About the book, The Tigon and the Liger

Tyler the tigon was terribly rare. A big cat like him isn’t found everywhere. Unique from his ears to his tail to his tum, his dad was a tiger, a lion his mum…

Tyler has never fitted in. Neither a tiger like his dad nor a lion like his mum, poor Tyler the tigon stands out like a sore thumb. Taunted and teased by the other jungle creatures, he flees into the forest with the weight of the world on his shoulders. But who should he find there? An equally extraordinary creature with a tale to match his own… A delightful story in rhyming verse about appreciating your differences and learning to love the skin you’re in.

About the illustrator, Cosei Kawa

Cosei Kawa is an award-winning Japanese artist who has enjoyed his career as a children’s book illustrator since completing his MA in Illustration at Falmouth University in the UK. He lives in Shizuoka, Japan at the foot of Mt. Fuji and loves doodling by the beach. He is an Associate Professor of Illustration at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture. His many prizes and awards include the CCBC Choices best-of-the-year list, the Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medal, the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Books (Highly Commended) and the Turry’s Picture Book Award in Japan.

Purchase book £7.99

Where did the The Tigon and the Liger book idea come from?

Tigon and Liger by Keilly Swift tigon cub

A real-life tigon cub

Tigons and ligers captured my imagination when writing a magazine feature on hybrid creatures. I thought they were wonderful symbols of how we all sometimes feel we don’t belong and the story of Tyler and Lyla soon took shape.

Tigon and Liger by Keilly Swift liger cub

A liger cub

Tigons, a cross between a male tiger and a female lion, are generally small whereas ligers, a cross between a male lion and a female tiger, are the world’s biggest cats.

While tigons are usually orange-coloured, ligers can be white, sandy or golden. They can both have stripes (from their tiger parent) and spots (from their lion parent, as baby lions are born with spots). It’s thought there are less than a hundred ligers and only a handful of tigons in the world.

The other unusual creatures in the book – zedonks, zorses, wallaroos, pumapards and leopons – are also real. Can you guess which animals their names are made from?

I love how Cosei Kawa has brought the creatures to life through his beautiful illustrations. He was inspired by the Gir Forest in India for the book’s setting, one of the few places in the world where it may have been possible for lions and tigers to meet in the wild (tigers are typically found in Asia and lions in Africa).

Hybrid creatures can be controversial as they are usually found in zoos or wildlife parks where different species are more likely to meet. The story’s purpose isn’t to enter into this debate, but to highlight that we are all unique individuals whose differences should be celebrated.