Deborah Underwood Loves
A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
Deborah: Bella and I wanted to choose a really special book to recommend. It needed to reflect our values, it needed to give readers hope, and it needed—
Bella: a cat.
Deborah: Right. It had to have a compelling story, evocative illustrations—
Bella: and a cat.
Deborah: Exactly. So we chose A Boy and a Jaguar, by Alan Rabinowitz.
Bella: It’s illustrated by Catia Chien. CAT-ia Chien. No wonder it’s good!
Deborah: This nonfiction picture book begins in Alan Rabinowitz’s childhood. Alan’s stutter makes him feel broken. But when he talks to animals, he doesn’t stutter. In the Bronx Zoo, he makes a special friend: a jaguar.
Bella: A jaguar is a kind of cat!
Deborah: Alan promises the jaguar that if he ever finds his voice, he will speak for the animals. When he’s older, he travels to Belize to study jaguars. Then Alan has the chance to talk to some important people to convince them to protect jaguars in the wild. And…and…*sob*…
Bella: Good grief. She always cries at this part. I’m taking over! I won’t tell you what the people decide. But later, in the jungle, Alan comes face to face with a huge jaguar. The jaguar does not eat him. The end.
Deborah: The thing I love most about the book is Alan’s connection with animals. In helping them, he also helps himself. And the story shows that one person can make a huge difference. What did you think about the book, Bella?
Bella: It was good. Lots of cats. When’s lunch?
Deborah Underwood and Bella Underwood are the co-authors of Here Comes Valentine Cat, illustrated by Claudia Rueda, as well as several other Cat books. Deborah has written many other picture books, including Interstellar Cinderella, The Quiet Book, and the forthcoming Good Night, Baddies. Deborah and Bella live in San Francisco.