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Mr. Tiger Goes Wild | Class #2 2015

Mr TigerMr. Tiger’s relationship with good manners — and his clothes — reflects a reality for lots of young children. They can try to be good for a while, but afterwards they just have to take a break and be themselves.

The urge to let it all hang out is an old literary tradition. Straight-laced Edwardian Beatrix Potter’s characters had a tendency to shed their clothes, as did some of Maurice Sendak’s (remember Mickey in the Night Kitchen?). Notice what happens when this book takes off its jacket.

Brown uses mixed media and digital coloring to achieve a somewhat old-timey effect. How does this book work for you? What do you notice about the pacing and other choices the author has made?

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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  1. Nicole Eslinger says:

    I found the juxtaposition of the sepia-toned city with the bright orange of Mr. Tiger to be a powerful way of indicating that he is a unique character from the very beginning. It is also a great way for children to foretell the following events in the story. The pacing worked well for me also, with several wordless pages to convey his transformation visually at perfect times. In light of our last class discussion, the elongated, horizontal design of the book seemed appropriate as well, since Mr. Tiger is really on a journey to discover himself.

    The book jacket and cover are a wonderful reflection of the story’s theme: it is okay to be different. It’s great to show others who you are underneath your exterior appearance.

  2. Sara Gordon says:

    I agree with Nicole. I definitely noticed the contrast of the colors between Mr. Tiger and the other characters, emphasizing his uniqueness and his desire to stop “being so proper” like everyone else. I felt that the brief sentences, often broken up into a few separate lines, or written as dialogue in “word bubbles”, would make it easier for children to follow.

    Reading the “About This Book” section on the last page, it says that the illustrations were made with “India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper.” This clearly shows the amount of effort that was put into creating illustrations that matched what the words were trying to express–that change is good and that being different is a wonderful quality, even if it may be challenged at times.

  3. Geri Low says:

    This book really spoke to me! In many ways, I feel that this book can speak to adults just as well as it can to children. The story line was simple and to the point but the illustrations and design really brought the book to life. I loved the fact that the book was only in one color palette (except for the jungle) – that of the tiger, but yet in that simplicity, the contrast worked perfectly to bring across the point. As Nicole and Sara pointed out, the fact that Mr Tiger was the only animal in color and how the background changed from a monotone color to a burst of color (when he went wild) helped very much to put things in perspective. I also thought the pacing of the book went very well with the imagery, with some words trailing off into the next page. They really help “dramatize” the turning of the page effect!

  4. Kasey Michel says:

    Possibly my favorite aspect of the story/illustrations working together is that Mr. Tiger’s behavior literally opens people’s eyes. In the beginning, most of the characters are said to think that things are “fine,” but also have their eyes closed to their surroundings. The only exceptions are, of course, Mr. Tiger, who is discontent, and the children who are smiling and acting wild! Once Mr. Tiger opts for going wild, he too is pictured smiling and his friends open their eyes to both his erratic behavior and the blandness of the life they had been leading (though this latter bit takes a bit more time)! I found this story to be a very relatable way of depicting the “be the change you wish to see in the world” mantra.

  5. Haneen Sakakini says:

    While reading through this book, I instantly thought about all of the students in our schools today who feel like Mr. Tiger in their classrooms, where they feel as if they must conform to social norms in order to fit in and succeed. The community in which Mr. Tiger lived in at the beginning of the book reminded me of how confined students are within our current education system, which is run entirely by standardized testing. These assessments are dictating to the society what is calculated as the “norm” in regards to how students should be preforming rather than assessing students by their own individual ability levels rather than inability levels, measure what they can do, rather than simply what they can’t. Imagine trying to assess all animals equally by asking them to climb a tree, as a cartoon once depicted. A majority of these animals would have failed because, lets face it there is no way a fish can climb a tree. Rather testing what each animal can do well you simply only assess them based on something they can’t, essentially you are asking them to deny who they are and their strengths in order to conform to social norms, norms which will hinder their development and their future wellbeing.

  6. This book has a lot of joy to it. I loved the way that Mr. Tiger popped out against the other animals. Also, I love how Brown used the spacing on the pages to make the characters seem more dynamic, or show different interactions. The speech bubbles were also great. They were fun, but I can see how it would be helpful in teaching this book to identify for children that thats what the characters in the story were actually saying. I also like the authors choice of really making Mr. Tiger’s acting out experience to what a child might experience at home or at school and really accessing what their own thoughts might be.

  7. Kara Brady says:

    I love reading through these comments because they bring my attention to things I didn’t even notice when I read it (still working on how to read CLOSELY). I didn’t notice the closed eyes, but I love what that means for the story. I did notice the colors and I thought that was a smart choice for making Mr. Tiger stand out. My favorite page in the book was when Mr. Tiger gets his wild idea and he’s slowly going down further and further on the page until he’s on all fours on the next page. I thought that was a really clever way of building suspense and foreshadowing what his idea was at the same time. I loved the illustrations and I was wondering what the medium was the whole time until I got to the “about this book” page. I particularly love the use of splatter ink to convey splashing in the water and various parts of the ground both in the town and even more so in the wild.

  8. Anderson says:

    I really liked the way that this book makes it ‘okay’ to be an individual. Children are largely in environments where they are encouraged and incentivized to speak a certain way and do certain things. While that type of structure is important to learning and development, it is also necessary for children to embrace who they are at their core, even when that singles them out. Many students give in to peer pressure and want to be ‘normal’… The book ends by showing that the protagonist was not the one who needed to change, but it was those around him who needed to change. He was ahead of the game. Individuality and originality are really important to children’s development, in my opinion. This book seems to really promote that.

  9. I really enjoyed this book. Like you say, children can relate to the urge to be free. But I think it also has a larger message about social change. How one person speaking out about something they feel strongly about can bring about slow change. In a world where things seem predestined based on socioeconomic status and race, this can be a powerful idea for children to learn. Like Dorothy in OZ, the colors of the wilderness contrasted sharply to the dull grayness of the City. The illustrations were a wonderful accompaniment to that message, I think.

  10. Rebecca Tan says:

    This was my favourite book of the week’s readings! I realised while reading these books that I had never read picture books as a child, and even now as an adult I enjoy them so much. Reading the book according to the guidelines on how to read picture books (by Smith) helped me uncover all the different layers of meaning in the book.
    I found the illustrations highly effective in contrasting Mr. Tiger with the rest of his community. The pacing of the the story was also crucial in slowing down the story at important moments. For example, when Mr. Tiger found liberation without clothes!
    I particularly liked how the story pointed out that being different and being true to oneself can sometimes be lonely – this is a reality of not conforming. I would like to see what Mr. Tiger could have done to be himself while keeping his friends (if they had not also let loose). However, the story ends happily when the animals of the town all decide what is comfortable for them, which is the ideal that children can aspire for.

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