July 1, 2016

Fur, Fins and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo by Cassandre Maxwell

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:15 am by suebe2

Fur, Fins and Feathers:
Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo
by Cassandre Maxwell
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Even when Abraham Bartlett was a boy, he loved animals. A friend of his father’s owned a menagerie, a collection of giraffes, zebras and tigers.  The animals lived in bare cages while people paraded past.  The man let Abraham take young animals out of the cages.  Abraham watched them closely while he played with them, but he hated having to put them back.  He knew that some of the keepers were mean, the animals didn’t always eat well, and had no way to ammuse themselves.  He wanted them to lead better lives.

He read every book he could find on animals and dreamed of the day he would be able to work with them.  But there were very few jobs with living animals.  He found a job as a taxidermist, preparing animal “specimans,” animal skins, for display.  His lifelike displays caught the attention of the London Zoological Society.  After talking to him, they invited him to be their next superintendent.

“Papa” Bartlett changed the way that zoo animals lived but he also changed the way that the public learned about them.  You’ll want to read the book to get all of the details of this man’s career.

Maxwell is both the author and illustrator of this book.  Her cut paper and media collages bring Bartlett and the animals to life.  I’m not sure but I think my favorite illustration may be Bartlett with the elephant, Jumbo.  The author has also included additional information in the back matter including a detailed timeline.

This is a must have for animal lovers and history lovers alike.  This would make a good story time selection for ages 8 and 9.  Share it to launch discussions about changes in science and animal care as well as history.  But expect to spend plenty of time with the illustrations.  They may very well inspire some cut paper work, so be prepared.


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