Don't Feed the Boy
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Don't Feed the Boy

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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. B...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Roaring Brook Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,352)
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Patricia Weaver
Whit is ready to escape... the zoo!! He feels controlled, isolated ... caged.
Stephanie Graegin did a great job with the illustrations. My favorite is Whit and Stella (aka Bird Girl) at the Flamingo enclosure.
Don’t Feed the Boy is a wonderful read that covers all the spectrums of a pre-teen’s rollercoaster emotions. Throw in a new friendship, an escaped cobra and a fire: and you have the ingredients for a great book.
Cindy Hudson
Lots of kids probably dream of living the life 11-year-old Whit lives: his parents care for the local zoo, and he lives on the property with them. But life with the animals isn’t always so great. For one thing, Whit has a tutor, which means he doesn’t go to the local school and he doesn’t get to meet other kids. Also, his parents seem to care more for the animals than they do for him, and he has strict rules that don’t even allow him to leave the property.

Then one day he meets a girl named Stell...more
Rachel
Whit lives at the Meadowbrook Zoo, where his mother is the director and his father keeps the elephants – and they both seem to care more about the animals and the zoo than they do about Whit. His homeschool teacher Ms. Connie really gets him, but what Whit really wants is a friend his own age.

So when he gets up the courage to talk to the Bird Girl, who comes every day to draw birds, they strike up a close friendship. He even breaks his parents rules and leaves the zoo to walk to Stella’s nearby...more
Kristen
First Impression: I always love going into a book not knowing much at all. I find myself enjoying a surprising amount of books that contain no fantasy or paranormal elements lately so I was looking forward to this one.

While Reading: Whit often feels like his parents really should never have had a child, especially when they treat the animals at the zoo with more care than they do him. Because he is not allowed to leave the zoo, Whit finds himself confined to the premises until he meets the Bird...more
Wendy
For some reason I found this incredibly tiresome. The writing isn't bad, and the zoo setting is lovely and well-realized, but many things about the premise and plot seemed off, and the protagonist seemed like a spoiled brat, destined for an adulthood as a Nice Guy. And if his name is supposed to be, literally, Whit Whitaker--that seemed very comic book and added to the non-realistic feel. Augh. So much irritated me about the characters and their backstories and what kept feeling like apologia. Y...more
Alison Hertz
I really enjoyed Irene Latham's DON'T FEED THE BOY. Whit, the mc, pulls you into his zoo and teaches you about what it is like to live there. He even sprinkles in animal facts without sounding preachy. He hates his zoo home or at least thinks he does and feels the need to escape but what he really needs is a friend - a human one who understands the need to leave your surroundings and experience someone else's life every once in a while. He finds that person in Stella - who has quite a few issues...more
Susan P
Whit has grown up at the zoo. His mother is the director and his father the head elephant keeper. Most kids might think this is a great way of life, but Whit feels like his parents care more about the animals than they do about him. One day he notices a girl about his own age drawing pictures of the birds. As he gets to know her better he finds out her name is Stella. It turns out that Stella is spending a lot of time at the zoo b/c it's safer than being at her house with her abusive, alcoholic...more
Suzanne
The old saying goes, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Whit has grown up living in a zoo because his mother is the zoo director and his dad is the head elephant trainer. Whit feels like he is always second to the zoo. He knows that his mom turned up unexpectedly pregnant with him, and he feels that they do not really want him. He feels like he is just a bother to them. He would rather be anywhere but the zoo where he is home-schooled by a tutor. He just wants to be w...more
Bradley Morrison


This is a delightful story that everyone, young and old, will relate to. If you’re a lover of animals you’ll be happy to know that there are alot of animal facts in this book.

The story shows different people with different problems and how they deal with them.(Very realistic.)

It didn’t end the way I thought it would and that’s always nice to see.(I love a surprise ending!)

