Cubs in the Tub : The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Zookeeper
by Fleming, Candace; Downing, Julie (ILT)






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!





Candace Fleming is the author of more than twenty distinguished books for children including The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, winner of, among other awards, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. She received the NCTE Orbus Pictus Award and a Sibert Honor for Giant Squid. Her most recent book with Holiday House is Honeybee. She lives in Chicago.

Julie Downing has illustrated over forty-five picture books including The Fire Keeper's Son, Tessa Takes Wing and First Mothers. She has won many awards including a Parents Choice Award, the New York Public Library's Best Books Award, APAAL Best Illustrated Book and the Irma Black Silver Medal. Her work has been featured in the SCBWI Original Art Show.
Julie teaches illustration to undergraduate and graduate students at the Academy of Art University. She lives in San Francisco.





*Starred Review* While her husband, Fred, spent his days working at the Bronx Zoo in the 1940s, Helen Martini longed for a baby. When Fred comes home with a baby one day-a neglected lion cub-it's not the kind Helen anticipated, but she immediately takes the cub in her arms, names him MacArthur, and gives him round-the-clock care. And like many proud mamas, Helen documents his "firsts" and overlooks the chewed-up shoes and ripped couch for lap snuggles. All seems well in the storylike narrative and endearing, patterned illustrations that reflect both the colors and culture of the time period and the range of emotions felt by Helen, especially when MacArthur is taken away to another zoo. After nurturing more babies at home, this time tiger cubs, and another difficult goodbye, Helen begins to tend to their needs directly at the zoo. She takes mothering other baby animals into her own hands, secretly creating a nursery in an abandoned building. When zoo officials discover her enterprise, they surprisingly approve, and Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. A concluding note provides more information about this groundbreaking figure and explains how, like Helen, women of this era sometimes had to find quiet ways to break societal and gender norms. A charming reflection of courage and change.Women in Focus: The 19th in 2020 Preschool-Grade 2. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.





In the 1940s, Fred Martini, a zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo, brought a newborn lion cub home to his wife. The cub had been rejected by its mother and desperately needed care. Though childless, Helen was well prepared with baby supplies on hand. She bathed it, fed it baby formula, and sang it to sleep. MacArthur became a loving, playful, cuddly pet until he was placed in another zoo. It was lonely without him until Fred brought home three baby tigers, and the joyful process began again. When it was time to return these babies to the zoo, Helen went with them. She created a cozy space in a glass cage where visitors could see them. She expanded her work by establishing a nursery in an unused storeroom, painting and decorating, curtains and all, where the tiger cubs could sleep at night. When zoo officials finally discovered her, they realized the value of what she had accomplished and offered her a permanent, paid position as the first woman zookeeper, caring for many species of animal babies. Telling the tale with great attention to detail, Fleming perfectly captures both time and place as well as the loving, determined woman who forged her way in a man's profession. Downing's illustrations in a wide variety of sizes and hues will keep readers' attention glued to the pages and are in sync with the text in every way. The Martinis present white, and the animals are cuddly and packed with personality. A lovely homage to a little-known woman and her quiet achievement. (afterword, bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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