TIGER ON A TREE

Anushka Ravishankar, Author, Pulak Biswas, Illustrator , illus. by Pulak Biswas. FSG $15 (48p) ISBN 978-0-374-37555-3

Three strong colors—inky black, tangerine orange and the white of the page—lend a homemade batik look to this rhyming tiger tale, originally published in India. Repeated "tiger, tiger" phrases allude to William Blake's famous poem, "The Tyger," although this striped cat looks more fearful than he turns out to be. The story opens on a riverbank: "Tiger, tiger on the shore./ Does he want to go across?/ Make a dash?/ Be bold? Be rash?/ Splash! " On the other side, the tiger encounters a goat (represented as a black silhouette), and his nonplussed frown reveals an unpredatory nervousness. When the goat takes the offensive, the furry fellow climbs the nearest tree, where some startled men spot him. "Will he bite? He might!" they cry. They gather an orange net, form a ring around the tree and snare the tiger: "He's caught./ He's got./ Now what?" they shrug, before voting on whether to release him. The circular tale ends with the tiger back on his side of the river (and a reprise of "Tiger, tiger on the shore"). Biswas pictures the men in white sarongs. His rough black-on-white drawings suggest lithographs or ancient Greek urns, and the terra cotta highlights emphasize the allusion to handmade pottery. Ravishankar, a writer of nonsense poetry, composes rhymes with eccentric rhythms and emphatic punctuation marks; the villagers unanimously decide to free the tiger, suggesting that a tense situation can have a peaceful outcome for all. Ravishankar's light verse and Biswas's craft aesthetic lend this amiable book a pleasing simplicity. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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