A gentleman tiger takes his son on sailing voyage which encounters unexpected hazards in this Richard Adams poem beautifully illustrated by Nicola Bayley.
Set in the Edwardian era, period feel is delicately captured by both narration and illustration. The story itself is related at second by a neighbor who saw the explorers off and heard about their adventures when they are finally returned. This distancing diminishing the emotional impact of the dangers in a way that suits the stiff-upper-lip attitude of the period. It also makes it more amusing that no one seems to find anything odd in having tigers named Ezekiel and Raphael (the wife and mother goes almost unmentioned) as neighbors. All the disapproval is saved for Ezekiel's recklessness in buying an unsound little boat and taking his son on an adventure. Tut tut!
Bayley's artwork is exquisite, jewel-like colors and details. Her tigers are expressive without anthropomorphization.
When I read this as a small child I loved the pictures and the story but didn't notice the humor of the tone. I also was too young to appreciate the poetry itself, which is excellent but not written for children. Here is one of my favorite stanzas, a little reminiscent of Eve Merriam:They sailed away, the wind blew high,
All round them naught but sea and sky.
And day and night, while Raphael steered,
and stranger stars appeared.