Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mr Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown

“Now, children, please do not act like wild animals,” says the very upright horse to her small charges at the beginning of Mr Tiger Goes Wild.

Mr Tiger – even though he’s a grown up – is bored of being proper. Of wearing dull clothes, of his top hat, of being terribly terribly polite to everyone that he meets, of keeping to the societally accepted rules. “And then one day Mr Tiger had a very wild idea…”

Mr Tiger’s first step to becoming wild could in some ways be seen as quite a small thing. But thing with a first step is that it’s usually the hardest step to take – and it usually leads to more steps in the wrong – or right? – direction. Each day, Mr Tiger subverses the unwritten rules a little further, each day getting a little wilder. From walking on all fours, prancing across rooftops and roaring, soon his friends decide they’ve had enough, but Mr Tiger doesn’t mind: he’s having fun! He feels alive! He feels… normal. But is he cut out for the wilderness?

Quite how author and illustrator Peter Brown manages to covey such perfect expressions on Mr Tiger’s simple face, I don’t know. The pictures say so much you barely need the words and, in fact, the text itself is very simple yet the story is crystal clear. The pictures are so lovely, the colours getting brighter as Mr Tiger gets wilder and wilder. And I love that when Mr Tiger starts to miss his friends and returns to the city, he finds that his earlier actions haven’t been completely ignored.

I want to tell you that my favourite page is the one where “Mr Tiger went a little too far,” (it’s so funny), but my favourite page is also “Roar!” (it’s so freeing), and it’s the page where he is stalking through the tall grasses too (it’s so peaceful). Which could leave me in a bit of a conundrum – but who says I have to choose just one page as my favourite? It’s much more fun to live on the wild side.

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