We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, as well as reading challenges that we have pledged to join this year. Our reading theme for January/February is Once Upon a Childhood: Throwback Reads on Childhood Favourites and HOT for CYBILS.
This book was nominated for the CYBILS 2014 Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction Category but did not make it to the top seven finalists.
Based on the author’s childhood, the young boy in the story is a stutterer. Like the animals he keeps at home (garter snake, gerbil, chameleon, green turtle, hamster), he is often misunderstood or ignored.
He only finds peace when he is with his animal companions or when staring into the eyes of the great big cat at the Bronx Zoo, as he is able to talk to them with relative ease and even a degree of eloquence.
I make a promise to my pets.
I promise that if I can ever find my voice, I will be their voice and keep them from harm.
This was both a promise and a prayer. As this young boy grew up to be a man, he found his way while being lost in the forest, studying the only creatures whom he truly understood and who understood him in return, without judgment and without words. Most importantly, he found a sense of purpose – giving him resolve, and a sense of peace that gave him the words he needed to give voice to the voiceless.
This was a book that gave me goosebumps. The words came from a place of brokenness and truth, finding its way to wholeness. I would have wanted a more detailed Author’s Note though or an Afterword that would detail the author’s advocacy and life’s work now. And so I did my own searching and found this website that might be helpful to readers who would like to know more, and a youtube clip with the author himself. Enjoy!
A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by CáTia Chien. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me.
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award 2014.