A retelling of a Persian folktale substituting tigers for people.
A tiger cub lives in a stately home built by its father. In the center of the vast gardens there is a fountain that, to the surprise of the tiger cub’s friends, contains a pair of worn-out slippers. When the cub’s friends ask why the slippers are there, the tiger’s father explains that when he was younger, he and his mother were impoverished. His mother—the tiger cub’s grandmother—made the slippers for him as an act of love. As the tiger grew older, wealthier, and more successful, he was repeatedly told that his worn, old slippers were not appropriate for his new station in life. Although he agreed, no matter how many times he tried to get rid of his slippers, they always managed to find a way back to him. Eventually, the tiger’s uncle helps him find a way to keep his slippers—and his memories of his past—without sacrificing his future. Done in Brett’s signature, paneled style, the book’s illustrations, while vibrant, read more like Western picture-book illustrations than the Mughal miniature style the author claims as her inspiration. Furthermore, although they are beautifully detailed, at times, the number of panels makes the pages feel crowded. The text is well paced, but Brett’s choice to retell the folktale using animals instead of people comes across as exoticizing at a time when the current Indian government is systematically erasing Muslim, particularly Mughal, history.
It’s pretty, but it falls far short of authenticity. (Picture book. 3-5)