go wild, or not — picture books I love

Shawn Anderson Mr Tiger and Dullards.jpg

MR. TIGER GOES WILD versus MEET THE DULLARDS: Sometimes the best way to study and review picture books is to compare and contrast them to one another. Here are two that I pulled from the mighty, mighty mountain of picture books on my writing desk as part of my #100picturebooks project.


Shawn Anderson Mr Tiger Goes Wild.jpg

MR. TIGER GOES WILD by Peter Brown

This book was recommended by my friend Hannah when she discovered that I was studying and learning how to write picture books. She was so excited about this recommendation, I just had to read it. I’m so glad that I did.

It's a delightful read. It’s a complete experience from the cover and the brick-wall front pages to the jungle-print on the end papers. The story even translates to the author’s bio on the inside back flap, an illustration of Peter Brown dressed as Mr. Tiger that encourages you to do something wild each day.

I love how the city is drab and the animals are all buttoned up in austere Victorian garb. When Mr. Tiger starts acting wild, they scowl and disapprove, and then finally Tiger goes completely wild and sheds his confining duds and runs into the jungle. Funny because he’s naked, but not-naked! His bright orange fur and wild behavior makes him stand out against the cold cityscape and the jungle’s lush green foliage.

Shawn Anderson Mr Tiger buildings.jpg

The language is simple and punchy. It conveys the message and the illustrations punctuate the action.  

This book has a wonderful message of knowing when to behave and act properly, but having time to go wild, explore, and have fun. When Mr. Tiger returns, he changes the city, making room for everyone to not be so buttoned up and serious all the time.  


Shawn Anderson Meet the Dullards.jpg

by Sara Pennypacker and Daniel Salmieri

And now it's time to get really, really boring!

The more I read this book, the more I enjoy it. It is so rich with subtle, sophisticated humor. It’s in the writings. It’s in the illustrations (I’m a huge fan of Daniel Salmieri’s work, especially in DRAGONS LOVE TACOS). This sophisticated humor lingers and meanders all the way all the way through the book. From flavorless ice cream and the children’s bleak names to the paint-color names on the wall of cans at the hardware store, this "dull" story is never boring. The headline type treatments, the shapes of the houses, and when they go paint shopping... it’s hilarious.

I like how when the parents are not looking the kids are anything but dull. This involves a sophisticated dance between the words and the illustrations. There are some great page turns, like when they try to move to an even duller house to protect the children and they enter a room in horror—page flip—because it has bright floral wall paper.

I also like how the story goes beyond the last pages with the children secretly sneaking off and doing crazy, fun things in the background while mama and papa Dullard are reveling in the dullness. This book is designed to read and look at again and again.