Tom the Tamer by Tjibbe Veldkamp, illustrated by Philip Hopman
Tom may be able to train snails to jump on a trampoline and squirrels to swing from trapezes in the trees, but he can’t convince his father to go outdoors. His dad is too frightened of all of the animals out there. So Tom sets out with a plan to bring the animals in to his father. He starts by heading to the local pet store and buying a polar bear. He trains the polar bear in the park and by that evening, the polar bear is pretending to be their new furry white chair in the house. Tom’s father loves the new chair and never notices that it is actually a polar bear. The next day, Tom heads out and gets even more animals from the pet store, training them all to act like different pieces of furniture. Soon the entire living room is filled with animals, and Tom’s father loves all of the new “furniture” too. But what will happen when he finds out that Tom got all of these new things at the pet store?
Veldkamp has created a broad comedy that stretches the imagination in a most wonderful way. It also takes the parent/child relationship and merrily turns it on its head. Tom is a very creative young man, seeing the world in his own unique way and definitely not in the way that his father does.
Hopman’s illustrations add to the fun, from the crowded shelves of the pet store to the graceful curve and smile of a polar bear chair. The illustrations have a certain wildness but also a friendly style that makes sure that everyone knows this is pure fun.
An exuberant book that is full of zany fun, this Dutch import would be a great addition to an animal story time. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Lemniscaat.