We Became Jaguars by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Woodrow White

Published by Chronicle Books

We Became Jaguars: Eggers, Dave, White, Woodrow: 9781452183930: Amazon.com:  Books
We Became Jaguars: Eggers, Dave, White, Woodrow: 9781452183930: Amazon.com:  Books

Summary:  “My grandmother came to visit.  I had met her once before.  She lived far away.  Her hair was very white and very, very long.”  This somewhat mysterious grandmother proposes that she and her grandchild play jaguars.  And suddenly, they ARE jaguars, heading out into the night, where they hunt (“I didn’t want to eat a raw rabbit so I said I was allergic”), run, and travel to the Himalayas.  Suddenly remembering school, the narrator says he has to get back soon.  The grandmother gives him a long look with her jaguar eyes, but then they run back to the school.  “Who knew how much school I had missed?  But it was okay…my grandmother wrote me a note.”  The final illustration shows the silhouette of a jaguar sitting in class and a teacher holding a piece of paper with a paw print on it.  44 pages; grades K-3.

Pros:  This ambiguous tale is beautifully written and illustrated, leaving open the question of whether the jaguar adventures were real or imagined.  As an aside, I only recently realized that Dave Eggers is a big deal in the world of adult literature as well as children’s (a line from April Ludgate in a Parks and Recreation episode tipped me off).  This story would make a good mentor text for teaching similes and other figurative language.

Cons:  Some kids (and adults) might not like the ambiguity.

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