Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day 223: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

I've been eager to get my hands on a copy of this book since I heard of its release last fall.  Fortunately, my children get lots of books for Christmas, and this was one of them.  Hooray!  I fell in love with Peter Brown's work when we got Curious Garden a few years back, and it remains one of my favorite stories in our collection.  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild has only been a part of our home library for a few days, but we have already read it multiple times.  My 3 year old daughter is absolutely delighted by Mr. Tiger and his wild ways, and my 6 year old son finds the story equally fun.  It's a sweet, charming story with amazing illustrations that I know we will be reading again and again.

The story itself is fairly simple:  Mr. Tiger, sick of feeling confined by the expectations of society around him, decides to leave his conservative life behind and go a little wild.  First, he reverts to walking on all fours.  Enough of this two-legged nonsense!  Next go his clothes, portrayed in an adorable two-page spread.  So cute.  Appalled, some of his peers encourage him to take his nonsense to the wilderness, which he naturally thinks is a brilliant idea.  Once there, Mr. Tiger is free to be as wild as he wants, romping and roaring to his heart's desire.  Eventually, though, he begins to miss his friends and the city and decides to return.  Upon doing so, he is thrilled to discover that things have begun to change in his absence, leaving him -- and his fellow critters -- free to be himself.

I think my children and I love this book equally, though for different reasons.  My kids love the way Mr. Tiger busts out and just goes wild -- particularly because they love to be wild themselves -- and find his antics hilariously fun.  They also love the illustrations, and I'm always careful to give sufficient pause before turning the page so that they have time to study and enjoy them.  

As for me, I have found that this story grows on me more and more each time I read it.  The first time we read it together, I thought, "Okay, well, that was cute," but I wasn't blown away.  I liked it, to be sure, but it wasn't a story that immediately jumped out and grabbed me.  Then we read it again, at my kids' request, and I found myself trying to find a deeper meaning within its pages.  The overall message about the importance of being oneself (and feeling free to do so) is obviously a valuable one, but was there more that I was missing?  We read it a third time later that day, and I stopped reading as an (over-analyzing) adult and just let myself enjoy it the way my children do.  I studied the illustrations and details, and marveled at Brown's artistic style and artwork.  (I've never worked with ink and gouache, but now I'm dying to.)  Reading it again (and again… and again), I've come to the conclusion that while I find the story sweet and cute, what I really love is the way this book comes together as a whole.  The artwork is fabulous, especially the colors, and I love the emotion that Peter Brown is able to convey on the faces of Mr. Tiger and his fellow creatures.  Study their faces closely, and the story could tell itself without any words at all.  I even love the book's layout and feel of the pages.  (Be sure to take a look at the cover without the jacket on, too -- my daughter particularly loves the design!)  If I were on the Caldecott committee, I would certainly put Peter Brown and this beautiful book on my list of nominees! 

So, if you see this book on the new arrivals shelf at your local library, bring it home with you and see what you think.  Your children will likely love it, and there's a good chance you will, too.   


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