A cautionary tale about the futility of war by the late American humorist receives a stunning visual interpretation from Yoon.
Violent chaos ensues when the eponymous tiger awakens one day and decides to challenge Leo the lion for the title “king of beasts.” The lion is unwilling to give up his power without a fight, which quickly involves every creature in the jungle. A wordless double gatefold at the center of the book shows various animals in the throes of aggressive action, while subsequent text explains that the animals are not certain about what they’re fighting for. The futility of war and the perils of a lust for power are the obvious messages here, but there’s a darkly humorous tone in the characterizations of both tiger and lion that undercuts potential for dull preaching. Furthermore, Thurber delivers a straightforward moral when all but the tiger die in the war: “You can’t very well be king of beasts if there aren’t any,” which overtly embraces and projects the intended meaning of his story. Yoon’s artistic achievement, however, is the king of this picture book’s triumphs. The limited palette of orange, green, white, and dark brown creates visually arresting spreads that fairly vibrate with energy despite the flat, print-inspired aesthetic.
A picture book that will be embraced due to its successful handling of difficult themes. (Picture book. 4-8)