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The Zookeeper's Wife
Cover of The Zookeeper's Wife
The Zookeeper's Wife
A War Story

The New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain.

A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story—sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award.

The New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain.

A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story—sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award.
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    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    9.3
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    8

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • 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 best-selling The Zookeeper's Wife and A Natural History of the Senses. She lives in Ithaca, New York.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 23, 2007
    Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses
    ) tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Using Antonina's diaries, other contemporary sources and her own research in Poland, Ackerman takes us into the Warsaw ghetto and the 1943 Jewish uprising and also describes the Poles' revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. She introduces us to such varied figures as Lutz Heck, the duplicitous head of the Berlin zoo; Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, spiritual head of the ghetto; and the leaders of Zegota, the Polish organization that rescued Jews. Ackerman reveals other rescuers, like Dr. Mada Walter, who helped many Jews “pass,” giving “lessons on how to appear Aryan and not attract notice.” Ackerman's writing is viscerally evocative, as in her description of the effects of the German bombing of the zoo area: “...the sky broke open and whistling fire hurtled down, cages exploded, moats rained upward, iron bars squealed as they wrenched apart.” This suspenseful beautifully crafted story deserves a wide readership. 8 pages of illus.

  • Jonathan Safran Foer I can't imagine a better story or storyteller. The Zookeeper's Wife will touch every nerve you have.
  • Jared Diamond Diane Ackerman has surpassed even herself in her latest book, which is alternatingly funny, moving, and terrifying. This powerful thriller would be a great novel—except that it is true.
  • Los Angeles Times It is no stretch to say that this is the book Ackerman was meant to write.
  • Washington Post Book World A lovely story about the Holocaust might seem like a grotesque oxymoron. But in The Zookeeper's Wife, Diane Ackerman proves otherwise. Here is a true story... that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully.
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    W. W. Norton & Company
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A War Story
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