Book Club Kit: The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War StoryThe Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story
by Diane Ackerman
First Published: 2007
10 Copies & Reading Guide

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Żabiński began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Żabiński’s villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Brief Synopsis, Author Information, Reviews, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “Antonina’s List” by D.T. Max
The Washington Post – “A Natural History of Terrible Things” by Susie Linfield
Los Angeles Times – “Strange Sanctuary” by Donna Seaman

Official Author Website:

Official Website of the Warsaw Zoo: (in Polish) – includes live feeds from the zoo (some content is translated).

On the Web:
NPR – Listen to Diane Ackerman talk about the book on Talk of the Nation.
Diane Ackerman on KPBS – San Diego

More about Jan & Antonina Żabiński and World War II:
Yad Vashem -includes Photographs from the Warsaw Ghetto, an essay about Jan and Antonina, information about Warsaw, and a letter from Irena Meizel regarding the Żabiński’s efforts.
History Reference Center – an EBSCO Database provided by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records. It includes articles and information on every aspect of WWII.
Wikipedia – offers color photos & images of the Auroch, Przewalski’s Horse, Heck Cattle, and Heck Horse
The Sunday Times – “A Shaggy Cow Story: How a Nazi Experiment Brought Extinct Aurochs to Devon” by Simon de Bruxelles

Similar Reads:
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
Sarah’s Key (Book Club Kit) by Tatiana de Rosnay

Did you love or loathe The Zookeeper’s Wife? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over at Goodreads.


Book Club Kit: The Naked Quaker

The Naked QuakerThe Naked Quaker
by Diane Rapaport
First Published: 2007
10 copies & Reading Guide

Naked Quakers and other forgotten Americans —feisty, unruly and surprisingly irreverent— come to life in these true court cases from colonial New England. The title story involves a Quaker woman who walked into a Puritan Sunday meeting and dropped her dress in front of the gathering, to protest actions of the colonial authorities.

Reading Guide:
from from Includes Discussion Questions, Author Info, and Brief Reviews

Author’s Website: – includes YouTube videos, interviews with the author, and podcasts.

If you enjoyed The Naked Quaker, you might like:
The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne
The Lace Reader (Book Club Kit) by Brunonia Barry
The Genuine Article: A Historian Looks at Early America by Edmund S. Morgan
The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-Hunting in the Western World (Book Club Kit) by John Demos

Book Club Kit: The Enemy Within

The Enemy WithinThe Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-Hunting in the Western World
by John Demos
First Published: 2008
10 Copies & Reading Guide

The term “witch-hunt” is used today to describe everything from political scandals to school board shake-ups. But its origins are far from trivial. Long before the Salem witch trials, women and men were rounded up by neighbors, accused of committing horrific crimes using supernatural powers, scrutinized by priests and juries, and promptly executed. In this book, historian John Demos, takes readers from the early Christians persecuted in Rome through the Salem witch trials, McCarthy’s hunt for communists, and the hysteria around child sex-abuse cases and satanic cults in the 1980s

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Discussion Questions for Nonfiction Titles

The New York Times – “Crucibles” by Germaine Greer
The Seattle Times – “Fascinating Thread in Witch Hunts” by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett

On the Web:
The New York Times (1995) – “Entertaining the Devil in Connecticut” by Bill Ryan
On Point with Tom Ashbrook – “A History of Witch-Hunts” – Radio show and Read an Excerpt

More About:
The Salem Witchcraft Trials – from University of Missouri’s Douglas O. Linder
McCarthyism and the Witch Hunt – from The Cold War Museum

If you enjoyed The Enemy Within, you might like:
The Naked Quaker (Book Club Kit) by Diane Rapaport
The Lace Reader (Book Club Kit) by Brunonia Barry
The Crucible (Book Club Kit) by Arthur Miller
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness