Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Review + Guest Blog Post for Tigeropolis #2: The Grand Opening by R. D. Dikstra and Matt Rowe, Children's, 7 years +, 10/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

Mission Save Tigeropolis must succeed!!

12th October 2016, Belle Media Ltd, 176 pages, Paperback, Review copies

Book summary
Tiger cubs Bittu and Matti, together with old Uncle Raj and their mother Tala, might have saved their beloved Tigeropolis, but they soon discover there’s much more to running a successful wildlife park than posing for the odd picture and uploading it to ‘Tigerbook’.

From the reappearance of an old foe from Uncle Raj’s past, to coming up with inventive 
ways to draw in the crowds, the family of vegetarian tigers have their hands full trying to make the reopening of Tigeropolis the roaring success they want it to be.

Nayu's thoughts
A super cute tiger community read which addresses issues all wildlife faces in the modern world. For this review I read both books, the first was published in 2015 (I think it's on a reprint). While you can read the books out of order, I recommend you don't if you can help it. 

Book 1's cover with Bittu!!!
I confess it was initially Matt's illustrations which drew me into the story-isn't Bittu adorable?!! There are cute illustrations dotted throughout each story which made me smile as much as the story did. I love how the tigers have a lot of human characteristics including having a computer, and how they are still animal like in the way humans view them. I enjoyed learning about various Indian dishes, some which I'd heard of, I liked the subtle puns which older readers will understand like names being subtly twisted like David Battenburg for David Attenborough. 

I like how both history and the environment are key themes in the family centred story, how relatable Bittu's family is despite being tigers he has fun with his sister, and loves his uncles, understanding their eccentricities are simply something to be lived with. There is a lot of humour because of the communication barrier between the tigers and the humans, whose reaction in the second book made me laugh because Bittu's mother had the wrong impression of what the humans thought about her misbehaving children. I loved how clueless the park's guards were, especially when they had no knowledge of the lengths the tigers were going to to save their park. 

Once or twice I found the pace a little clunky, which is the only reason this fun read doesn't get full marks. I'm delighted there's a 3rd book coming to let me continue enjoying this tiger family's life! Plus you can learn some more from R. D. Diksta in the guest blog post below.

Find out more on the dedicated website.

Tigeropolis – What inspired the story? by R. D. Diksta

Nayu: a female tiger
The initial idea for Tigeropolis came to me as I was sitting in the back of a jeep heading back to camp after my first ever sighting of a tiger in the wild.  I was part way through a tour of tiger parks in India that was organised by a group I supported that seeks to encourage best practice in eco-tourism.

I’ve done many wildlife trips over the years – amongst other things I’ve tracked Pandas in the wild in China, visited Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and photographed Polar Bears and Walrus in the Arctic. Each one was an amazing experience, but I had never seen tigers in the wild. So, when the chance came to join a ‘working’ trip round some of India’s best known tiger reserves, I jumped at it.

We had visited a number of reserves with no success. Part of the problem had been lack of time – after all it was a working visit, it wasn’t supposed to be a tourist trip. We only really had time for the occasional game-drive.  By the time we visited Bandhavgarh (a tiger reserve about 200 miles SE of Delhi) I was not expecting much, although still hopeful.

It was right at the end of the day –  we were with a very experienced tiger expert, who knew the area like the back of her hand, so the chances seemed good, but even then we had no luck.  The park closed in about 30 minutes and we had quite a bit of driving to do to get to the gates. I was just beginning to reconcile myself to the fact that not seeing a tiger was OK –  after all these are wild animals, and part of the joy of any wild life trip was that so much was unpredictable – you just had to go with the flow. Suddenly we saw a couple of other jeeps stopped up ahead. They had spotted a tiger in the bush and were waiting for it to break cover. Our vehicle crept up to join them.

When the tiger finally emerged it was a really thrilling experience – the excitement of everyone watching was clear – such a powerful animal, and only feet away. But all the while the tigress barely seemed to notice us. She just looked at us all for a few moments, turned, then slowly sauntered passed us, turned again and then quietly slipped back into the bush. She was only visible a few minutes –  but what a wonderful experience. All the while though she seemed in total control. This was after all her territory.

That night I began thinking… what if the tigers really were in control?

A couple of days later, on the plane back to the UK, I started jotting down a few ideas.

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