A little boy finds his inner tiger in this lyrical picture-book debut by Choi, an award-winning author for adults.
Narrated in a thoughtful, meandering voice that mimics a long scenic drive into the mountains, a boy, his older brother, and their parents travel to a camping site at Mountain Pond, which is “like a mirror in the trees.” Throughout the trip the boy vocalizes his apprehensions about growing up and becoming a first-grader, saying he “liked kindergarten” and misses “things my mom used to do for me.” Suddenly everyone is struck silent when a tiger approaches from the temperate forest, asking for an extra tent to sleep in. The boy and the tiger quickly connect. Soon the tiger becomes the personification of the growing inner courage of the boy, participating in all the activities. The boy accomplishes new milestones: catching his first fish, steering the canoe well, and striking out on his own. Rocco provides illustrations with a cool color scheme and dramatic details. Elongated sentences demand that readers linger on each page drinking in every detail of the tiger’s striking portraits. There is a slight disconnect in tone between the whimsy of the text and the realism of the illustrations, but it is a small price to pay. The boys appear Asian or biracial Asian/white.
A multilayered coming-of-age story filled with exquisitely executed art. (Picture book. 5-8)