Title: Strange Creatures: The Story of Walter Rothschild and His Museum
Author: Lita Judge
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
Concepts: wealth, jobs, careers, opportunity cost
Review: Although he grew up in one of England's wealthiest families, Walter Rothschild had little desire to follow in his father's footsteps as banker to the Queen of England. Rather, Walter preferred to spend endless hours outside studying and collecting insects, birds, and animals. As an extremely quiet and shy child, Walter did not have many interactions with other people, but he had plenty of wildlife friends.
As a young adult, Walter worked at the family firm, but his heart was just not into banking and finance. His father ultimately allowed Walter to build a museum on their estate to house Walter's collection of exotic creatures from all over the world. Over time Walter assembled the biggest zoological collection ever created by a private individual and made numerous contributions to scientific knowledge about new animal species.
This biographical account presents readers with an interesting description of a child who defied the pressures placed upon him by his family and societal expectations in order to pursue his own career dreams. The book can be used as a vehicle for talking with young learners about the opportunity cost of working in a job that may not necessarily be part of one's intended career track. Lively illustrations and crisp text help to draw the attention of children who may not ordinarily read biographies of lesser-known historical figures.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children