Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grades 3 - 5n/a4.739464
In an extraordinary debut novel, an escaped fugitive upends everything two siblings think they know about their family, their past, and themselves.

When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. "If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence," Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room — like she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie tells stories, too, as she and Rew laze under the birches and oaks of Zebra Forest — stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same. Driven by suspense and psychological intrigue, Zebra Forest deftly portrays an unfolding standoff of truth against family secrets — and offers an affecting look at two resourceful, imaginative kids as they react and adapt to the hand they’ve been dealt.
From ZEBRA FORESTWe called it the Zebra Forest because it looked like a zebra. Its trees were a mix of white birch and chocolate oak, and if you stood a little ways from it, like at our house looking across the back field that was our yard, you saw stripes, black and white, that went up into green. Gran never went out there except near dusk, when the shadows gathered. She didn’t like to be out in full sunlight usually, and told me once she didn’t like the lines the trees made. Gran was always saying stuff like that. Perfectly beautiful things — like a clean blue sky over the Zebra — made tears come to her eyes, and if I tried to get her to come outside with me, she’d duck her head and hurry upstairs to bed. But then it would be storming, lightning sizzling the tops of the trees, and she’d run round the house, cheerful, making us hot cocoa and frying up pancakes and warming us with old quilts. We had few rules in our house, but keeping out of the Zebra Forest in a storm was one of them.
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published on April 9, 2013 by Candlewick
ISBN-10: 0763660418
ISBN-13: 9780763660413
28 Book Reviews
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  • hufflepup
    hufflepupSaturday, September 19, 2020 at 11:40 am55 stars
    This book is amazing, It is about a girl named Annie. Annie Lives with her Grandma, because her mother doesn't care about her, And her father is "dead". Annie's true with is to see her dad, But she believes it is impossible, but latter on she finds out that her da was in prison the whole time. He had escaped and help he and her brother. Her Grandma wouldn't come out of her room though. By the end of the book Annie form a good relationship with er father.
    • shantzj
      shantzjSunday, November 17, 2019 at 5:58 am55 stars
      I feel like great books like these aren't recognized like they truly should, they are way better than books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but do they get all of the attention, No. So today look harder into books to find what you like, you might find some great books out there. And the reason this book is better than most book is because the wording is used in the best way possible. In the beginning Annie (The main character) talks about on e of her teachers (Mrs. Roberts). At the end of the year she asks her students to write their wishes for the summer. Annie put 1. See all the movies headlined at the ace theater 2. Learn to swim 3. Visit Beth at summer camp. In the text she said that she can't really tell Mrs. Roberts her real wishes, witch is 1. to get taller 2. To have an advancer 3. To meat her dad. she knows that all of the things she wished for won't happen because she barley gets out of her house she looks like an 8 year old boy instead of an 11 year old girl, and her father is dead! Read the book to find out if these wishes really do come true (they do) and how.
      • memoiloveit
        memoiloveitMonday, May 30, 2016 at 5:45 pmFeatured
        I rate this book as fair since I enjoy reading the details the author writes to describe everything. I can feel as if I am in the book, experiencing everything with all the characters. She makes me have reactions and predictions to the book, especially in the end of chapter 34. Chapter 34 is when Rew runs away from their house, into the “Zebra”, the forest their house is surrounded in. Annie, her grandmother, and Snow chase after Rew during the night, and during a thunderstorm. Annie returns first, and when she sees Rew, Snow, and her grandmother return, page 182 makes me strongly react in a certain way. Page 182 says, “...Andrew Snow...I saw him, dirty and grim. He was carrying Gran.” When I read this, I have to read it over since it makes me scared. Before I read on, I thought that a tragic event happened to Gran. I also appreciate that the protagonist, Annie, has a younger brother named Rew, who has a unique personality, but I don’t appreciate the way Annie emotionally reacts to events. When Andrew Snow, Annie’s dad who lived in jail escaped from jail, held Annie, Rew, and their guardian, their grandmother, hostage in their own house, Rew reacts as most children would do. He reacts violently and angrily since nobody is telling the police about Snow’s escape from jail. Annie doesn’t do anything, even when Rew makes a letter and asks her to put it in the mailbox when Snow allows her to leave the house. Annie hides the letter and lies to Rew instead since she doesn’t want Snow to go. Annie thinks that Snow was a trustworthy person to be around, but Rew is smarter and knows that he can be dangerous, since the reason that he was sent to jail was that he killed a person. Annie’s grandmother doesn’t do anything either, but for an acceptable reason. She doesn’t want to hear Snow talk to her since she’s disappointed in her son, and Snow keeps trying to ask her questions that she doesn’t want to answer. I partially admire Gran’s personality, while partially disliking it. My favorite thing that I admire about her is that even though she’s experienced at taking care of Annie and Rew, she also can care for herself. When Snow holds her family hostage, she doesn’t talk to anybody, leaving Annie and Rew to take care of themselves. I think that it’s smart to sometimes help yourself first since Gran works hard to take care of Annie and Rew, and can use a break. Gran hides in her room for a long time so Snow doesn’t bother her, which teaches Annie and Rew how to be responsible during these types of situations. My least favorite thing about Gran is that she lies frequently, has a large amount of practice, and uses it to protect information that can should be shared. For example, before Snow came, Gran tells Annie and Rew that their father was killed by an angry man who was sent to jail. It was actually the opposite. Their father killed an angry man and was sent to jail. I believe that Annie and Rew can handle knowing about this since they deserve to know about their own father. Also, when Snow first came to hide in their house, Rew thought that Gran was lying and became extremely violent and angry, since he didn’t believe that Snow was his father at first.
