This moving memoir outlines how the relationship a young boy has with animals becomes his life’s work. A young boy stands in front of a jaguar in a cage at the Bronx Zoo, and talks to her. She is the only one who he can talk to freely, as when he tries to talk to people, he stutters. In a class for ‘disturbed’ children, he learns to think of himself as ‘broken’. Still, whenever he talks to animals, he can speak fluently and without stuttering at all. He realizes that, like himself, animals have no voice in society, so he makes a promise to his pets and to the jaguar in the zoo that he will “be their voice and keep them from harm”. Not until college does he learn to speak without stuttering, however he still feels that he is ‘broken’…until he goes to the jungle and is alone, studying jaguars. There, he feels at home. Soon, however, he needs to find his voice in order to fulfill his promise. Chien’s soft and warm acrylic and pencil illustrations realistically portray landscapes and animals, contrasting with simple studies of the boy, creating the sense of the outdoors and animals as the only things that bring safety and colour to the boy’s life.
Perfect to discuss differences amongst people, and how we can rise above our seeming disabilities to create positive change in the world.