Tiger Boy is an enthralling tale, written by Mitali Bose Perkins, of a young boy’s endeavour, to rescue a tiger cub from being discovered by greedy poachers, and, return her to its anxious mother in the safe haven
of the ’Reserve’. Set in the backdrop of the Sunderbans in India, the story is ostensibly written for young readers, but is a fascinating, easy to read, difficult- to- put -down book for the young and old alike.
Right from the opening lines of the book, the reader is transported into Neel’s world - “ Splash! Splash! The two boys stripped off their school uniforms and jumped into the pond. Their heads bobbed as they wrestled
and dunked each other.”
The book vividly captures the warmth and sunshine of the languid and mysterious mangrove forests, of a world far away from our all too familiar concrete jungles, and describes the struggle for survival-be it of the
village communities or of the majestic Bengal Tiger. The reader identifies with the dilemma of the main characters, the bravery, compassion, and fears of the siblings , their grasping of hands in the darkness ,their heart –wrenching efforts to save the tiger
cub. “The sucking began and kept going—the cub was obviously hungry—but stopped as soon as they moved backward. They tried the trick a third time, but still the cub wouldn’t come toward them” .The description tugs at the heart.
The book portrays the pulls and pressures of a society that ekes out a living with limited resources, and of a family that yet seeks to do the right thing under very difficult circumstances. The need to preserve wildlife
and the commitment to do so, despite the lure of much-needed money, has been beautifully presented in this captivating tale.
The parallel thread narrating Neel’s reluctance to relocate to a nearby city for better education and opportunities, and the sincere efforts of his parents and headmaster to motivate him to work towards this goal,
but with little success, is a situation the reader can easily empathise with when described thus: “He had no desire to study in the big city of Kolkata. Why would he want to live anywhere but on the island? He could never leave Ma and her delicious cooking;
his sister, Rupa, who coddled and teased him; and Baba, who protected and provided for all of them. The sights, sounds, and smells of the Sunderbans were as much a part of him as his skin and his hair.” How the tiger cub experience jolts him to better realisation
is an absorbing sub-plot
The theme of Tiger Boy, by the author’s own admission, as of many of her other writings, emerges from reflections on the parables of Jesus. This book is based on the story about the talents given to three stewards.(Mathew25:14-30)
(Usha Nair is a nature lover who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)