THE TALE OF THE TIGER SLIPPERS is almost finished, and I am spending intense hours finishing the last spreads and front material. I like to create the front material - title page in this case, plus endpapers last because it's my chance to balance my book. Those illustrations don't follow the narrative as strictly as the inside art. Because much of the text is about the adult tiger father, I will showcase the young tiger on the title page. He has a pivotal role in my story, one that veers off from the original tale, which is a bit harsh. I want to give the young tiger lots of importance in my story. It is a great place to show young, playful art. I want to emphasize the feelings and learning experiences that go on between the father and son. The unusual twist is that it is the son that solves the father's dilemma. The Tiger Dad cannot get rid of his worn-out slippers, even though they have served him very well and defined his life. The tiger son gets the idea of giving the old slippers a place of honor allowing the dignified father a way to replace them with elegant new ones. Transitions in life are sometimes hard to negotiate! I never thought I would create a children's illustrated story on that subject. But all seriousness aside, the story also works for me as a fun recounting of those funny run -back-home slippers.
I remember the nightly reading times I had with my daughter. We read from the time she was a babe in arms, until junior high school, ending with GONE WITH THE WIND, THE M.A.S.H. books and WATERSHIP DOWN. I always was grateful to those authors for creating situations and characters that experienced life from different perspectives. Sometimes we talked about the character's challenges and triumphs but mostly we just experienced them together. For years, and to this day we recommend books to each other. But it was when my daughter was in college that our ritual took a different turn, she became less enthusiastic about my choices and I realized that I was so enthusiastic about my book "finds" that I never followed up on her recommendations. I started reading everything she discovered, even though at first glance the genres were not ones I would pick up initially. I immediately felt the benefit of reading works that I might ordinarily pass over. Since then our book club of two has thrived for 30 years. I hope my TALE OF THE TIGER SLIPPERS will be able to be enjoyed as a rollicking richly illustrated story, but also deeper down exploring the theme of how the experiences we have, even negative ones, can be acknowledged, put aside and allow us to evolve. I almost wrote "not be tripped up" a slip of the mind going back to those transformative slippers.
Happy creating, happy reading and happy appreciating the illustrated page.
Your Friend, Jan