Review: Fur, Fins and Feathers by Cassandre Maxwell

Fur Fins and Feathers by Cassandre Maxwell

Fur, Fins and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo by Cassandre Maxwell

As a child, Abraham loved animals. He read all about them, even as he started working as a curator at the Museum of Natural History. As a child he also saw the way that animals were treated, lined up in small cages where they could barely move as people paid to view them. Abraham’s exhibits drew the attention of the members of the London Zoological Society and when they discovered his broad knowledge of animals, they asked him to be the next superintendent of the zoo. Abraham found innovative and kind ways to work with injured animals. He also began labeling exhibits with information about the animals in addition to their names. He figured out that animals need specific diets. Finally, he began to expand the way that the animals were kept, creating larger enclosures filled with trees, where the animals were healthier and people could still view them.

Maxwell has written a captivating biography of Bartlett that focuses on the way that his personal interest in animals led him to revolutionize zoos. Young readers will be dismayed and startled to see the small cages animals were kept in and as the book progresses, they will see the transformation to the modern zoos they know today.

The cut-paper art has an old-fashioned feel that beautifully conveys the 19th century time period. Maxwell incorporates small details of fashion and decor that firmly keep the setting in the past. There are clever touches of other papers with special textures or patterns that make the illustrations worth looking at closely.

A clever and fascinating biography of the man who created modern zoos, this book would be a welcome read for any class before a trip to the zoo. Appropriate for ages 7-11.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are cool:



HarperCollins Children’s Books Renews Multi-Book Deal With Michael Morpurgo #kidlit

I’ll Never Stop Reading Bedtime Stories to My Kid, No Matter How Old He Gets – #reading #kidlit

Rick Riordan: ‘I’ve loved mythology since I was a child. They were my gateway into reading, and writing!’ #kidlit

Sheboygan’s Mead library moves with times and faces pressures from the city – #libraries


Will digital books ever replace print? – #ebooks



Librarian Shares Her Love of Books with a Bike-powered Mobile Library – #libraries

\’Makers-In-Residence\’ Let Their Imaginations Roam Free At The DC Public Library #libraries

Not a hoarder...:


Author Rainbow Rowell Tells Us Which Hogwarts House She Was Sorted Into #yalit

Philip Reeve: ‘It’s possible that machines might become conscious’ – #yalit

Publishers Weekly – Q & A with Jennifer Donnelly – #yalit

Stephenie Meyer Unveils a Gender-Swapped Version of Twilight #yalit

Why is there so much poetry in YA/teen lit? – #yalit