Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest

"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 to remember what my mother looked like, I saw a brown leather 
purse instead. That, and the sound of her keys clinking together -- that's 
what I remembered. And then there was the other memory, or maybe it was 
one Gran give me and I made my own. That was the night she left, when she 
set us down, along with our suitcases, in Gran's house. I can't see her face 
there, either, but I think she might have had brown hair, like mine. And 
I don't remember much of her voice, but I do know the words she used. 
'They were always his idea, anyway,' she said, and left. 
"So I didn't miss my mother much. But my father -- since I was, after 
all, his idea -- him, I missed. And though I didn't know what he looked like, 
Gran said he was something like Rew, and that made a nice picture in my 
mind." 
As summer begins, eleven year-old Annie dreams of getting tall, of having 
an adventure, and of meeting her father. But that last wish is impossible 
because, as she's been told by Gran, her and Rew's father is dead, killed 
in a fight with an angry man. Nevertheless, Annie repeatedly sets her 
father as the starring character in the many heroic adventure stories Annie 
dreams up and tells her brother Rew (who is named after their father Andrew) 
when the two of them are out playing in the "zebra" forest behind Gran's 
isolated house. 
And then, late one evening, an escaped convict from the nearby state 
prison abruptly forces his way into Gran's isolated house and takes Annie 
hostage. The convict has red hair like Rew. When Gran hears the disturbance 
and comes downstairs, she confirms the impossible -- the escaped convict is 
their father, Andrew Snow. She'd lied to Annie about what had really taken 
place. Andrew Snow is alive. 
ZEBRA FOREST is the story of the ensuing weeks as Annie, in large part, 
ignores her little brother's tense anger, her grandmother's despair, and the 
fact that Andrew Snow is an escaped murderer, so that she can come to know 
her father, the man. The tale is set in 1980 against the daily news of 
the Americans being held hostage in Iran, and against the classic story 
Treasure Island, which all four characters love. 
"'Electricity builds up in the air,' he said...'It's got to go 
somewhere.'" 
I love how ZEBRA FOREST closely examines the behavior of these three 
generations as the drama and electricity build up in the house, seeking 
release. It makes for one of those compelling one-day, gulp-it-down stories. 

288 pages  Ages 9-12  978-0763660413
Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA
Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ (http://richiespicks.com/

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