cover image The Tiger Prince

The Tiger Prince

Chen Jiang Hong, trans. from the French by Alyson Waters. New York Review Children’s Collection, $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-68137-294-5

This tale, Hong (Mao and Me) explains in a brief note, was inspired by figures on a bronze Chinese vessel, which represents the legend of a human child raised by a tiger. In the story’s chilling opening sequence—one that may upset sensitive readers—hunters murder a tigress’s cubs and she wreaks vengeance, attacking villages and killing people. Lao Lao, a fortune-teller, counsels the king and queen to offer their small son, the prince Wen, to appease the tiger. Brokenhearted, they do. Using sprawling spreads and panels that evoke a sense of movement through the depths of the forest, Hong brushes dark, sinewy ink strokes that bring the tiger’s actions right up close. When she first encounters the small, sleeping child, she prepares to maul him, but “just as she’s about to attack, instinct overcomes her. She takes Wen in her mouth the way she used to take her cubs. And suddenly, all of her anger vanishes.” Wen becomes the tiger’s child, and Hong shows Wen riding on her back as she “teaches him everything a little tiger needs to know.” The vision of overcoming rage with the power of love and chosen family redeems the story’s earlier violence and offers an alternative to punishment and retribution. Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]