Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Never Trust a Tiger (CYBILS Nominee)

Well-told folktales are in short supply these days. So it's a happy occasion when one appears that's geared to beginning readers. Never Trust a Tiger is a Korean folktale that answers the age-old chestnut: Can a leopard change its spots? Only in this case it's a tiger's stripes. And the answer? Apparently not.

Told in six short chapters, the story begins with the tiger trapped in a pit. A passing merchant helps him out and the tiger repays the kindness by pouncing on the man and opening his jaws to devour him. The merchant protests, arguing that his good deed should be rewarded. The pair agree to let others be the judge. If the merchant is correct, the tiger will free him. If the tiger is right, GULP

An ox votes in favor for the tiger. A pine tree gives the nod to the merchant. Then a hare happens along and it is she who will decide the merchant's fate. Pretending not to understand the predicament, she tricks the tiger into showing her what happened. The tiger jumps back in the pit and.... Well, do I have to spell it out?

The tale is cleverly told, with one chapter leading seamlessly to the next, and the bold illustrations are done in an appropriately primitive style. Beginning readers craving more can also check out The Tortoise's Gift: A Story from Zambia, the first book in the series.

Never Trust a Tiger: A Story from Korea
Retold by Lari Dan
Illustrations by Melanie Williamson
Barefoot Books, 48 pages
Published: September, 2012