A Boy And A Jaguar – Book Review


From the Cover of A Boy and a Jaguar- By Alan Rabinowitz:

“Alan loves animals, but the great cat at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad.  Why are they all alone in bare cages?  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 conservation” as he searches for his voice and fulfills a promise to speak for animals, and people, who cannot speak for themselves.  This real- life story with tender illustrations by Catia Chien explores truths not defined by the spoken word.”

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

The target audience is elementary school age, 6 – 10 years old (and adults alike) and would be appropriate for foster, adoptive or biological families. We checked this book out on a whim at our local library because we love wildlife, and the cover art was very enticing.  Our 7 year old really enjoyed the sweet story, and was glad she was able to read many of the words on her own.  Even our 11 year old stopped what he was doing to join us for this book.  He was intrigued by how the main character felt like he was “in his place” with the animals. Our family loved this book and decided that it was a great story about overcoming your disabilities and anxieties and achieving your dreams- while helping others.

  • The story discusses how our disabilities can make us feel invisible.
  • The book discusses the importance of preserving wildlife and keeping animals from harm.
  • The parents enjoyed how the main character continued to become educated so he could overcome the things that were holding him back.
  • The parents highly appreciated that this story shows children with perseverance and hard work, they can overcome anything, and have big adventures while accomplishing their “wildest” dreams.
  • Adoptees/Foster children will identify with the main character because he “feels broken”. This is a common feeling shared by many who are in this situation.  The main character finally finds where he feels “whole”.  This is a common desire for Foster/adoptive people, as well as others who suffer from disabilities and emotional disorders.

The illustrations were beautiful, and very enticing.  We especially loved how the illustrator portrayed the forests.  They were abstract, but  you could still see yourself climbing in the page, and feeling surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Overall, the Crocklings (the Crockett children) and I (Betsy) would recommend this to any family looking for a story that may be more on the serious side, but will teach a good lesson in learning to overcome what is holding us back , keeping promises, and preserving nature.  Kids with disabilities and people who feel as though they have shortcomings will feel comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their struggles, and that there is always hope in the future.

From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:

It’s Your Turn:

  1. Alan feels terribly anxious about his stuttering problem.   He feels like he may be broken. Do you have a problem you feel anxious about?  Do you sometimes feel like you are broken?
  2. Alan feels like animals are like him in that they would like to speak, but cannot get the words out.  What do you think animals would say if they could talk?
  3. Where did Alan feel like he is “home”?  Do you have a special place?
  4. How did Alan learn to work around his disability?  Who helped him ? Who can help you?
  5. Why do you think it is important to preserve nature?  What can you do to help?
  6. Alan’s dreams of helping animals took him many places. Is there anywhere you might want to go if nothing was holding you back?  Where would you go?
  7. Did you know that this story is a true story? Did you know that Alan grew up to help animals and people with stuttering problems?  How does it make you feel when you read a story that is about a real person who makes a difference in this world?  Do you feel as though you could make a difference?


Written by
Betsy was born, adopted, and raised in central Illinois, and has lived there her entire life. She is married to a very fantastic, understanding man named Lucas, and is a mother to her dream children: Eli (10), and Cailyn (7). Her household includes two dogs, Cleo the papillon, and Jelly the pug, a bearded dragon named "The Doctor", a frog named Lazarus (who came back from the dead), and a fish. When she isn't managing her "family zoo", Betsy volunteers with her church, and with Boy Scouts, and is an adoption advocate.

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