Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is vintage Peter Brown (see my review of The Curious Garden). It's about how one person, by being true to himself, can make a difference, but also about the way that we all need to be part of a community. Pretty heady stuff for a picture book about a tiger heading out into the wilderness.
Here's how it begins:
"Everyone was perfectly fine
with the way things were.
Everyone but Mr. Tiger.
Mr. Tiger was bored with always being so proper."
We see Mr. Tiger bored with his proper life, and his proper, tea-drinking neighbors. Gradually, Mr. Tiger starts to get a little wild. And then a little more wild. And just as he's starting to feel a bit lonely, he learns that his individualism has actually rubbed off a little bit. And everyone is better off.
Brown's spare text pairs well with his ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations. His color palette starts out muted, with the small, orange tiger standing out as the sole splash of color against a regimented backdrop. Gradually the tiger gets bigger, and the other colors get greener. The pictures when the tiger is out in the wilderness are reminiscent of the lush later pictures in The Curious Garden, full of plants, fish, birds, and waterfalls.
Brown dedicates this book "for tigers everywhere", and it really is a book that will encourage people to let loose a bit of their inner wildness. There's a great scene in which Mr. Tiger leaps across the rooftops of a series of row houses. The text says, "His friends did not know what to think." But while some of them are thinking "Peculiar" and "UNACCEPTABLE!", others are thinking "Hmm" and "Wow". You can see him expanding people's viewpoints, though he doesn't realize this until the end of the book.
I doubt that my three year old will get the larger point at all. But I still think that she'll laugh at the notion of the conservative Mr. Tiger busting out and becoming wild. As for me, I love the expressive faces of the other animals, the deadpan text, and, I must admit, the happy ending. Highly recommended, and sure to do well.
Publisher: Little, Brown (@LBKids)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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