Friday 5 May 2017

There’s a Tiger in the Garden

There’s a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart (Murdoch Books)
PB RRP $14.99  ISBN 9781847808073

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

There’s nothing to do at Grandma’s house, or so Nora believes. Even her toy giraffe, Jeff, is bored. Then Grandma suggests a play in the garden with the giant dragonflies, hungry plants, grumpy polar bear and … the tiger. ‘I’m too old for silly games!’ Nora tells her, but she heads outside anyway. First, she encounters giant dragonflies … but she remains doubtful about everything else. Next, she’s forced to rescue Jeff from a hungry plant … but no way is she going to find a polar bear or ‘this ridiculous tiger anywhere’. Then the grumpy polar bear does indeed make an appearance … but she’s still 100 per cent certain there is no tiger in the garden. Is there?

This is a lovely picture book about the power of imagination, beautifully illustrated in hues of green that make a humble back yard look like a jungle. Lizzy Stewart uses digital software to overlap the plants and wildlife, giving the pages a vibrant 3D feel. The colours are always textured, creating the effect of a painted picture with overlaid pencil for finer detail.

The friendly tiger definitely reminded me of Judith Kerr’s tiger in The Tiger Who Came to Tea, both in personality and in looks. Unlike Sophie, however, Nora is not so nonchalant about meeting a tiger. The story even takes on an existential feel when both the tiger, and Nora, question whether the other is real and how they can know for sure.

There are a great variety of sentence lengths and font sizes throughout, making the story suitable for 4–6-year-olds. Nora finally lets her imagination take over and the story finishes with a wonderful twist!

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