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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Monday, June 2, 2014

How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied Blog Tour {Review, Guest Post, Giveaway}

I'm super excited to be participating in the How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied Blog Tour!!! The very awesome Jess Keating is here today with a fantastic Guest Post, you can check out my Review of this wildly fun middle-grade debut, AND you can enter the Giveaway to win a copy...

How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied
(My Life is a Zoo #1)
by Jess Keating
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

What would middle school be like if you lived in a zoo?

Ana didn't ask to be named after an anaconda. She didn't ask for zoologist parents who look like safari guides. And she definitely didn't ask for a twin brother whose life goal seems to be terrorizing her with his pet reptiles. Now, to make matters worse, her parents have decided to move the whole family INTO the zoo! All of which gives the Sneerers (the clan of carnivorous female predators in her class) more ammunition to make her life miserable-and squash any hope of class tennis stud, Zack, falling in love with her. Ana tries to channel her inner chameleon and fade into the background, but things are changing too quickly for her to keep up.

An adorkable, lovable heroine; sweet, crush-worthy boys; hilariously and awkwardly epic moments; and an out of the box setting? Check, check, check, and check! I love everything about Jess Keating’s wildly funny and charming middle-grade debut How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied...I mean, just that title alone bakes my cupcakes!

Seventh-grader Ana is having a less than fun end of the school year. Her BFF moved across the world, her zoologists parents; reptile loving twin brother; and famous grandpa can be cringe-worthily embarrassing, her crush Zack doesn’t exactly notice her, and the Sneerers, a group of nasty, mean girls, have decided Ana is their favorite prey. Then the unthinkable happens: Ana’s parents decide to move the family INTO the zoo, forcing an unwanted spotlight on poor Ana. Ana must decide whether she’ll fade into the background or shine bright!

Author Jess Keating combines her zoologist background, sparkling storytelling, fun imagination, and has used them to craft a wonderfully written middle-grade debut that is full of laughs, relatable characters, and heart. With a pitch-perfect and genuine voice, Keating captures the middle-grade years so fantastically. From embarrassing family members, mean kids, schoolwork troubles, confusing crushes, and awkward encounters, Ana’s contemporary world feels so real and relatable. And so so funny! I seriously giggle-snorted from beginning to end! I just love the wildly fun and unpredictable zoo setting. Keating brings so much knowledge and interesting info to this zoo party!

The setting, storytelling, and humor are all awesome, but what I love best about How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied is the main character, Ana! Ana is such a lovable, endearing kindred spirit! Her witty observations amused me, her honest musings charmed me, and her courage moved me. Young readers will easily relate to Ana and want to be her new BFF (I know I do!!)...after all, we ALL have a little bit of Ana’s adorakable, awkward, awesome spirit in us! Ana is surrounded by a memorable and entertaining cast of quirky and surprising characters that readers will love getting to know.

I just love the way this book concludes in such a sunshine-in-your-heart-makes-you-smile-big (but not in an overly cheesy way)-and-wanna-high-five-Ana kind of way!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: A little bit of romance, a little bit of well deserved revenge, and a whole lot of laughs, heart, spirit, and “I can SO relate” moments, fill the pages of How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied. Readers young and old will go wild for this book and impatiently be awaiting its sequel. A definite MUST read!


