Cover image for Zoe in wonderland / Brenda Woods.
Zoe in wonderland / Brenda Woods.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Puffin Books, [2017]

Physical Description:
196, 13 pages ; 20 cm
"Introverted, daydream-prone Zoe is afraid her real life will never be as exciting as her imaginary one"-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
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WOO Paperback Junior Paperback Fiction

On Order



Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods introduces introverted, daydream-prone Zoe, who's afraid her real life will never be as exciting as her imaginary one.

Zoe Reindeer considers herself "just Zoe"--never measuring up to her too-perfect older sister or her smarty-pants little brother. Truthfully, though, she'd rather just blend in with the plants at the family business, Doc Reindeer's Exotic Plant Wonderland. She does have one friend, Q, and he's the best one ever--but he's moving away, leaving Zoe to fend for herself, and she doesn't know what she'll do without him. That is until a tall astronomer from Madagascar comes to the nursery looking for a Baobab tree. His visit starts a ball rolling that makes Zoe long for real adventures, not just imaginary ones--and shows her that perhaps her first real adventure is finally beginning.

Author Notes

Brenda Woods ( was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, grew up in southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. Her award-winning books for young readers include The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond (a CCBC choice and a Kirkus Best Book), Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box , ALAN Pick Saint Louis Armstrong Beach , and VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue . Her numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Award, FOCAL award, Pen Center USA's Literary Award finalist, IRA Children's Choice Young Adult Fiction Award, and ALA Quick Pick. She lives in the Los Angeles area.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Eleven-year-old Zoe Reindeer, a "shy, perfectly plain girl-person" stuck between a popular older sister and a genius younger brother, may be "just Zoe" in real life, but she's powerful and strong in her frequent daydreams. Zoe wishes she could be more like "Imaginary Zoe" at home and at school, but there are some good things in her real life, too, like her father's exotic plant store, Doc Reindeer's Exotic Plant Wonderland, and spending time with her best friend and fellow nerd Quincy. When a tall, mysterious astronomer who hails from Madagascar comes into "the Wonderland" seeking a baobab tree, then returns to give Zoe a book by Carl Sagan, he starts her on a journey toward discovering that she might be more like Imaginary Zoe than she realized. Woods (The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond) handles big challenges-such as Quincy's move out of town, middle-school hierarchies, and an elderly neighbor with memory loss-with sensitivity and a light touch. Readers will find it easy to sink into Zoe's warm family life, realistic in its squabbles, worries, and powerfully evident love. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Zoe, an eleven-year-old African American girl, is shy around others, but her spunky and inquisitive narrative voice tells readers another story. She is fascinated with plants (her horticulturalist father owns a shop called Doc Reindeer's Exotic Plant Wonderland), and has a big imagination. In her head, she has created an older version of herself who can do anything -- from being great at sports to creating apps that make people or problems disappear -- but since she's the middle child between a popular and pretty older sister and a super-smart younger brother, in real life Zoe doesn't think she's anything special. She faces further challenges when her best friend has to move away because his mother (to whom Zoe is close) has cancer. She must confront the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people while also worrying about making new friends at school. When a Madagascan astronomer comes to her father's shop one day in search of a baobab tree, it touches off events that lead her to understand that she is special, which helps her to grow out of her shyness and realize that, like the baobab tree, she's slightly unusual, and that's okay. Throughout the book, Woods balances serious issues with humor. Zoe's character is consistently relatable and encouraging to those who might not feel very special and who are trying, like Zoe, to understand themselves and the world around them. morgan butler(c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 19: Back at the Wonderland 4 things that have landed Zoe G. Reindeer in trouble 1. Throwing a shoe at Harper which missed him completely but went through the living room window instead, shattering it. That was last year. 2. Telling my third grade teacher and class that our entire family had taken a three month summer vacation all over Europe and Africa, when actually we'd only spent a week at Pismo Beach. That was a couple of years ago. 3. Trying to make donuts with Quincy from scratch and winding up with greasy dough plastered on our kitchen walls, cabinets, and ceiling. That was just this past summer. 