Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tiger on a Tree

tiger on a tree children's book review anushka ravishankar pulak biswas indian
Tiger on a Tree
by Anushka Ravishankar
illustrated by Pulak Biswas,

A tiger on the shore, dares to explore,
and gets stuck on a tree.
A group of men find him, wanting to bind him,
but end up setting him free!

Pardon my attempt at verse, but, this book seems to have grown on me. And the lines above sort of sums up the story in this book.

It evoked a mixed reaction at first: while the book boasts stellar awards to its credit, at first glance I felt let down. But, it grew on me. After reading it over a dozen times to my toddler, I started looking forward to making the sounds: "Baaaaa", "Yaaaaahh", "Splash", "Thump", and "Dum Duma Dum Dum". I still feel a little lost at the end as it felt abrupt, as if something was missing. Perhaps that was the author's intent all along?

Anushka Ravishankar has been dubbed "Dr.Seuss of India". She broke new ground with her nonsense verse form aimed at children, and is now internationally appreciated for it.

The black and orange illustrations at first glance seemed bland when I tried to view through my toddler's eyes, but, as I started gazing at them more, I began to love them - especially the expressions on the men's faces when they try to figure out what to do with the tiger.

Now, I wish toddlers around the world had the ability to state why they like certain books and not others. I am not sure why my toddler likes this book, but, she has asked me to read it in repeat-mode several times so far, eagerly waiting for the one word sounds and the rhyming parts: "Send him to the zoo? Stick him up with glue? Paint him electric blue?"

I think early readers will like this book as it has just enough text to help build confidence in their reading skills, while keeping them entertained. The illustrations are clean and simple, and apparently were made before the author added the text. I am not sure if there is a board book version of this book, but, the original picture book was silk-screened by hand on handmade paper, according to Tara Publishers, India

In addition to being simple, I like the fact that there is a message buried in the book: a ferocious, albeit trapped, tiger - should we respect his right to live and set him free or should we preemptively get rid of him to protect mankind from potential harm?

This book has been published in French, Italian and German. Visiting Tara Books catalog was like opening a secret treasure chest for me.

On thinking about this book some more, I really wish I could talk to Anushka Ravishankar to get some inside scoop - to get what she was trying to convey. The few I have talked to seem confused about this book. The rhymes were abrupt at times and I had a hard time staying on track while reading aloud

Let me close with a note that in my opinion this book is refreshing, and is not just for young readers.


sathish said...

Sheela, thanks for the pointer to tara publishing.

regarding the orange and black illustrations in the book; I wonder if they are trying to depict the tiger itself in every page.

sathish said...

sheela, as you mentioned, ranjani and I too wonder which book makes a hit with children. The book that we think is good - a few times does not really tick with sooraj..

I did notice one aspect though - they seem to prefer continuity - or rather the same set of characters if they appear in the new book that they see; they tend to rush towards that books.. also if the book is about a character that they have seen in television; again I gues they want familiarity and continuity.
That is probably why the books of barney and others television characters tend to be a big hit as books too - even if they are probably not as good as an independent publishing.

anyway, just a thought.. let me know what you guys feel..

Tharini said...

I had bookmarked 'Tara' a long time ago and then forgotten all about it...thanks for the reminder.

I think your little one perhaps loves the rhythm and meter it has?

Anusha said...

Yay! somebody is bold enough to give a 3 instead of always sticking to a 5 :)
maybe the reason it is so huge in this age group is because it is just plain silly? and there is no message or intent or purpose? could that be why your daughter likes it too?
your review has left me wanting to try it out - despite the 3/5.

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