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The Tiger Who Would Be King

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Gorgeously illustrated and including two gatefolds that give us a panoramic jungle at war, The Tiger Who Would Be King is as entertaining as it is wise, as wry as it is passionate. Yoon's humorous images support this beautifully written text with wit and insight. Her final portrait of the tiger in a sea of silence will stay with the reader for a long, long time.

JooHee Yoon
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books (first published September 8th 2015)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Alex  Baugh
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I always think of James Thurber as a humorist, but there is no real humor in his fable about the pointlessness of war. The Tiger Who Would Be King was first published in The New Yorker on August 11, 1956. He hadn't expected the story to be printed because it was considered too "savage" but Thurber himself felt that the violence in his story was OK since he believed that fables were not for children, anyway. But, it was published and soon found it's way into school curriculum's.

The story is simp
Cynthia Egbert
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I will be reviewing an adult offering from Thurber in a few minutes, and that one will get four stars, but this is a five star offering. The reminder of the damage we can cause when we personally put our ambitions above all things is fantastic, as is the larger reminder of the idiocy of most wars. Thurber ranks up there with the authors who really grasp human nature and can express it well. And the illustrations by JooHee Yoon are incredible and truly add to the message. This is one time that I ...more
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Joohee Yoon's vivid illustrations are a wonderful take on James Thurber's fable. I bet librarians everywhere would love to have a storytime for all would-be presidential candidates. I would love to see Donald Trump singing "Open Shut Them" and Hillary Clinton sitting criss-cross applesauce on the storytime carpet. ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Thurber’s profound story is brought to vivid life in this new picture book version. Tiger wakes up and decides that he wants to be king of the beasts, declaring to his wife that he will be king before the night is over. He believes that others are calling for change as well and that the moon will rise in his colors, striped and orange. Lion though is not willing to give up his title. The two start fighting and soon all of the animals in the jungle are fighting too, though many don’t know why the ...more
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it
I just finished writing a review for another children's illustrated book in which I emphasized that it is often the case that the story is so simple that the illustrations really need to be magical in order for the book to succeed. This version of James Thurber's The Tiger Who Would Be King is the complete antithesis of that notion.

Thurber's classic fable was written in 1927, after the War to End All Wars, at the height of the Jazz Age, before the Great Depression. The world was about as differ
I liked the style of the illustrations, and the gatefold near the middle of the book, but the two colors seemed as intense as the story and, despite the strength and importance of the moral, I wondered if all of the animals dying would be upsetting to small children. Who is the intended audience? That being said, the fact that neither the lion nor the tiger can be king of a world destroyed through violence seems particularly relevant in today's world. ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
A fable about the pointlessness of war. While it has a point, wow, it's a real downer. Definitely not a good note to end on right before bed. The pictures are interesting but fierce and I felt they went well with the tale. ...more
Includes a double gatefold that recalls Picasso's Guernica. INTENSE, in two Pantone colors. ...more
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
That got dark. Didn't love the illustrations here. It's interesting and fun but it smacks of a picture book that was never meant for children--which feels a bit like missing the point. ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
One of Thurber's short fables for adults, but as designed into a picture-book it becomes accessible to children. The ugly art is apt, but absolutely not what I would have chosen.
I recommend you read the fable as text and illustrate with your children. Full text of timeless public domain story behind spoiler tags below:
(view spoiler)
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was one nice sassy read for adults and although it is in a format for children one that I would be careful reading to them since in a sense it is quite dark in its subject matter. Furthermore this is also one of those reads that seems quite familiar to me although I cannot pinpoint why or whether I had read this before but it is still humming around niggling at me.

Otherwise what makes it sassy for me is the tigress' response, the description of the males in her family and also the blunt f
Kira Dickson
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Preston Stell
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Impressive story. The “moral” at the end was a good one, but pretty unnecessary. The story speaks well for itself and is a moral all its own. The illustrations were very cool, though somewhat odd. Am happy to have this one on my bookshelf.
Thurber tells a vital story about knowing who you are and not destroying the world to be someone else. At least, that's what I read in it. Your results may vary. I docked it a star because the illustrations took me out of the story. They didn't fit the tone of either the story or the voice of the narration. Still, Thurber knew what he was doing or faked it well enough to continue to convince long after his death.
"MORAL: You can't very well be king of beasts if there aren't any."
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Simple story, strange artwork.
Rachel Coyne
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. I loved it! Such amazing movement and expression in each of the drawings
October 2016
Beast fable (moral at the end). Moral: You can't very well be king of beasts if there aren't any. Asked Kate how that might be rephrased. Sometimes the cost of winning is too high. Mentioned here and here. ...more
I struggled with how to rate this one, because the gorgeous block print illustrations are really marvelous. The story, however, leaves much to be desired.

