cover image We Became Jaguars

We Became Jaguars

Dave Eggers, illus. by Woodrow White. Chronicle, $18.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-4521-8393-0

From the minute the child narrator’s slim, stylish grandmother arrives for a visit (“Her hair was very white/ and very, very long”) and his parents leave, she’s ready for some serious make believe. “Let’s be jaguars,” she says, growling on all fours on the rug. The boy tries to follow suit: “No, leaner,” she tells him. “Now faster.” In spreads by artist White, making his picture book debut, the two morph into real jaguars, sprinting gracefully through the woods and to lands beyond. The child is simultaneously cowed and enthralled by the grandmother’s wildness. When she offers a rabbit that she’s just killed, “I didn’t want to eat raw rabbit so I said I was allergic.” When he expresses doubt that they can run across a lake, she counsels perfect confidence, and she’s right: “We bounced across like marbles on glass.” Working in milky shades, White succeeds in making the duo readable in the faces and bodies of the two cats. The vivid concept that a grandmother’s visit delivers danger and freedom instead of cozy reassurance is a winner, and Eggers (Most of the Better Natural Things in the World) develops it with easy humor and jaguar-speed pacing. Ages 5–8. [em]Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.) [/em]