Camp Tiger

illus. by John Rocco. 40p. Putnam. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399173295.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—A tiger joins a young boy and his family as they enjoy a camping weekend in the mountains. It creeps out of the woods while they are making camp and asks whether they have an extra tent where he can take shelter from the cold. The boy and tiger spend the night together, and the creature remains throughout the weekend, even joining the family on a fishing excursion. On the last night, the animal takes the boy out in the canoe. They lie on their backs, gazing at the stars, until his parents lift the youngster into their tent. Alert readers will notice several hints that the tiger is an imaginary comfort creature, conjured up by the young narrator who is afraid of going into first grade and becoming more independent like his older brother. The tiger is small and "starts acting like a cat—a more regular cat." The boy even tells the animal that tigers don't live in the mountains. The mixed media illustrations are stunning. Rocco's cover image of the tiger, yellow eyes staring out at readers, is so huge its head seems to form a road for the hiking family. On one spread, the boy and tiger are curled up together, one large C encircling a smaller one. Back at home, wearing tiger-striped pajamas, the boy draws his imaginary friend "before [he] forget[s]."
VERDICT This beautiful paring of text and illustrations is an excellent choice for group sharing and can spark discussion about ways to cope with new situations.

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