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A Boy and a Jaguar
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A Boy and a Jaguar

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,108 ratings  ·  453 reviews

Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad. Why are they all alone in empty cages? Are they being punished? More than anything, he wants to be their champion—their voice—but he stutters uncontrollably.

Except when he talks to animals…

Then he is fluent.

Follow the life of the man Time Magazine calls, "the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservati

Hardcover, First Edition, 32 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  2,108 ratings  ·  453 reviews

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My biggest takeaway from this book is all stutterers do NOT grow up to be serial killers, despite what Criminal Minds has taught me.

Also - if you ever come across a jaguar - just kneel down and look it in the eye. Best way to say "thank you" respectfully and avoid getting eaten apparently.

I have tremendous respect for Mr. Rabinowitz and the work he does with animals. I think I'm probably the only cold hearted ass hole who didn't love his book.
Brilliant biography of one of the world's leaders in animal conservation (and one who overcame his stutter)
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Excellent Picture-Book Biographies
As a young boy, Alan Rabinowitz suffered from a severe speech impediment, finding it impossible not to stutter unless speaking to animals. A regular visitor at the Bronx Zoo's great cat house, he was saddened by the lonely captivity of its feline residents, particularly an old female jaguar. Promising her that one day he would be a voice for her kind, he eventually went on to become a conservationist and wildlife researcher, becoming the first person to study jaguars in the wild. Conquering his ...more
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading this aloud to my class bright tears to my eyes. I’d put this book on our read aloud shelf after flipping through the pages, intending to read it fully myself before sharing it with the class. As it turned out, several kids had selected it themselves before I’d had the chance and requested one afternoon. So I ended up reading it for the first time in front of the class. And that was a bit of a mistake!! The story is moving and wonderfully written. I had trouble reading the last few lines ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story arc feels a little abrupt, like maybe we missed some important steps, but there are some really neat moments and it ends up being good for jaguars, which is ultimately helpful.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, childrens
A moving story of how the author connects with animals in the Bronx Zoo -- the only times he doesn't stutter. He promises that if he can beat his stutter, he will help them, and grows up to work with jaguars, speaking to governmental officials in Belize to establish a protected sanctuary. The illustrations by Catia Chien are beautiful, but the insets don't always work seamlessly, leading to some choppiness. On the back jacket flap, there is a short, helpful Q&A with the author, some of which add ...more
Kellee Moye
Review at:

I loved loved loved this book. The messages about animals and human are the same: all living things should be respected.

Reread 4-3-15
Wish there was back matter to learn more!
Edward Sullivan
A wonderful autobiographical story beautifully illustrated.
Big cats! I liked the distinction in the text, where the main character said he would always be a stutterer, but could learn in time to speak fluently— which he did with a lot of hard work and time. But it would always require hard work.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
What a powerful story. A little boy who stutters, who just happens to be the author when he was small and his closeness to animals. I loved this book.
Kayla Leitschuh
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting this book to make me cry, but it sure did! If you love animals, you will love this sweet picture book.
Roger Clarke
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think what I liked most about this book was the illustrations; you could really feel the emotion of the main character when he is first telling the reader about his stuttering problem and how serious it is for him. I actually dealt with a stuttering problem when I was younger and still occasionally stutter if I get nervous, so this story really hits home for me. I can also relate that I find animals much better company than most of the humans I meet, just like the boy. He seems like a really n ...more
Chance Lee
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-it
Bluntly written book with a good message.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: inclusion
I located A Boy and A Jaguar through the American Library Association’s website ( It won the Schneider Family Book Award in 2015.