4. Becoming a truant. That was today. As quietly as I could, I crept into the Wonderland. A police car was parked in the driveway. Was that for me being a truant? They can't put me in jail, can they? If Quincy was here he'd have the answer.       But I was on my own and I was getting scared and I didn't know what to do. And so, I decided to hide.        I snuck into the greenhouse, slid under one of the tables, used my backpack for a pillow, and put my head down to rest. "Wake up, Miss!" A bright light was shining in my face. A flashlight. It was night time.      It took a few seconds but my sleepy eyes zeroed in on the policemen's brass badge. Terror got inside of me. My heart pounded fast.      "Are you going to arrest me?" I asked the officer.       "Nope, not going to arrest you, miss. Are you ok?"      I nodded yes and crawled out from where I'd been hiding.      The policemen helped me up, looked me in the eyes, and made me promise never to run away again. "You could have become a statistic."      I didn't know what a statistic was but from the way he'd said it didn't sound like something anyone should become, so I promised him.      "Found her!" the policeman yelled.      Suddenly, I was surrounded by other people all pointing flashlights in my direction, including some neighbors, my mom and daddy, Nana and grandpa, Harper and Jade, Mr. Summers, even our school principal.       "But we checked in there twice!" someone shouted.      Jade scowled, "You are such a time vampire!"      "Huh?"       "You just sucked up a massive amount of everyone's time, including mine."       Of course, Harper had to put in his two cents. "You're gonna receive a life sentence . . . grounded until the end of time."       "For real!" Jade agreed.       Remembering the policeman's warning, I attempted to get their sympathy. "I could have been a statistic," I said as pathetically as I possibly could.      Jade must have known what that meant because she patted me gently on the shoulder and I saw a glimmer of niceness in her eyes, something I hadn't seen in a really long time.       Seeing Jade turn nice to me made Harper get that question mark look in his eyes. "What's that mean . . . been a statistic?" he asked.      "Kidnapped or . . . dead," Jade replied. "Don't ever do that again!" she warned, "Grandpa even had to take his heart pills."      For once, Harper wasn't smirking.       Over and over, I said sorry. Sorry to my parents, sorry to Nana and Grandpa, sorry to the school principal, and sorry to Mr. Summer.       Mr. Summer sighed loudly. "See you tomorrow, Zoe."       I frowned. Oh, no. School--Zena--UGLY me. I didn't ever want to go to school again.      Mr. Summer must have seen the look on my face because he informed me that because our school has a zero tolerance for bullying and name calling, Zena had received a one day suspension  and that he had spoken to the rest of the class. "Don't worry, Zoe, there won't be any trouble."       I hoped he was right.        And probably thinking I couldn't hear her, Nana leaned into daddy and told him, "Don't be too hard on her Darrow . . . she's a delicate girl."      Daddy looked at her for a minute as if she had told him something he didn't know. He glanced my way then nodded in agreement.       Delicate--me?       In my room later that night, Daddy mostly listened while Mom nagged me--on and on and on until, like a car out of gas, she finally came to a stop.      Right before midnight I climbed into bed. "I promise I'll never do it again. I just didn't want anyone to see me cry. I'm really sorry."      "You're grounded for a month, Zoe," she said.      A month but not for eternity. My sentence fit the crime.       Mom hugged me and Daddy kissed the top of my head. "G'night, Zoe . . . love you."       "Ok . . . sorry," I said one last time.      Mom left but Daddy Reindeer lingered in my doorway. "G'night, my Zoe," he whispered.      My Zoe? He'd never called me that before. I liked it. Must be connected to being delicate, I thought.      "Daddy, what does delicate mean?"       He stared up at the ceiling, took a deep breath, and replied. "Something that you shouldn't be too rough with because it might get damaged. Like a flower that needs to be protected from the sun or cold weather . . . so it can grow and bloom."      "Oh. Am I like that?" I asked.      "Yes, my Zoe . I love you. G'night."      "G'night."      And then the light was out, the door was closed, and Daddy Reindeer was gone.      I wanted to holler come back! Come back so I can ask you another question.       Am I ugly? Excerpted from Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.