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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel Blog Tour {Review & Interview}

I'm thrilled to have the How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel Blog Tour stopping by today because I just love this series! Check out my review and interview with author Jess Keating below...

How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel 
(My Life Is A Zoo #2)
by Jess Keating
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

What would life be like if you lived in a zoo? Just ask Ana Wright…
After becoming the zoo’s most popular student ambassador, Ana Wright is facing her busiest summer yet. For the first time since her best friend  Liv, left, Ana is  starting to love her life- even if her family does live in a zoo. She has a whole summer away from the Sneerers, the clan of carnivorous predadors…er, girls, at her school.
But things are changing at the zoo. When Ana’s famous grandfather funds a new aquarium, and the meanest girl at school volunteers to help out, Ana’s life goes from sunny to sunk.
Now Ana’s stuck working with her arch-enemy, chasing after escaped hermit crabs, and cleaning up even more animal poop than she was before. Ana’s newest adventure has her questioning why, after finally getting her life sorted out, do things have to change again.

How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Untied
(My Life Is A Zoo #1)
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.  Goodreads / My Review

Last year, Jess Keating’s How To Outrun A Crocodile With Your Shoes Untied charmed me completely with its wacky setting, lovable heroine, and sparkling storytelling. Well Keating returns to Ana Wright’s animal filled world in the wildly funny and sweetly adorkable sequel, How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel!

Just when soon-to-be eighth grader, Ana Wright, thought life was getting back to normal (as normal as it can get for the granddaughter of a world famous man and who is forced by her parents to live INSIDE a zoo, oh and after becoming the youngest presenter at the zoo, is sort of semi-famous herself) after the wild events at the beginning of her summer. She still lives in a zoo (but kind of loves it), her BFF is still on the other side of the world (but Ana’s made new friends), she gets to hang out with cutie Kevin (who may or may not like her), and now the zoo is home to an amazing marine life exhibit, where Ana will work and hang out with sharks(!)...oh and her worst enemy, Ashley, will be working with her...ok, so maybe Ana’s life just isn’t meant to be normal!

How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel is just as awesome as its predecessor! Jess Keating is such a wonderful storyteller. who effortlessly combines humor, fun facts, heart-warming moments, and relatable teen situations, to create unforgettable and unputdownable middle-grade fiction. I love the zany zoo setting in these books so much! With her zoological background, Keating brings so much experience and knowledge to this world. In this book, Keating vividly creates an ocean world, full of sharks; jellies; seahorses; crabs; shells; and more, within the confines of the zoo. And she expertly weaves in little tidbits and fun animal facts throughout the story in a way that will have readers learning a lot, and not even realizing it!

With an absolute pitch-perfect voice, How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel captures those cringe-worthy tween years in laugh-out-loud ways. From big firsts (kisses, leg shaving, shopping for the perfect butt shaping bathing suit) to romantic woes (crushes on guys who may or may not like you back, crushes on gorgeous guys WAY too old for you, and friends who have weird crushes on your gross brother) and tween toughies (mean girls, complicated friendships, and figuring out who you are), Keating explores it all in ways that young (and old!) readers will relate to.

Adorkable heroine, Ana, is as endearing, entertaining, and lovable as ever! She’s just such a fun, relatable character to hang out with for a few hours. I loved, loved, loved watching her surprising story with Ashley, her adorable story with Kevin, and her heart-filled story with herself unfold. And of course, Ana’s world is filled with so many other colorful, fun characters, including her oddly charming brother Daz, her sweet new friend Bella, the oh so hot older guy Logan, and more!

How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel ends with an exciting splash, surprising arrest, and another sunshine-in-your-heart-makes-you-smile-big (but not in an overly cheesy way)-and-wanna-high-five-Ana kind of way ending.

My Final Thoughts: Jess Keating gives readers everything they could hope for in their middle-grade fiction: an awesome heroine, sparkling storytelling, captivating settings, giggle-inducing humor, and a lot of heart. How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel is a spectacular sequel in a must read series!


Thank you so much for having me, Aeicha!

What three words best describe How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel?

