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From The Asian Reporter, V14, #49 (November 30, 2004), page 13.
Tiger on a Tree
By Anushka Ravishankar
Illustrated by Pulak Biswas
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004
Hardcover, 48 pages, $15.00
By Josephine Bridges
Tiger on a Tree is a gorgeous picture book with a subtle moral, aimed at three- to six-year-olds but appealing to any reader who is young at heart. There’s a marvelous wildness here that makes me think of poet William Blake ("Tyger, tyger burning bright / In the forests of the night …") as a toddler.
Wandering all over the pages like the paw prints of curious tiger cubs, even the words themselves refuse to stay put:
Tiger, tiger on the shore
Does he want to go across?
Make a dash?
Be bold? Be rash?
You never know what waits on the other side of the big water. In this case it’s a sheep or a goat — it has what look like goat horns but it says "Baaaaaaaa" — and our tiger runs away from it in what appears to be abject terror. Tiger finds refuge in a tree, but then something really scary comes along: people.
Tiger? On a tree?
Rubbish! Cannot be!
It’s true! I saw it too!
Now what to do?
It comes as no surprise that the answer to that last question involves capture, but, upon netting the poor terrorized feline, our fellow humans are faced with another conundrum:
Several preposterous suggestions — one involving glue, another making use of blue paint — are voiced before someone comes up with an unlikely but excellent solution that makes you think there’s hope for the human race after all. And for tigers, too.
Anushka Ravishankar has published more than ten books in India. Her vivid and jubilant Tiger on a Tree is illustrated by lively woodcuts printed in tigerish orange and black. Pulak Biswas, one of the best-known children’s illustrators in India, was awarded a prize for the pictures in this book at the Bratislava Biennale of Illustrations in 1999. If you’re hunting for a tiger, you needn’t look any further than Tiger on a Tree.