1012 Irene Latham
Inverness author Irene Latham.
The Birmingham Zoo has again inspired award-winning poet and author Irene Latham to pen a novel. Her latest, Don’t Feed The Boy, a fictional tale about a boy who lives at Meadowbrook Zoo, a facility modeled after the Birmingham Zoo and named after a familiar Highway 280 neighborhood.
“I have been driving through Meadowbrook nearly every day for the past 14 years, either taking kids to school, going to the library or visiting friends,” she said, “so when it came time to name my fictional zoo, it’s the first thing that popped into my mind. I like how it sounds. The word has a rolling romance to it, and it just feels like a good place to be. I thought it set the perfect tone for the role the zoo plays in the story.”
Latham, an Inverness resident, was a teen volunteer at the zoo until she witnessed her first surgery and decided to write about animals. Her book includes a multitude of animal facts and behind-the-scenes adventures drawn from her training and other research. She has been praised for her authentic and memorable stories in both Don’t Feed The Boy and her first novel, Leaving Gee’s Bend.
“The best part of being a writer is connecting with readers,” Latham said. “I can’t tell you how much interacting with students and teachers means to me. It’s one of the best, most unexpected joys of my life. It’s one way to practice what I preach, which is, ‘Live a life worth writing about.’”
Latham, her husband and their three sons, the oldest of which is a senior at Oak Mountain High School, are frequent visitors of the Birmingham Zoo. She loves sharing her passion for books and writing with kids and offers a special discount to schools located in Shelby County.
“Without question, humans are my favorite species. The best part about going to the zoo is sharing that experience with loved ones,” Latham said.
Latham will hold a book release party Sunday, October 14 from 2-4 p.m. at the Birmingham Zoo. Admission is required, but feeding the giraffes is free. A second event will be held Sunday, October 21 from 2-4 p.m. at the North Shelby Library. Admission is free.