When a talking tiger walks into a family’s campground seeking shelter, one young boy finds companionship and the courage to face the challenges of growing older. Introspective and intriguingly illustrated by John Rocco, Susan Choi’s Camp Tiger leaves readers with a sense of quiet wonderment.
Choi writes the way a child talks, narrating everything the boy sees, does and knows with delightful metaphors and meticulous descriptions. In this candid way, Choi gives voice to the questions and uncertainties that come with growing up.
Rocco illustrates with bold, vibrant colors that seem to deepen and grow more luminous as the pages turn. From vast, idyllic vistas to the cool greens and blues of a shady campsite, Rocco’s use of light and shadow gives readers a tangible sense of place. But while the scenery is sublime, what elevates this camping story is the tiger itself. Beautifully detailed and expressive in the daylight, the tiger shines in the moonlight, magnificent and near-mythic.
More contemplative than straightforward, Camp Tiger’s message may need some unwinding for the youngest readers who will have many questions: Is the tiger real? Why weren’t the people afraid of him? Where does the tiger go at the end? But whether you read Camp Tiger as an allegory for growing up or as the story of a child’s fanciful imagination, one thing is clear: There are lessons to learn from the tigers in the shadows.