Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango has always had a zoo to call home. Her dad is the head zookeeper at the California wildlife park named after famous naturalist John Muir. Lizzie had grown up bottle-feeding baby llamas and handing boa constrictors.
One afternoon while roaming the zoo grounds, she bumps into Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home. The two become friends and are soon drawn into an investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park.
This book is written by Elise Broach, the author of the ‘Superstition Mountain’ Series, and once again, she’s written another brilliant historical mystery. I read the first Superstition book while lying in a hammock in Utah, and it was so much more enjoyable than reading the other two at home in my room. I regret not reading this book in Utah, surrounded by nature.
Has anyone noticed how many stories there are where the main character’s mother, father, or both are dead? Why are there so many stories like that? It’s not like that in real life. Not everyone’s parents died in a car crash or a disease. It’s lazy writing at this point. I only mention it because this story has the same concept, but it’s extra sad. Lizzie’s mother died right after she was born, and she never got to know her mother. But enough of this sadness. That’s not what this book is about.
I love animals. They are so much better than humans. Humans are just furless creatures with thumbs that can build stuff. And humans can be so stupid and mean. Animals can be mean but look at all those unlikely animal friendships. My favorite animal friendship is Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog. If those animals can get along, what’s our excuse?
I might be giving away too much about the story, but I want to make a point. The John Muir Zoo homes seven wolves. The reason behind this is conservation. The wolves were injured or trapped or were caught killing cattle or sheep. If they weren’t kept in the zoo, they would’ve been shot or poisoned. The wolves are held in the zoo to keep them safe, but they aren’t free. The same goes for all zoo animals. This book asks the question, ‘Should animals be kept in zoos?’ There really isn’t a good answer to this. Some animals wouldn’t survive in the wild. For example, Winter, the dolphin from Clearwater Marine Aquarium, had to have her tail removed. Again, no good answer.
As a bonus, here are two cool facts I learned from this story.
1) Tiger pee has ‘a particular acrid stench that almost burns your nostrils’.
2) Giraffes cannot throw up easily (I previously knew this, and it’s sort of obvious. The long neck and all. It would take forever).
Be sure to read the ‘Author’s Note’ to find out what is fact and fiction.