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Strange Creatures: The Story of Walter Rothschild and His Museum Hardcover – February 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 950L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books; 1st edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423113896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423113898
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 9.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,628,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3-Behind his extreme shyness and speech difficulties, Rothschild had a brilliant mind and endless fascination with exotic animals. When he was seven, he decided his goal was to create a museum filled with specimens of unusual creatures from around the world. Although his parents bought him kangaroos, kiwis, lizards, and other exotic animals, his father insisted that Walter enter his banking business when he became an adult. Using his salary and assets from his family's fortune, the young man financed collectors who traveled around the globe to locate unusual animals and ship the specimens back to England. By the time he was 24, his dream museum had become a reality. Over his lifetime, Rothschild named thousands of new species and published hundreds of scientific papers. He also kept many unusual animals on his estate, including the zebras he used to pull his carriage. Judge's picture-book biography of the shy genius may encourage readers to follow their own creative ideas, although few people possess the wealth of the Rothschilds. Watercolor paintings help readers visualize the Victorian era. An extensive author's note provides more details about the zoologist's life and explains how wildlife studies have changed since his time. The web addresses in the book for the Natural History Museum at Tring and the Natural History Museum, London, are incorrect. Although the unusual subject is handled adequately, this title is a supplemental purchase for most libraries.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Judge, whose grandparents were ornithologists, brings a personal touch to this introduction to Lord Walter Rothschild, the shy first son of one of Great Britain�s most influential financiers, whose obsession with nature led to the creation of an extraordinary personal zoological collection. What started as a childhood enthusiasm (young Walter used his allowance to purchase his first kangaroo) grew into a mission that eventually led Rothschild to make significant contributions to zoology through the funding of expeditions and the preservation of specimens. Rothschild, as the poor little rich boy growing up on a grand estate with only exotic animals as playmates, is a sympathetic protagonist, especially when his interests conflict with his father�s expectation that he take over the family business, and Judge captures the shy lad and his astounding animals in dramatic watercolor spreads. An author�s note aimed at a young audience adds useful context with explanations of how the science and ethics of zoology have changed since Rothschild�s time. Grades 1-3. --Kara Dean

More About the Author

Lita Judge is a writer and artist whose greatest passion is creating children's books. She is the author/illustrator for over a dozen fiction and nonfiction picture books including Flight School (Simon & Schuster, 2014), Red Hat (S&S, 2013), Red Sled (S&S, 2011), Bird Talk (Roaring Brook, 2012), One Thousand Tracings, and Pennies for Elephants (Disney-Hyperion). Her background in geology, paleontology and biology inspires her nonfiction books. Lita spent several years working for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology before turning to writing about dinosaurs and other natural history subjects. But her background with animals also inspires her whimsical fictional tales filled with characters who forge big dreams. Several of her books have been selected as Junior Library Guild picks and they have received numerous awards including the 2013 Sterling North Award, the Jane Addams Honor Book, ALA Notable Children's Book, the International Reading Association Children's Book Award, Michigan Notable Book, and Kirkus Best Children's book of 2011. She enjoys teaching both writing and illustration to students of all ages and shares much about her creative process in classrooms and on her blog and website. Lita lives with her husband, two cats and a little green parrot named Beatrix Potter in Peterborough, New Hampshire. You can visit her online at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mymcbooks on October 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My Review: This story is about the real life scientist Walter Rothschild and his passion for animals.

Walter Rothschild was born into a family of bankers and was the richest boy who had no interested in the banking business. Walter barely spoke as he was a very shy 7 years old kid. But he didn't need words to express his love for animals that crawled, slithered or flew. His father wasn't happy that Walter was spending so much of his time with these creatures and he was worried that he wouldn't be able to take over the family business. Walter was interested in becoming a scientist and opening his own museum, a natural history museum.

Walter was able to stand up to his father and create his own legacy by creating his own museum at the age of 7.

According to the author, because of Walter Rothschild, the study of wild life has changed over the years. It is no longer considered ethical to take animal specimens. Studying of live animals is done using binoculars and their behavior recorded by cameras.

Despite what Walter's father wanted him to become Walter stood his ground to become a scientist. Walter created the largest zoological collection ever gathered by one man. We should not let the expectations and pressures of others crush our passion or dreams.

Author Lita Judge did a great job illustrating this book and capturing the real life history of Walter and his animals.

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion in any way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on February 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although he grew up in one of England's wealthiest families, Walter Rothschild had little desire to follow in his father's footsteps as banker to the Queen of England. Rather, Walter preferred to spend endless hours outside studying and collecting insects, birds, and animals. As an extremely quiet and shy child, Walter did not have many interactions with other people, but he had plenty of wildlife friends.

As a young adult, Walter worked at the family firm, but his heart was just not into banking and finance. His father ultimately allowed Walter to build a museum on their estate to house Walter's collection of exotic creatures from all over the world. Over time Walter assembled the biggest zoological collection ever created by a private individual and made numerous contributions to scientific knowledge about new animal species.

This biographical account presents readers with an interesting description of a child who defied the pressures placed upon him by his family and societal expectations in order to pursue his own career dreams. The book can be used as a vehicle for talking with young learners about the opportunity cost of working in a job that may not necessarily be part of one's intended career track. Lively illustrations and crisp text help to draw the attention of children who may not ordinarily read biographies of lesser-known historical figures.
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