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Hello friends, I decided to review a Children’s picture book today.

The Dancing Tiger is by Malachy Doyle.  The tale is told in rhythmic verse about a tiger who dances in the woods outside a little girl‘s home.

There’s a quiet, gentle tiger

In the woods below the hill,

And he dances on this tiptoes,

When the world is dreaming, still.

The girl and Tiger make friends.  They dance when the moon is full. Seasons come and go, and eventually the little girl grows older and has children of her own.  The conclusion is lovely because the author shows how love, friendship, and magic can bridge generations.

If you will keep me secret,

And never tell a soul,

Then you may come and dance with me

On nights the moon is whole.

The illustrations are soft and dreamy which complements the innocence of the tale.  It reminds me of Puff the Magic Dragon. Peter, Paul and Mary recorded the song in about 1962.  In 2007, a book adaptation of the lyrics was published.  The last stanza of the song is sad.

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that might dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.
 
His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, Puff could not be brave,
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave.

The book adaptation creates a happier ending for Puff. In the book, a grown up Jackie Paper introduces his little girl to the dragon that was his friend and companion on so many adventures. I have always thought that this is exactly how the story should have ended. Childhood friends, like Puff, should never be left behind.

Dancing Tiger ends similarly. There is a tacit wistfulness about the tale of Puff and Tiger, and it is connected to the fact that time makes fools of us all.  This poignancy is tempered by the pleasure we feel when we see our children go through their own periods of discovery.

Dancing Tiger is no longer in print (as far as I can tell) which is why I bought a used book. When I opened to the inside cover, there was an inscription:

To our dancing granddaughter, E, on her 5th birthday 2006.
Love, Grandma S and Grandpa D.
 

It was like peeking into someone else’s life for moment– to know that someone bought this book for their own granddaughter, who must have outgrown it by now.  I wonder if they would be thrilled to know that Tiger dances on.

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