Authors are always very excited when their new book comes out. My latest title Interview with a Tiger is no exception – in fact I am doubly thrilled because it has simply wonderful illustrations by the brilliant Nick East and the whole production is so appealing – just right for a fun factual book aimed at ages 6-10.
But there’s another reason why this book stands out for me. As an ex-teacher, I could see right away how much potential the idea of interviewing animals has for inspiring children to write. The concept was actually thought up by my canny editor at Welbeck Publishing, Laura Knowles. There’s been so much early interest in the book (published 17th September 2020) that they have signed me up to write a whole series: hooray! The next one will be Interview with a Shark & Other Ocean Giants Too.
So, back to writing and the classroom. The book has a very simple Q&A format, which helps children to set out their writing. Having run writing workshops at KS2 before I have found that this kind of structure is good in helping young writers get to grips with dialogue and how that can be used in stories to portray characters and events.
The book features ten interviews with clawed beasts including a lion, wolf, polar bear, snow leopard and giant anteater. Part of the fun of creating it was that I was able to give each animal a distinct personality, and children can do this too. Teachers might even challenge older and more able writers to reveal a given character type in their interview (boastful, shy, aggressive, anxious, laid back – the possibilities are almost endless). But at the same time, a text like this must be factual, so children will have to research their chosen animal if they write an interview – and bring out interesting facts about the creature’s habits, lifestyle and more.
Of course, tigers are well known for being among the most endangered animals on earth and many others featured in my book are under threat too. I chose to address this through some of the interviews, trying to see events from each animal’s perspective and find ways to express this in writing. This is something else children can do: it’s excellent for building a kind of ecological empathy. Just exactly what does a jaguar feel about those humans who hunt it for its skin? What would a polar bear’s message to people be?
There are all kind of possibilities for enjoyable classroom work based around Interview with a Tiger. Here are seven starting points – I am sure that teachers will be able to think of many more.
Ideas for using Interview with a Tiger in the classroom
1. If you were interviewing a tiger, what three questions would you ask? Say why you chose each one.
2. Choose an animal to interview. It can be any type of creature!
- Research facts
- Write the interview
- Illustrate it
3. Imagine a tiger asked you, “Why do humans harm tigers?” Write down what you would say, giving all the reasons you can think of.
4. Choose an animal to interview you! What might it ask? What would you say? Write the interview.
5. How would each of these animals answer the question, “What do you love about being you?”
6. If you were a tiger, what would you most want to say to a human being? Show this in a picture with a speech bubble.
7. Act out some animal interviews to create a performance or special wildlife assembly.
If your school would like a fun Zoom session with author Andy Seed all about this book, with a Q&A, then get in touch.