Tiger and Turtle
Roaring Brook Press, 2010.
Tiger and Turtle live in the same forest and stay out of each other’s way. They may not always agree, but they have learned there is no use arguing or fighting. After all, “a tiger’s claws could not harm a turtle’s shell any more than a turtle’s feet could outrun a tiger’s.” Then one day, the tiniest of flowers drifts down from the sky and changes their relationship forever.
Turtle wants to eat the flower, but Tiger has other ideas, and, while they may not be able to hurt each other (at least not very easily) they can sure fight over a flower! For instance, Tiger can swipe at the flower and send it soaring out of Turtle’s reach. And Turtle, once she is angry enough, learns that biting Tiger’s leg is actually pretty effective. The two go back and forth escalating their efforts to control each other and gain the flower. It seems as though disaster will surely befall them both, but at the last minute, we learn there was never anything to fight about as Tiger and Turtle narrowly escape a gruesome fate—together! It is no surprise at all that after this, Tiger and Turtle move beyond mere tolerance to become the best of friends.
This gorgeous book, with a strong message about resolving conflict and the futility of fighting is, perhaps fittingly, dedicated to the author’s brother. It is likely that the sibling relationship is the first place many children learn such lessons, and they will doubtless relate to the silliness and extremes Tiger and Turtle go to, to get their own way. The art, inspired by Indian and Pakistan designs for shawls, rugs, and jali windows and rendered on handmade Chinese paper, is simply beautiful. Indeed, gazing at Rumford’s warm colors, transcendent designs and the boldly drawn yet slightly dreamy Tiger and Turtle is likely to make anyone feel peaceful and at ease. A book that can bring children to laugh, dream, calm down and think about important lessons is certainly a treasure. Parents and children, perhaps for different reasons, will both want to reread Tiger and Turtle many times.