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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Tiger and Badger, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $21.00 ages 2 and up

"Tiger puts on Badger's hat.
He sits in Badger's chair.
He eats two of Badger's
orange slices.

"That's my chair,"
says Badger.

"I was sitting there,"
says Badger."

Tiger and Badger spend their day as so many children of their age and ilk spend theirs. They may be best friends, but that friendship is fraught with all of the emotional and personal encounters that are part of a young child's life. Some days they cannot even agree on who is who's best friend. Have you been there?

Today's seemingly endless conflicts begin with Tiger wearing Badger's hat, sitting on Badger's chair and eating Badger's orange slices. Badger is rightfully indignant. After all, he had been sitting there - at one time, at least. Tiger will not be dislodged until Badger distracts him with Bad Monkey. Badger resumes place of pride on the chair, eats a couple of orange slices and then makes a peace offering to his friend. All is well until there is only one ice pop, and sharing is not an option. A fight ensues; Badger wins; Tiger is unhappy once more - and throws Bad Monkey into a nearby tree.

It takes two and cooperation to extract the monkey. All is well, or is it? The arguing and discontent is not yet ended, as you well know if you live with a preschooler. A rift, and a separation ... all accomplished without trite apology or adult interference ... eventually leads to funny faces and a warm hug.

All is well, for as long as it lasts!

Two of my favorite artists together on the pages of one book. How lucky am I to share it with you? Emily Jenkins has the language down pat, with back-and-forth dialogue that convincingly captures many of the conversations I have heard with kindergarteners. Left to their own devices, they will soon sort out their differences (often more difficult for girls than boys - but that seems to continue into adulthood) and move forward, as happens here. She has her finger on the pulse of the young child and pens a story that is a delight to share!

Marie-Louise Gay uses her signature watercolor washes, acrylic paints and pencils to create warm, detailed backgrounds for her expressive characters. The hills, trees, and sun-filled skies provide a backdrop that is as comfortable as their friendship.  Constant movement is shown with lively, flowing lines. I love the little black clouds that hang over their heads to help them express both anger and sadness!


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