Heart of the Tiger, by Glenda Millard & Gaye Chapman

In a land with no trees lived an old man, a boy and wooden tiger called Tiger.

When the old man dies, the boy inherits the tiger. He loves the tiger and treats him well, taking him for walks and listening to what it says. When the tiger tells him that it is made from a branch of the last ever tree, the boy longs to see what a tree is, and to experience the sight and smell of green. The tiger tells him that he can do it, if he is prepared to make a sacrifice. The boy agrees and sacrifices the thing he most loves – the tiger – in order to bring green back to the treeless land.

Heart of the Tiger is a poignant and touching tale by award-winning author Glenda Millar and talented illustrator Gaye Chapman. The hard cover format and richly coloured illustrations make it a quality offering and Millard uses her words economically – her environmental theme is neither overstated nor hard to discern. The oriental feel of both word and picture allows readers to connect the fable with others of its genre.

This is Chapman’s first picture book, buts she is a seasoned artist and uses a blend of techniques to subtly support and extend the text. The image of Tiger, who has at this point has been destroyed, looking over the boy’s shoulder as he waters the ground, is especially evocative. The contrasting endpapers – with a barren landscape at the beginning and a green one at the end – are also richly rendered.

Heart of the Tiger, with its gentle, yet evocative text, will be just as enjoyable for home reading as in the school setting.

Heart of the Tiger, by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Gaye Chapman
Scholastic, 2004