We became jaguars

Dave Eggers

Book - 2021

When Grandma comes to visit, and his parents leave them alone, the boy's grandmother encourages him to imitate a jaguar, until completely transformed they venture out into the night, exploring the world from a new perspective, and with a new freedom--until it is difficult to distinguish imagination from reality.

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Location Call Number   Status
Bookmobile Children's jE/Eggers Due Dec 9, 2023
Children's Room jE/Eggers Withdrawn
Picture books
San Francisco : Chronicle Books 2021.
Main Author
Dave Eggers (author)
Other Authors
Woodrow White (illustrator)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 x 26 cm
Ages 3-5.
Grades K-1.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

A little boy is shy at first when his parents leave him with his visiting grandmother. But he becomes bolder when she gets down on the carpet, growls, and says they should become jaguars. The little boy follows her instructions and, presto, the transformation is complete and the wild rumpus begins. Leaving the house, they come to a nearby wood, which become jungle-like when they enter. On the other side, they come to a steep hill and easily run to the top, where they can see "most of the world." They drink from a lake, and then, "somewhere in the Himalayas," the boy remembers he has to go to school. Who knows how much he has missed? But it's okay; his now-human grandmother writes him a note. Eggers' straightforward text is enlivened by simile: a lake looks like silver and tastes like moonlight and is further enhanced by White's lushly colorful illustrations. But do the two humans really become jaguars? Careful readers will find visual clues but no matter; what's really important is the book's lively celebration of imagination.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

From the minute the child narrator's slim, stylish grandmother arrives for a visit ("Her hair was very white/ and very, very long") and his parents leave, she's ready for some serious make believe. "Let's be jaguars," she says, growling on all fours on the rug. The boy tries to follow suit: "No, leaner," she tells him. "Now faster." In spreads by artist White, making his picture book debut, the two morph into real jaguars, sprinting gracefully through the woods and to lands beyond. The child is simultaneously cowed and enthralled by the grandmother's wildness. When she offers a rabbit that she's just killed, "I didn't want to eat raw rabbit so I said I was allergic." When he expresses doubt that they can run across a lake, she counsels perfect confidence, and she's right: "We bounced across like marbles on glass." Working in milky shades, White succeeds in making the duo readable in the faces and bodies of the two cats. The vivid concept that a grandmother's visit delivers danger and freedom instead of cozy reassurance is a winner, and Eggers (Most of the Better Natural Things in the World) develops it with easy humor and jaguar-speed pacing. Ages 5--8. Author's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Horn Book Review

Eggers, with input from students in a San Francisco Young Editors Project, captures an unusual visit from a child's grandmother in this imaginative adventure. The story is told from the point of view of the child, who has met his grandmother only once before. Dressed in a jacket that looks a lot like a jaguar's fur, the glam grandma gets on all fours and commands: "Let's be jaguars." The two venture outside and then, as we see in a double gatefold spread, into the woods. They explore outdoors with abandon, running across a lake, crossing a mountain, traversing the Himalayas, and more. Grandmother, as both human and jaguar, is a powerful and somewhat intimidating presence: at one point, as a jaguar, she eats a raw rabbit. Eggers spins phrases with an evocative beauty. They traverse the water "nimbly...like marbles on glass." Grandmother "laughed like great thunder and I laughed like lesser thunder." In his picture-book debut, painter White animates the pair's adventure in expansive, richly colored scenes that depict the murky, purple-hued shadows of the night, effectively establishing the book's mysterious, majestic tone. It all ends on a cryptic note: could his grandmother really be a jaguar? Either way, the peculiar journey is worth taking. Julie Danielson March/April 2021 p.56(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Left alone together, a small child and their grandmother transform into jaguars, walking on all fours on the carpet and then out into the night. The grandmother, with her "very, very long" white hair, dark brows, crimson nails, and spotted cardigan, appears game for anything wild. The child has met her only once, and her bold demeanor will intrigue children used to benign literary grandmothers who dole out cookies and cuddles. This grandmother directs the child to look "leaner" and "fiercer" as they make the shape of a jaguar on the floor alongside her. "Now we go," she states flatly. A clever gatefold shows the pair's metamorphosis from white-skinned humans to furry felines stalking through night grasses. Transfixing painterly illustrations offer nocturnal purples and blues along with bioluminescent pinks and greens, creating a woozy, otherworldly habitat. The little jaguar seems a bit scared at first, tremulous, turning down raw rabbit by claiming an allergy. Young people will find humor in the child's narration, perhaps especially when they relate that "we were somewhere in the Himalayas when I remembered that I had school." The phrase "we jaguared on" repeats again and again as they cross varying landscapes, and it perfectly captures the fluidity of jaguar movement in its languid articulation. Children will relish this book's blurred ambiguities; what's real and what's imagined are as hard to distinguish as a jaguar in the shadows. A fresh inversion of expectations told in vivid art and idiom. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.