Book Review: Dorje’s Stripes by Anshumani Ruddra


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.

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