The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans
With photos by Eleanor Briggs
Houghton Mifflin, November 2004
Gr 5-9-These unusual creatures of the Sundarbans-a mangrove forest stretching along the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh-really do hunt and eat humans. Montgomery invites readers to journey with her to the region to better understand these elusive animals. “And here you-leave cars behind. You can get to the tigers’ forest only by boat.” She introduces several knowledgeable residents who describe their experiences. The author also explains many aspects of the rapid loss of the world’s tiger population, the little understood behavior of this region’s tigers, the lives and beliefs of local people, and the special features of the habitat and its role in supporting a chain of animal life. The largely conjectural knowledge of the tigers is handled carefully, but the lack of immediacy may tax the patience of readers expecting the more dramatic encounter with tigers suggested by the title and cover photo. The mysterious creatures are well concealed by the mangroves, and the few appearing here in handsome photographs are actually in captivity. There are also fine views of other animals, the natural setting, and the people. Montgomery’s personal enthusiasm and knowledge extend nicely into the book’s informative concluding elements that include fast facts, a glossary of Bengali phrases, a list of related organizations, and comments on the photographs.
—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
From School Library Journal
Copyright © 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-7. The author of the acclaimed Snake Scientist (1999) has spun off this title from her 1995 adult book Spell of the Tiger, but this oversize volume has clearly been written with young people in mind. It immediately captures attention with fresh, engaging writing that turns a scientific study into a page-turning mystery. Montgomery carefully sets the place: a flooded forest called the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, which runs along the bay dividing India from Bangladesh. The tigers living there, unlike most tigers, prey on people—and most of their victims are men. Montgomery, who took four trips to Sundarbans, first introduces normal tiger behavior, then takes readers right into the heart of the tiger reserve and surrounding areas. She offers the scientists’ take as well as the villagers’ perspective, concluding that folktales and religious beliefs about the tigers can be just as true as what science has to say. Interestingly, for an oversize, glossy book, the color photographs aren’t the drawing card. In fact, tigers are often missing from the sometimes pedestrian photos (no doubt, as Montgomery explains, because the animals are extremely hard to see). It’s the text, with as many questions as answers, that excites, as a fascinating topic meets a talented storyteller.
—Ilene Cooper, Booklist
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