Hey all!
I'm so happy to be here today, chatting about my new middle grade novel, HOW TO OUTRUN A CROCODILE WHEN YOUR SHOES ARE UNTIED. In it, Ana Wright is discovering that being twelve and a half is no picnic. Her best friend has moved away to New Zealand, her grandfather is a world famous animal adventurist, and her parents have just decided they're going to move the whole family into the zoo to live next to the hippos.
If it sounds like this is a recipe for embarrassment—you're right! Ana has some absolutely mortifying moments in this book. Some even occur on live television. Of course, these were the moments that most of my early readers thought were funniest! After writing so many cringe-worthy scenes for my poor Ana, I even started to feel a bit guilty.
But we all have embarrassing moments, and so, to level out the playing field for Ana, I thought I would share some of my own. Here they are, in no random order.
Mainly because they all sucked.
Sounds innocent enough, doesn't it? A swingset! What can go wrong? Well. Picture me in ninth grade. I'm wearing jeans and a button up shirt that I got at a thrift store. I'm swinging up a storm (ironically, of course, because you're way too cool to legitimately enjoy swingsets when you're in grade nine, duh), and I'm surrounded by a bunch of friends, both boys and girls.
Swing, swing, swing. It's all fine until we decide to have a contest to see who can jump the farthest. We all think this is the best idea ever, but let me tell you: it's a recipe for disaster, my friends. We all line up on the swings, do the crazy 'leg-pump-to-swing-hard' and count down. Three, two, one—we jump!
I flew through the air like a graceful gazelle and nailed the landing. I won! Hurrah! Take that, losers!
If only my shirt had joined me. Instead, my sleeve had gotten caught on the chain, and that incredible leap of mine caused all the buttons on my shirt to fling off in all directions, leaving my shirt behind on the swing. I jumped. And yet my shirt did not. It's a marvel of physics! You can imagine how the rest went down, let's move on now.
I'll start this one off by telling you that when I was in high school, I worked at a wildlife rehabilitation center. This is a super cool job! It also means I had to deal with skunks on a daily basis. Skunks are great! But as you know, they also do this pesky thing where they SPRAY you with the devil's vile stench and you end up reeking for ages. Fast forward to one of the last days of school. I'm about to graduate! Things are dandy! Then, I'm at work the day before my commencement ceremony.
Pépé Le Pew, a crotchety old man of a skunk, didn't get the memo about my graduation. He didn't care that I needed to be in a huge crowd tomorrow, surrounded by friends and teachers. During a vaccination procedure—BOOM—he sprays me. My hair. My face. There is no stopping it when it happens, folks. And despite popular belief, tomato juice is wishful thinking at best.
You know when you graduate and you have to walk up and grab your diploma, and shake someone's hand and get your picture taken? Imagine the look on my school principal's face when he reaches out his hand, leans in for a picture and…*sniff sniff* "Is that you?"
Mortified. And such a wonderful way for the school to remember me by.
Ugh. So, back in the day my seventh grade teacher says we're going to put on a play. Not just any play though—a Western. Yep. I somehow ended up in the lead role (yay?), starring opposite a boy. Let's call him…Kyle. Kyle is the class clown. Kyle is so overly confident and cocky, you sort of want to kick him in the shins. Kyle is so happy he gets to play a cowboy, because he gets to use a plastic gun that shoots a "BANG" flag out the end.
Fast forward through some rehearsal time. Our teacher decides this play needs some romance! But not too much, she says. She adds in a scene where the lead boy (played by Kyle) tries to kiss the girl (me) on the cheek, BUT—here's the kicker—I'm to turn my head at the last moment so he doesn't kiss me. So overall, I'm thinking "okay, I can handle a non-kiss."
We practice the play for a month and get every scene perfect. I know just how to move, where to look, and most importantly, I don't have to kiss Kyle (because, ew), so all is well. And every time, he does what he's told.
Then comes opening night.
We're three quarters of the way through the play, and it's going okay! I haven't forgotten my lines, and Kyle's actually doing a good job. Maybe he's not so bad, I think. Then we reach the 'almost-kiss' scene.
That's when Kyle decides to go "off script".
At that pivotal moment where I'm supposed to turn my head, therefore brush off his almost-kiss, Kyle grabs my hand. This isn't in the script! I panic. But Kyle had a planned well, because Kyle is evil. Just as my parents lift their camera above the rest of the audience for a photo op, Kyle yanks me over and plants one on me. Right on the lips.
I'm absolutely horrified. Not only do I stutter through my next line, but my face turns beet red. Because life just isn't fair, the audience interprets this as part of the play, and what's more—that I like Kyle, because I'm blushing hardcore. They think it's hilarious, applaud, and Kyle is now a local celebrity. And me? To this day, my own father still asks when I'm going to admit my love for Kyle. Seriously.
For more embarrassing shenanigans, you should definitely read my book. I promise Kyle isn't in it.

Thanks so much for having me, Aeicha!
You are so very welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by, Jess!

As a middle grade author and zoologist, Jess Keating has been sprayed by skunks, bitten by crocodiles, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. Her debut How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied is coming in Summer 2014 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, with a sequel to follow. She has a Masters degree in Animal Science and a growing collection of books that are threatening to take over her house. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves hiking, playing ukulele, and writing books for adventurous and funny kids.

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Carl Scott said...

Looks like fun. I was wondering if Jess is any relation to Brian Keating who used to be at the Calgary Zoo, I don't know if he's still there.

anne s. said...

sounds like such a fun, hilarious read. we could use a little excitement, as we have been reading such sad books lately!