Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Tiger Child (Traditional Fable from India) by Joanna Troughton (Puffin Books)

I thought Charlotte might feel a little bit disappointed with this book when she excitedly handed it to me during our library trawl. "The Tiger Child!" She'd read the title on her own (so brilliant that she does this now as her new way of choosing books rather than just going on cover appeal) and I think she was expecting a thrilling story about a child who transforms into a tiger.

Of course, you should never judge a book by its cover (or its name) so this is actually a rather nice fable from India with a story that deals with lots of different underlying issues.

So let's dive in, tiger style, RAAAR!

A weary Uncle tiger visits the local human village, but because of his size and ferocity, is driven away from the village before he can steal the one thing tigers need from humans that they can't make themselves - fire.

The uncle is tired and frustrated but seeing his nephew's boundless energy and realising that a little tiger might have more success sneaking around in the village, he sends his nephew on an errand to beg, steal or borrow some fire so that the family may cook their meat and enjoy their meal.

Now, tiger children are pretty much like human children. Easily distracted when sent on an errand, and thus it is so with the tiger child. He forgets what he's actually gone to the human village for, and with the added distraction of food, cuddles and a warm place to sleep, the tiger child finds life in the human village very acceptable indeed.

But what of his poor uncle and the rest of the family, who wait in the jungle for the all-important fire?

Uncle soon realises he must go and see what has happened to his nephew. But what he finds in the village when he does finally track down the wayward tiger child is not a tiger child at all, but a...

OK we'll stop right there. We won't spoil the fable's delightful twist. Suffice to say that Charlotte was not in the least bit disappointed with this tale, as it was entertaining, cleverly told, beautifully illustrated and the twist was quite unexpected (and funny). Joanna Troughton's re-telling of this traditional tale is utterly perfect.

So if you've ever wondered why tigers don't cook their food, time to investigate this book. It's a little old now, but well worth tracking down.

Charlotte's best bit: The twist, oh we won't give it away but she didn't see it coming - and that, of course, is the best type of twist in a story plot.

Daddy's favourite bit: A great chance for me to wheel out all sorts of roary tiger-y voices for the characters in the book.