A morose tiger, frustrated by life in an enclosure, finds renewed purpose when a turquoise egg falls into his care.
Herman, the tiger, takes to paternity quickly, “very carefully…wrapp[ing] his soft, furry tail around the egg.” Hunched and focused, he weaves a nest from straw and “the softest hairs from his chest.” Children will giggle at the hulking tiger’s loving, ludicrous posture as he stands on two feet, willing dexterity into his cumbersome paws and claws, bent in concentration. Matte watercolors (buttercup yellows, teal greens, and fuchsia reds) delight as well, making joyous striations as branches, bark, water, ground, leaves, fur. Vivid, multidirectional, and abundant, the cheerful clash of colors captures the teeming life and sound inside the animal enclosure. Creatures peer, gawk, and interject throughout, making readers aware of the inescapable closeness of captivity. In the background of one spread, a pale caretaker cleans up a pile of animal bones using a broom and wheelbarrow—a small, grim reminder that sadness and death live here too. Young life and adoptive love, thankfully, cast a golden light across the pages of this endearing book from the moment the egg cracks. The hatchling emerges (a yellow-and-black pompom with enormous black eyes on two long stick legs), and Herman sees his “little tiger bird.” Soon, the baby bird learns to roar.
Exuberant pictures express parental love, which makes species, gender, size, biology, and even the bars of an enclosure irrelevant. (Picture book. 4-8)