I waited years to illustrate Mitali Perkins‘ book, Tiger Boy. How proud I am to celebrate it’s recent publication!

1TB invite

We gathered at Newtonville Books yesterday, home of many of Mitali’s book events during her years living in Newton, Massachusetts before moving to California.


The retail counter is cool.


Mitali talked about the evolution of her story, thanking Charlesbridge editor Yolanda Scott for her steadfast nurturing of the book. The plot, people, and place Mitali created were inspired by her father’s youth, travels and research to the Sunderbans, and her own abiding faith. She shared tiger facts and quizzed the crowd before reading a selection.

photo © Kirsten Cappy www.curiouscity.net

photo © Kirsten Cappy www.curiouscity.net


Moments before, Donna Spurlock, Director of Marketing, returned my original art for both Tiger Boy and John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall. I shared a bit about my materials (Canson paper and General’s 2B charcoal pencils ) and the process for creating the illustrations. (It’s a team effort; sketches and conversations bounced back and forth between Art Director Diane Early and I for months last year.)

I passed around a plush tiger, bought for referencing the tiger cub in the story.

photo © Kirsten Cappy www.curiouscity.net

photo © Kirsten Cappy www.curiouscity.net

Unlike Mitali, I’ve never been to India. Her vivid story brought me there, and I combined imagination and direct observations to make the illustrations. When I drew the cover illustration last, I put everything on the table!

Varun, a boy from Scarborough, Maine, posed for reference photos, clutching the toy tiger while his mother, Arpana, shined a flashlight on him. Much of the drama takes place at night, when the hunt for the tiger cub is on.


Here’s an inside fact: I wanted an element from Rickshaw Girl, our first book together, to find a place in Tiger Boy. This alpana motif is it.


I repeated it in this scene, on a sari in the family’s hut. Neel is drawing a map while his sister, Rupa, encourages him.


After Mitali’s reading, the book signing and mingling began. Yolanda’s new baby was not entirely sure about the tiger in his lap.


© Kirsten Cappy www.curiouscity.net

© Kirsten Cappy www.curiouscity.net

Mitali, myself, and Yolanda make a fierce team while baby Andrew dreams.

We gathered at Amarin of Thailand later for spicy dishing about books with Charlesbridge staff.


My fellow kid-lit advocate and co-pilot, Kirsten Cappy, surprised me with some tiger love in celebration.


Thanks to Charlesbridge, Mitali, and Curious City! You can show your tiger love at Project Tiger. More resources can be found in the back of Tiger Boy as well. Keep drawing and staying wild, brave readers.



  1. Congratulations! Lovely work!

  2. Jamie- I’ve loved your work since I first noticed it in the old Real Paper and Phoenix here in Boston. Nice to see that you continue to make such strong images.
    And- how great that you have Kirsten helping out.

  3. There is so much love and heart in this post, Jamie, and let’s hear it for flashlights and charcoal pencils.

  4. I love the images and subject of your work. Lots of heartfelt emotion and a great feel for the tiger.

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