________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007


The Sabre-Toothed Tiger. (Nathaniel and the Magic Attic).

Evan Solomon. Illustrated by Bill Slavin.
Toronto, ON: Penguin Canada, 2007.
48 pp., cloth, $16.00.
ISBN 978-0-670-06387-1.

Subject Headings:
Sabre-toothed tigers-Juvenile fiction.
Woolly mammoth-Juvenile fiction.
Attics-Juvenile fiction.
Time travel-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Barb Taylor.
** /4


Nathaniel McDaniel loves to explore.
He peeks into dressers and opens closed doors.
His big eyes are green, his shoes need repair.
And he never combs his straw-coloured hair.

I thoroughly enjoyed Evan Solomon’s first children’s book, Bigbeard’s Hook, and anticipated reading the next book in his Nathaniel McDaniel series, The Sabre-toothed Tiger

     The book gets off to an exciting start as Nathaniel visits his grandfather’s magical attic and is swept back to prehistoric times when his pet cat, “Tut,” curls up on a wooly mammoth pelt.

“Be Careful!” cries Nate.
“Don’t touch that hide?
That mammoth’s gonna take you
on a really weird ride.”

     Nathaniel and Tut land in a cave complete with etched paintings of bison and elk being hunted. Then the Neanderthals come home and decide that Nate would make a tasty supper.

bellows the Giant with
eyes full of hate,
Nathaniel turns to run,
But it’s far too late.

     Just as Nate is roasting on a spit, his “confrere,” Tut, comes to the rescue.

     The story doesn’t end here, but, after pages of lengthy Seuss-like rhyming, it really should. The story line would appeal to younger readers (ages 6-7) but the sometimes awkward rhyming and lengthy narrative is more suitable for an older child.

     The story continues as Nate and Tut run into a naked Mammoth who spots Nate wearing his pelt. The mammoth, incredibly, speaks English.

Nathaniel McDaniel can’t believe what he’s heard.
An animal who speaks English…that’s completely absurd!

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     He tells Nate of his run-in with a Sabre-tooth tiger which caused his present condition. Then the tiger enters the story, and Nate takes on the creature, toreador-style.

     Bill Slavin’s illustrations are bold and exciting. Younger children should enjoy reading the “pictures” as the details given tell stories themselves. The story, itself, does not hold up. The first anecdote involving Nate’s capture is amusing and might excite a younger reader, but the second half of the book is another story, and, with its naked English–speaking mammoth, it’s a little too silly.

Recommended with reservations.

Barb Taylor, of Calgary, AB, is a pre-kindergarten teacher and a freelance writer.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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