The Tiger Prowls: a pop-up book of wild animals

Seb Braun (author and illustrator)

Maggie Bateson (paper engineer)

Simon and Schuster (publisher)

‘The Tiger Prowls’ is the embodiment of ‘quality not quantity.’ Beautiful, yet powerful in its simplicity, this is a book for all ages and one to be treasured. 

‘The Tiger Prowls’ introduces the reader to five wild animals, each on a double page.   As a page is turned, an animal seems to magically unfurl from the paper.  Bold in design, there is just enough detail in the illustrations to give the animals charm and personality and to hint at their habitats. I have deliberately not included any pictures of the inside of this book as I would not want to spoil the joy of the pop-up pages; photographs just don’t do it justice.

Yes, this book is visually striking but there is also true beauty in its words.  If you are going to demonstrate to children, especially those in upper key stage two, the importance of making every word count and how to select language with care, this is a perfect model.  In no more than 2 sentences, Seb Braun encapsulates the wonder of each animal in a writing style that rests perfectly between narrative and prose.

“Gentle, elegant, the giraffe is a treetop nibbler, a cloud high grazer.

Pitching his way across the savannah, like a ship adrift on the open plain.”

There is no shying away from specific and adventurous language choices or complex sentence structures, providing many opportunities for children across key stage 2 to discuss and explore the effects the author has created through his choice of words.

As well as enjoying this book as a visual feast (which my Year 6 class will be doing once I can bear to share it… I may have to buy a second copy: one for me and one for them), it can be used as a starting point for writing across all genres – narrative, prose and non-fiction.  Children would love to create their own pages in the style of Seb Braun.  They could find out about wild animals, perhaps ones linked with topics they are already doing, and be challenged to present the animal to the reader using only two sentences.  Currently in Year 6, our class text is based in Ethiopia and last term it was an Ancient Greek text, so we could take on this challenge for animals that are native to Ethiopia or even for the mythical beasts of ancient Greece.  In science, we have been studying evolution and inheritance, looking in particular at the animals of the Galapagos Islands.  Children could create their own version of the text using these marvellously adaptive creatures.  The aim each time would be to portray they uniqueness of the animal in just a handful of sentences.  Alternatively, children could focus on non-fiction, perhaps a non-chronological report based on one or all of the animals hidden within the pages or a persuasive piece regarding the protection or captivity of wild animals.  In addition, children could explore paper crafts including origami and pop-ups to use in their own illustrations. 

However, on its purest level, ‘A Tiger Prowls’ should just be enjoyed, over and over again, as a wonderful example of a pop-up book: one that is both ageless and timeless.