Tom the Tamer

Overview

Tom’s father is afraid of animals. Butterflies, snails, squirrels--they alarm him so much, he won’t even come out of the house. Tom decides to take drastic measures and heads to the pet shop. First he trains a polar bear and sneaks it into the house. Then he smuggles in a tiger, a squid, a tortoise, a snake, two peacocks, three hippos and a small flock of  flamingos. His father doesn’t seem to notice at first but learns that his son’s creativity and courage can help him ...

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Overview

Tom’s father is afraid of animals. Butterflies, snails, squirrels--they alarm him so much, he won’t even come out of the house. Tom decides to take drastic measures and heads to the pet shop. First he trains a polar bear and sneaks it into the house. Then he smuggles in a tiger, a squid, a tortoise, a snake, two peacocks, three hippos and a small flock of  flamingos. His father doesn’t seem to notice at first but learns that his son’s creativity and courage can help him conquer his fears.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This tender, loopy, and unconventional work by a Dutch team stars a boy who wants to lure his phobic father away from his model railway and into the backyard so that the father can meet the animals he’s frightened of face-to-face. “What animals scare you?” Tom asks his father. “Butterflies, for example,” his father replies. “Butterflies are dangerous.” Tom purchases a polar bear from the local pet store and discovers that the bear can do an uncanny imitation of an armchair. “Ah,” says Tom’s father, settling back against the polar bear. “It feels divine.” This success sets the stage for a full-scale animal-furniture renovation. Veldkamp avoids analyzing the reasons behind the father’s behavior and concentrates instead on Tom’s exuberant schemes and their execution; the episodes recall gentler moments from Roald Dahl or Russell Hoban. Similarly, Hopman’s illustrations are first cousin to Quentin Blake’s, full of fanciful color and a jumble of imagined detail. The idea that Tom naturally takes the lead in curing his father’s neurosis seems perfectly appropriate, and his confidence gives the story extra fizz. Ages 4–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"This book is as warm and cozy as a Polar Bear chair.   I want to live in this book and never leave it." --Judith Byron Schachner (Skippyjon Jones)

"A small boy's imaginative play tames his father's fears. . . . Sublime." --Kirkus (starred review)

School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Tom's timid father suffers from a paralyzing fear of animals, so much so that he refuses to go outdoors, which stops him from partaking in the circuslike activities that his son enjoys (think high-flying squirrels on a trapeze). Astute Tom the Tamer comes up with a witty and charming way to cure his father of agrizoophobia. Stopping at the local Paws, Claws, Beaks & Bugs pet store, he leaves with a polar bear and a plan. Soon, his house has a new lounge chair. Tom's father enjoys the furry new furniture so much that his son cannot resist sneaking a whole menagerie into their home. When the man discovers the true nature of his tiger rug, flamingo drapes, and hippo sofa, he panics and runs outside. A happy ending ensues: Tom's father is cured when he realizes that the animals are benign, and he joins in the fun with his ingenious son. Children will absolutely love seeking out the animals on the detailed spreads of bright watercolors and exuberant lines. Though the translation is a bit awkward at times, this picture book, which has a final foldout page, is great as a lap-read or in a storytime about creative problem solving.—Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh, PA
Kirkus Reviews
A small boy's imaginative play tames his father's fears. Dutch author Veldkamp (Little Monkey's Big Peeing Circus, 2006) revisits the circus theme to gentler effect. Tom, desperate for his father's attention, builds first a snail trapeze and then a squirrel circus, but his father's fear of animals keeps him indoors. Tom needs a new show, so he heads to "Paws, Claws, Beaks & Bugs," where he announces himself as Tom the Tamer and asks if there are any animals that still need to be tamed. Hamster? Small dog? "I was thinking of a polar bear," says Tom. His knack as a tamer soon has an affable bear lending its furry self to Tom's circus, disguised in its off time as a piece of furniture. The new comfy chair by the fire is joined by flamingo drapes, an octopus chandelier and a three-hippo sofa, all wearing hiding-in-plain-sight looks of nonchalance. In on the game, and in a nod to Tenniel, is a white rabbit. The show is about to begin. But will it work? The father, finally the strong man that Tom needs, throws caution to the wind as he finds joy in an exuberant circus pyramid. Hopman's luminous double-page spreads of soft watercolor and loose pen-and-ink lines lend humor to this multilayered story. Children will pick up subtle clues in the illustrations to the source of the father's emotional distance and the healing power of play. Sublime. (Picture Book. 4–7)
Pamela Paul
…an inventive, absurdist fantasy about a fearless young boy and his trepidatious dad…Hopman's exuberant pen-and-ink drawings, cheerfully enhanced by washes of warm watercolor paints, bring plenty of humorous motion and detail.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935954057
  • Publisher: Lemniscaat USA
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Edition description: Illustrated
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tjibbe Veldkamp (b. 1962) was working in psychology when he read an English children's book and discovered that he wanted to be a writer. He took part in a story competition and won. Veldkamp is now known as a champion of the picture book, but he has also written a number of original books for older children. Tjibbe won a ‘Flying Colors’ Best Books for Children award and received the Children's Bookshop prize.Mr. Veldkamp often writes about children who are having a bad time and who have to solve their problems themselves. He likes to give children the feeling that they can do so and wants for his books to give them hope.

 Philip Hopman (b. 1961) graduated from the Rietveld Art Academy in 1985. Since 1988, he has devoted his talents to illustrating picture books. So far he has illustrated over 120 children’s books from Dutch and foreign authors.

 Philip Hopman and Tjibbe Veldkamp have collaborated on many children's picture books. Among them are The School Trip (also Lemniscaat) and 22 Orphans, published in the U.S. by Kane/Miller and in seven other countries as well. 22 Orphans was awarded a Silver Brush (an prestigious Dutch award).

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