With a nod to The Jungle Book and The Lion King, Paul G. Wilson brings us his children’s book, Sahbaar’s Secret. Sahbaar is a young tiger cub with a secret – he’s not like the other tigers, yellow with black stripes. Sahbaar is a white tiger and for his family they know that this difference this is a danger to him and to them. The King of the Jungle, the lion, Rashar and the Jungle Council are extremely hard on any animal that is different from their breed and Sabhaar’s parents know if Rashar were to find out about his colouring, something terrible will happen, perhaps even banishment from the jungle. Cleverly they devise a plan whereby Sahbaar will roll in a bed of crushed orange berries every morning to turn his fur orange like the rest of his family. His biggest fear is water – water that could wash the colouring out and of course rain. Sahbaar has to come to terms with his difference and deal with the consequences of it but fortunately he has some wonderfully loyal and loving friends, including Rashar’s own son, Nero, who will look out for him and watch his back. Trouble is coming to the jungle, though, in the form of the animal – man with his shooting sticks and Sabhaar and his friends will have to dig deep and find all the courage they have, to deal with this threat to the jungle way of life.
Sahbaar’s Secret is a truly delightful children’s book, probably best suited for middle-school children. Author Paul G. Wilson, uses the story as a perfect vehicle to explain and reinforce what is important in life; loyalty, friendship, love, courage, and doing the right thing even in the face of intransigence and opposition. What I particularly liked about this story was the variety of animals that Sabhaar had as friends. All of them, even the most slow and lumbering, such as the crocodile had skills that would prove useful in the coming battle against both man and the elders of the jungle. The writing style was perfectly suited to the intended audience of the story, without appearing to be “dumbed down” in any way. As an adult, reading this story, I was still able to identify with the animal characters and their particular natures and quirks, which is always the sign of a well-written children’s book, in my opinion. Although I loved the story and the dramatic climax, especially, I couldn’t help but wish there were some beautiful illustrations to go along with the prose. That would have lifted the book over and above its competition but nonetheless as a children’s book with a strong moral and valuable lessons for life, this story truly hit the mark perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.