MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

The Zookeeper's Wife
ISBN: 9780393354256
Publisher's Synopsis:
1939: the Germans have invaded Poland. The keepers of the Warsaw zoo, Jan and Antonina Zabinski, survive the bombardment of the city, only to see the occupiers ruthlessly kill many of their animals. The Nazis then carry off the prized specimens to Berlin for their program to create the “purest” breeds, much as they saw themselves as the purest human race. Opposed to all the Nazis represented, the Zabinskis risked their lives by hiding Jews in the now-empty animal cages, saving as many as three hundred people from extermination. Acclaimed, best-selling author Diane Ackerman, fascinated both by the Zabinskis’ courage and by Antonina’s incredible sensitivity to all living beings, tells a moving and dramatic story of the power of empathy and the strength of love.

"It pleased Antonina that her zoo offered an orient of fabled creatures,
where book pages sprang alive and people could parley with
ferocious animals."
MrsK's Review:
In the summer of 1935, Antonina Zabinski had many zoo concerns which weighed heavily upon her. The Warsaw Zoo's needs were her passion. The war was of concern, but not the most pressing need. For her husband, Jan, the war issues would begin a process for helping shelter many from the Nazi invasion.

Antonina's talents for painting, needlework, culinary delights and family/friends would create a well-tended home life. Her animals would become an avenue of shelter for many.  Her fascination and affection for their "senses" as they "tested" their environment provided insights into their needs. When the soldiers began "flooding" into the area the animals became alarmed. When the invasion became a reality, she agrees to take their son, Rys, to a resort village where they had a chance to keep him from the cruelty of  the invasion.

By September of 1939, the Nazi soldiers were marching closer to the village. Jan arrived with a decision that Antonina and Rys needed to come back to the zoo, after all their army would protect their capital. Of course, that would not be the outcome. As they returned home what they experienced would forever be etched upon their hearts. The bombing had found the zoo. Fear for and of the wild animals, the Polish soldiers began shooting the frantic animals.

Once the zoo is officially closed, Jan focused of his "Home Army" duties. Antoninia begins her efforts in transitioning the zoo facilities into a place of refuge. 

"How do you retain a spirit of affection and humor in a
crazed, homicidal, unpredictable society?"
With poignant scenes, heart-wrenching accuracy, and life-changing decisions, this story is a must read. Historically, Jan and Antoninia's story should be retold and discussed with every generation. The compassion, grit, mercy, and desire to live through an invasion should not be forgotten. Their voices need you, as readers, you can pick up the torch can carry on...
"That which doesn't kill you,
makes you stronger."
Any war time novel that deals with the Nazi invasion causes
a rebellion to arise within you.

Be determined to never forget... 
Teach the truth!

Meet the Author:
Diane Ackerman Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the bestsellers The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses.
The Zookeeper’s Wife, a little known true story of WWII, became a New York Timesbestseller, and received the Orion Book Award, which honored it as, "a groundbreaking work of nonfiction." A movie of The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Brühl, releases in theaters March 31st, 2017 from Focus Features.

The movie The Zookeeper’s Wife, based on the New York Times best selling book, 

opens March 2017.
Image result for w.w. norton publishers logo

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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