• Happy birthday Vera Cleaver (Where the Lilies Bloom) and Wendelin Van Draanen (Flipped).
  • It’s the birth date of Carl Sandburg (1878–1967), Rootabaga Stories.
  • Happy birthday to the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Read The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Best birthday wishes to New Mexico, which became the 47th U.S. state in 1912.
  • In 1929 Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta to begin her work among India’s poorest people. Read Mother Theresa by Tracey Dils.
  • It’s Cuddle Up Day. Read I Love to Cuddle by Carl Norac, illustrated by Claude K. Dubois, and Daddy Cuddles by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben.

Today we celebrate a little-recognized holiday, “Thank Goodness It’s Monday,” and an event that lasts for all of January, The Celebration of Life. These two seemingly incongruous observances remind me of one of my favorite picture books of 2013, Peter Brown’s Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.

Now, for want of a better term, I am a “whole book” critic, believing that in our greatest works for children all the elements work out brilliantly: Art, text, design, and production need to come together to create an entire package. The best example I have of a recent “whole book” is Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, a delicious title that explores the beauty, even the necessity, of being unconventional.

Everyone in Mr. Tiger’s world enjoys things the way they are—except our wayward hero. He is bored with acting proper all the time. One day, Mr. Tiger abandons his previously humanlike behavior and starts walking on all fours, roaring and leaping over buildings. Finally, he throws off all his civilized clothes and heads to the wilderness. But after experiencing some freedom and realizing that he misses his friends, Mr. Tiger returns—only to discover that the formerly buttoned-up town has loosened its rules in his absence. Now in his own environment, he can be himself.

In this book, art and text work seamlessly together to advance the story; its design and production have been given loving attention. On very heavy (140 grams per square meter) paper, the five-color art uses orange to great advantage—often making it a focal point of each double-page spread. The printed cover boasts orange tiger stripes, while the endpapers feature brick walls on the front and an exotic garden on the back. All these touches augment the story inside. An abundance of white space, with clear, clean shapes and perfect pacing incorporate Peter Brown’s modern sensibility into a classic picture-book format.

Just like Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson’s The Story of Ferdinand, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild celebrates the idea that creatures must be true to themselves. And, of course, it recognizes that within each child an untamed wild thing often lurks. Popular with young readers and adult aficionados of children’s books, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild contains a story that can be read again and again—with illustrations that deserve repeated examination. So since I myself, contrary to most, love Monday mornings, I say to you, “Thank goodness for Monday and for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild.”

Here’s a page from Mr. Tiger Goes Wild:



Originally posted January 6, 2014. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild


  1. Mike L. says:

    Seeing the kids gradually react to the fountain scene and then the complete burst out they have on the following page has been a highlight of my reading year.

    I’m so glad you drew my attention to how successfully Peter Brown puts together the “whole-book.” It just felt so naturally spot-on from the first read that I didn’t even pay attention to why that was. I haven’t been able to stop pouring over how all the elements work so synergistically.

    Very happy you’ve highlighted this one. There’s nobody better to champion the inner Mr. Tiger in all of us.

  2. McCourt says:

    This book has been on my wish list for a while, maybe I will celebrate Monday by finally getting around to picking it up! I love the look of Peter Brown’s books. My favorite is The Curious Garden – I will curl up with it tonight. It will be a lovely peek at spring on this cold and blustery day. Also, I’m glad to know it is Sherlock Holmes birthday – I will have to pass the news on to my older kids who are big Sherlock fans! Thanks again!

  3. Anita says:

    Mike: Thanks for letting me know about the scene that your kids love. I always treasure this kind of feedback.

  4. Esther says:

    Frontrunner on my second graders short list for the shiny gold! The Dark is breathing on the tiger’s neck though, and The Journey may overtake both. Second graders have excellent taste.

  5. Suzanne says:

    I have also had the most fun reading this book aloud and watching the children’s reactions when the tiger breaks out of his clothes. It’s hilarious when they yell out “Eew–he’s naked!” and then take a couple seconds to think to themselves while I look at them questioningly and someone will inevitably say, “But tigers don’t really wear clothes…!” It’s so much fun to see them so involved and then questioning their own responses. Perfect for second grade read aloud.

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