So, take a trip to the zoo and meet Whit, Stella, and the rest of the gang. You won’t be disappointed!
Mandy
Although eleven year old Whit lives at a busy location the zoo, he is extremely lonely and wants a friend more than anything. When “Bird Girl” or Stella fills that empty void, Whit finds that having Stella as a friend is both fulfilling and challenging at the same time.
Barbara
A beautifully written story. On the surface it's about a boy who lives in the zoo. His mom is the zoo director and his dad's head elephant keeper, so it makes sense . . . sort of. But there are deeper layers to this novel and it has unexpected turns. Moving and lovely.
BamaGirl
I loved this book! Perfect for my fourth grade students!
Linda Atkinson
quick read;great story
Jill
The main character of this middle grade chapter book is 11-year-old Whit Whitaker, a boy who has lived his whole life at Meadowbrook Zoo in Alabama. His mother is the director of the zoo, and his father is head elephant keeper. Whit is home-schooled, so his only friends thus far have been the animals. Moreover, his parents seem to care more about those animals than him, and he resents it.

One day he meets a young girl, Stella, who comes to the zoo by herself to draw birds. They become friends and...more
Linda
I love middle grade books. Although they can be serious, as this book is, there is usually a good resolution because of certain actions of the main characters. In Don’t Feed The Boy, the main character Whit is being raised in a zoo with a personal tutor instead of school because his parents are the zoo managers and feel that this situation for their son is the best possible. They believe that his world is exciting because they love it so much, but unfortunately Whit has other wishes.
At 11, Whi...more
Natalie
I won a copy of Don't Feed the Boy through goodreads (thank you!) and was really excited to read it, mostly because I love zoos. This is a children's book that seems best suited for middle school aged children.

THE GIST OF IT:
Whit is an eleven-year-old boy who quite literally lives at the zoo with his parents. His father is the elephant caretaker and his mother is the director of the zoo. Whit is not allowed to leave the property and has grown very bored of the zoo, which he knows every nook an...more
Dawn
This was an interesting read for me. I almost didn't finish it. It really didn't grab me for about the first 80 pages. Page 81 was where it really got interesting.

I don't think this book would be a great one for my current grade 3 class, nor for book club. The book focuses on issues that are a little older than my kids. Whit develops a friendship with Stella that is a little obsessive. He also makes some really bad choices. Although, discussing the things he did would be quite interesting in boo...more
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
What 11 year-old kid wouldn’t LOVE to live in a zoo??? Whit Whitaker, that’s who! Whit did not like living in a zoo, but he had no choice. His mom was the zoo director and his dad was the elephant keeper, but his parents seem more interested in the animals than him. Whit hated living at the zoo. He wasn’t allowed to go out of the zoo at all. He was even home schooled (or is that zoo schooled?) right in the zoo by a tutor. Whit didn’t have any friends and parents that didn’t know he existed most...more
Jillian A
The theme in the book "Don't Feed The Boy", is about taking chances. The reader of this book comes to understand, that the author's perspective on life is how life is not always fair. In the book "Don't Feed The Boy", the main character is a young boy named Whit, who lives at the Zoo with his Mom and Dad. Whit absolutely hates the Zoo and wishes he could live as far away away from it as possible, until he meets Stella. Whit has never had any true friends and is overjoyed when he and Stella beco...more
Terri
There are many things to like about this book. Whit's thoughts are often lyrical, and his emotions are profound. Information about animals is included in a natural, logical context. The resolution and conclusion are strong and morally, ethically sound. But the whole incident with the gun keeps me from giving a high rating. There are so many things wrong with these events that I can't ignore them. First, Whit illegally enters Stella's apartment with the intent to steal her father's gun. Then Juan...more
Emmet O'Neal Library- Children's Department
Whit lives at the Meadowbrook Zoo, where his mother is the director and his father keeps the elephants – and they both seem to care more about the animals and the zoo than they do about Whit. His homeschool teacher Ms. Connie really gets him, but what Whit really wants is a friend his own age.

