Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Tiger Tail (Or what happened to Anya on her first day of school) by Mike Boldt

I'm usually skeptical about first day of school books, or books that use heavy-handed metaphors to show tolerance and diversity. But this one just really clicked with me, for some reason.

Anya wakes up on what seems to be a normal day. But it's not. Somehow, she has....A TIGER TAIL!! Of course, it just has to be her first day of school! She tries everything she can think of to get rid of the tail or get out of going to school, but there's no escape! She's frozen on the sidewalk when the bus pulls up, the kids jump out and....she runs into another kid. With bunny ears! Hmmm, the next thing she knows it's time for a class picture - and she's not the only one who's just a little different.

Boldt's colorful, digital illustrations are cheerful and attractive. Curly-headed Anya and her fuzzy tail are cute and her classmates are a diverse group, sporting everything from sensory headphones to koala ears.

From a purely adult viewpoint, this isn't likely to really introduce kids to tolerance and diversity. It would take an adult to draw the connection between the children with real-world differences - physical abilities, skin color, etc. and the fantastical additions of animal tails and ears. There's no explanation for where Anya's tail comes from and her parents' lackadaisical approach is odd. It's also somewhat odd that the author seems to be drawing parallels between kids who apparently wake up one morning with an animal appendage and those with cultural, racial, or physical differences.

Verdict: But for a book meant to reassure kids about being different or sticking out there first day of school, it works just fine. It's funny and sweet and kids are unlikely to think that deeply about it. Not a first purchase, but if you're looking for additional school-themed books to reassure first-timers this is a nice additional purchase. Also, I just like tiger tails.

ISBN: 9781481448857; Published 2016 by Simon and Schuster; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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