Tiger on a Tree is a widely appreciated classic. First published almost twenty years ago, this beloved picture book, with its engaging verse and striking pictures, has gone on to win multiple awards and innumerable accolades.
Although written in a light and entertaining way, Anushka Ravishankar tackles the important theme of conservation and our coexistence with animals. The text shines best when it is read out aloud because there are ample opportunities for animated readings, which makes it fun for young children.
The illustrations by Pulak Biswas really give the book its flavour. They not only complement the text exceedingly well, but also capture its spirit perfectly. The limited colour palette allows the black and white images, with the occasional burst of orange, to appear much more dramatic. The bold, black strokes are well balanced with the effective use of negative space (the space around and between the objects in an image). The clever use of the orange colour makes it easy for a young reader to follow the tiger since it always stands out. And when the orange appears elsewhere on the pages, it successfully draws your eyes to focus on other parts of the pictures.
Pulak Biswas’s style is so expressive, which is very important for a picture book. I particularly loved how the tiger is represented so endearingly because it helps the reader be empathetic towards a creature that otherwise has the reputation of being dangerous and frightening. It also adds an element of humour when you later see how terrified the people are of the tiger.
Design-wise, this book is an excellent example of how less is more. The whimsical typography is a wonderful way to lay out the minimalist verse. It adds another dimension to the text without being excessive and distracting. The typography also helps to blend the text and images into a cohesive unit seamlessly.
It’s not hard to see why Tiger on a Tree has become such a popular book. A big part of why it’s so charming is because of the amount of restraint used – I mean, the use of few but effective elements in its creation. Meant for children and adults alike, this book should be an integral part of any picture book enthusiast’s collection.
By Mayura K.
Author: Anushka Ravishankar
Illustrator: Pulak Biswas
Tara Books, 2013
Subject Category: Contemporary/Fiction