Katie Reads: The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato

The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato

When her father begins a long-distance romance with a Washington, D.C. zookeeper, twelve-year-old Frankie sends fabricated e-mail letters to the zookeeper in an attempt to end the relationship in this story about family, friendship, and growing up.

I wasn’t planning to check out The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato. I had already brought two of my classes with me to the library and had chosen a big stack of books for myself. But yet the title was so intriguing that I opened up The Naked Mole-Rat Letters and read the first couple pages. I was hooked. As soon as Frankie, our main character, emailed her dad’s new paramour and called her “Ratlady” I knew I was going to like this book. And I was right.

The book alternates between emails between Frankie and “Ratlady” Ayanna, the Washington DC Zoo’s naked mole-rat keeper, and Frankie’s diary entries. The book’s strongest feature were the emails, in which Frankie is desperately trying to scare of Ayanna, and Ayanna does her best to get to know Frankie and quell her fears. The dynamic between the characters was really fun. Frankie’s diary entires can be a little infuriating because she can be self-centered. Frankie heads down a bad path of lying and misbehaving for a while. However, Frankie’s dramatic reactions to things were very accurate for the middle school children I work with everyday. And my own memories of being in middle school. Frankie pretty quickly realizes how one lie can snowball, and soon she has to fix the problems she has created.
The end was a little short. The climax of the book was great, but I wanted a little more substance to the falling action to really tie everything at the end together. The Naked Mole-Rat Letters was a fun read and also taught me more about Katie&Cat -Stay Magical Readers

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