I couldn’t restrict a week about cats to just domestic ones. I truly don’t have a favourite feline, but have chosen to dedicate today’s post to that striped, regal cat – the tiger. This is my little, online contribution to the celebration of Earth Day.
Close your Eyes by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben.
If you are unfamiliar with this author, may I strongly suggest you get acquainted? She has a gentle, deep spirit that she communicates through all her picture and middle grade books. I plan to do a post soon on Kate Banks alone, but here, let me introduce you to a little tiger who will enchant parent and child as a bedtime read. “Close your eyes little tiger,” said his mother, “and go to sleep.” But little tiger hesitates to enter the world of sleep for some legitimate concerns. Very gently, his mother allays each fear, one by one and urges him into dreamland with reassurance that she will be right there when he awakes. The text is simple and short and the illustrations are big, bold double-spreads of sky-scenes, deserts, mountains and forests. Little tiger’s portrayal makes you want to pick him up and cuddle him, whereas his Mother is a Jungle queen. This is a sublime bedtime story.
Heart of a Tiger by Marsha Diane Arnold, pictures by Jamichael Henterly.
I was unsurprised to read that the author had consulted with a professor of India Studies at Sonoma State University, for this book is steeped in an authentic Indian feel. The story has a hint of “Little Bo” in it, as the premise is about Naming Day and the runt of a litter of kittens. Our protagonist is Number Four who, as Naming Day approaches, fears he will not be able to discover the name that truly fits his strong, inner convictions, rather than his ordinary, outward appearance. He undertakes a journey of courage, determination and wisdom beyond his years, to discover his name. He journeys into the Indian forest hoping to learn from “the Magnificent One”, the great Bengal tiger. Though initially rebuffed by the tiger, Number Four’s persistence and cunning prove invaluable to the great hunter and the young cat returns to the Naming Ceremony, with a fair and honest name. The warm, watercolour illustrations evoke with ease the heavy, steamy flora and fauna of an Indian jungle.
Tigers are some of the most majestic animals alive. They can climb, swim and outrun many other mammals. But, despite their power and strength, tigers are also under severe threat of becoming extinct. Humans have been hunting tigers for centuries. Nepal has only two hundred left, while India has about 2,500, a serious decline. China and Korea are the biggest criminals as far as tiger poaching is concerned. In the 1900’s, the entire tiger population was more than 100,000. Today the global tiger population is less than five thousand animals. 3 subspecies are already extinct since the 1950’s and the remaining 5 are in grave danger.
Most of the tiger’s body parts are said to be aphrodisiacs, medicines or poisons – possibly the most powerful in the world. These perceptions have caused tigers to be hunted for their: whiskers, eyes, penises, liver, fat, claws and bones.
Illegal wildlife trade poses a second, serious threat to these beautiful animals. However, as with so many species, the gravest danger has been man’s destruction of the tiger’s habitat and the species they prey on.
These were # 37 and 38 in the Read to Me Book Challenge.