Book Review: A Tiger Called Tomas by Charlotte Zolotow, Marta Alvarez Miguens

A Tiger Called Tomas is a picturebook written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens. The original version of this book, A Tiger Called Thomas was published in 1963, and it has been updated and changed three other times, changing the appearance and race of Thomas and his neighbors to make it more inclusive and relatable to a variety of readers. In this incarnation the shy Tomas is Latino with some Spanish woven through the story so yet another group of children can see someone like themselves on the page.

A Tiger Called Tomas is a lovely story about a young boy that is very shy. He is too anxious to go introduce himself to neighbors, and is worries that they will not like him. As someone that has always had that kind of underlying conversation in the back of my own mind, I could empathize and relate to young Tomas. It is only when he is safely hidden behind his Halloween mask that he feels brave enough to go and interact with the people his family has been encouraging him to talk to through the whole book. This is a sweet and relatable story, and I think that any shy readers will be able to see themselves on the page- and those that do no understand that reluctance to put themselves out there might gain a little understand of how a shy person feels. This would be a great conversation starter about personalities and how we are all different, and kindness toward others. I would love the chance to see all four incarnations of this book together to see how wording changes and each illustrator made the book a little different.
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