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TOM THE TAMER by Tjibbe Veldkamp Kirkus Star


by Tjibbe Veldkamp & illustrated by Philip Hopman

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-9359-5405-7
Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

A small boy's imaginative play tames his father’s fears.

Dutch author Veldkamp (Little Monkey's Big Peeing Circus, 2006) revisits the circus theme to gentler effect. Tom, desperate for his father’s attention, builds first a snail trapeze and then a squirrel circus, but his father’s fear of animals keeps him indoors. Tom needs a new show, so he heads to "Paws, Claws, Beaks & Bugs," where he announces himself as Tom the Tamer and asks if there are any animals that still need to be tamed. Hamster? Small dog? "I was thinking of a polar bear," says Tom. His knack as a tamer soon has an affable bear lending its furry self to Tom's circus, disguised in its off time as a piece of furniture. The new comfy chair by the fire is joined by flamingo drapes, an octopus chandelier and a three-hippo sofa, all wearing hiding-in-plain-sight looks of nonchalance. In on the game, and in a nod to Tenniel, is a white rabbit. The show is about to begin. But will it work? The father, finally the strong man that Tom needs, throws caution to the wind as he finds joy in an exuberant circus pyramid. Hopman’s luminous double-page spreads of soft watercolor and loose pen-and-ink lines lend humor to this multilayered story. Children will pick up subtle clues in the illustrations to the source of the father's emotional distance and the healing power of play.

Sublime. (Picture Book. 4–7)