- Craig Graziano
"Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger."
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild takes on proper behavior and tears it to shreds. At the beginning of Peter Brown's picture book, four-legged animals walk stiffly upright, wear suits, dresses, top hats, and bonnets. Elephants, bears, and deer all have perfect posture. Every house on the block looks exactly the same, and our striped protagonist is sick of it.
So he sheds his clothes and escapes into the wilderness, where green trees and cascading waterfalls invite the newly wild animal to explore his animalistic tendencies. At first he is shunned from the town but finds that he has had an impact on his beastly brethren. Perhaps everyone should try being a little wild once in a while.
The book is short on dialogue but extensive in its beautiful artistry. Mr. Tiger's fur offers a spark of color rebelling against the drab grays of the civilized world. His orange word bubbles leap from the page. Even the choice of lettering and paper is deliberate.
Brown's approach to illustrating animals is not only fun, but he also manages to give them such personality. Each of his books has a starkly different look. I love the coziness of his flightless birds in Flight of the Dodo, and Lucy the tutu-wearing bear is the heart at the center of the hilarious Children Make Terrible Pets.
Another fantastic book that explores individuality is The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Pinkwater. As in Mr. Tiger, every house looked exactly the same on Mr. Plumbean's block. When some orange paint splatters his roof, Mr. Plumbean finds himself at the center of a conformity controversy! As expected, chaos and hilarity ensue.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is a fun look at being yourself and taking the time to loosen up. Request it today and get ready to unleash your wild side!