Review and Connections: A Boy and A Jaguar


“This book made me cry tears of sympathy, and joy. You and I are this boy; you and I are this jaguar.” Sherman Alexie

A Boy and A Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Catia Chien is a beautifully written and illustrated biography about zoologist and conservationist, Alan Rabinowitz. It describes Alan as a young child and documents the challenges he has to overcome in order to become a successful advocate for animals. Alan has a stutter that stigmatizes his educational experiences and effects his self esteem. The stutter prevents him from communicating effectively; however, through an experimental program Alan is provided with a range of strategies to control it. He makes a promise to his pets “that if I can ever find my voice, I will be their voice and keep them from harm.” Alan grows to achieve his dreams, he studies animals in the wild and is their voice.

Caitia Chien’s illustration throughout the book are stunning, working perfectly with the text.The illustrations draw the reader into the story. The colours and techniques that are utilized add to the mood of the story, enabling the reader to feel happiness, shame, apprehension, fear, anger, joy and compassion.


Learner Profile Attributes: Knowledgeable (about the need to protect animals and create preserves), Communicators (expresses his knowledge confidently to convince others to protect animals), Principled (demonstrates a strong sense of fairness and respects the right to life of all animals), Caring (shows empathy, compassion and respect towards all animals).

Attitudes: Appreciation (appreciating the wonder and beauty of the natural world and the animals that live in it), commitment (showing commitment to overcoming learning difference and keeping his promise to conserve wildlife/the environment), confidence (in his ability to share his knowledge and convince others of the value of protecting wildlife, empathy (understanding the value of conservation).

PYP Concepts: Connection (What are the links between creating preserves and saving animals?), Causation (e.g. Why are animals hunted? What causes speech impediments?) , Change (e.g. What is the role of the government in creating wildlife preserves? How are peoples beliefs about protecting animals changing?), Function (could facilitate a discussion about the function of wildlife preserves and government decision making), Responsibility.