeah, that sort of happened here.

Son: I didn’t like that Darren kid who was always trying to get them in trouble. He seemed pretty realistic for a mean kid.

Me: Okay, so despite the fact that some of it maybe wasn’t that realistic, was it a good book?

Son: Definitely. Tons happens and you never really know what’s coming.

Daughter: Yeah, it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Pros: An action-packed adrenaline romp. The kids are smart, resourceful and compassionate. The animals provide plenty of light-hearted comic relief.

Cons: Not a lot of consequences for bad behavior. That rotten kid who’s always trying to get them into trouble. Requires a heaping scoop of suspension of disbelief in many places.

Zoobreak was a fun, engaging read as well as teaching us quite a bit about animals. Our dog was unimpressed, but it gets three thumbs up from the humans at our kitchen table.

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