Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favorite Picture Book of 2013

Mr. Tiger Goes WildMr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first became aware of author/illustrator Peter Brown with his lovely picture book from 2009, “The Curious Garden.” I’ve followed his output ever since and with his latest book, “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild,” he has become one of my favorite author/illustrators. Using minimal text in combination with his wonderfully mid-century style illustrations, Brown manages to tell a surprisingly complex tale of bucking the norm and being true to oneself. Mr. Tiger lives in a society of animals that dress in human clothes, walk upright and are rigidly formal in their polite behavior. But for Mr. Tiger, always being prim and proper is a boring way to live. One day, he has a wild idea - he decides to walk on all fours! Right away he feels better, but when he decides to shed his clothes and run wild, his friends lose their patience and ask him to take his wild behavior to the wilderness. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that I found the resolution of this fun tale to be a delightful surprise.
illustration by Peter Brown from "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild"

The double-page spread where Mr. Tiger decides to shed his clothes is ingenious in its design and simplicity. A large public fountain forms the center of the two-page design (see last image at bottom). On the left page we see Mr. Tiger diving into one side of the fountain fully clothed. On the right page, we see Mr. Tiger emerging from the other side of the fountain but this time, without his clothes. Then we notice his clothes floating on the water. Turning the page, we see Mr. Tiger, standing on all fours, without a stitch of clothing to hide his magnificent striped coat. There is no text, words are unnecessary. His stance and the smile on his face tell us everything we need to know - Mr. Tiger has at last discovered his own true nature.

In this beautifully designed and humorous book, Brown presents the reader with a thought-provoking array of concepts - the stagnation of conformity, the joy in being different, respect for the rights of others, and making compromises. I highly recommend this book, definitely my favorite picture book of 2013!

detail from Peter Brown's "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild."

Double-page spread from "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild."

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