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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Jess Keating Shares 8 Books on Ana’s Keeper Shelf

Today, Jess Keating has so graciously agreed to share a guest post with us about her new book, How to Outrun a Crocodile When your Shoes are Untied. She’s talking about eight books that the main character, Ana, would include on her keeper shelf. From the books that she’s mentioned, it sounds like Ana and I would get a long just great!

Eight Books on Ana’s Keeper Shelf

How to Outrun a Crocodile when your Shoes are UntiedHey guys! My debut novel HOW TO OUTRUN A CROCODILE WHEN YOUR SHOES ARE UNTIED was released into the wild last week! In it, twelve year old Ana Wright lives in a zoo. And I don’t mean a metaphorical zoo, I mean a real one, right next door to the hippos. It’s a funny story about a girl who hasn’t quite learned how to be her true self yet (who has, really?) and like many of us book lovers, she loves to escape into a story.

So! Instead of talking a lot about my book today, I thought it would be nice to share some of Ana’s favorite reads! After all, just because she’s fictional doesn’t mean she can’t have favorite books! It will be no surprise to you that they all have one thread in common—animals.

Here are eight books on Ana’s Keeper Shelf. Are any of them on yours?

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Of course, no keeper shelf would be complete without this classic. Ana would adore everything about this book, especially the relationship between Fern and Wilbur. After reading it, it’s likely that Ana would try to convince her parents that she should have a pig, because they’re less dangerous than crocodiles.

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

It’s hard to beat any book about a squirrel with superhero powers and a not-quite-cynical young girl. This would possibly be Ana’s all-time favorite book, simply because it embodies so much heart while still having enough humor to keep her laughing. Because of this book, “holy bagumba!” would become a trademark phrase in the Wright household.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

Although this is technically a book for younger kids, Ana would proudly display Peter Rabbit on her shelf. She would love the artwork, and she’d probably spend hours with her sketchbook trying to mimic Beatrix Potter’s original style. A definite keeper.

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Another picture book, but Ana would always keep it close to her heart. Ana would love this one because it’s all about one of her namesakes! The whole world knows that Ana is named after an anaconda, but wise readers will notice her middle name is Jane. As Ana’s parents are both zoologists, it’s no surprised they named their little girl after one of the most inspirational women out there—Jane Goodall! With her feisty spirit and bravery, Jane Goodall would be someone that Ana would look up to for the rest of her life.

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Ana would love this tale of wilderness survival with a clever leading lady. Living in a zoo, Ana doesn’t get to spend a lot of time with normal animals, and getting to disappear into a book all about amazing dogs on an adventure would be such a welcome escape from zoo life! After reading this book, Ana would probably want sled dogs to drive her to school.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This would be right up there as another one of Ana’s all-time favorites. She would cry reading it, of course, and her brother Daz would probably give her a hard time about it. Then Ana would make him read it, and then say “I told you so!” when Daz started tearing up too. IVAN would definitely have tattered pages within weeks from being reread so often.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

This book about a young girl trying to save an orphaned bonobo would keep Ana up reading all night long. Ana’s father works with gorillas and other primates, so she would definitely want to go and visit the primates in the zoo after reading it. She would also probably want to adopt one, but thankfully her father would talk her out of it.

The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins

What?! A nonfiction book? You bet. Ana is obsessed with all things creature, and Jenkins’ book would have a permanent spot on her keeper shelf. She would ogle the incredible papercut illustrations for hours, and memorize every animal fact in the book. No animal lover should be without this one!

What books are you on your keeper shelf?

About the book:

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.


You can pre-order the book at your local indie!

You can add it to Goodreads here

Find Jess on Twitter: @Jess_Keating
Visit her website:

About Jess:

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.

Posted by Guest Post @ 7:47 am June 10, 2014.
Category: Guest Posts

  • Bibliomama

    I just read Flory and Ulysses last night, and The One and Only Ivan is on my ipad. This book looks hilarious – sort of a cross between Judy Moodie and Alligator Baby. I bet my daughter would love it.