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Don't Feed the Boy

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  231 Ratings  ·  63 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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Some things about this were really wonderful. However, there were several things that deeply disturbed me.
Stella's disabled father is represented as an abuser, to the whole family. The impression is given that he is an abuser because of his back injury. Being disabled, and knowing wonderful disabled people, I resent that. Sure, disabled people are people: wonderful or awful, funny or nightmarish abusers; just like any other diverse group of people, they are going to cover the whole spectrum of
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Patricia Weaver
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Alison Hertz
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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  Dunn
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: j-fiction, committee
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
Bradley Morrison
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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!
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Perfect for my fourth grade students!
Reviewed for the Emmet O'Neal Library Children's Department. Click here to access the children's portion of the review.
Linda Atkinson
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
quick read;great story
Laura Raines
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was surprised when this book took a serious turn, dealing with some dark issues for 11-year-olds, but Latham handled it very well and in a reassuring way for children. Loved the unusual setting, all the great animal facts, and while Whit did a lot of complaining, it didn't make him less empathetic as a character and I felt good about the ending. Not perfect, but hopeful. I think kids will like the Zoo Bee quiz at the end. Would make a good addition to a classroom studying animals.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-a-z
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.

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
Erik This Kid Reviews Books
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gansta-shelf-yo
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2112, middle-ya
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
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
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
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Lee Födi
Whit is an eleven-year-old boy who is homeschooled . . . but "home" is the key word here, because Whit lives at a zoo run by his parents. So Whit's days are filled with all sorts of activities that normal kids wouldn't dream of. The problem for Whit is that he hates the zoo. When he meets Stella, he finds a kindred spirit—they both crave freedom.

In so many ways, this is a very sweet book. I loved the setting of the zoo and getting to meet all of the different animals that populated it. The prob
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 11 and up
This is such a sweet story about two troubled tweens who find the perfect friend in each other at a time when they both need a friend so much. Whit, the 11-year-old son of zoo keepers, aches to experience life outside of the zoo. He's been homeschooled his whole life and his parents think his childhood among the animals is idyllic. It's not to Whit. He wants to hang out with other humans for a change. Then he notices a girl hanging out at the zoo always drawing birds. He nicknames her the Bird G ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: disd-reviews
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
Laura Salas
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Savannah Spaulding
This story is about a boy who lives in a zoo full time and even does home school in order to not have to leave the zoo. The reason for this is because his mother is zoo director and his father is a zookeeper. He meets a girl who he becomes friends with, and realizes that being her friend entails breaking the rules of his parents and testing himself. He finally has someone his own age to talk to and he does not want to give that up because he has to stay inside the zoo. I thought this book had a ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
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
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Irene Latham is a poet and novelist who was born the middle child and first daughter of five kids.

Irene has lived all sorts of places and traveled worldwide. Since 1984 she has called Birmingham, Alabama, home.

She thinks growing up with three brothers was great preparation for raising her three sons. She also thinks getting a sister was one of the best things that has ever happened to her.

Irene i
More about Irene Latham...