How to Catch a Polar Bear (Washington Park Stories) (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Stacy DeKeyser’s latest middle grade novel is inspired by a true event - a polar bear escape at the Milwaukee Zoo! Nick and his friends Ace & Penny have a busy summer ahead of them. Not only are they trying to solve the mystery of how a polar bear escaped, but they also have to contend with bullies, a summer job, a feisty monkey, and all the frozen custard you can eat. Simply delightful, treat yourself to How to Catch a Polar Bear (and some frozen custard) this summer! 

— Jen Steele


In this “funny and heartwarming” (Booklist) historical fiction companion to The Rhino in Right Field, Nick’s summer gets way more exciting when a polar bear escapes from the local zoo—perfect for fans of Stuart Gibbs and The One and Only Ivan.

It’s 1948, and twelve-year-old Nick is ready for the best summer ever. He’s going to hang out with his best pal, Ace, and maybe with Penny too—she is a girl, but she has a great throwing arm. Then things get wild when a polar bear escapes from Milwaukee’s city zoo and appears right on his block. They’re all going to have to keep their eyes open now.

But Nick’s grand plans start to crumble when Ace gets a paper route and Penny decides to share it with him. Now they’re never around. Nick himself is working at his Uncle Spiro’s frozen custard shop, but at least he gets free all-you-can-eat dessert.

When Uncle Spiro opens a custard stand at the zoo, Nick volunteers to help—if that polar bear escapes again, he’ll have a front row seat! But their competitor, Happy Harold, opens a stand of his own right outside the zoo. Now Nick is scrambling to keep their customers, especially because Happy keeps playing dirty tricks. When Penny discovers that someone may have let the polar bear out on purpose, Nick suspects that Happy might be involved. With mysteries to solve and a whole zoo-full of monkey business, it looks like Nick’s summer won’t be so boring after all!

About the Author

Stacy DeKeyser is the author of The Rhino in Right Field, which was a Bank Street Book of the Year, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, and was on seven state reading lists; How to Catch a Polar BearThe Brixen Witch, which was a Chicago Library Best of the Best book and received two starred reviews; and its sequel, One Witch at a Time, as well as the young adult novel Jump the Cracks and two nonfiction books for young readers. She lives in Connecticut with her family. To learn more, visit her online at

Product Details
ISBN: 9781665925617
ISBN-10: 1665925612
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: June 27th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: Washington Park Stories