Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham

dontfeedboyDon’t Feed the Boy

By  Irene Latham

Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

289 pages – ages 10+

Published by Roaring Brook Press on October 16, 2012

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 of the time.

Whit notices a girl that comes and draws pictures of the birds at the zoo. He sees her almost every day and decides to talk to her. Whit and Stella (the Bird Girl) start meeting every day at the zoo and become good friends. Whit learns that Stella’s father abuses her family through violence and she comes to the zoo to get away from her home. Whit wants to help his friend, but helping her may get him into a lot of trouble.

This was not the usual action adventure story I love to read. In fact here wasn’t much action and maybe just a little adventure, but I really liked the story. I cared about what happened to Stella. I wanted Whit’s parents to pay attention to him. They were both great characters. Ms. Latham’s writing style really let me get to know the characters. I liked that they both needed each others friendship and they helped each other. The story had a strong message about abusive families (both kids had abusive families, although Stella’s was a violent one and Whit’s parents just didn’t pay attention to him). There was some cool stuff about all the behind the scenes at the zoo in the book when Whit shows Stella around. I really enjoyed reading about that. Although the book talks about abusive families, it is written really well for kids.  I was sad I found some editing errors in the book (misplaced periods, a couple of places Whit’s name wasn’t capitalized), but I liked the story so much I didn’t think about that when I gave the book my rating. I recommend this book to kids 10+ only because it deals with the subject of abuse.

Five out of five bookworms for excellent friendship story “Don’t Feed the Boy.”


To learn more about Ms. Latham and her books, including “Don’t Feed the Boy,” Please visit her website HERE.

Categories: Age 9+

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31 replies

  1. I thought abuse and neglect only happened to pets. That is too sad to think about. I hope those kids get rescued, like I did!

    Love and licks,

  2. Abuse and neglect are, unfortunately, not limited to “things that happen to adults” so it is good there are books suitable for younger minds to introduce these things in a way that young minds can digest the information. Thanks for sharing about this book.

  3. I like how sometimes I can get caught up in a story even though it’s not what I usually enjoy. This sounds like one of those. I’ve heard of this book before. I think it’s going on my tbr list.

  4. This is such an interesting premise. It would be interesting to see how abuse is handled in the book. It’s an important topic for children, but as you said, it has to be handled delicately for this age group.

  5. An important theme, Erik. I like how the story covers two types of abuse, recognizing, that there are sadly many ways children are abused. Your review really makes me want to read this one.

  6. It is so sad when children come from families who don’t know how to love or value them. Interesting review.

  7. Thank you Erik for a great review. I have seen this title quite a few times now but I did not realise the it encompassed themes of abuse and neglect. If done well, it will bring the reader a greater compassion and awareness of children who are in this situation. After all a very very famous Harry Potter suffered greatly at the hands of the Dursley’s abuse and neglect and JK Rowling drew us into Harry’s world through this story line. We saw how Harry’s new Hogwarts friends rallied around him and became in essence his family. I will look forward to reading this one to my little Gigi in the future. Thanks again for your insight. Cheers Julie Anne Grasso

  8. This sounds like an excellent book, Erik. Thank you so much for this review, I’ve seen the title, but would never have guessed the subject matter. Now, because of your review, I really want to read the book!

  9. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now — really enjoyed hearing your candid reaction to it. Even though it turned out to be different from what you expected, I’m glad you cared about the characters and were touched by their friendship. Ms. Latham is such a talented writer and poet!

  10. Your review makes me want to buy this book and then share it with others. I would think a lot of folks need to read it. There are many types of abuse. Neglect is one of them. Your review was thought provoking. We need a national discussion on this. Maybe this book will bring it on. Thanks Erik!

  11. This book sounds awesome! I love the friendship theme.

  12. I think it’s great that you read books that aren’t what you typically like. I am too often too ‘lazy’ to read adult fiction, but next time I find myself in that situation, I’ll think of you – I might find something I like too! Thanks Erik!

  13. I love it that you reviewed Irene’s work. She is a Poetry Friday friend. Sounds like a very important book and one that I would hold close to my heart. I hope we have this in our libraries here.


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