Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fearless Frightening Feline

Children like to play a game of sorts; a game based upon one's ability to sneak up and scare another individual.  It can last one day or months.  It's usually enjoyed with two individuals.  The scarer takes great delight in their skill of stealth and of instilling pure panic.

Usually, but not always, size is also a characteristic contributing to the fear factor.  In The Tiptoeing Tiger (Candlewick Press, February 6, 2018) written and illustrated by Philippa Leathers a cub is perfecting his techniques at being terrifying. The results are not exactly as he expects.

Everyone in the forest knew that tigers were sleek, silent, and totally terrifying.  

You knew when a tiger was coming even before you saw it, the forest went silent as the residents vanished from sight.  When Little Tiger walked in the forest it was business as usual.  He was after all, small.

To Little Tiger's dismay, his brother laughed at him.  In fact, he told Little Tiger there was no animal in their forest he could scare.  Little Tiger was not the kind of tiger to back down from a challenge.

The tiptoeing began in earnest.  Both Boar and Elephant had logical reasons for not being frightened.  The monkeys could not stop gleefully giggling.

Shaken out of his sadness by a jumping frog the cub believed he had another chance.  Ever so slowly he moved silently to the pond.  He gave a mighty roar.  His brother was entirely mistaken.

Philippa Leathers supplies readers and listeners with a storytelling rhythm using the sequence of three and repetition.  Three descriptive characteristics are used to define a tiger.  Little Tiger tries three times, with no success, to frighten animals.  When he tiptoes, we read

Tiptoe, tiptoe, tiptoe . . .

These techniques, working with the blend of narrative and dialogue, welcome reader participation.  Here is a passage.

"You don't scare me," yawned Boar.  "I could hear you coming a mile away."
"Bother!" said Little Tiger, and he set off again to find someone to scare.

Rendered in pencil and watercolor, combined digitally the illustrations beginning on the matching dust jacket and book case invite readers into the forest setting, following Little Tiger.  It's nearly impossible to resist smiling or curbing a desire to know what Little Tiger will do next.  To the left, on the back, the forest floor continues.  On the far left a group of rocks provide a perch for a small forest bird who watches Little Tiger with interest.

On the opening and closing endpapers a lovely array of forest ferns creates a green on green pattern.  This continues on the next page at the beginning and ending of the book.  Beneath the text on the title page, Little Tiger is about to wake his sleeping brother.

The majority of the pictures span two pages with appropriate flora and fauna in each scene.  When Philippa Leathers shifts the image size and perspective, it is to enhance the pacing in the story.  Children and (kids at heart) are going to want to reach out and touch the animal characters.  Their physical characteristics are realistic with a touch of adorable.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when Little Tiger is tiptoeing toward Boar.  From left to right, from forest to mud patch in a field, the cub moves sneakily across two pages. First he peeks from behind a tree, then moves to another tree and then tiptoes ever so carefully toward the sleeping boar.  You can feel the tension as you grin.

Looking at and sharing the front of the dust jacket and book case is only the beginning of the laughter you will hear when reading The Tiptoeing Tiger written and illustrated by Philippa Leathers.  Everyone will be able to connect to the feeling of being smaller than you desire.  We've all been little.  It's the resilience of Little Tiger and his willingness to face the truth which will endear him to you.  Make sure you have a copy of this title for your professional and personal collections.  And be ready to roar with your readers and listeners.

To learn more about Philippa Leathers and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  At the publisher's websites, here and here, you can view interior images.  The illustrations are a page turn apart.

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