So when he gets up the courage to talk to the Bird Girl, who comes every day to draw birds, they strike up a close friendship. He even breaks his parents rules and leaves the zoo to walk to Stella’s nearby...more
Ashleyd
Chapter Book/ Grade 5/6

Whit a tween boy lives at a zoo in Alabama. Dispite his wild surroundings he feels like a caged animal due to being homeschooled, never meeting people his own age, and not being alowed to leave the zoo grounds. While doing a summer project to study an animal he chooses a girl, named Stella, that he sees everyday at the zoo. He soon learns that he isn't the only child stuck in a bad situation. Stella lives with her mother in a very dangerous domestic violence situation. Her...more
Laura Salas
Don't Feed the Boy
by Irene Latham
Roaring Brook Press, 2012

Whit lives at the zoo with his parents, who are obsessed with the animals. Whit is not. He's tired of playing second fiddle to elephants and monkeys and wants to explore life outside the zoo. When Whit falls for Bird Girl (Stella), he learns that her family life is much more troubled than his own. But that makes Whit's family struggles no less important. Whit has to learn to speak up for himself in his own family, as well as figure out wh...more
Jennifer
I was drawn in by the main character, Whit, and felt an emotional connection to this story from the beginning. Always a definite plus for any good book.

Why kids will love it - The emotions of Whit and Stella are common for many tweens. Readers may understand things in their own lives better by reading how Whit and Stella deal with their own unique situations. For kids that have grown up going to the zoo, reading about what happens behind the scenes might interest them.

What I learned as a writer...more
Allison
I really liked this book. However, I could go either way on passing or dropping. I don't see a lot of books deal with guns within the home; it seems to be an underused theme, at least in recent years. Obviously, this theme just became incredibly poignant. I think in light of recent events, older elementary students could greatly benefit from exploring gun safety themes within the confines of a well-written and fully developed novel.

I did love the homeschool perspective that Whit provides, and I...more
Sharon Lawler
The premise will draw in the animal lovers in the audience since main character, Whit, lives at the zoo with his parents who work there. Since he is also homeschooled by a private teacher, he lacks friends his own age. He also feels that his parents consider the needs of the zoo to be more important than his. He makes friends with a girl who comes to the zoo each day to draw, but actually she is avoiding her home life. The back stories of the various characters did not completely convince, and t...more
Helen
I really liked this realistic fiction possible WAW nominee. It's about Whit who lives at the zoo because his mother is the director, but he is home schooled and due to his parent's passion about animals he feels neglected. He has no friends until he meets the Bird Girl who comes to the zoo every day to draw the birds. She lives nearby and is trying to escape her terrible family life. They become friends and share their problems and try to help each other out. Of course, nothing goes according to...more
Melissa
Nice story of friendship, expanding independence, defying parents, all in a very gentle way. Whit is a very thoughtful boy fed up with his isolation at the zoo and his parents' appearance of caring more about the animals than him. As he gets to know "Bird Girl"/Stella, he learns a whole lot more about bad parenting and proves himself a terrific friend.

Should get a least a 3.5 - not a 4 because it may be a little slow paced for this reading level.
Jessica
Cole and I read this together. I thought it would be a story about silly adventures at the zoo. I couldn't have been more wrong. It does take place at the zoo, but the topics are much deeper. It gave us many things to discuss. Cole wasn't thrilled with the way Whit seemed obsessed with Stella and talked about her all of the time. By the time we finished the book, Cole did think it was a good book with a satisfying ending.
Mary
This was a sweet book about a boy whose life revolves around the zoo where his mother is director and his father is elephant keeper. He's homeschooled so he's pretty isolated from other kids his age until he meets Stella, a young girl who comes to the zoo every day to escape her unstable home. There were some unlikely scenes and dialogue exchanges, but overall it was an enjoyable book with a satisfying ending.
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Irene Latham is a poet and novelist from Birmingham, Alabama. Her books for 2014 include THE SKY BETWEEN US (poetry), DON'T FEED THE BOY (in paperback), and DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST (poetry for children). Her debut novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND was named 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and is set during the Great Depression. Her favorite characters in books and real life are ones who have the co...more
More about Irene Latham...
Leaving Gee's Bend The Color of Lost Rooms The Sky Between Us What Came Before Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole

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