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Zebra Forest

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,377 ratings  ·  491 reviews
In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves.

When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. "If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence," Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Candlewick Press (first published April 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,377 ratings  ·  491 reviews

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Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads-won
**Received from Goodreads first reads giveaway.

Zebra Forest is a fantastic debut novel. The story of Annie, Rew, Gram and Andrew Snow grabbed me from the first page. Annie and Rew are being rasied by their Grandmother (Gram). Their Mother has abondoned them, their father is "dead". They live quietly in their home by the Zebra Forest with a Social Worker checking in with them from time to time. This is their status quo until one day some prisoners break out of the prison during a riot and one tak
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent debut story of a young girl dealing with a less than perfect life. Her younger brother has anger/impulse control issues and her grandmother struggles with depression that shows itself in hoarding and isolation. She accepts her life,adapting and making do.Her life takes a dramatic turn when there is a prison break which brings her little family face to face with the past.
A parallel is drawn between her situation and the history of the time which is the Iran hostage crisis.
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps this makes me sound like a total hipster, but I enjoy reading books that aren’t very commercial. I love books that have some literary merit as well as entertainment value. When Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz popped up on my radar, I knew I had to read this middle grade debut. First of all, it’s published by Candlewick, from whom I have come to expect intelligent books. Second of all, that cover y’all. That cover. Third, I love books about siblings and troubled kids. Fourth, it seeme ...more
*sneak preview available here*

Ever since she was small, Annie's had three wishes:
1. Get tall
2. Have an adventure
3. Meet her father.
She knows none of them will come true. Especially not the last. After all, her father's dead -- killed by an angry man, Gran told her and her brother Rew for as long as she could remember.
But when there's a breakout at Enderfield, the prison on the other side of the Zebra Forest, Annie just might get her adventure -- and learn a lot she never knew about her family
Meh. It's not that this wasn't well-written (it was), it's just that I didn't really connect with it. I was a similar age to the main character at that point in time, so it felt like I should have been able to settle in and feel at home in the time period, but it missed the mark for me somehow.
Melissa Mcavoy
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very close to five stars: in fact I do think technically the book deserves it, especially considering it is a debut novel. The author pulls off a very tricky plot and manages to make it feel almost entirely unforced. The hostage situation the story revolves around is beautifully framed with a historical event- the Iranian hostage crises, and a fictional one close to the heart of the two child protagonists-Treasure Island. Not only is the children's unself-conscious exploration of the characters ...more
Cat Tutt
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I chose to read this one because I needed a book title starting with the letter "Z" to complete an Alphabet Challenge, and I'm ever so glad I did. While it is a book for youngsters, it was an absolute pleasure for me to read as well. I finished reading this in no time because I couldn't put it down, I had to find out what would happen in the end!

*5 Stars
Katy Jean Vance
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
With both parents out of the picture and a grandmother who can barely keep it together as her depression manifests itself in paranoia and hoarding, eleven-year old Annie B. is raising her younger brother Rew the best that she can. Then, as the Iranian hostage crisis rages in the background, Annie, Rew and Gran suddenly find themselves held hostage by the most ironic of captors. There are elements of this book that remind me of so many books I've read before (Dicey's Song, that one book about the ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Oh, that cover. (Okay, got that out of my system.)

Zebra Forest is a lovely, still, gem of a book. As hinted at in the beautiful cover, dark things are hiding behind those trees. Not the monsters you expect; everyday household monsters, like family secrets and lies.

It's 1977. Annie and Rew live with their Gran. Their Mom left them in her care long ago, when their father died, killed in a bar fight. They are more or less happy--sometimes Gran is well enough to take care of them, sometimes they hav
Xander ForeverBookish
Here is my review for the ARC that I received of Zebra Forest. I won a giveaway at DogoBooks and Candlewick Press sent me this. Thanks, Candlewick! Enjoy! Annie lives with her brother Rew, and her Gran, and likes telling stories to her brother in the Zebra Forest, a forest of white, gray and chocolate birch trees. When they hear a knock on the door in the middle of the night, They are hostages in their own home- with a prisoner. Will the prisoner stay or leave? In a suspenseful page-turning debu ...more
Alicia Bayer
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This children's book tells the story of a young girl, her younger brother and their loving but damaged grandma during the Iran hostage crisis, when a scary adventure befalls them all. Very well written and a good story. This is one of those books that brings you into another person's world with a quiet sort of immersion. It's suitable for all ages, though some parts are a little scary (potential violence). Well recommended.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Maybe this would appeal more to the target audience (middle school I think), it just left me a little bored.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Before I read "Zebra Forest" by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (a debut young adult novelist), I had just finished reading "The Ocean at The End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman, hearing Neil Gaiman speak about the book, and thinking about books like "The Graveyard Book." It's funny how related books come to me in spurts - or is it just that I naturally just draw connections between the books that I am currently reading and thinking about? Anyway, all of these books feel familiar and similar to me. All contain ...more
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Annie B (for beautiful) and Rew live with Gran- she tells them they are named Morgan for her mother, but Never Forget- they are really Snow's- they just cannot tell anyone. As far as the children know Gran is the only family they have- Grandad has passed away, Dad is dead in a violent fight, and Mom abandoned them on Gran's doorstep.

