Study Guide

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Tough-o-Meter

By Diane Ackerman

Tough-o-Meter

(4) Base Camp

Breaking out of a zoo is harder than the animals in Madagascar make it out to be. But breaking into a zoo? Who would want to do that? We can think of only three reasons to break into a zoo: 1) to kidnap animals, 2) to take unobstructed selfies with sloths, and 3) to hide there.

That's why people sneak into the zoo in The Zookeeper's Wife: they're hiding from the Nazis. That's scary, to put it mildly. The book? Not nearly as scary or difficult as evading genocide.

However, although Ackerman most often uses simple, easy-to-understand language, her writing style can be a little obtuse, and she tends to use big words when smaller ones will do. The book is also filled with many Polish and German names, which can be hard to pronounce, and Ackerman has a tendency to jump between different people and different timelines with little notice, leaving you a little dizzy, like when you've taken a deep breath at the elephant cage after feeding time.

Because this is a true story, the book is still understandable, even if it is a bit scattered. Chaos can be fun, like watching animals scamper and play. Reading this book is less like trying to avoid a stampede of rhinos and more like enjoying the Puppy Bowl.

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