Swimsuits, sharks, sabotage!
Grab a copy of How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel and answer the following:

favorite chapter? Chapter 10, where Ana goes swimsuit shopping. Because I don't know a single person who hasn't looked in a fitting room mirror and cringed at how their butt looks.

favorite page? Page 275, because it's one of Ana's bravest moments! (It might involve a certain boy...)

favorite setting/place? I love writing scenes that took place in the new shark tank. Imagine getting to hang out with seahorses and sharks all day!

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:

Page 115: "I mean, everyone knows that puberty is no picnic. That's why I hear so many adults talk about how they wouldn't go back to middle school if they were given a million bucks. Thanks for the pep talk, guys."

Your character Ana has had some zany adventures throughout the two books in this has she changed or grown since book one? What is your most favorite thing about Ana?

Ana's biggest challenge in the first book was learning to be brave enough to be herself. But as we all know, that is no easy task! Ana is braver than she was, but she's still learning how to navigate her world of friends and frenemies.

My favorite thing about Ana is her readiness to dive into any situation, no matter how afraid she is. Even when she's making mistakes—and boy, she makes a doozy in this book— she makes it with gusto! 

The zany zoo and animal filled adventures in How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel are awesome, but I also love how wonderfully you capture those tough tween years. How important was it to you to explore this aspect of the story as realistically as possible? Did you use any of your own tween years as inspiration for Ana’s wildly funny world?

I'm so happy to hear this! While I will always love writing the backdrops of a wacky zoo, the emotional heart of Ana's story is always the most important to me. I wanted every reader to recognize parts of themselves in Ana, or the situations she finds herself in, and feel like they can relate to her.

Growing up, I was definitely an odd duck (surprised?!), and many of the feelings I had about fitting in, the "cool kids", and finding who I was have all found their way into Ana's story. 

Let’s talk sharks! I LOVE sharks, especially great whites, and am so jealous Ana got to hang out with sharks (albeit, much smaller ones than the mighty great whites) you have a favorite kind of shark? As a zoologist, do you have any experience with sharks?

I've always been amazed by sharks, and great whites are so mysterious and powerful, they capture my imagination, for sure. I haven't had a chance to swim with them yet, but I'd love to hop into one of those shark cages! I also think goblin sharks are pretty cool, because they look like they came straight from your nightmares!

The scenes where Ana is interacting with sharks are also taken from my experience in university, where I was able to study them up close. Their skin really does feel sandpapery, just like you read in the books!

I love all the animal fun facts included in these books...what are your top three favorite animal fun facts?

There are too many to choose from, but marine animals can be so bizarre, they're a close of their own. Some of my favorite facts:

  • Some sharks can have up to 35,000 teeth.
  • Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood.
  • The large bumps you see on the heads of humpback whales are actually hair follicles. (Being mammals, many whales have hair!)

I adore Ana, but her world is filled with so many other fantastic characters...if you could choose one of your other characters to star in their own spin-off, who would you pick and what would their story be called?

This is a hard question! I love writing scenes with Daz, because he always steals the show. But I also think Bella has some stories to tell. There's something secretive and clever about her, isn't there? Maybe one day...

Crocodiles, sharks, and Sneerers, oh my! Ana has faced some pretty intimidating things and had some wild, what’s next for adorkable Ana?!

There are more Ana adventures in the works as we speak! I hope to let the cat out of the bag soon! (You know, figuratively.)  

What is the last book or movie or tv show that:

made you laugh at loud?
Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy. (And how cool was Gamora?!)

made you cry?
Book: I reread CODE NAME VERITY recently. Sob-fest.

scared you?
The trailer on TV for the new Woman in Black 2 movie. Yes, the trailer. I'm a giant wuss.

inspired you?
Movie: BELLE. This was such a beautiful story!

you absolutely loved (like an 11 out of 10 kind of love)?
Book: A PERFECTLY MESSED UP STORY, by Patrick McDonnell.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by How To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

It would be a blue velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, covered in lime green and orange jellybeans. It would be sweet, but not too sweet, and have a hint of summery-lemon. I'd call it "Sharknado and Beans". Oh, and it would magically make you look awesome in a bathing suit, too.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Jess! That cupcake sounds super yummy *_*

As a zoologist turned middle grade and picture book author, 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. Her nonfiction picture book, PINK IS FOR BLOBFISH, will be published by Knopf in 2016. 

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, watching nerdy documentaries, and writing books for adventurous and funny kids.

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