“Augustus the tiger is sad. He has lost his smile.” So he sets off in search of his smile – and discovers that the many wonders of the natural world around him can revive his spirits and bring him happiness…
Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.24.38If tigers were able to sigh, you can imagine the mournful exhalation of air that would accompany our majestic hero as his story begins. And he does indeed cut a rather sad and solitary figure, with his upside-down smile.
After a ‘huge tigery stretch’ – one of those satisfying ones that cats do so well, with his arms outstretched and his back elongated in a proud yogic pose – Augustus pads off on a voyage of discovery.
His first encounter is with a small, shiny beetle, lurking under a cluster of bushes, then he spies a colourful array of exotic birds, chirping high up in the trees. He treks across the highest mountains (appearing in a moody silhouette against a magnificent sky of purply blue hues) and swims through glorious turquoise waters as a shoal of rainbow fish flit around him. He languishes in the warm sun, entertaining himself with shadow shapes and dances in the rain, watching the drops splitter splatter to the ground…
As he finally saunters up to a huge puddle, he makes a happy discovery. Guess what is looking right back at him? That elusive smile.
He may not have a spring in his step quite as sprightly as Tigger, but the cheeky curl of his tail shows that Augustus’s spirit has revived and
he has finally got his grin
– and his groove – back.
With an underlying message that happiness is there if only you know where to find it, Augustus learns that it’s the simple pleasures in life that bring the most rewards – with a flicker of a smile growing and becoming more pronounced with each step of his journey.
It also shows the importance of self-reliance. Augustus is master of his own happiness, as he uses his resourcefulness to make his own amusement, using the natural world as an impetus.
Rayner’s artwork is stunningly executed with a light touch that gives the narrative a beautifully fluid, flowing feel, perfectly evoking the majestic elegance of the tiger – and to match his rather refined name.
The illustrations also show Augustus’s light, playful side as he scampers and dances more like a kitten. The many hours Catherine spent watching and sketching tigers (in freezing temperatures) at Edinburgh Zoo certainly paid off.
The perfect book for animals lovers and anyone who needs a little nudge out of the blues: by the end of this charming book, it is not only Augustus who is likely to have found his smile.
Fun fact Augustus is a Siberian tiger. Siberian tigers are the biggest cats in the world. They live in Southern Russia and Northern China where the winters are very cold. Most tigers are orange with black stripes. The stripes make them hard to see when they walk through tall weeds and grasses. Every tiger has a different pattern of stripes – like a human fingerprint.
Did you know? Tigers are in danger. There are more tigers living in zoos and nature reserves than in the wild. There are only about 3,200 tigers left in the world.
* Want to know more about tigers? * Can We Save the Tiger is a great book that teaches all about the tiger’s plight, and what we can do to help.
Author notes Award-winning author and illustrator Catherine Rayner studied Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She fell in love with the city and still lives there with her husband and young son. Catherine finds huge artistic inspiration in her pets and often uses them as models.
Catherine won the 2009 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Harris Finds His Feet, and has been shortlisted four times for the award. She was also awarded the Best New Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Awards in 2006 and was named one of Booktrust’s ten Best New Illustrators in 2008. In 2010, she was the inaugural illustrator in residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her book Iris and Isaac won the UK Literacy Association Book Award in 2012.