Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Tiger

Find at
Find at
Title: Tiger
Author/ Illustrator: Nick Butterworth
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0007261666
Format: Board Book, also available in Paperback and Hardcover
Pages: 26
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler
Kid Love Factor: 4/5
Adult Sanity Factor: 4/5

Tiger is about a little, striped kitten named Tiger who likes to pretend he’s a real tiger. The pages alternate between Tiger pretending to do tigery things and a 'real' tiger doing those things. For example:

Tiger pretends that his funny little tigery meow…
Is a loud, scary, tigery ROAR!

The narrative doesn’t rhyme, but it has a definite rhythmic metre which is easy to fall into and can be mesmerizing for the baby set. The refrain ‘Just like a real tiger’ is oft-repeated, but not so much that it becomes tedious. The wording is simple in most places, but doesn’t dumb itself down very far. It’s one of the only baby books I’ve seen that has a word as long as ‘extraordinarily’, yet it doesn’t seem out of place. 

Boo is very fond of the pictures. As an adult, I have to agree. The illustrations are stunning and suit the story phenomenally well. Tiger is cute without being cartoony, and the real tiger is just gorgeously drawn.

I’ve already mentioned the rhythmic metre of the narrative, but much of the joy and humour of this book is non-verbal. The illustrations seem to have a metre all their own, if that’s possible. Everything between the two sides of the story is mimicked. Tiger has a blue butterfly companion. The real tiger spends time near a little blue bird. Tiger is frightened when he creeps too close to a nesting swan whose long neck is sinuous and threatening. The real tiger is frightened by a mama elephant; her trunk is reminiscent of the swan’s neck. The story ends with Tiger curling up in his sleeping box, and the real tiger curls up around him, flattening the box.

My favourite part is the following two pages:

Tiger doesn’t play with wool. (Picture of Tiger heroically resisting the call of a ball of pink wool).
Real tigers don’t play with wool. (Picture of a real tiger heroically trying to disentangle him or herself from a messy web of pink wool.)

Boo started staring at this book quite awhile before most others. I’d say it’s good for babies as young as two-months-old for visual and verbal stimulation, though they’ll really start to enjoy it at about 10-11 months. I can tell you this 30-*cough*-year-old still loves the pictures. And I’d wager ‘extraordinarily’ is a great stretching word for advancing little readers.

Autism Spectrum Bonus: Tiger pretending to be a real tiger is a great starting point for introducing or elaborating on pretend play. This was the book that introduced Boo to the concept of imitating animals sounds. He’s a professional ROARer now. The illustrated similes and humour may appeal to kids who are more visually than orally oriented. Also, the page which explains in text that real tigers don’t play with wool while the illustration shows a tiger clearly playing with it might help introduce with the slippery concept of irony to those who tend to be concrete thinkers.

Bottom line:  Tiger is extraordinarily appealing. Just like a real book.


Tiger on
Tiger on


  1. i can't tell you how much i appreciate what you're doing here, this is seriously a great blog. i'm linking to you on my sidebar, thanks so much for these posts.

  2. Thanks very much, M. I've been following your blog for a couple of months now and very much value your opinion.

  3. That tiger is seriously cute. My daughter would love to have a real tiger striped tabby!


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