Finding You at the Zoo

By Joel Katte

Finding You at the Zoo

Have you ever struggled to be you?

As you meander through the pages of “FINDING YOU AT THE ZOO”, you will experience the National Zoo in 1971 through the stunning images of Tuska and the vibrant, inspirational language of Joel Katte. Through this blend of words and imagery, you will discover some age-old principles that the animals will guide you through, stimulating that inner urge to be more you!

Times are tough. Life will knock you down. You may end up in a place you never imagined. Every day you must get up, rise up, and dance forward! You are called to be you, the truest you, and the world needs you now more than ever to radiate your true essence.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

Read closely, lean in, and listen as these beautiful, wise animals inspire you to be the shining star that you are!

Your life is not just about you. You exist because of the ones who came before you, and you exist for the ones destined to live and thrive after you.
Most important to remember is that you are here for the ones who are with you now. Your power and magic is in the present moment. So “let your paws pause” and be still, so you can hear your calling and respond with your roar for the world.

Mark time. Make your mark. March on!

About the Author

Joel Katte

Joel Katte has been an educator since 2001 and a staff developer and speaker since 2013. His professional learning experience IGNITE #loveinschools is positively transforming school cultures. It is helping educators achieve greater work-life harmony and maximize their relationships and moments with students, colleagues, families, and community members. The positive energy that emerges from IGNITE #loveinschools instantly catapults school cultures to greater levels.
Joel is an experienced secondary school English teacher, elementary school principal, and alternative schools district administrator who has served students of all ages in both urban and rural settings. He has served the most at-promise students as well as the most gifted.
For more information on how you can invite Joel and IGNITE #loveinschools to your school, district, conference, family night, or student assembly, visit:

Joel Katte

Illustrations by


Artist Educator Tuska (1931–1998) spent his career at the University of Kentucky as a teacher’s teacher inspiring his students to observe, create, and be themselves. As a working artist, he drew every day. Some drawings were preliminary to cast in bronze. Others found their destiny in formed clay, wax, wood, and a myriad of pioneered
mediums. Still others evolved. Some were their own fruition. All were explorations. Most were of the human form, movement, and balance. Each engaged him endlessly, day after day, except for one day in 1973. On that day, Tuska drew animals, having been inspired by a trip with his two sons to the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

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“A copy of Joel Katte’s new book Finding You at the Zoo should be on every administrator’s and every teacher’s bookshelf and embedded into instruction for students. Joel has a gift of creating analogies that pierce your soul and make you feel seen, heard, and understood. Just when I thought his in-person professional development was out-of-this-world icing on the cake for teaching, he puts the cherry on top with professional learning you can read daily as a narrative. Love, love, love this book!”

– Principal Erika Bowles, Ballyshannon Middle School


“I love the message of this book! This book and it’s illustrations are such a fun way to explore our spirit. I recently had the chance to share my review copy of this book with a group of diverse high school students. Teens can be a tough crowd to capture but this book caught their attention and opened up some great dialogue about self care, encouraging others and confidence.”

– Heidi Conn, Special Educator


“It was a cool to take home a book, read it, and appreciate it on the same day I got to enjoy a session with the author!

Finding You at the Zoo is well worth purchasing for the sketches alone which will fascinate kids. The simple, hopeful, honest, profound, fun and accessible trip through the ‘zoo’ makes it a must read. This book will be prominently displayed in my 6th grade Language Arts classroom and featured in lesson plans.

Whether you’re six years old, in 6th grade, or in your mid twenties(like myself) it is challenging to find out who and what you’re supposed to be. Sometimes everybody needs reminding that you can ‘let your soul search, detect, and design your destiny,’ ‘fully feel and follow your heart,’ all while taking chances to ‘play today.’ Because we all need ‘soul food…. like dreams, songs, and beauty.’

A little more about meeting the author- He cared about everyone in our group, was generous with his time and insight, immersed himself fully in his fourth presentation of a long day, and left us all better than when we arrived. He put his heart into our time together and into this book which will encourage anyone of any age to put their heart into life.”

– Dennis Southerd, English Language Arts Teacher


High School Extension Questions/Facilitation Guide

Developed by Zoë Jenkins

Civics 2030 Steering Committee, Podcast Producer at Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, Founder of DICCE