Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: One happy tiger by Catherine Rayner

I hadn't realized Rayner had created a board book until it came up in the Cybils finalist list. I enjoy her sketchy illustrations and have used several of her picture books in storytimes and toy bags in the past. The illustrations in this book are actually from an older, British picture book - Augustus and his smile. But how does her art work in a board book setting?

Against an orange background, a sad tiger sits alone, facing away from the reader. But on the next page, he discovers two little red bugs on a leaf. Then the background changes to green, against which three blue and green birds shine. The tiger's pleasure and surprise grows as she sees four butterflies, fluttering about the page. Five transparent dragonflies appear next, then six footprints in the original orange world. The tiger, now happy, bounces cheerfully through a rainstorm, stretches sleepily in the company of eight bees, swims with fish in a rainbow of tigers. In the last spread, the happy tiger looks at ten of her new friends.

The book is a little taller than the typical board book - think roughly the size of the Scarry classic, I am a bunny. The pages are sturdy but a little thinner than the heavy-duty cardboard used in board books.

Although this is primarily a counting book, there's still a slight storyline as the tiger's moods change. Rayner's art is colorful but not lurid - soft blues, greens, and oranges meld throughout the story. The splashy pictures mimic a child's drawing in some cases, as in the simple fish shapes sketched into the water, and in others show the power of line and movement, as in the messy scattering of line that so beautifully captures the tiger's anthropomorphic expressions.

Verdict: This book will be an excellent choice not only for toddlers, learning numbers, and identifying animals. It's also a good resource for parents and teachers wanting to work with children on recognizing emotions, if they're ready for more subtle changes in expression.

ISBN: 9781589252349; This edition published 2017 by Tiger Tales; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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