Fred and Helen Martini longed for a baby, and they ended up with dozens of lion and tiger cubs! Snuggle up to this purr-fect read aloud about the Bronx Zoo's first female zoo-keeper.
When Bronx Zoo-keeper Fred brought home a lion cub, Helen Martini instantly embraced it. The cub's mother lost the instinct to care for him. Just do for him what you would do with a human baby, Fred suggested...and she did. Helen named him MacArthur, and fed him milk from a bottle and cooed him to sleep in a crib.
Soon enough, MacArthur was not the only cub bathed in the tub! The couple continues to raise lion and tiger cubs as their own, until they are old enough to return them to zoos. Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx zoo, the keeper of the nursery.
This is a terrific non-fiction book to read aloud while snuggling up with your cubs! Filled with adorable baby cats, this is a story about love, dedication, and a new kind of family.
Gorgeously patterned illustrations by Julie Downing detail the in-home nursery and a warm pallet creates a cozy pairing with Candace Fleming's lovely language.
Backmatter includes a short biography of Helen Martini and a selected bibliography.
A Junior Library Guild Selection!
There's a fairy tale quality to Fleming's story of Helen Martini, a woman whose longing for a baby was filled by raising a series of orphaned big cat cubs, which unexpectedly led to her becoming the first female zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. And like many fairy tales, the just-so telling and happily- ever-after ending skim over deeper troubles and complications, specifically the way Martini relates to the animals in her care. Martini's husband was a keeper at the Bronx Zoo. When a lioness rejected her cub, he brought it home for Martini to raise before it was sent to another zoo. After she cares for a trio of tiger cubs, Helen follows them back to the Bronx Zoo, transforming a store room into the zoo's first "nursery": "Her babies needed her." Martini's "mother and child" relationship with these wild animals is both charming and unsettling; an artifact of an earlier era in wildlife stewardship that complicates conservation efforts to this day. Downing's sensitive illustrations shine in a rich, muted palette, using sweeping lines and patterned details to conjure cozy, 1940s-era domestic scenes where lions snooze on laps and tigers frolic in bubble baths. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
PreS-Gr 3--Bronx residents Helen and Fred Martini's wish for children came true in a unique manner: Fred, employed at the Bronx Zoo, brought home a newborn lion. Abandoned by its mother, the infant required tender nurturing. Helen's expert maternal skills allowed the cub to blossom. When he was two months old, the cub was sent to another zoo. In time, Fred brought home three tiger cubs. These babies also thrived. At three months of age, the cubs returned to the Bronx Zoo, but Helen accompanied them, eventually establishing an animal nursery. She secured the job of "keeper of the nursery," the first zookeeper position a woman ever held there. The charming saga of Helen's journey from a homemaker to a pioneering zookeeper is narrated in well-written, accessible prose. Gentle humor is on display in descriptions of the cubs' playful antics. Animal lovers will appreciate the message that animal care requires compassion, concern, and respect. Downing's clean, cheerful illustrations, mostly arranged in panels, delightfully depict the cuddly appeal of Helen's charges and portray endearing human-animal bonds. An interesting author's note provides additional information about Helen's zoo work and her methods of caring for her animal "children" at home. Students may discuss, write about, or illustrate how they care for their pets. Alternatively, educators could have students discuss zoos' roles in the care and protection of animals. VERDICT Charming and adorable; recommended for school and public collections.--Carol Goldman, formerly at Queens Lib., NYCopyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.