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

Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 

Summary: When Abraham Dee Bartlett was growing up in the early 1800’s, there were no zoos. The closest thing was menageries where animals were kept in small cages for people to come and see. Abraham loved animals and read all that he could about them as a boy and a young man. His vast knowledge of wild animals eventually caught the attention of the London Zoological Society, and he was appointed superintendent of the new London Zoo. During his 38-year tenure there, he revolutionized the care of wild animals. He built larger enclosures for animals, learned how to feed them a healthy diet, and made labels so visitors could learn more about what they were seeing. By empathizing with the wild animals in his charge, he learned to keep them healthy and happy, and developed animal care methods that are used by zoos and veterinarians today. A timeline, author’s note, and brief bibliography are included. Grades 1-4.

Pros: Not only is this an interesting and inspiring story of a little-known man, but the cut paper collage illustrations are gorgeous. Readers will want to take their time with this book, enjoying both the text and the richly detailed pictures.

Cons: The final Doctor Dolittle-like illustration of Abraham surrounded by smiling animals is probably not entirely realistic.

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