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Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper

By: Candace Fleming

Illustrator: Julie Downing

When Bronx Zoo-keeper Fred brought home a lion cub, Helen Martini instantly embraced it. The cub's mother lost the instinct to care for him. "Just do for him what you would do with a human baby," Fred suggested…and she did. Helen named him MacArthur, and fed him milk from a bottle and cooed him to sleep in a crib. Soon enough, MacArthur was not the only cub bathed in the tub! The couple continues to raise lion and tiger cubs as their own, until they are old enough to return them to zoos. Helen becomes the first female zookeeper at the Bronx zoo, the keeper of the nursery.

This is a terrific non-fiction book to read aloud while snuggling up with your cubs! Filled with adorable baby cats, this is a story about love, dedication, and a new kind of family. Gorgeously patterned illustrations by Julie Downing detail the inhome nursery and a warm pallet creates a cozy pairing with Candace Fleming's lovely language.

Further information about Helen Martini, with photograph. Selected bibliography. Source notes. Full-color illustrations.

ISBN: 9780823443185

JLG Release: Oct 2020

Sensitive Areas: None

Helen Martini (1912–1994) , Women zookeepers , Biography , Bronx Zoo , New York City , Lion cubs , Baby animals

$17.55  Member Price

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Nonfiction Early Elementary Plus

Grades K-2

14 titles/year


Book Details



First Release

October 2020



Dewey Classification


Trim Size

8 1/2" x 11"

Page Count


Accelerated Reader

Level 3.2; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts





Print Book


Hardcover edition


Holiday House

Potentially Sensitive Areas



Helen Martini (1912–1994), Women zookeepers, Biography, Bronx Zoo, New York City, Lion cubs, Baby animals,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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Book Genres

Picture Book

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