From the Publisher: There’s paws, claws, feathers and fur — welcome to Tanglewood Animal Park! Zoe loves living with her family at Tanglewood — splashing with penguins, feeding lemurs their breakfast, and even seeing baby zebra, Flash, being born! Then disaster strikes when Flash goes missing. Can Zoe help rescue him in time for the grand opening?
Zoe’s parents have bought a failing zoo and now she lives in the manor house on zoo grounds and helps out with taking care of the animals. The short description provided by the publisher makes this seem a lot lighter and fluffier than it actually is. I was expecting this to be similar to some of our other animal-based chapter book series for younger readers, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the subject matter and quality of the writing. In addition to animal care, Baby Zebra Rescue touches on bullying, parental death and mourning, making friends, and being responsible. The geographical setting is nebulous; it’s probably in the UK but it could also be North America. One of the keepers is from South Africa, but there’s minimal physical descriptions of any of the characters.
This is a more advanced chapter book with no illustrations, clocking in at 13 chapters and 160 pages. It’s very well researched. The author really did her homework and this is one of the best “zoo” fiction books I’ve seen, regardless of age group (and that’s me speaking from over 15 years in the animal keeping field). Animals get seriously injured (they get better!) and escape and wow, the author nailed the sinking “did I fasten that lock?” feeling. There are fun zebra facts and a Junior Zookeeper quiz in the back once you’ve finished the story. There are some plot points that are left unresolved at the end, but this is the first book in a trilogy.
Baby Zebra Rescue is definitely recommended for animal lovers and anyone looking for a more advanced early chapter book.
Baby Zebra Rescue is available for checkout at the Galesburg Public Library.