The Last Tiger

Eerdmans. Aug. 2020. 36p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802855527.
K-Gr 4–This beautifully illustrated fable about a tiger discovering that freedom is more important than strength and power may have trouble finding an audience. The tiger is the strongest animal in the jungle and fears nothing. When hunters arrive, the other animals all hide, but he does not. The hunters return, capture him, and put him in a zoo. There, he slowly shrinks away until he is able to fit through the bars and escape back to the jungle, where he stays hidden, now aware that freedom is his “most treasured possession.” The text is concise and straightforward, with nary a word wasted. It flows along easily and has a fittingly fable-like feel. But the look implies a preschool audience, while the sophisticated message will be better appreciated by older children. Horácek’s full-bleed, color-saturated illustrations bring the jungle and tiger to vibrant life. The city and zoo backgrounds are depicted in shades of black and gray, reflecting the tiger’s unhappiness in captivity, and contrasting with the brilliant, green jungle.
VERDICT A beautiful book, this may start discussions about freedom with some adult guidance, but will miss the mark with most of the picture book set.

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