        • otter
          otterFriday, January 31, 2014 at 3:09 pm33 stars
          I think it was okay, but there are much better books. It is about a girl named Annie who lives with her brother and Grandmother. The only thing she knows about her other family is that her mom left and her dad was killed in a fight. Then, a prison escapee starts keeping them hostage in their own house. Annie learns something shocking about that escapee.
          • trmoore
            Mrs. MooreSunday, September 22, 2013 at 3:51 am
            Possible 2014 Newbery Award
            • atoz_84
              atoz_84Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 8:54 am33 stars
              Deep within the Zebra lie many secrets. Annie lives alone with her little brother, Rew, and her very peculiar grandmother. Sometimes they go to school, sometimes not. Still, Annie and Rew are the smartest children anyone knows. Their life, which may seem shaky enough already, is suddenly uprooted when a criminal escaped from the local reformatory comes knocking on there door one night. He himself comes with secrets of his own, and in the Zebra, nothing is ever as it seems. This is a terrific book to read if you enjoy mysteries, escaped convicts, and insane grandmothers.
              • lollipop8
                lollipop8Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8:36 am33 starsFeatured
                "Zebra Forest" is about a girl named Annie. Annie lives with her grandmother and brother at the edge of the Zebra Forest. All Annie knows about her "other" family is that her dad, Andrew Snow, was killed by an angry man, and her mom was living somewhere else. But when a strange man breaks into the house one night and introduces himself as Andrew Snow, Annie realizes that her dad wasn't killed by an angry man ---- he was the angry man. And so starts Annie's life with a prison escapee living at her house. At first she hates it, but in the end, Annie starts to like Andrew Snow's presence. Liked the book for the suspense and heartfelt ending. It was cool that Annie learns how her dad went to prison and after that, she starts to respect him a bit more. This book is a must read if you like surprises and suspenseful scenes.
                • xxpish
                  xxpishThursday, April 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm55 starsFeatured
                  Here is my review for the ARC that I received of Zebra Forest. I won a giveaway here at DogoBooks and Candlewick Press sent me this. Thanks, Candlewick! Enjoy! Annie lives with her brother Rew, and her Gran, and likes telling stories to her brother in the Zebra Forest, a forest of white, gray and chocolate birch trees. When they hear a knock on the door in the middle of the night, They are hostages in their own home- with a prisoner. Will the prisoner stay or leave? In a suspenseful page-turning debut novel, Adina Rishe Gewirtz pens a story where brother and sister have to live in the situation they are in, and learn to love people; and forgive them; even as they become involved in secrets about their family that they did not know; and most likely would not have learned. What I thought about it: Zebra Forest was amazing. The lies that are told, and the secrets that are revealed are wonderful. For a debut novel, it was very enthralling. I could not put it down. When I found out who the prisoner was, I was very surprised. The truth, sometimes can be shocking, as conveyed in this novel. Also, the mixed emotions of the characters were very interesting, with one day talking to everyone, and the next being locked in their room, angry, for a week. Also there is a very interesting conclusion that the reader definitely does not expect. Overall, amazing Adina Rise Gewirtz. Write some more novels!
                  • Lax QueenThursday, March 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm
                    I read this book for school. It was in the middle for liking.
                    • sapphirerocks
                      sapphirerocksWednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:05 am
                      Hoping is all I can do...