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I read 'Tyger' by S.F Said a couple of weeks ago and, as a lot of people have said, I needed to spend some time processing what I had read before I wrote my review. Because 'Tyger' is a special book. It is one of those books that comes along every once and while that does something profound: it seems to shift something in people's consciousness, feeling as if it has quite literally given the reader a dazzling entry point into a place, or even a feeling, that is bigger than ourselves. It is poetic, beautiful, philosophical, glorious, utterly compelling and just plain wonderful. It really worked its magic on me, but more importantly it has worked its magic on younger readers too. 

A girl in my Year 4 class rushed in on Friday and announced 'I absolutely LOVE this book'. Arguably, 'Tyger' is for slightly older readers than Year 4, but this girl in my class found her way in and said she couldn't stop reading. I think she read it quicker than I did! She held the book up like a piece of art for everyone to see because the cover is probably one of the best ever in children's fiction. Dave McKean's illustrations are just classic and complement the text so well that both author and illustrator must live in the same imaginative realm. Anyway, the girl wrote this as her review (and it's gone out in my school's newsletter): 


Children's reviews matter far more than mine! Children seem drawn to the Tyger itself - a magnificent creation inspired by William Blake and as significant and awe-inspiring as Aslan. Double-page illustrations of the beast are just spectacular. In my opinion, the Tyger represents the raw majesty of the animal, threatened by extinction in our world, while also symbolising something deeper, poetic and spiritual about nature and our place in a blazing, mysterious cosmos. I always use the word 'spiritual' carefully - it is not synonymous with 'religion' to me- instead, it is a word that sums up those deep, emotional, consciousness-changing moments that define us as 'spiritual beings having a human experience'. In my mind, S.F Said's book is an appeal to this part of ourselves with the Tyger's 'alchemical' style lessons on the likes of the 'Power of Perception' and 'Power of Imagination' and then how such experiences help us to relate to other human beings and other creatures to change the world around us for the better. It's hugely compelling, in the same way Phillip Pullman's 'Dark Materials' philosophised our human experiences through Dust (are they spiritual books too?) and the multiverse. But 'Tyger' is a book that comfortably and deservedly sits alongside such modern classics. I'm a huge fan of Alan Garner and I cannot help but make comparisons here too. Like Garner, S.F. Said takes a long time to write ('Tyger' took 9 years, apparently), but this results in books that are crafted beautifully, like a whole world realised, and 'Tyger' is certainly a whole world fully and sublimely realised

I could review more - how much I love Adam and Zadie and how much I admire S.F. Said's depictions of an alternate dystopian London - but what matters most is how much this wonderful book resonates. I think that is the best word. It has resonated with many adults, but most importantly it is resonating with children. I am striving for my school to have a 'Reading for Pleasure and Progress' culture so it matters when that nine-year-old girl in my class enthusiastically raises 'Tyger' up and declares such love while being able to tap into its deeper, awe-inspiring themes. Long may that continue.

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