Denise Brennan-Nelson

Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo

Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo by Denise Brennan-NelsonSince he was knee-high to a grasshopper, little Stu’s favorite place to visit was the nearby zoo. He was there so often that even the animals recognized him. The animals’ sounds, from the coos and the snorts, and the squeaks and bellows, and the brays and the whistles, were music to his ears. His mother called it a symphony. Stu loved to pretend to be a conductor when he listened to the animals.

But now there is trouble brewing at the zoo. A man wants to take it over and turn it into something else, getting rid of the animals.

When the animals learn of his plan, they want to take action. But no one has any ideas. No one but Stu.

Young readers will enjoy seeing how Stu steps in to rally the animals to save their beloved zoo.


‘Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo’ by Denise Brennan-Nelson: A must have picture book

Reviewed on 10 November 2012


“Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo” by Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Tim Bowers is a picture book that can be read over and over. Kids will love the story because kids always love stories about animals. Adults and teachers will love the book because it is chock-full of idioms that are fun to teach.

The story is simple. A greedy person wants to buy the land where the zoo is situated and turn it into a shopping mall. He bribes the city officials (“He rubbed elbows with the fat cats in their ivory tower”) with expensive gifts and trips.

The animals learn what is going on and meet to form a plan. The invitation the lion sends out is a work of art in idiom form: “Attend a high priority meeting! No monkey business! Midnight. On the dot! Lion’s Lane 1/4 mile due south as the crow flies. Mum’s the word.”

No spoilers here, but be assured that Stu, a youngster who loves the zoo and listens to the sounds of the zoo every night, saves the day.

The illustrations are beautifully done. There are pages covered with color and animals and other pages where the illustrations are simply the animals on a white background.

This picture book would be a great addition to any classroom, but especially to a classroom with ELL(English Language Learners) students. Those students really need exposure to English idioms and this book could be the spark that gets children interested in idioms of all kinds. At the end of the book there is a sort of glossary of the idioms and their meanings.

Please note: This review is based on the final picture book provided by the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, for review purposes.

Teacher’s Guide:

  Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo

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