Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo

Since 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.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$15.95 $15.95
$27.95 $27.95
Interest Level Preschool - Grade 3
Reading Level
Dewey E
ATOS Reading Level 3.9
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585368020), PDF (9781627531023), Hosted ebook (9781627535496)
Copyright 2013, 2014
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 9 x 11
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • 2014 Story Telling World Resource Award - Pre-Adolescent Listeners, Commended, 2014
  • Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award Shortlist, Short-listed, 2013

Midwest Book Review: "Maestro Stu Saves The Zoo"

To save a zoo, a young boy must unite all the animals who dwell there. “Maestro Stu Saves The Zoo” is a lyrical children’s picturebook beautifully illustrated by Tim Bowers, as author Denise Brennan-Nelson tells a story of how young Stu struggles to save his favorite zoo from being plowed over in favor of a shopping mall. A choice pick for young animal fans, “Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo” is a read not to be overlooked, highly recommended.

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

“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.

Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo - Activity Page

Activity Pages to accompany the book Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo. View →

Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo - Teaching Guide

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Author: Denise Brennan-Nelson

Denise Brennan-Nelson has written a number of books for children, including Tallulah: Mermaid of the Great Lakes, Leopold the Lion, Someday Is Not a Day of the Week, My Momma Likes to Say, and the popular Willow series. As a national speaker, Denise encourages adults and children to tap into their imaginations to create richer, fuller lives. She travels the country, sharing her reading and writing enthusiasm with schoolchildren and teachers. Denise lives in Howell, Michigan with her husband, Bob. She strives to spend each day teaching and learning with a creative spirit. Find out more about Denise at

Illustrator: Tim Bowers

Even at a young age, Tim Bowers's artwork reflected a strong sense of humor and an interest in animals. Prior to illustrating children's books, Tim worked as an artist for Hallmark Cards, where he helped launch the popular Shoebox Greetings card line. His first children's book, The Toy Circus, was published in 1986. He now has illustrated more than 25 children's books and garnered various awards including the Chicago Public Library's "Best of the Best" list and several Junior Library Guild selections. Tim's artwork has been included in the Society of Illustrators Annual Art Exhibition and the S.I. Humor Exhibition, as well as featured in children's magazines, used on a wide variety of products, and appeared on hundreds of greeting cards. Original paintings from several books are in private and institutional collections across the country. Tim lives with his family in Granville, Ohio, and travels to schools and libraries to share his work with students.

Full-color illustrations