Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors that the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.
Andy is here today to tell you about himself and his adventures at Aksarben City Zoo. Welcome, Andy!
Thanks! My dad has been a zoo keeper forever. The last couple of summers he’d bring me to work with him and I’d get to ride around and watch him take care of the animals. He taught me a lot, and it was really cool spending all that time with him.
Then over the winter he got promoted to curator, which means he’s not as hands-on with the animals. Now he has lots of meetings and paperwork and stuff to do. I still get to be at the zoo this summer, but I don’t get to work with my dad. Instead, I have to clean out the hoofstock barn and wash windows in the giraffe exhibit. It’s still fun, but I miss working with him.
What can you tell us about the rumors that the city might close the zoo?
My dad said the city has to make budget cuts, and since our zoo is small, the city is considering closing it. My dad is doing everything he can to make sure that won’t happen. That’s why he was so excited when someone donated the old carousel to the zoo. He thought it’d bring in more visitors.
And did the carousel help do that?
It did way more than help bring in visitors! The carousel is called the Magical Menagerie, and it’s definitely magical! I found that out the first time I snuck on and rode it by myself. One minute I’m sitting on the carousel’s zebra, and the next thing I know I had actually become a zebra! It totally freaked me out!
That’s unbelievable! What did you do?
Luckily, one of the zoo’s peacocks, Philippe, saw me right away and helped me stay undercover. He’s kind of a snob, but he knew what to do. Liza—she’s one of the real zebras—she was super nice and helped me, too. But the head of the antelope herd was a real bully. His name is Big Mack. He almost made me get caught.
I hid out in the hoofstock barn and accidentally fell asleep. The hoofstock supervisor found me in there, but I had turned back into a person before he saw me. That’s part of the carousel’s magic—it decides when to turn you into an animal and when to turn you back.
How does the carousel’s magic work?
The guy who donated the carousel tried explaining it to me. His name is Zeb. He said the carousel has been around for a really long time. It senses when a zoo and its animals are in trouble and waits for the right person to come along who can help. I guess I’m that person.
How did you help the zoo?
Every time one of the animals needed help, I rode the carousel and turned into that animal. That way, I could talk to them and find out what was wrong. It’s so cool being an animal. But it got me into a lot of trouble, too. Especially with my dad. And it’s not like I could tell him what was really going on. He’d never believe me. It was bad enough when one of my friends saw me as a cheetah. After that, I swore I was never going to ride the carousel again, but then something awful happened at the zoo.
What was it?
One of the elephants attacked its keeper, and she got hurt really bad. It didn’t make any sense. Raj, the elephant, would never hurt anybody. I had to find out the truth, but when I went to ride the carousel, its magic was gone. Zeb said I had to use my human instincts to figure out what happened. If I didn’t, the city would close the zoo for sure.
Who do you think will like to read ANIMAL ANDY?
Kathy Rygg, the author, wrote it for kids ages 6-10, but anyone who loves animals and likes stories with some magic in it will enjoy it. All of the books she writes are magical realism, which makes them a lot of fun.
Where can readers find ANIMAL ANDY?
The ebook is published by Muse It Up Publishing and is available online at the Muse Bookstore. A print version will be available soon on Amazon. Here’s a neat video trailer for it, too.
Kathy Rygg has a children’s chapter book that is also available both as an ebook and in print on Amazon called TALL TALES WITH MR. K and it’s about a magical teacher who takes his students on fun adventures in the one place they least expect—the teacher’s lounge.
Kathy Rygg’s blog site is http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com
Follow her on Facebook under KSR Writer
Follow her on Twitter @kathyrygg
Thanks for having me! This was really cool!
Thank you for joining us today, Andy. It’s been a pleasure to have you here as well as very entertaining. I hope all our readers will pick up a copy of Animal Andy. It’s a great story!