________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 21 . . . . June 19, 1998

cover Sleepover Zoo.

Brenda Kearns. Illustrated by Wesley Lowe.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1998.
80 pp, paper, $4.50.
ISBN 0-590-12443-9.

Subject Headings:
Wildlife refuges-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.
Snob and snobishness-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2 - 5 / Ages 7 - 10.
Review by Mary Thomas.

*** /4


"TONI!" yelled Meghan ..."Your backpack is moving."

Suddenly the room got very quiet. Everyone turned to look at Toni's backpack. It was moving. The bottom end was bulging out and sinking back.

Leona walked into the changing room just as Toni opened her backpack.

... When nothing happened she lifted [it] from the bottom and emptied it onto the bench.

Leona screamed and ran into the corner. The rest of the class followed her. ...It was the lost snake!

In Grade 6, being different is the ultimate sin but almost as bad is having one's family be different. Toni's parents have just moved to town to run the Wild Bird Care Centre, and Toni is very keen to be part of the in-group at school, but the class thinks that having a house full of overflow from the Centre is pretty weird. The class social leader is particularly curious about "The Bird House," as she calls it, and goads Toni into inviting her over for a sleepover the next weekend. The rest of the book is devoted to showing the reader how much Leona is going to hate a household where a) a Great Dane and a macaw share the ground floor with the family, and b) the basement is full of sick and injured birds, their food and their output, and some creatures whose care is Toni's responsibility. Initially the sleepover (Toni's attempts to get out of it having failed) is just as bad as Toni's worst fears, but Leona, in the very act of storming off home, rescues a sparrow from a cat and brings it back for Toni and family to cure. Leona then stays for a dinner where the macaw shows a decided preference for her over the rest of the family. With Leona converted to life in the pet lane, all ends well.

      Being accepted by one's peers is a problem not limited to 12-year-olds, but it is hard to see how Toni's situation could result in rejection, even though the acknowledged social leader is tidy, pretty, and (though not openly stated) rich. Toni is new and different, and, with a family entirely devoted to wild life preservation and a house full of [cute] rescued birds, she has a winning situation. Toni could, in fact, have posed quite a challenge to Leona's leadership had she been that way inclined! As it is, the story develops with a laugh per page as a result of the actions and interactions of the pets, their foods, and their people. It is a fairly conventional story about a family whose unconventionality is only surface deep, but it is entertaining and a step up from the Baby Sitters' Club.


Mary Thomas works in two elementary school libraries in Winnipeg School Division No. 1 and can see this book being a real hit with Grades 3 and 4 girls.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364