by Neil Gaiman (Author) Divya Srinivasan (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

A talking tiger is the only one who may be able to get a princess to speak in this beautiful picture book set in a mythic India.

This stunning picture book will transport readers to another time and place and will delight parents and children alike. Full of Gaiman's wit and whimsy, this one is great for reading aloud (and looks pretty lovely on the shelf as well). Gorgeous, with lush illustrations by Divya Srinivasan (Brightly).

A perfect read-aloud picture book by the Newbery Medal-winning and New York Times bestselling author of American Gods and Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman, and illustrated in bold colors by Divya Srinivasan.

Find books about:


Starred Review

Preschool-Grade 2. Gaiman starts this original fairy tale in the best of ways: “Cinnamon was a princess, a long time ago, in a small hot country, where everything was very old.” Unfortunately, Cinnamon’s eyes were pearls, so she was blind. And she did not talk. Her parents, the Rajah and Rani, offered great rewards to any person who could get Cinnamon to talk. People come from far and wide, but no one succeeds. Finally, a man-eating tiger (he admits it!) arrives, claiming he can teach her to talk. Alone in a room with the tiger, Cinnamon first learns pain, then fear. But when the tiger licks her soft brown face, Cinnamon whispers “Love?” After the tiger devours the old and crabby aunt, he carries a talkative and willing Cinnamon—who says she had only remained silent because she had nothing to say—off into the wilderness to further her education. Previously available only on audio, this new publication is enhanced by Srinivasan’s glorious, full-bleed double-spread artwork. The rich colors portray a beautiful pastel palace, intricate architectural details, the distinct personalities of the royal couple and palace staff, and close-up portraits of the pearl-eyed princess. The stunning tiger is a gorgeous black and orange, pacing, growling, and loping off through the lush greens of the mysterious jungle. A storytime winner.

Copyright 2017 Booklist, LLC Used with permission.

Kirkus Reviews

“Cinnamon was a princess, a long time ago, in a small hot country where everything was very old.” Written in 1995, this story has been available only on the author’s website or as part of The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection (2004). Now the tale of the sightless princess and the mysterious talking tiger is a picture book with graceful and vibrant illustrations by Srinivasan. Cinnamon has beautiful pearl eyes, is blind, and does not talk. Many try to teach her to speak, lured by the rewards offered by her parents, the rajah and the rani, but no one succeeds until the talking tiger arrives. “He was huge and fierce, a nightmare in black and orange, and he moved like a god through the world, which is how tigers move.” The tiger awakes in Cinnamon the crucial emotions of pain, fear, and love, and he tells her of the beauty of the world beyond—and finally Cinnamon finds that she has something to say. With turbans, jewels, and elephants in intense, matte colors, the detailed, authentically South Asian illustrations transport readers to the fantastical setting of this inexplicable story. With the rani’s crabby old aunt, the limerick-spouting parrot, and nods to British authors both famous (Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear) and obscure (William Cosmo Monkhouse), this story balances the odd and the whimsical, the bizarre and the beautiful. Although the story may not make complete sense in our world, children will rejoice that everything comes together to make the princess happy in the end. (Picture book. 4-8)

Copyright 2017 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Hornbook Guide to Children

A desperate Rajah and Rani promise a reward to anyone who can entice their blind, mute daughter to speak. A tiger succeeds by truly communicating--not just talking--with lonely princess Cinnamon. First published in a magazine for adults in 1995, this original fable has a sly humor that may still appeal more to grownups than children, but the story's folktale cadence and sumptuous illustrations are entrancing.

Copyright 2017 Hornbook, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Cinnamon, the heroine of this Just So-style story, lives in a magnificent palace, wears an orange sari, and has pearls for eyes, "which gave her great beauty, but meant she was blind." Cinnamon doesn't talk, and her parents, the Rajah and Rani, offer gifts to those who can get her to speak. All fail until a tiger appears: "He was huge and fierce, a nightmare in black and orange, and he moved like a god through the world, which is how tigers move." Though the family is skeptical, he begins to teach Cinnamon: "The tiger put Cinnamon's hand into his. 'Pain, ' said the tiger, and he extended one needle-sharp claw into Cinnamon's hand." The heat of Gaiman's prose, which switches from fairy tale romance to farce and back again, stands in contrast to Srinivasan's (Little Owl's Night) cool spreads, which concentrate on the beauty of the Indian setting, her flat, graphic shapes ornamented with lacy filigree. This isn't a comforting tale, but its effect is real: Gaiman puts a claw right into the reader's hand. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Merrilee Heifetz, Writers House. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-3--In Gaiman's enigmatic parable, Cinnamon, a princess born without sight, doesn't speak, sheltered within the gardens and minarets of the palace, whose bleached pastel hues echo her muted existence. Although her parents invite noblemen from across the realm to teach Cinnamon to speak, she remains silent until a man-eating tiger arrives at the palace. By turns sly and savage, he teaches her about the world of experiences to be found beyond the palace walls, and Cinnamon enthusiastically departs with him into the jungle. The stylized characters and architecture in Srinivasan's illustrations reflect not only the story's Indian setting but also its unique blend of whimsy and depth. The glowing artwork is as luminous as the princess's eyes, with ornate patterns situated within bold graphic shapes that flow across the page with deceptive simplicity. Gaiman's dry wit infuses the tale with a faintly sardonic tone--as when the tiger gobbles up Cinnamon's embittered aunt--that will delight children and adults alike, while the book's ambiguity leaves it open to nearly endless interpretation. VERDICT Gaiman's lyrical and distinctive fairy tale begs to be read aloud and will appeal to children who appreciate a touch of mystery and humor. A good choice for large collections and where the author is popular.--Anna Stover, Poughkeepsie Day School, NY

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2017
Age Range
4 - 8 years
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 04/01/17
None None

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!