MOTHER TO TIGERS by George Ella Lyon

MOTHER TO TIGERS

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 9
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This true story, although slight, will go right to the hearts of young animal lovers. In the 1940s, Helen Martini started to care for baby animals her husband brought home temporarily from his job at the Bronx Zoo. Knowing that not all needy animal babies could come to their apartment, Martini offered to start a nursery at the zoo and then became its first female zookeeper. In spare, lyrical prose, Lyon (Gina. Jamie. Father. Bear, 2002, etc.) begins before the title page with a second-person prologue to draw children in, starting, “Suppose you were a lion cub—abandoned.” Then in the more conventional third-person, she conveys Martini’s story and her pleasure in her work with well-chosen details, many of them about animals. The illustrations alternate luminous watercolor with charcoal drawings on brown paper, each picture shown on torn paper and arranged on the page like tiger’s stripes. This design choice varies in its effectiveness, making some pages look cluttered while those with one large picture paired with a simple colored stripe work well. Catalanotto’s (Matthew ABC, 2002, etc.) watercolors, which outshine the charcoal drawings, are especially breathtaking in the close-ups of lion and tiger faces. An afterword tells more about Martini and her accomplishments as well as how Lyon learned about her. A photograph on the back cover of the author at the Bronx Zoo as a ten-year-old, holding a book by Helen Martini, adds another personal note. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-84221-X
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2003




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