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Mother to Tigers

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  56 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
"Based on a true story, this beautifully illustrated picture book introduces young readers to Helen Frances Theresa Delaney Martini, the first woman zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo and founder of the zoo's animal nursery in 1944...Catalanotto's remarkable illustrations are a wonderful combination of watercolor, charcoal and torn paper. The author also includes a fascinating 'Au ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
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Margaret Boling
Feb 01, 2011 Margaret Boling rated it really liked it
2/1/2011 ** This picture book biography tells the story of the first female zookeeper in the history of the Bronx zoo - Helen Martini. Set in the 40s, Helen first cared for a lion cub and three tiger cubs in her small New York apartment. Peter Catalonato's soothing watercolors beautifully capture the 'catness' of the animals. George Ella Lyon brings her rhythmic prose to the simple narrative. One of the text features I'll be sure to draw my students' attention to is the unique hook Lyon uses - t ...more
Kaytlyn Rosynek
Sep 05, 2012 Kaytlyn Rosynek rated it liked it
Shelves: kentucky-authors
"Mothers to Tigers" by George Ella Lyon had an eye catching front cover. The cover included a baby tiger, holding a bottle, and the tiger was being held by a human. Seeing the front of the book makes you want to see what is inside. This book is for kindergarten through grade 2, with a Lexile level of 610. The illustrations, by Peter Catalanotto, were interesting. The illustrations are a mix of black, white and gray, with some of the illustrations being in bright colors. The illustrations did not ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Charolette rated it it was amazing
“Mother to Tigers” is a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the history of Helen Martini who was the first woman zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. Helen never had the opportunity to experience motherhood with a human baby but she was able to become a mother in a different sense by caring for the baby animals that her husband brought home for the zoo. In the end, she knew that she would be unable to care for all the baby animals at home and offered to start a nursery at the Zoo. I like how ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Suz rated it really liked it
I attended a workshop led by George Ella Lyon at the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville, TN. As one of the participants, I received copies of several of her books, including this one. Her picture book tells the story of Helen Martini and how she came to be the first animal keeper in the Bronx Zoo. George Ella read it to us, told us about her research, and showed us how many drafts she went through to get the story just right. This is a wonderful narrative nonfiction piece to use with stu ...more
Kayla Lutz
Sep 05, 2012 Kayla Lutz rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book and I believe it is suitable for readers of all ages. This story tells about the life of Helen Martini, the first woman zookeeper in the history of the Bronx Zoo. I really liked how there was an author's note that goes into more depth about Helen's life and her accomplishments. Helen had experienced some loss in her life, which she eventually overcame. I think this story can teach children a lesson about how life always goes on, even when times are rough. I rea ...more
Nov 11, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
Helen Martini, the first woman zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo, make a name for herself by starting an animal nursery. Mother to Tigers tells about how she cared for her first tiger cubs and eventually started a zoo nursery. Appropriate for all elementary students, this is a great title for students in grades 1 - 3. Recommended as a companion for books about tigers, big cats, or zoos. I didn't care for the opening in which the reader is asked to imagine himself as a tiger cub. The rest of the book is ...more
Sep 18, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it
My children and I enjoyed this picture book bio of Helen Martini, who was the first woman zoo keeper at the Bronx zoo and began the Zoo Nursery. The subject matter is intriguing -- the Martinis brought home lion and tiger cubs and cared for them in their house. Martini wrote a book called My Zoo Family, which was a childhood favorite of the author of this biography, George Ella Lyon. An interesting connection, and it would be fun to look at that book as well.
Oct 25, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it
The story of Helen Martini. Martini was the first woman zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. Her husband had brought home tiger cubs for them to care for. That experience led her to create an animal nursery at the zoo.

Nice story and the illustrations are pleasing.
This year's students enjoyed this tale. They enjoyed the illustrations and the story. It's enjoyable when the students are engaged.
19 October 2010
13 May 2014
Kristine Hansen
Why have I never heard of this person? Loved the true story and the idea of keeping tiger cubs in an apartment. What an amazing woman! This is a fascinating story of where the idea for a zoo nursery came from. I dropped this a star because I don't like the pictures that try to show movement by showing multiple faces on the same body. Otherwise, it's a very cool story.
Mar 19, 2012 Michele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, childrens
A beautifully illustrated story about the first woman zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. My husband gave this book to me for my birthday a couple of years ago to thank me for mothering our own little tigers. I think it is a great example of how women can be mothers regardless of whether or not they have children of their own.
Heather Willoughby
Sep 06, 2012 Heather Willoughby rated it really liked it
I thought this was a very touching story. The illustrations were well done, but they were not very engaging for younger children. This book is better for older students to understand because situations that were addressed, like the death of a child. Young children would like the animals, but would not be interested in the story.
Aug 28, 2011 Debbie rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of Helen Martini, who is the subject of this book. She was the first woman zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. I was really moved by her persistence to help baby animals. The pictures are very emotionally charged and the text on each page is short enough that even reluctant readers would be willing to keep going (at least I think they would be).
May 06, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it
This is a great piece of semi-biographical work. It has a memoir-like quality and is very well written. I, like much of the known world, had never heard of Helen Martini before this, but now I've gained great respect for her work. She is a truly inspirational figure in women's history, though certainly little known outside of the zookeeping community.
This book would be very instrumental in discussing responsibility, love, care, and affection. The woman in this story cares for the baby cubs as if they were her own little babies. This was truly an inspiring story. I would use this book to discuss how animals can be sorted into specific groups for fifth graders. It could also be used for grades 3-5 in general.
Aug 01, 2009 Soesoe8888 rated it it was amazing
mother love tigers
Jan 21, 2014 Andria rated it it was amazing
This book had amazing illustrations, stripes with the pictures pieced together in the stripes. Loved learning about how the first female zookeeper came to be.
Sep 27, 2011 Kim rated it it was amazing
George Ella Lyon and Peter Catalanatto team up again for a brilliant and beautiful book about the wife of a zookeeper who mothered the motherless animals and who "invented" the zoo nursery.
Kelly rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2015
Emerson School  Library
Emerson School Library rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2010
Kevin rated it really liked it
Apr 28, 2016
Adrienne Reeder
Adrienne Reeder rated it liked it
May 14, 2014
Autumn Payne
Autumn Payne rated it it was amazing
May 04, 2014
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Feb 18, 2017
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Dec 29, 2011
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Mar 16, 2016
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Sep 07, 2015
Elizabeth Sandlund
Elizabeth Sandlund rated it really liked it
Feb 13, 2013
Cindy rated it it was amazing
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George Ella Lyon is a Kentucky author who has published in many genres, including picture books, poetry, juvenile novels, and articles.
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