Making her children’s book debut, Pulitzer Prize finalist Choi (American Woman
) pairs with Caldecott Honor-Award illustrator Rocco (Noah Builds an Ark
) to deliver a numinous story about a family camping trip. On the way to a remote campsite at Mountain Pond, the narrator warily ruminates about starting first grade. But his negative thoughts dissipate when a smallish tiger emerges from the woods and asks if the family has an extra tent, explaining, “I have a cave, but I still feel cold.” The serene animal seems to cast a palliative spell: after the father unhesitatingly sets up a second tent, the boy follows the tiger inside and, in one of Rocco’s many evocative pictures, the two curl up together (“He smells like sunshine and pine needles”). The animal guides the family as they hike and canoe, adventures portrayed in stunning panoramas, including one in which the family stands on a high overlook alongside the majestic tiger. In a final, dreamlike adventure, the animal takes the boy on a stargazing expedition, cementing a bond that’s reinforced in the conclusion to this resonant tale of family connectedness, burgeoning independence, and embracing the new and unknown. Author’s agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. Illustrator’s agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management.
Ages 4–6. (May)