Mother to Tigers (Junior Library Guild Selection)-George Ella Lyon, Peter Catalanotto

  • Title: Mother to Tigers (Junior Library Guild Selection)
  • Author: George Ella Lyon, Peter Catalanotto
  • Released: 2003-03-01
  • Language:
  • Pages: 32
  • ISBN: 068984221X
  • ISBN13: 978-0689842214
  • ASIN: 068984221X


From School Library Journal Grade 1-3-Helen Martini cared for both lion and tiger cubs in her New York City apartment before building the Bronx Zoo's first nursery back in 1944. This simple account of how her husband and then Helen herself became animal keepers draws on Martini's long out-of-print adult book, My Zoo Family (Harper, 1955). Lyon places an introductory segment before the title page, inviting readers into the experience of the first lion cub Martini took in: "Suppose you were a lion cub-abandoned.- and a man came in the cage and lifted you into a case and put you in a car to go home with him." The story is then told in the third person to convey the early days of home animal care by the Martinis and the development of the nursery. The first golden cubs give way to a fine array of animals that have thrived in this much-needed facility. Catalanotto adds a bold graphic dimension to the story with torn-paper strips mounted as irregular picture panels on many pages. Charcoal sketches on brown paper are intermingled with full-color views. On a couple of pages, multiple images of Helen appear in a frame to emphasize the chaotic busyness of caring for energetic cubs and performing the many tasks of readying the nursery. A brief author's note adds a bit more information about the subject. This handsome and intriguing real-life story will be savored as independent and shared reading and useful as simple nonfiction for varied classroom purposes.
Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From K-Gr. 3. This picture-book biography recounts the remarkable story of Helen Delaney Martini, the founder of the Bronx Zoo's animal nursery. The childless Martini began taking care of baby tigers in her apartment, when her zookeeper husband brought the infants home. Later, she volunteered to set up a nursery. She eventually became the zoo's first woman zookeeper and successfully mothered 27 tigers, assorted primates, and other animals. Lyon's succinct, yet elegant, prose emphasizes Martini's dedication to the animals in her care, detailing how she and her husband often spent evenings at the zoo tending to the needy babies. Catalanotto's watercolor, charcoal, and torn-paper art is particularly effective here. Appropriate for a story set in the 1940s and 50s, his charcoal drawings suggest old newsreels. Vertically torn paper panels, which enable him to depict several different scenes in one spread, also add to the nostalgic aura. An author's note fills in some details of Martini's life and mentions her autobiography, My Zoo Family (1955). This will be popular with animal fans and classes studying zoos or careers. Kay Weisman
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