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Flora and Tiger

by Eric Carle

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1035222,363 (3.9)5
The author recalls experiences from his childhood in Germany and his later life in the United States, all in some way connected with various animals.

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Fun shorts, cute illustrations, and Fifi and the String Bean, which totally made my morning. ( )
  wetdryvac | Mar 2, 2021 |
Acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle writes early in this book that he has received letters from kids asking if he’s written any “real” and “older” books—that is, nonfiction ones. He hadn’t, actually, and with this book he seeks to remedy that. Oddly, though, this sharply observed and rather quirky collection of vignettes, most of which feature animals, insects, and members of his family, isn’t really ideally suited to children at all, but to the adults who have shared Carle’s picture books with them. Let me explain. In one story, a pet cat is carried off by an owl; the cat meows piteously, but no one can save it, gripped as it is in the owl’s talons. In another story, a pet turtle, Flora, disappears when she’s due to be deposited in peat moss for her annual winter hibernation in the cellar. The following spring, grandfather’s shovel hits what the old man believes is a rock in the garden. It’s Flora—she’s frozen, and, sadly, no longer alive. These stories could be distressing to some young children. Adolescents might be better able to take the harder details in stride; Carle’s small gems, his luminous “moments of being”, might serve as writing models for students’ own short memoir pieces.

Carle—who was born in the US in 1929 to German immigrant parents, but who spent most of his childhood and youth in Germany (where his homesick parents returned)— obviously grew up in different, far more difficult times than many of us. For one thing, he experienced the Second World War first hand. In one story, he tells of a loved canary escaping through the window. Seemingly magically, a blue parakeet flies in almost as if to replace the missing songbird, but it is killed soon after during a bombing raid. Rabbits, which many children nowadays regard as companion animals, were raised for food during a war when everyone was always hungry.

Carle’s stories are dedicated to his father, written in “love and gratitude” for all his dad passed on to him: intense affection for and knowledge of all kinds of creatures (much of it gained during long walks the two took together in the countryside); the joy of picture-making; and the power of storytelling. Carle explains that his father had been drafted into the German army the first day of the war. The two were separated from each other for eight years. Carle’s father had been held for years in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp. He returned “a changed and broken man” when Eric was an 18-year-old art student.

While it is true that some of the stories might not be suitable for young children, I should add that I enjoyed these calmly and finely written pieces very much. Though economically told, they provide the reader with a real sense of the personalities of close family members and the tensions between these people. Carle also conveys a lot of factual information about insects, birds, and reptiles, and he charms us with memories of family pets. Not all of the stories are from childhood, and the tales are not chronologically arranged—the result: each story provides a little flash of surprise. One of the more delightful of Carle’s adult memories concerns a cat who liked to play fetch with a string bean tossed to her during dinner preparation. The little feline would signal when she was tuckered out by depositing the bean in one of Eric’s shoes around which she’d then curl her furry body. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Aug 11, 2019 |
Genre: Autobiography
Eric Carle writes of his Oma (German grandmother) and the hen who might have been a rooster, his cousin Fritz and the turtle who loved a cat, his friend Sol and his kidnapped black cat, and his Uncle Adam and his tamed ravens, and many others. ( )
  LUOLINLIN | Apr 20, 2018 |
Hm. 3.5 stars. Some of the little stories were just for fun, and would work well for a child. Others were a little more, shall we say, mystical, or allegorical, and would be appreciated by adults. The illustrations were nice, but minor. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Suggested Age: Grades 4+. Genre: Autobiography.
This is a book by Eric Carle that is not for young children. It portrays a series of short stories throughout his life. Some are from his time very young in America, through his subsequent upbringing in Germany, and up through his adult life back in America. All of the stories feature an animal in some way. In many stories, Carle mentions the treatment of animals. This would be a good book to talk about animal rights, or ethical treatment of animals. It would also be worthy of discussing establishing a story to provide necessary background information, or writing personal narrative.
  MrBean | May 2, 2010 |
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