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Children's Fiction Humorous Stories

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied

by (author) Jess Keating

Initial publish date
Jun 2014
Humorous Stories
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2014
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7


Age Level: 9 and up | Grade Level: 4 to 7

From surviving middle school to feeling like a misfit, Ana Wright tackles it all in How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes are Untied. This heartwarming, coming of age story is the perfect summer reading book for middle school girls!

Ana Wright's social life is officially on the endangered list: she lives in a zoo (umm, elephant droppings!?), her best friend lives on the other side of the world, and the Sneerers are making junior high miserable. All Ana wants is to fade into the background.

Yeah, that's not going to happen.

Creature File for Ana Wright:

Species Name: Anaphyta Normalis

Kingdom: The Zoo, Junior High

Phylum: Girls Whose Best Friend Just Moved To New Zealand; Girls Who Are Forced To Live In A Zoo With Their Weirdo Parents And Twin Brother

Weight: Classified

Feeds On: Daydreams about Zackardia Perfecticus and wish cupcakes

Life Span: Soon to become extinct due to social awkwardness

A 2015 Georgia Children's Book Award Winner

A 2015 Children's Choices Reading List Title

A 2015 Red Maple Award Nominee

"A fun-filled, pitch-perfect book…An amusing, highly readable book about the perils of being 12 in a snake-eat-snake world."—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

About the author

JESS KEATING est une auteure, bédéiste et zoologiste. Jess vit en Ontario.


As a zoologist and author, Jess Keating has been sprayed by skunks, bitten by crocodiles, and victim of the dreaded paper cut. Her books blend science, humor, and creativity, and include the acclaimed My Life Is a Zoo middle-grade trilogy and award-winning picture books, like Shark Lady and Pink Is for Blobfish. Jess lives in Ontario, Canada, where she loves hiking, nerdy documentaries, and writing books for curious and adventurous kids. Jess can be found online at or on Twitter at @Jess_Keating.

Jess Keating's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"A pleasant, upbeat story and a likable protagonist with whom most readers will empathize. Humorous and honest, this will please a wide audience." — Booklist

"As if junior high isn't enough of a zoo, Jess Keating's debut... [is] a menagerie of laugh-out-loud antics and relatable tween woes." — Anna Staniszewski, author of The Dirt Diary

"Life is literally a zoo for shy 12-year-old Anna, who is trying to avoid seventh-grade bullies while hiding that her family lives among crocodiles and elephants." — Los Angeles Times

"This debut novel deals with the hardships of junior high in a funny and zany, yet thoughtful, manner. True animal facts that are interspersed throughout the story add wit and provide the reader with some new information. This novel is a must-have for any classroom and library...highly recommended." — Library Media Connection

"A zoologist, an educator, and an author, Jess Keating wrote the perfect book for students: a middle grade guide for navigating a zoo- I mean, middle school... My Life is a Zoo series speaks to tweens" —

"A clever and humorous middle grade book filled with middle school angst and lots of interesting creature information." —

" Keating, a zoologist, enriches her debut novel with fascinating animal facts, awkward moments with a variety of wild species, and "creature files" Ana uses to amusingly classify her peers." — Publishers Weekly

"Debut author Keating delivers a fun-filled, pitch-perfect book…Humor, poignancy and fascinating zoological facts infuse the narrative with a warm conversational tone…An amusing, highly readable book about the perils of being 12 in a snake-eat-snake world. (Starred)" — Kirkus Reviews

"Ana’s relationships with her parents and grandfather are a perfect blend of respect and frustration, while her lack of self-confidence will resonate with readers… Recommended for fans of Coco Simon’s ‘Cupcake Diaries’ and Stuart Gibbs’s ‘FunJungle" series."" — School Library Journal

"An absolutely perfect summer read." — Girls’ Life

"A wild romp, filled with humor and heart." — Lisa Schroeder, author of It's Raining Cupcakes and the Charmed Life series

"A little bit of romance, a little bit of well deserved revenge, and a whole lot of laughs, heart, spirit, and "I can SO relate" moments, fill the pages of How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied. Readers young and old will go wild for this book and impatiently be awaiting its sequel. A definite MUST read!" — Word Spelunking

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