THE TINIEST TIGER by Joanne L. McGonagle


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Whimsical watercolor pages alternate with stark black-and-white text in this story of a lost kitten working its way through the Big Cat section of the zoo, looking for its family.

On its journey, the kitten encounters a tiger, lion, cheetah, clouded leopard, puma, jaguar, bobcat and ocelot, noting similarities and differences between itself and each big cat. The tiger sends the kitten to the lion because the kitten lived in a group and lions live in prides. However, the lion soon hears the kitten purr and sends it off to the cheetahs, as cheetahs purr and lions don’t. Some featured traits, such as purring, are easy to understand, but others, such as proportion to size, may need further explanation for young readers, as the illustrations do not clearly reinforce the trait being highlighted. Also challenging is the fact that, perhaps due to their exotic nature, the cats answer the kitten’s simple questions with long, complex sentences. At the book’s conclusion, the kitten falls asleep in the tiger section, and the zookeeper’s daughter asks to take it home (though mistakes the feline for a baby tiger). Along the way, “Key Facts” sections give nitty-gritty information about cats, including their status on endangered species lists, though the author leaves it up to adult readers to explain the meaning of the term “endangered.” Major facts shared include population status (ranging from endangered to critically endangered to vulnerable), weight, life span (for wild creatures and those in zoos) and litter size; a world map shows each cat’s habitat. Although the narrative is simple enough for a child, some concepts are more appropriate for those at higher level of education. In this way, the target audience is unclear–while the layout resembles that of a transitional book, translating complicated sentences will require the help of an adult.

A charming introduction to the world of exotic cats and endangered species.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4196-8467-8
Program: Kirkus Indie
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