Review Blog

Dec 31 2014

Augustus and his smile by Catherine Rayner

cover image

Little Tiger, 2014. ISBN 9781845062835
(Age: Preschool - Yr 2) Augustus the tiger has lost his smile. So, after doing a huge tigery stretch he sets off to find it. Under bushes, to the tops of the tallest trees, scaling the crests of the highest mountains and down to the bottom of the deepest oceans- but still he could not find his smile. He even pranced and paraded through the longest desert without success. And then it started to rain. Augustus danced and raced as the raindrops bounced and flew, and he splashed in puddles when suddenly . . .
This is an excellent book for young readers, not just because of its engaging text and illustrations. It is full of movement, textual and visual, that beg the children to emulate as well as emphasising the meaning of those common positional prepositions. It also encourages them to look closely at the pictures because Augustus' face changes as his quest continues - as does his tail. The pictures in picture books are not just decorations - they add so much more to the words. As Augustus learns that he carries his smile with him - it would come whenever he was happy - readers can also learn this and talk about the things that make them happy and bring their smile out.
The addition of some important tiger facts at the end is a bonus - a first step in learning about this amazing, critically endangered species.
Catherine Rayner spent many hours at the Edinburgh Zoo sketching tigers so she could get Augustus just right and she has already won the Kate Greenaway Medal for her work. The UK Daily Telegraph said, 'Catherine Rayner has a marvellous gift for capturing the souls of animals in a few, rich washes of colour' and this is very evident in her depiction of Augustus. He is just charming. Such is the power of this story it has been translated into Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Simplified Chinese, Czech, Farsi, French, Haitian-Creole, Hindi, Irish, Lithuanian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and Welsh.
Barbara Braxton

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