'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 5 April 2013

Review: Why is a Tiger a Tiger?

Why is a Tiger a Tiger? is most certainly a striking picture book but there's a little more to it than image alone. Subtitled A Bestiary of Etymology, the book is a must-read for anyone fascinated with words and word origins.

Featuring around 70 animals, the book is essentially a series of true stories on how and why animals are called the names they are.

But let's start with Animal. The word comes from the Latin root Anima, meaning 'breath'. And of course - animals, until the end of their lives, anyway - are things that breathe.

It was fascinating to learn that before we used the word 'animal', the word 'beast' was used to describe those things that breathe. And even before that, the word 'doer' (Old German) was used. This word eventually became 'deer'. Can you guess which animal this word was eventually given to? Perhaps a favourite of animal hunters?

I love this book. I love the dialogue it opens with children and the educational, absolutely fascinating stories behind each animal.

The book is entirely monochromatic, with striking block prints of each animal, printed on slightly translucent paper with a creamy tone. Buchen's illustrations, despite their lack of colour, are mesmerising and would utterly entrance babies.

Imagery and warm, clear and appropriate text combine to create a stunning, collectible book that would serve priceless purpose both at home and in the school library.

Author/illustrator and all-round talent Dave Buchen raised funds via Kickstarter to produce and publish this book. Although this is a high text book, I highly recommend it for children aged five or younger, due to the high contrast imagery. You can buy the book here, and learn more about Dave's books here.

Title: Why is a Tiger a Tiger?
Author/Illustrator: Dave Buchen
Publisher: Dave Buchen, US$20 RRP
Publication Date: 1 November 2012
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9780615697185
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book