We Became Jaguars

Chronicle. Mar. 2021. 44p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781452183930.
K-Gr 2–A young boy is visited by his grandmother. When she suggests they be jaguars, the boy gives her his best jaguar impersonation: crawling on all fours, as elegantly as possible. The boy and his grandmother scurry around the living room and suddenly find themselves in a lush jungle. For the remainder of the book, they are portrayed as sleek jungle cats. Is this real, or in their imagination? Eggers not only transmogrifies his characters into jaguars, he also uses the word “jaguar” as both noun and verb with the repeated refrain: “We jaguared on.” This playfulness isn’t restricted to language. White’s illustrations are spirited and clever. The surreal transformation from human to jaguar is sumptuously depicted on a stunning gatefold. Later, when the jaguars drink from a cool stream, their human faces appear in the water’s rippled surface. White’s color palette is beautiful. The two explore the world from evening to daylight to sunset. At night, the jaguars glow green in the midst of the dark jungle, purple like a velvet painting. In the mountains, their fur reflects the warmth of the setting sun. Eventually the child must return to the real world. School awaits. He leaves a realm of imagination that is so fantastic it feels real, or so real that it feels fantastic?
VERDICT A must-have tale about the power of imagination.

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