Finding good children’s books is tough in general, but finding good read-aloud books is sometimes downright impossible. I am not talking just any kind of read-aloud book either-because any story can technically be read out loud-I am talking about a ‘not-a-bedtime-story- jump-up-and-down-get-excited-get-loud-and-for-goodness-sakes- get-into-it’ type of book. Well, we seem to be in luck. ‘It’s A Tiger,’ written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard, may just be the book we’ve been looking for.
What Happens in ‘It’s a Tiger’?
We start with a young boy asking us if we’re ready for a story. Yes! Of course we are, that’s why we’re reading this book. Bring it on.
Everything begins normally, in a jungle, with monkeys swinging from vine to vine. But wait…that’s not a monkey, that looks like…A TIGER! RUN! With wide eyes we flee the scene, only to wind up in a dark shadowy cave. Then, from apparently nowhere, a tiger shows up and with the boy calling out the alarm, we’re off again. The story becomes increasingly ridiculous to the point where the tiger, who is apparently obsessed with us, dresses like the captain of a ship-we’re not even safe at sea! Will we ever be able to escape the tiger? You’ll have to read it to find out.
With each page excitement builds as we wait to see where the tiger will be hiding next. Our panicked protagonist leaves us wanting to read more as he ends each page with a suspenseful sentence, and his crazy energetic narrative is something kids can really get engaged with. You may have to kick the ‘inside voices’ rule for a little bit too…it’s not a quiet kind of book.
What Are The Illustrations Like?
Jeremy Tankard’s illustrations are a treat-if you haven’t seen any of his work yet, you’re missing out! They look a bit like something you might see drawn in a comic strip, all thick lines and bold colors blending together. The way he depicts facial expressions is quite entertaining-he doesn’t have any inhibition when it comes to that. If a character is going to look scared, by gosh he’s going to draw the eyes round and wide as grapefruits. If a character is nice and relaxed, he’ll draw them looking so pleasant you might feel like a slight tropical breeze hit your face when you look at them. Okay that was not the smoothest of metaphors, but you get the point…he is unconventional in comparison to many other illustrators of children’s books, and I think his work adds quite a bit to the story.
I really liked this book. I thought it was a wonderful, engaging read-aloud. The little issues I had with it were that the beginning of the ending (if that makes any sense) was somewhat anticlimactic. It could have been a wee bit stronger. The core idea itself was not the most original either-but that is kind of balanced out by the original way the story is presented and narrated.
The Magical Reservoir Of Parental Energy
There is a reservoir that each and every parent harbors inside of them. It is where they keep that emergency store of energy that they will inevitably have to dig into, probably multiple times a day. It’s the energy you didn’t know you had, but that you need, because when you have a little one tearing around the house you usually don’t have the option to just go and take a break, or rest for a while.
Well, you may be thinking this book will cause you to have to use some of that reservoir because you can’t read it out loud half-heartedly-it takes some serious enthusiasm-no matter how many times in a row your kid wants to hear it. However, you may also find that it replenishes you as well. Like a good storybook should, it has an energy all its own that is felt by the reader regardless of age, if only they’re willing to accept it.
Summary Of Review
Plot: A young boy narrates as we try to escape a tiger that keeps showing up in unexpected places.
Illustrations: Unique, refreshing, and bold.
Qualms: A somewhat predictable and anticlimactic ending.
Recommend: Yes, despite the not-so-strong ending it is a good read.
Note: Kick the inhibition and enjoy the energy flow-nothing beats watching your kid get really into a story-except getting into it with them.