I will say that I enjoyed the subtle allusions to other fables and morality tales (early, the tiger's mate goes off to care for one of her cubs, who is described as "like his father" and who has an imaginary thorn stuck in his paw, ala Androclus and the Lion; later there is a fold-out illustration of a battle that is followed by each side artic
A parable on our desire for power, Yoon has reimagined Thurber's (a humorist, writer and artist for the New Yorker whom he joined in the late 20s) story of 'omnipotence and pointless strife'. In very simple terms, the tiger sets out to be the ruler of the jungle. His coup results in mindless destruction in which almost all the animals are dead except the tiger. With the jungle at his command he ponders on what he has achieved and whether it actually amounted to anything.

The story is well told b
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book, fables
I don't know who this book is really for. The story is more appropriate for adults--not necessarily because of the violence, but because of the moral about the cost of greed and revolution. The story isn't kind to revolutionaries, either. Readers are told, and not so subtly, that Tiger's motivation stems from childish, imagined wounds.

The illustrations are superb. The two-tone block prints deftly highlight the chaos, and the elongated forms in the battle scenes stretch into misery and horror. Wh
A fable about Tiger who declares himself king, even though Lion is already king. Tiger's declaration brings about a great battle between Lion and Tiger for the title with all of the animals taking sides and entering into battle.

In the end, winning doesn't matter much which leads to the moral of the story.

LOVE the artwork. The vivid green and red orange of the prints make for incredible battle scenes. The ending is a little tough for very young readers/listeners due to the understanding of how m
Nov 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-book
When an iconic writer decides to blatantly preach, and a greedy estate tries to milk a "lost" story, a book like this results. This anti-war picture book oversimplifies tyranny, and a tiger's violent revolution is the only choice for bringing about change (versus civil disobedience, boycotts, protests, etc.). Yet without revolution, a child may conclude from this story that one must tolerate tyranny (something children do every day).

Teaching children about war is a noble goal, but as other revie
A story with a moral of those who think being the all-powerful one in the forest will bring good to one’s life. When the tiger wishes to be the greatest and questions the king of beasts, the lion, other animals take sides and fight to the finish. No one is left for either to rule. Yoon’s illustrations, bold in oranges and black, including two gatefolds of the raging battle, are filled with action all the way through. One has to look carefully to see animals peeking out from the forest, and it’s ...more
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: prentenboeken, 2015
'We need a change,' said the tiger.
'The creatures are crying for a change.' -
...some did not know which they were fighting for,
and some fought for both,
and some fought whoever was nearest,
and some fought for the sake of fighting.' -
'What are we fighting for?' - someone asked.
'The old order!'
'What are we dying for?'
'The new order.'
He was monarch ... but
it didn't seem to mean anything.
- Ideaal prentenboek voor pacifisten, hun kinderen en kleinkinderen:-) -

Zie ook :
Beautiful illustrations, but not a super appropriate-for-children picture book. I think maybe intermediate readers would enjoy it more, although I am not sure it would be well-received there either. I love Thurber, but I never thought of this as kid-friendly despite being a sort of fable.

If you want to see JooHee Yoon's wonderful illustrations, I would direct you to Beastly Verse instead.
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is a really intense picture book about the futility of war. I kind of love it for it's straightforward head-on approach, and at the same time it's too didactic for my taste. Probably a really good book for discussion, but not at all a bedtime story. Also, expectations are a funny was Thurber so I assumed it was going to be hilarious but instead I felt blindsided. I wonder if I would have had a different reading experience if I hadn't seen "James Thurber" on the cover. ...more
I must add a shelf because I love all the allegories I seem to be reading today. The illustrations are unique qnd worth of Caldecott discussion, but I live the Thurber text. This does have some of the feel of earlier Caldecotts and although difficult for read aloud time, the gatefolds are wonderful.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a trip, which appealed to the eccentric in me. Will it be everyone's cup of tea? Probably not, it is not a sweet story and wouldn't be one I would use during a story time, but I do think it would appeal to some older elementary school students who like a little darkness in their picture books. ...more
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Illustrator 1 1 Nov 05, 2015 04:36PM  

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Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio to Charles L. Thurber and Mary Agnes (Mame) Fisher Thurber. Both of his parents greatly influenced his work. His father, a sporadically employed clerk and minor politician who dreamed of being a lawyer or an actor, is said to have been the inspiration for the small, timid protagonist typical of many of his stories. Thurber described his mother as a "born comedien ...more

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