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Mr. Tiger Goes Wild | Class #2, 2016

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. Elizabeth Dorr says:

    I loved this story! I love that the physical book itself tells the story of Mr. Tiger with the exposed tiger stripes when you remove the book jacket. I was most taken by the use of color or lack of color in the illustrations that helped to tell the story. Obviously, Mr. Tiger and his speech both stand out as the only character in color, let alone bright orange. However as he goes into the forest, the other animals he encounters are also shades of lighter orange/pink, which I think helps draw the line between animals in the city and wild animals in the forest. I also paid close attention to the facial expressions of all the animals as they changed throughout the book. Even before the other animals go wild, their faces start to be differentiated and show a wider array of emotions as an almost foreshadowing of the conclusion. Overall, I loved all the little details and also how it read very easily/naturally from left to right consistently.

  2. Kaitlin Herbert says:

    After reading Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! a couple of times, I really began to focus on the design choices that Peter Brown made that influenced the story’s success. One powerful design choice was the use of the endpapers: the dull bricks at the beginning and the wild, green scenery at the end, complementing the text’s theme. I also enjoyed the design choice of the page where Mr. Tiger gets an idea to cease walking upright by slowly shrinking to the floor on the page, at one point almost invisible. I found this page to lend itself very well to children making predictions about Mr. Tiger’s idea while also creating suspense. Another design choice I admired was the font choices made by Peter Brown, with bright orange representing speech created by Mr. Tiger in juxtaposition to the gray tones of his friends, as well as free-form script used for the ROARs to symbolize the wild speech of Mr. Tiger once he begins to transition. Overall, I loved this book!

  3. Caroline Holkeboer says:

    I loved reading Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! and think it would be a great read aloud for kids of all ages! The illustrations were beautiful and I especially liked the author’s time period choice. Like Elizabeth, I also noticed how the facial expressions of the characters changed, especially towards the end of the story. This visual detail along with the story line about how each character begins to slowly transition could be a great way to get students thinking about and talking about how they each have the power to effect change in their community and surroundings. It also could be a great connection to talking about individual identify. After reading this book, I’m definitely planning on adding it to my classroom library collection!

  4. Montserrat Cubillos says:

    I thought it was interesting how Peter Brown used geometrical figures to illustrate this book. At first, I thought this was going to be a strategy to portray the anti-wild world in which the character lives. Yet, even the wilderness is geometrical! I wonder why the trees’ leaves are ordered in perfectly defined rectangles… I really enjoyed observing how the position of the text varied, to adapt to its content. I especially enjoyed the two pages where Mr. Tiger goes into the fountain: the text seemed to jump into the water with him.

  5. Mariel Perlow says:

    I could see Mr. Tiger Goes Wild as an excellent read-aloud for the beginning of the school year while a teacher is establishing a classroom community. Kids can definitely relate to the town citizen telling them “not to play like wild animals” and hopefully see the sense of humor that the characters are animals. This book also provides students the chance to infer Tiger’s feelings at various stages of the story using his facial expressions and the vivid illustrations. Some questions that come to mind might be, “How do you think Tiger feels when he responds “I suppose” to the neighbor commenting on the weather?” (bored) and “How do you think Tiger feels when he is climbing up a building? “(rebellious). Overall the theme of “showing your stripes” that being true to yourself might help others be their most authentic selves would provide a really rich classroom dialogue.

  6. Tom Grasso says:

    Like the other people who have commented in this thread, I really loved reading this book for many of the same reasons: its universal theme, the contrast in colors (the artwork in general), the author’s repositioning and resizing of text, the pace of the book, and how many different ways the book could be used in a classroom setting. I also appreciated the narrative arc of the story, which reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are, i.e., a character going outside of itself and then returning home. In terms of the overall design of the book, I really liked the way that Peter Brown varied the amount of text and art on some sets of pages. Some spreads were filled almost entirely with art having a lot of details, while others had a lot more white space and simpler illustrations, such as the page that consisted of Mr. Tiger jumping off the page, saying, “What a magnificent idea!” I think my favorite pages were the two on which Mr. Tiger comes up with his “very wild idea.” The staircase effect of both the illustrations and the text made me feel as though I were descending into the wilderness with Mr. Tiger.