Alan Robinowitz tells his story of growing up with a severe stutter. He struggles and is misunderstood at school, leaving him feeling like he is “broken.” However, he can speak fluently to animals. When visiting the zoo, he promises a jaguar that if he can find his voice, he will be their voice. He goes to college and enters a program to help with his stutter.
Patricia Pappas
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: info-bios
I got this book from the Notable Social Studies Trade books for Young People 2016. This is a true life story of an animal activist. The narrator has a severe stuttering problem in the classroom, but speaks openly and freely at home. One day, he tells a Jaguar he will be a voice for the animals in the zoo. As he gets older, he focuses his energy on advocating for jaguars and other animals, and eventually is able to set aside land for a jaguar preserve. The pictures in this book are vivid with gre ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a stellar autobiographical picture book written by and about a wildlife conservationist. Alan was a boy who could not speak clearly. He battled stuttering all of the time except when he talked with animals. When he visited the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo, he could whisper fluently into the ears of the cats. He also spent a lot of time with his pets at home, speaking to them and telling them that if he ever found his own voice, he would serve as their voice since they had none and wo ...more
Tammy Haberer
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
An autobiographical story about a boy who stutters, but finds his voice when he talks to animals. As a thank you to the animals for helping him with his speech, he dedicates his life to wildlife conservation.
Natalie Mayur
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Boy and a Jaguar is an autobiography that would be a wonderful read aloud story for first, second, and third graders. Alan Rabinowitz shares when he was a boy, he liked to communicate to animals due to the fact that he was a stutterer. Since he had trouble at school due to this issue, he relied on communication with his pets as well as animals at the zoo; he really enjoyed speaking to a long jaguar, where he could whisper to her fluently.

Later in life, Rabinowitz learns how to speak without s
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful children's book.
Chrissi Guarnieri
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-lit
A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz is a book about a little boy who loves animals and has a difficult time communicating because of stuttering. Animals help him, because he sees them as misunderstood, just as he sees himself as misunderstood. The only time he can speak without stuttering is when he is speaking to animals. He promises his pets and the caged animals at the Bronx zoo that one day, when he is able to find his voice, he will be their voice. As an adult he begins studying Jaguars, ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
A young boy struggles with stuttering and learns that he doesn't stutter when he talks to animals. Though he feels broken, he finds that he feels at home studying animals in their natural environments. He travels to Belize to study jaguars and eventually convinces the office of the prime minister to create a protected area for the big cats.

I really enjoyed this book. The story has a lovely parallelism and Alan Rabinowitz captures his feelings about stuttering in a way that children will be able
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cat lovers and students and disability students
This is really a lovely book. I will have to keep an eye out for the illustrator: Catia Chien. This won the Schneider Award for ages 0-10. I don't know that I'd use it with preschoolers. I'm not sure it would keep their interest. But I would use it in a storytime for older kids in the primary grades,maybe even grade 5. The book is classed under 333 but I wish it had gone biography instead since I think it would reach more kids that way. Oh well. The author writes about the terrible stuttering pr ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Can you imagine being attempting to answer a question and all that comes out is stuttering?

The boy in this book, struggles with stuttering and with communication with his family and peers. This frustrates and humiliates him. He can only seem to find his voice when he is among animals, which leads him to become one of the biggest voices in wildlife conservation. He finds himself in a political situation where he can either save animals or not... he "can't stutter or distract from the message" and
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Alan, a boy who is a stutterer and struggles to relate with other kids because of that. He only speaks fluently when he whispers to the animals he loves so much. This love for the animals, specially jaguars, will help him to go over his stuttering challenge when he needs to talk to give "a voice" to his beloved suffering friends. He finally feels complete for the first time in his life.

Based on the author experience, this story is about love friendship, respect for the envir
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Exceptional story that is movingly told. Lovely illustrations. I don't believe I've ever seen the subject of stuttering in a picture book before and I especially value Rabinowitz's direct honesty which children will recognize. The story of his love of animals and work to preserve them adds so much to the book.
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rabinowitz has pushed through a lot of pain and sadness to have a great impact in the field of wildlife conservation. He told his heavy but equally uplifting life story rather beautifully in just 32 pages.
Erin Downing
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful illustrations!
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Precious. My two daughters were spellbound by the magic it wove around them.
A great "finding your voice" book!
Lisa Edwards
What a great inspiring story this book is. It tells of a boy who has a stutter but finds himself calm and capable when speaking to animals. At school, his mouth freezes and the harder he tries to push the words out, the more noticeable it is that his body physically repels him from doing so. He is placed in a class for disturbed children and the teachers think that he is broken, which inevitably leads him to ponder the notion. How terribly saddened I was to read this. He knows that he is capable ...more
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Alan Robert Rabinowitz was an American zoologist, conservationist, field biologist and the CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit conservation organization devoted to protecting the world's 37 wild cat species. Called the "Indiana Jones of Wildlife Protection" by Time, Rabinowitz has studied jaguars, clouded leopards, Asiatic leopards, tigers, Sumatran rhinos, bears, leopard cats, raccoons, and civets. Toda ...more

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