When tiger parents bring their first healthy cub into the world, they have every right to be proud. But when their firstborn turns out to be — gasp — a vegetarian, they also have a right to be shocked down to their very stripes.
That’s how the story goes in independent author/illustrator Jonathan Ayre’s picture book, The Tiger Who Wasn’t!
Hatty, an adorably unassuming cub named for the curly hair that sits on his head like a hat, is born a tiger-vegetarian. His parents are devastated because their little tiger prefers eating honey with ripe avocado instead of meat, and they are convinced he is destined to live a lonely life.
But Hatty doesn’t let his “difference” stop him. He sets off for the jungle, determined to find forest friends who will accept him for who he is.
The problem, of course, is that the forest animals are quite familiar with tigers, and are convinced that Hatty plans to eat them the first chance he gets. And for a while, nothing he does convinces them that he’s merely a vegetarian looking for a friend.
After chatting with monkeys, conversing with hippos, and trying to convince giraffes, zebras and even fish that he’s harmless, Hatty is about to give up…until he comes up with the perfect word to convince them all that he just wants to be friends.
Mr. Ayre’s love for children definitely shines in this clever book about how to cope with being different. His short, age-appropriate sentences are specifically designed to tickle the elementary-aged funny bone, and though his rhymes occasionally seem a bit forced, they never lack for humor or fun.
As for art, picture book lovers will appreciate the parade of adorable forest animals and the veritable explosion of vibrant summertime colors sprinkled across every page.
For an adorable book about differences, personal preferences and unlikely friends, be sure to add The Tiger Who Wasn’t to your collection. It can be used as a story-starter for discussions about fitting in, different personalities in the same family, and the right to be different — and eat avocados with honey.
Best wishes and happy vegetarian,
Picture Book Depot