In this Chinese folktale, a tigress lashes out in grief and anger after her cubs have been killed by hunters, attacking several villages.
Before the king can send his army to destroy the tigress, an old woman who predicts the future sees that the only way to achieve peace is for the king to send the tigress his little son, Wen. Sure enough, the tigress’s motherly instincts take over when she finds the young boy in the forest all alone. Not only does she protect and raise the boy, but she stops terrorizing the king’s villages. Over the years, she teaches Wen everything he needs to know about the forest. Until one day, the king’s armies and the tigress meet again, and Wen breaks the circle of violence through his understanding of both worlds. Years later, Wen brings his own son to the forest to be taught by the tigress, so that “he can become a prince.” Chen’s expressive brush paintings shift deftly between fearsome and warm, conveying the tigress’s inner conflict using body language and expressions without anthropomorphizing her. Readers will recognize these characteristics and conflicts within themselves and realize that only bridges of compassion will truly build lasting peace.
This richly illustrated tale is both emotionally compelling and thought-provoking, and its timely message of understanding and compassion will resonate with readers of all ages. (Picture book. 4-8)