Book Title: The Tiger of the River
Author: Adrian Pinder
Illustrator: Maya Ramaswamy
Publisher: Talking Cub, An Imprint of Speaking Tiger Books
Recommended Age: 5-8 years
Amongst the many obsessions that my 5 year old has, two of the biggest ones are “big cats” and “sea creatures”. So, when I told him that the title of the book we were going to read was “The Tiger of the River”, his joy knew no bounds! I’m not sure what he imagined (perhaps a tiger under the water!), but the title had me very intrigued!
The story is about a giant hump-backed Mahseer fish, named Matisha. The fish lives in the Kaveri river and travels upstream, from memory, to the exact place where it was born, to lay its eggs. Matisha takes us along on a river journey from its birthplace, downstream, then back upstream to lay its eggs and downstream again, describing everything it sees along the way. She tells us about the different fish in the river and the wildlife that is drawn towards the river for water. She tells us of the many ways humans are destroying rivers – dumping sewage into it, fishing indiscriminately and worst of all, constructing dams that block the path of migratory fish. Will Matisha be able to find her way upstream overcoming all the hurdles that humans and nature throw her way?
This book is non-fiction at its best, written in the form of a story where we feel like we are going on a journey ourselves. But, given my child’s short attention span, I wasn’t sure we could finish reading this slightly long-ish book peacefully. I was quite wrong! We started reading this book at 7 pm and had a discussion based on it till 9pm! There was just so much to discuss – food chains, migratory fish, water pollution, importance of dams and the problems posed by dams. This is what good books do, they stimulate the minds and lead to hours of discussion.
Here are some of the questions my 5 year old asked after reading the book:
– If we should not dump sewage into the river, then where?
– How can wild animals drink river water and not fall sick, while we can’t drink tap water?
– Dams are bad for Matisha, but good when there are no rains. So, should we have dams?
The giant hump-backed mahseer can grow to be as big as a human! A fish that big and magnificent, is critically endangered due to the reckless actions of humans. The book beautifully reminds us that natural resources such as water are meant for everyone – including fish. If you want your child to respect the environment, and be aware of the destruction that can be caused to wildlife by human actions, do get this book.
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