Title: There’s a tiger in the garden
Author and Illustrator: Lizzy Stewart
Publisher: Walker Books, Australia. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Great Britain

Nora and Jeff, her giraffe, are bored at Grandma’s, there is nothing to do. When Grandma suggests they go for a walk in the garden to look for the tiger, Nora does not believe her. Nor does she believe there are dragonflies as big as birds, plants that can eat you whole, and a grumpy polar bear. But off her and Jeff set anyway, reluctant at first until discoveries are made.

This large format picture book is destined to be a classic. Physically, the book is gorgeous. The front cover is tactile with the writing and images raised, instantly encouraging the prospective reader to feel it with their open hand. Inside the illustrations include a mix of drawing and collage, in bright colours. The plot outline and beautiful illustrations will never date. Nora is such a character. Determined not to have fun or find anything of interest in the garden, her outlook turns completely around.

Unframed vignette pictures mixed with unframed full-page illustrations vary the pace of the story, especially when Nora is trying to convince the polar bear, and the reader, there is no tiger when the illustrations contradict her. The following close up of Nora face to face with the tiger is startling. Colours used are bright and lively, reflecting Nora’s personality.

This book has great read aloud potential and would make a lovely lap read with a little one cuddled up before bed. It would also be a good story time book for the young set with opportunities for audience input when they see things in the visual narrative Nora doesn’t.

Suggested activities

  • Make shapes of flowers and plants from sponges for print painting. Make a print garden.
  • Draw animals in your picture you would like to see in your garden.
  • On an already prepared garden mural, children can draw on separate paper, or cut from magazines, picture of animals to place on scene to make a collage.
  • Discuss activities the children do at their grandparents’ houses.
  • Research the animals in the book. Look at their habitat, food they eat. In a class situation, each child finds one interesting fact they did not know before to share with the class.
  • Are there really plants that eat animals, or meat? What are they and where are they found?
  • Go outside and document, in writing or drawing, plants and animals found in your garden.

Suitable story time themes

  • Gardens
  • Grandparents
  • Animals