  7. Andrew Bauld says:

    In agreement with all the other commenters. What a wonderful book! I loved the subtlety of the illustrations. From the very beginning there is such an interesting shift from Mr. Tiger’s initial expression of seeming disgust at all the sameness and order of the world around him, to the change of sadness as he looks out his building window. I also thought there was some really interesting juxtaposition between city life and the jungle, especially through Mr. Tiger’s physical size. While in the city he is dwarfed by some of the bigger creatures and the tall buildings, there is a sense of loneliness and isolation, a feeling of being lost. But in the jungle, which is equally imposing in size, Mr. Tiger appears set to be part of a much bigger world, and the scope here gives the impression of adventure and exploration. I also just love animals dressed in Victorian garb.

  8. Kara Lawson says:

    Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is a delightful book that could springboard discussions with children about things like community, expressing one’s identity, and how individuals influence change. The text is easy to read with typically just a line or two on each page, so as not to overwhelm young or struggling readers. Instead, rich details of the story are expressed within thoughtful illustrations. For example, all of the characters’ eyes are closed and faces expressionless (except for the children’s) until Mr. Tiger takes a risk and challenges the status quo, which sparks their sense of wonder and elicits a variety of feelings. Plus, energy moves across the page almost exclusively left to right except for a few instances in which Mr. Wild becomes wilder and wilder and then finally when his community begins to change, too, a subtle shift that helps to make Mr. Tiger’s brave story come alive for readers.

  9. Gabby Cohn says:

    I agree with all of the comments in this thread. I loved reading this book by Peter Brown. The stylistic elements of this book are not only intriguing, but incredibly well thought out. The illustrations and words can reach a diverse audience. I could picture an elementary school teacher reading this book aloud to a diverse classroom. The emotions introduced in these pages range from feelings of isolation/loneliness to fear to happiness. Even though this book is great for the visual learner, an auditory learner would also benefit from listening to this book read aloud. The tone, expressions, and syntax come alive in a monumental way (with or without the pictures). However, like some other people have already mentioned, all of the artwork was brilliant. Like Tom Grasso noted, I also liked the way Peter Brown “varied the amount of text and art on some sets of pages.” One of my favorite parts of the book was also when Mr. Tiger jumped off the page, expressing, “What a magnificent idea!” Overall, this book will touch children (and even adults) in different ways. It encourages risk-taking, imagination, creativity, and dreaming. However, it also values themes like respect and appreciation of the world around us.

  10. Hello class!

    Sorry this is late, I’ve had a busy week, but just wanted to chime in quickly and say how thrilled I am that Mr. Tiger Goes Wild resonated with you.

    A million little decisions go into telling a visual story and things can get surprisingly complicated when exploring anthropomorphism, like I did in this book. “Why don’t the birds or fish speak?” is a question I sometimes get from kids. Throughout children’s books and animation, storytellers have constantly faced this same funny situation, and most of the time we have to make some sort of distinction between the “people-like animals” and the “real animals.” In this case, I decided only mammals would speak, essentially the story takes place in “mammal world,” and so none of the birds or fish (or butterflies) can communicate with the mammals. This sometimes leaves kids scratching their heads, but I feel pretty confident in my decisions. Haha.

    One of you wondered why the tree leaves in the jungle were so perfectly shaped, which is a fair question. In early sketches the trees were more wild and organic, but the aesthetic I’d set up in the first half of the book was SO geometric and precise that wild, organic trees seemed out of place, even in the jungle. I had to maintain a certain amount of geometry and symmetry in the wilderness simply to keep the whole book looking consistent. So I had to find other ways of showing randomness in nature, like composition and placement and color and shape.

    Anyway, hope this makes sense! Thanks!
    Peter Brown!

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