A Home for Mr Tipps by Tom Percival
Mr Tipps is a pussy cat. Well I say pussycat, I should probably say fraidy-cat. He’s scared of absolutely EVERYTHING, including his own shadow! With a bit of help though from some milk each day he make s anew friend in a lonely young boy and they end up doing everything and going everywhere together. Then one day, the boy doesn’t come to see Mr Tipps, and Mr Tipps loses heart, and goes away. The boy meanwhile had just been to visit his granny while his family’s been busy and once he realises Mr Tipps isn’t coming anymore, he searches high and low for him. He puts up posters and ask everyone if they’ve seen his scruffy little cat but to no avail. So he sets out to look for him, and just in time too, because Mr Tipps has been having a very rough time of it! He’d been chased everywhere by a huge dog until he was thoroughly lost, been rained on so heavily he looked like a drowned rat and now he’s been chased by foxes right into the heart of a terrible forest! Luckily for Mr Tipps though, the boy finds him and once he’s safe and sound at home with the boy and his family, Mr Tipps finds that actually, there’s not too much to be scared of really at all!
Not the most action-packed story maybe, but it’s got bags of style. The illustrations are very moody – lovely bright pastel shades for the high times and then very dark with some really zingy electric colours for the scary bits. They remind me a little of graffiti (in a good way), they’re so full of colour. Really really like this illustrators style, it’s very eye-catching, the pages almost seem to glow sometimes.
One detail that I think is really quite neat is the reason the boy’s family has been so busy. It’s never mentioned in the text, but the picture shows a new baby. I really like that connection with just why the boy was seeking out a new friend in Mr Tipps in the first place and I love how subtley the point is made. It could provoke a nice discussion with new brother and sisters, or be a different way to approach the problem if an older sibling was feeling left out. Neatly, the last few pages indicate the boy showing Mr Tipps proudly to his new sibling, wrapping that little mini-plot up nicely.
So, not necessarily a thrill-a-minute, whirlwind rollercoaster of action, but definitely worth seeking out, if only to marvel at the illustrations. Certainly this is one to keep in the back of your mind if a new baby’s expected (or has arrived) as a way to tackle jealousy or loneliness in a new older sibling before or it starts.