Heart of a Tiger – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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As a follow-up to my non-fiction book on big cats last week, Leo the Snow Leopard, I wanted to review one of my favorite fictional picture books about little cats.


Written by Marsha Diane Arnold, and illustrated by Jamichael Henterly

Published by Dial, 1995

Ages: 3 – 7

Availability: Out of print, but still readily available – it will be released as an e-book in a few months time!

Themes: cats, tigers, self-confidence, India, perseverance, naming ceremonies


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 in a litter of street cats. As Naming Day approaches, he 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.

Why I like this book:

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 warm, watercolour illustrations evoke with ease the heavy, steamy flora and fauna of an Indian jungle. Don’t miss the hidden tigers among the illustrations. Despite the ridicule of the Bengal tigers, our little runt perseveres and proves himself strong and brave. I love stories that empower children and encourage them to be true to themselves and their uniqueness – this story of a small kitten with big dreams does just that.


On her website, Marsha has a super list of activities for this book.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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22 Responses to Heart of a Tiger – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. I like the cover! It reminds me a bit of the “Warrior Cats” books. 🙂

  2. Laura Renauld says:

    This is a nice “don’t judge a book by its cover” book.I love picture books that build self-esteem.

  3. I remember this book! It is a gem. My boys loved it. The text and illustrations completely pulled them in.

  4. Amy D says:

    Love Marsha Diane Arnold’s stories!

  5. I want to look for hidden tigers!

  6. This book sounds terrific, and the art sounds gorgeous! I love the cover! And of course now I’m just dying to know what name Number 4 got, so I hope my library has this book! Thanks for sharing this one, Joanna! 🙂

  7. Yeah I am wanting to know what name he got. Guess I’ll have to check it out of the library to find out…lol. Great cover and story Joanna, thanks!

  8. Joanna, I’m delighted that shared my beloved HEART OF A TIGER. When I visit schools, children ask what my favorite book is I’ve written. I tell them the one closest to my heart is HEART OF A TIGER. I think I wrote it to guide myself, but the book has proved a guide to many over the years. When I show the “hidden tigers” on the big screen during my presentations, the kids get so excited. Good luck everyone finding them. Check puddles and rocks. 🙂

    • Joanna says:

      I love this personal story about the story, Marsha. I am a huge feline fan so these cats and the message move me every time.

  9. Sounds like a great book – especially for anyone who has known a kitten with the heart of a tiger.

  10. Joanna says:

    Sandi, so true!

  11. Hannah Holt says:

    You always pick such wonderful books. This is another book that I want to run and check out right away.

  12. Always love your picks and your thorough reviews of your favorite choices. I think I’d like this one. Very creative story, and the Indian research peaks my interest.

  13. What a wonderful book, Joanna. That cover is GORGEOUS! I love books like these and have always bought them for our seven munchkins. Will look for this. (Ivy plans on saving tigers when she grows up) 🙂 Hugs woman!

  14. Pingback: Heart of a Tiger | Flowering Minds

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