Some illustrations are so instantly recognisable that you spot them from afar, and generally know the book will also be wonderful. Ross Collins is one such illustrator, with his bright bold illustrations and specific design style that there is now a very distinctive and much loved set of wonderful picture books available. So how thrilled was I to come across I Am A Tiger written by fast rising author Karl Newson, illustrated by Ross Collins and published by Macmillan.
I Am A Tiger struck me instantly as the perfect library story time choice. The book is about one determined and pig headed little mouse who is absolutely 100% certain that he is a tiger. The other animals in the story question this but he won’t be budged. I adore this determined and belligerent little guy and the illustrations popped off the front cover making it an obvious pick, little did I realise how well it would go down!!
I chose it for my pre-school story time because I knew the bright and bold illustrations would appeal to them. I was a little unsure whether they would get the theme of the book or understand some of the very brilliant jokes. Well I needn’t have worried, my goodness they got the jokes, they giggled and laughed, shouted and screamed and had a truly brilliant time. Bare in mind our story time group are aged around 3-4 years old, so really very young. At the end of each page I asked the children (in a silly over the top voice of course), “is he really a tiger??” and the all shouted “NOOOOO” merrily, chuckling away after. It was truly lovely to see such excitement for a story. They got the theme completely, they understood the silliness, they loved looking at the mouses’s incorrect identifications of the snake (banana), bird (lollipop) and others, shouting at how silly it got. Though one little boy, quite rightly, and quite seriously pointed out that the snake was yellow, so he was a bit like a banana. I love doing story times, but this is up there with one of my all time favourites. To see grins on children’s faces, to have them all sit and be entranced by a story, for them to get involved and talk about the book, and to listen to one little girl delight in telling her Mum all about the story after the session. To get this kind of reaction from a quite sometimes shy little group of pre-schoolers is epic! THIS is what introduction to reading and books is about, this is what creates memories and instills a real love of books, stories exactly like I Am A Tiger.
We made gorgeous tiger masks, and for the rest of the morning children jumped around the library roaring and pretending they were tigers. They’d learnt from that crazy mouse, that if they want to be something, well they absolutely can!! And they did!
That message of determination and being whatever you want to be is wonderful, and important, but Karl has executed it beautifully so it isn’t in your face, it’s really just a beautifully written, beautifully illustration and brilliantly fun story, that’s what struck me most about this. The children just loved it!
Ross Collin’s illustrations are very recognisable, unfussy, bright and well loved so have that automatic draw. But my real love comes from the expressions Ross manages to create on the faces of his characters. He can show sarcasm with just an eyebrow, fury with a tweak of the eyes, mirth through lips alone. Subtle details that throw personalities out of the page, and enhance Karl’s humour, with all this loveliness they are appealing to both adults and children.
Karl Newson has just gone from strength to strength with his writing this year, with the ability to sway from gentle, calm and lovely stories, to fun and silly is a real skill, and I Am A Tiger is my favourite of all. Creative, unique, fantastically well written and truly entertaining for all ages, I can only look on in awe and applaud his ability.
If you want laughter, if you want silly, if you want a pig-headed mouse, if you want a child to love their bedtime story, then you really can’t make a much wiser choice than I Am A Tiger.
To find out more about brilliant author & illustrator Karl Newson, please visit his rip roaring website here:
You can check out the wonderful Ross Collins right here:
Thank you to Macmillan for sending me a copy of this for review, and thank you for reading this roaring Book Monster blog.