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A Boy and a Jaguar Hardcover – May 6, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 2–5—Rabinowitz is a wildlife conservationist and spokesperson for the Stuttering Foundation of America. When he was a boy, he discovered that, despite severe speech challenges, he had a gift for communicating with animals. The book charts his story through college and his travels to the jungles of Belize. Eventually, he overcomes his stutter enough to speak before the prime minister on behalf of the jaguars. Chien's acrylic and charcoal illustrations perfectly capture the tenacious, loving spirit of the author as a boy and a lonely, intrepid young man. Chien has a flair for painting animals as well as portraying Rabinowitz's condition with empathy. One page, drenched in a moody mauve, depicts his anguished face and hands gripping at his throat as he tries to "push words out." With the flip of a page, readers see the boy awash in yellow sunlight, surrounded by animals, his face completely relaxed as he speaks fluently. Rabinowitz's text is elegant, if at times slightly wordy for the target audience: "In this animal's eyes are strength and power and sureness of purpose." The emotional resonance of the text, urgency of the issues discussed, and breathtakingly beautiful illustrations make this book a winner. The story will help children empathize with their peers with speech issues and will be a lifeline to those with special needs or who feel like outsiders for one reason or another. Every library should own this book, a testament to the fierce beauty of jaguars and the human spirit.—Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College, Queens, NY

From Booklist

In this poignant autobiography, Rabinowitz recalls the alienation he felt as a child who thought he was “broken” because he could not get his words out fluently. But there are other, more powerful ways of communicating, which Alan knows from the ease with which he talks to animals. As he grows up, he learns to both conquer and embrace the fact that he will always be a stutterer, and he soon becomes an advocate for animals. When, in the forest, he looks into the eyes of a jaguar and sees “strength and power and sureness of purpose,” readers will feel privileged to be part of this magical experience. Chien’s impressionistic illustrations lend a gentle playfulness to the overall solemnity, with muted colors, expressive faces, and arrangements that draw attention to scale and size—all of which remind us that there are many ways to tell a story, whether you are one with words, like Rabinowitz, or one without any, like the jaguar. A mature look at how some observant children understand the world better than some adults. Grades 1-4. --Amina Chaudhri
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054787507X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547875071
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm a children's librarian. I read a lot of books for kids. And I believe this one is going to prove itself to be quite the standout. It's incredible how deceptively simple it is - this young boy with a stutter has an easier time speaking to animals, obtains greater ease of speech as he grows older, and uses that voice to fulfill a promise to the animals who inspired him. If you're a grown-up who loved "The Man Who Planted Trees" or the essays of Wendell Berry, you should seek this one out for yourself. A beautiful tale that works both literally and metaphorically to emphasize that having a voice is a privilege we should use wisely.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a Speech Language Pathologist, so I love stories about kids with speech and language disorders. This book is about a boy who stutters who grew up to advocate for animal protection. I was really excited when I found out about this book from a coworker. I read through it and oh man, it touched my SLP heart. I love the story line and was able to do a few therapy sessions with this book as the focus. It's so good for other people who stutter to understand that there are other people out there who share the same problems. Then we learned about the author, Alan Rabinowitz, who is an amazing guy. He has done amazing things for people who stutter and animal protection.

The illustrations are quite lovely and striking. I love the author's use of space on the pages for some of the words to really hit at the meaning of his words. I would love to watch a video of the author reading the book, it would be so awesome. I did find some You Tube videos the author has done, he really is a fascinating guy.

Overall, I HIGHLY recommend. Especially to anyone who stutters or works with people who stutter.

*Please note that although I often review items at discounts in exchange for honest reviews, I bought this for FULL price and just wanted to share my experience and recommend.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My 9 and 5 year old grandchildren really liked this book. It gave me an opportunity to talk with them about stuttering and how hard it would be if you had a lot of trouble saying what you wanted to. The idea that this boy could seemingly communicate with animals was very intriguing to them. This is a kids' book with some substance, but written and illustrated so that children can enjoy it at whatever level works for them.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not for young children. Too many complicated topics to explain. Ex: "The teachers put me in a class for disturbed children." And, "...hunters are killing them...and prize their bodies as trophies.". Not material for a before-bed read to a 5-yr old
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This autobiographical story is shared so sweetly, helping to promote understanding of individuals with speech disorders. I would definitely buy this for any child with any kind of disability and for use in classrooms to promote better inclusion and understanding among peers.
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Format: Hardcover
I first became aware of Alan Rabinowitz through The Moth, where he told the story contained in this superbly illustrated picture book. As a boy, Alan struggled with speaking, even being labeled as mentally disabled. The only times he was able t speak correctly was while singing or while talking to animals. Eventually, when his problems were identified as a stutter, he was able to get proper training to manage his speech. Being made voiceless as a child, only helped by his animal friends, Alan decided to be a voice for the animals, devoting his life to establishing nature preserves.

The drawings in this book are at times charming, as when young Alan sings to his pets or speaks to the jaguar in the zoo, but also painful, such as Alan's medical exams and the image of a hunter riding away on his horse, a dead jaguar thrown over the horse's back. The latter might upset some children, but the image should be balanced out by the images of jaguars running free in their new preserve.

This was a perfect choice for the Schneider Family Book Award. I'd even consider purchasing this for my personal collection!
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Format: Hardcover
Alan loves animals--because of a severe stutter, he can't communicate with other people, but animals always seem to understand him. As a child, he vows to protect them and be their champion. In college, he learns to be a "completely fluent" stutterer, and goes on to a successful career as an animal researcher. In nature, he feels at home; with people, he still feels broken. This real-life story is beautifully told for children, and is inspirational for young people struggling with stuttering or other disabilities to overcome. The illustrations are particularly striking, Very sensitively done.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book may appear as a picture book for just young children, but it is appropriate for all ages with an aim toward discussion toward the treatment of those who cannot speak for themselves and those who have so much to offer if only we could look past difference.
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