Book Review: Dorje’s Stripes by Anshumani Ruddra

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Dorje’s Stripes by Anshumani Ruddra, illustrated by Gwangjo and Jung-a Park

In a small Buddhist temple in the Himalayas, the monks have an unusual visitor, a Royal Bengal tiger named Dorje.  Dorje is very unusual himself, because his coat has no stripes.  In the two years since he arrived at the monastery, they disappeared one by one.  One evening, the youngest monk noticed that Dorje had one stripe again!  One of the monks tells the story of when he entered Dorje’s dreams and saw that as Dorje lost each stripe, a tiger had died.  Now there was a new tiger in the wilderness, a female tiger, who seemed to have taken a liking to Dorje.  Soon perhaps, his coat will fill again with stripes.

Inspired by the tragic loss of tigers in India, this story vividly tells of the loss in a way that children will easily relate to.  The story is quietly told through Dorje himself and the voices of the monks.  It is a story that speaks gently about horrors beyond children’s comprehension, making them tangible and understandable. 

Ruddra’s tone is one of respect and awe for this creature.  He takes his time to tell the story to its fullest, offering inspiration along the way.  The illustrations are glowing with bright colors that capture the coat of Dorje and the world of the monastery.  The watercolors have been allowed to bleed a bit, creating auras around things.  At other times, the painting is tight and controlled.  The two play against each other, showing the wild next to the tame.

This is a lovely and inspiring book about threatened species.  It captures the plight, the loss and the recovery in one beautiful story.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Kane Miller EDC Publishing.

Book Review: I’m Me! by Sara Sheridan

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I’m Me! by Sara Sheridan, illustrations by Margaret Chamberlain

When Imogen visits her Aunt Sara, she asks immediately to play pretend.  Aunt Sara offers to pretend that Imogen is a monkey on the beach.  Or perhaps a beautiful princess with a gown and a crown.  Or a witch’s cat with magic wands.  Or a pirate’s parrot searching for buried treasure.  Or a dragon-taming knight.  Or an astronaut.  But Imogen wants to be only one things today, herself!  So she and her Auntie Sara head to the park, play on the swings, eat ice cream, and then curl up on the couch together to share some stories.

Sheridan has created a book with a romping rhythm that keeps it moving quickly and merrily along.  The options that are given for different themes to play together are clever, silly and invitingly fun.  The book speaks to every child’s dream, an adult who is eager to play not only with them, but to play exactly what the child wants to play.

Chamberlain’s illustrations are done first in pen and ink on paper and then loaded into the computer to add color and texture.  This gives a pleasing combination of hand-drawn lines and deep computer colors.  The bright, bold colors and jaunty textures add zest to the title.

An invitation to play and imagine, this book is appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.