Arthur and the tiger by Sophie Beer
Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143791836.
(Age: 4-7) Recommended. Visually exciting with bold colours, vistas filled with light and shade, strong linear definitions and bright patterns, Arthur and the Tiger explores overcoming fears and prejudices, developing courage and creatively meeting challenges.
A happy little circus perches on the edge of a smog-filled city. Inside the bright orange and yellow tent are fire-breathing jugglers, a soaring acrobat and the Strongman capable of balancing a car on one finger. On the side of the circus ring sits Arthur the Ringmaster's son who's 'tried to learn all kinds of daring circus tricks' to no avail. He's happiest picnicking with his little mice friends.
When his father announces the arrival of a new circus animal a fierce tiger, poor Arthur is told he'll be the tiger's trainer. All of the other circus performers are afraid, 'the jugglers jittered' and 'the strongman shivered.' Tensions build, as the townsfolk show their anger and fear, with banners and shouts they protest. How does Arthur face his fears, gather himself and bravely tame the huge, growly beast? Will the townsfolk overcome their prejudices and realise they need to accept differences in their world?
Arthur and the Tiger is a wonderful story to share, filled with gorgeous alliteration, some fun descriptions and phrases to extend vocabulary combined with a tension-building storyline. Sophie Beer's artworks and text create an energetic and visually appealing story. Take time to investigate all the animals' activities, find the little mice and discuss the ranges of emotions shown. Use as a springboard into creative writing with a Junior Primary class.
Themes: Circuses, Tigers, Courage, Prejudice.