Dianne Hofmeyr and Jesse Hodgson
Tom’s visit to an art gallery and Rousseau’s famous painting, Surprised! inspire the boy to create his own large tiger picture.
Little does he imagine though that this is to lead to an amazing nocturnal adventure, for out of the shadows in his bedroom appears a large, stripy animal inviting him on a moonlit walk.
Somewhat fearful by nature, Tom mounts the tiger’s back and off they go into a forest alive with bears, foxes and lions.
In the tiger’s company they turn out to be playful rather than the scary creatures Tom has anticipated.
The adventure continues with a river crossing,
a fairground ride and an encounter with what seem at first to be frozen tiger forms.
All of these too engender fearful feelings in the boy, but somehow with his own tiger friend beside him Tom is emboldened. He swims, flies round and around aboard a merry-go-round and dances in an icy cave till sleep overcomes him and it’s time to return home.
Your senses are immediately stimulated as you start to read Dianne Hofmeyr’s dramatic present tense telling of this entrancing tale of a little boy’s transformation from fearful to fearless; and with the side lining of art in the curriculum it’s fantastic to see a painting such as this one of Henri Rousseau’s used as the starting point for the story. Suspense is built by variation of sentence length and conjunctions strategically placed at page breaks, while Tom’s anxious “I’m a little bit scared of …’ iteration followed by tiger’s assurances add to the power of the narrative.
Jesse Hodgson’s arresting tigerish scenes are more mannered, bright and colourful than Rousseau’s windswept, storm-tossed jungle and have just the right balance of ferocity, realism and reassurance as befits a bedtime story.