Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
Text, 2016. ISBN 9781925240795
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Adventure. Surrealism. Art. Iris, a sensible 12 year old has been sent to Spain by her grasping parents to make sure that her Aunt Ursula leaves her fortune and big estate, to Iris and her parents. When she arrives at Bosque de Nubes, she discovers that things are not what they appear and outside in the wild wood, a mysterious animal prowls. Fascinated by a surrealist painting, Iris and the Tiger, she is determined to find the tiger. Meanwhile a developer is hoping to take over the woods, and she finds herself in terrible danger.
This is a compelling and totally absorbing book that has a timeless, classic feel about it. There are all the hallmarks that are familiar: the feisty young heroine, a gothic house, dark and dangerous woods, a strange aunt and weird retainers. But what makes it stand out is the theme of surrealism that flows through the book and will have young readers not only following the surrealist drawings at the top of each chapter, but rushing off to research the art movement.
Hall has carried her Surrealism theme into some frightening areas as Iris puts on boots that have human toes, and take her off to unknown places. There is a carnivorous car with clawed feet that chases Iris and her friend Jordi through the forest, and the Exquisite Corpse creature they created lurks nearby. However Iris is determined to find out where the tiger in the picture is, and with the help of Jordi her young friend, she uncovers many secrets on the way, some of which challenge her notions of honesty and loyalty.
This is a story that would make an excellent literature circle book or class text, as there are many themes to discuss, Surrealism, family loyalty, honesty, friendship and environmental development. Teacher's notes are available.
But best of all, it is a wonderful unique adventure story to read, cherish and remember.