Center for Children's Literature Blog

Children’s Book Committee – October 2020 Pick

Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Julie Downing

Helen Martini wanted to be a mother, she just didn’t expect her babies to be rejected lion and tiger cubs from the Bronx Zoo. Colorfully playful illustrations and back matter.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

I loved this book! I loved how the lady was taking care of the animals. I really liked how the babies wouldn’t let go of her and how every morning she went to take care of them and she turned a room in her house into a nursery for them. It was sad when they wouldn’t let her go in the animals’ cages when they were older – I am sure they would not have hurt her.

I really liked the pictures, they added to the story. It was funny when they went to the store to buy everything for a baby but they ended up using it for a baby tiger! I felt sad when the mother tiger wouldn’t care for her baby. It was really cool that they put a picture of the real woman at the end.

–Ayla, 8 years old, New York, NY.

Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our Monthly Picks Archive 2012–2018, and our Monthly Picks 2019–present.