Life changes completely for the active, playful girl Livy when she is hit suddenly by a serious illness (the illness is not specified, but the notes in the back of the book explain that it is based on the true story of a girl with the same name who developed a rare disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM or JM) which attacks a child’s immune system) . The illness takes its toll on Livy both physically and emotionally – she’s exhausted and weak, and some of her friends are treating her like a stranger, whispering about her behind her back. She also has the side-effects from her medication to contend with (her Mom explains that the strong medicine is fighting the disease but also might make her feel ‘sad or mad’).
Livy’s Grandpa compares her to a tiger, her favourite animal: she’s strong, she perseveres and is willing to fight and survive. This gives Livy an idea – the stretch marks on her legs (another side-effect of her medicine) are her very own tiger stripes! When times get really tough, Livy remembers her ‘tiger stripes’ and does what she needs to do to get better.
Gradually, Livy begins to recover from her illness and ‘life becomes fun again’. Her ‘tiger stripes’ fade but are still visible, serving as a good reminder of how difficult it was for her to cope with her illness and how ‘thinking like a tiger’ has helped her through this tough time.
‘Tiger Livy’ is a thoughtfully written book packed with helpful messages. The bold comic book style illustrations should help to engage young children.