By Maureen Tai, 2 June 2018
“Mr Tiger was bored with always being so proper.”
All the inhabitants in Mr Tiger’s world are animals who have snooty expressions on their faces and who stand upright. All of them – including deer, brown bear, fox, buffalo, monkey, hedgehog, horse and ibex – are dressed to the nines in top hats and bonnets, suits and bow ties, solemn skirts and long sleeved blouses. They walk sedately from place to place, or if they must, ride stiffly on penny farthings and normal bicycles. Everything is calm, quiet and so very proper. Everyone has a stiff upper (and lower) lip.
Except Mr Tiger.
As he partakes of tea and cake with Mrs Elephant and Mr Rhinoceros, pinky paw raised in the air and delicate bone china teacup poised in front of his unsmiling mouth, Mr Tiger gazes out of equally unsmiling eyes. He is bored. He is bored of the usual platitudes and greetings. He is bored of the social conventions that dictate that he walk, not run; that he stand, not prowl on all fours; that he doff his top hat politely; that he wear his shirts buttoned up to under his chin; that he live in an unremarkable brick house that looks like everyone else’s. Bored, bored, bored.
One day, that urge and desire to be wild finally becomes too hard to suppress. Mr Tiger takes the first bold step of reconciling with his nature by planting all four paws on the ground. It is exhilarating. To the shock and mortification of Mr Tiger’s well-bred friends and neighbours, he continues to slough off his mantle of gentility and decorum. He emerges fully naked (albeit not fully wild as he doesn’t suddenly start savaging the herbivores that are walking around in their skirts and shirts). With the transformation complete, Mr Tiger abandons everything and everyone he knows and escapes to the great outdoors. He is finally who he truly is and what he truly wants to be, an animal in the wilderness unfettered by unnatural rules and social mores. It is a triumph!
Or is it?
Mr Tiger Goes Wild is gorgeously illustrated in soothing tones of green and brown, with splashes of warm orange and translucent blue. The story is simply and effectively told. I am terribly envious of picture book creators like Peter Brown who are able to write and illustrate their own books. It must be so wonderfully liberating, not to mention totally satisfying, to be able to extract a creative vision from one’s head and fully render it in words and pictures on the printed page.
Go on. Go WILD. You know you want to.
For ages 5 and above.