They have moved from the city to the edge of the Zebra Forest, named by the kids for the trunks of the birch and oak trees that create light and dark stripes. In th
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: realistic, mystery
This book was so wonderful! I think anyone over the age of 10 will really enjoy it. I can't really describe what made me love it so much. The characters were all well written and each had their own quirks and fears that they worked through in this book. I loved the fact that reading and books played such a large part in all the of family, no matter what life had dealt them. I loved the imagery and the flow and the page-turning suspense. Most of all I really enjoyed the main character Annie. She ...more
Cindy Dobrez
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read this in a gulp. I can't wait to booktalk it with my middle school students. I would disagree with the publisher's designation of ages 9-12 on it. I'd nudge it to 12-14 even though the kids in the story are younger.

Besides the suspense and the subtle exploration of lies and truth I was moved by the description of the birch and maple zebra forest with its smells and mood and stark contrast to the shades of gray in the story.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was different than any other book I have read. The growing relationship between Andrew Snow and his children was so well done. That said, I think it will take a sophisticated reader to appreciate this book.
Rebecca McNutt
At first I wasn't sure where this book was going, but as it went on, it painted an often shocking and vivid portrayal of family, and the people caught up in dysfunction. Zebra Forest is an excellent and intense middle-grade novel with more profound themes than the average book can handle.
Paola (A Novel Idea)
Originally posted at A Novel Idea

RATING: 3.5/5

I can definitely see this book becoming a classroom staple in the future, one of those novels you’re assigned to read in 5th or 6th grade. Zebra Forest offers a glimpse into the world as rationalized, and mythologized, by a child. Annie and Rew are resilient, resourceful characters who are faced with some really tough moral and emotional questions. They’re also children forced to be more grown up than they actually are, having to deal with problems t
Karen A.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Blocker
Apr 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-to-kids
Expectations can harm a book's ratings as much as a poorly orchestrated story or a badly drawn character. That may be the case here. When I first read the plot synopsis of Zebra Forest I thought 'Here's a book filled with magic. This may even be metafiction!!!' Zebra Forest is neither of these things—it's a straight-forward slow and thoughtful story, a story about family, truth, and redemption.

Despite not being all I had hoped, Zebra Forest did prove something to me. In 2012, I set out to discov
Kelly Hager
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a quiet, sweet book, one that is almost nothing like its synopsis would lead you to believe. It isn't nonstop suspense or intrigue. Instead, it's very much in Annie's head.

And that's a great thing, because I think it would be a lesser book if it focused more on the hostage situation AS a hostage situation.

Although to be fair, I imagine that basically is what hostage situations would be like as time goes on. You can only be afraid for so long before it becomes commonplace. But that's all
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon this one accidentally because my daughter checked it out from the public library, then after a few pages was too disturbed by it to continue reading. So then I just had to read it to see what "Zebra Forest" was all about, and I'm glad I did. This is the coming of age story of 11-year-old Annie and her brother Rew growing up under the care of their depressed grandmother, Gran, a professional liar. The past they shared with their parents is a mystery to them until one summer day wh ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, middle-school
This book was unlike any I've read for this audience. Two children live with their Gran--who is increasingly unable to care for them. When a riot at a local prison unleashes some of the inmates, they are held hostage and deep family truths are revealed. An interesting story.
Cheri Puetz
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book really struck home with me as a teacher who too often sees children forced to grow up too soon, sacrificing any sort of childhood innocence. Annie and her brother Rew are those kids who have always believed their grandmother's story that their parents were dead. Family secrets have been kept, however, and as everything unravels, Annie and Rew have to decide if they can forgive those they feel have betrayed them. I love the cover of the book and the name of the forest, for when is life ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Family secrets, lies, complex family relationships...Zebra Forest is an all encompassing book for young adults. This suspenseful story keeps readers intrigued as we learn about the tangled web woven throughout our families and our family relationships. This is a story about self-reflection, the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions and choices, forgiveness, and unconditional love.
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a bright brother and sister whose self-invented mythology about their unknown parents is suddenly replaced with a reality almost as fantastic. I had the privlege of hearing the author speak about her inspiration for the book, including the importance of family stories and family history to personal identity. Very glad I read this one!
Libby May
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Ok, interesting. It was acceptable. Another book I can add to my read list, but I don’t think I’ll read it again.
So basically Annie was ok, Andrew was ok, Rew was so spoiled he threw silent tantrums, Gran was way too sensitive.
The good point in this story was that the author was able to make it interesting even though there was such limited characters and settings.
I wasn’t totally impressed with this one, but I’m glad I read it once.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the book a lot. There were a couple problems that I troubled with. It was a very slow moving book and withheld a lot of the information about the father and grandmother that you wanted to know and so it got stale because the author was not dropping little bits of information.
Richie Partington
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie's Picks: ZEBRA FOREST by Adina Rishe Gewirtz, Candlewick, April 2013, 288p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-6041-3

"Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
Actor on a loan
Riders on the storm"
-- The Doors (1971)

"So we had no photos, not of my father, and certainly not of my mother, who, Gran said, had run off when I was three and Rew just one.
"I had one and a half memories of my mother. I say 'a half' because whenever I tried
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