Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods introduces introverted, daydream-prone Zoe, who’s afraid her real life will never be as exciting as her imaginary one.
Zoe Reindeer considers herself “just Zoe”—never measuring up to her too-perfect older sister or her smarty-pants little brother. Truthfully, though, she’d rather just blend in with the plants at the family business, Doc Reindeer’s Exotic Plant Wonderland. She does have one friend, Q, and he’s the best one ever—but he’s moving away, leaving Zoe to fend for herself, and she doesn’t know what she’ll do without him. That is until a tall astronomer from Madagascar comes to the nursery looking for a Baobab tree. His visit starts a ball rolling that makes Zoe long for real adventures, not just imaginary ones—and shows her that perhaps her first real adventure is finally beginning.
About the Author
Brenda Woods (www.brendawoods.net) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, grew up in southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. Her award-winning books for young readers include The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond (a CCBC choice and a Kirkus Best Book), Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box, ALAN Pick Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, and VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue. Her numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Award, FOCAL award, Pen Center USA’s Literary Award finalist, IRA Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction Award, and ALA Quick Pick. She lives in the Los Angeles area.
“Spunky and inquisitive narrative voice. . . . Woods balances serious issues with humor. Zoe’s character is consistently relatable and encouraging to those who might not feel very special and who are trying, like Zoe, to understand themselves and the world around them.”—The Horn Book
“Woods develops a realistic adolescent struggle with self-acceptance. . . . Young readers will easily identify with Zoe’s unbridled curiosity and wishes for the future, and the ending satisfies. . . . This touching tale about finding strength in uniqueness is a well-crafted read from start to finish.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Woods handles big challenges . . . with sensitivity and a light touch. Readers will find it easy to sink into Zoe’s warm family life, realistic in its squabbles, worries, and powerfully evident love.”—Publishers Weekly
“Many readers will see themselves in Woods’s authentic portrayal of an African American girl finding her place in her family and in the world around her.”—School Library Journal
“Young readers will easily relate to African American Zoe, her adolescent struggles, and her hopeful curiosity. While Woods skillfully confronts heavy issues, such as cancer, loss, and Alzheimer’s, this book maintains a hopeful (but not hokey) ending focused on self-acceptance and familial bonds.”—Booklist
“Zoe is a sympathetic character, and many kids will find connection points in the friendship and family dynamics that play out in her story. Her thoughtful narration of her everyday problems, her frequent, brief flights of fancy, and her voice and her trajectory of inner growth are credible for her age. Fans of Jacqueline Kelly’s Calpurnia Tate books and of Rita Williams-Garcia’s trilogy about the Gaither sisters will find Zoe a worthy companion.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Will connect to young readers and help those who have a poor self-image.”—School Library Connection