Jandy Malone is 10-years-old and her siblings are Edwin who is eight, Samantha who is six and Peter who is five. They share the front bedroom in an old house. Jandy, our narrator, reveals that each night between 9.00pm and 9.30pm, a tiger prowls their hallway. This allegorical story about facing fears uses a first-person narrator to engage the reader.
Jandy is afraid of many things such as lions, snakes, big dogs, school, her Aunt Maree and thunderstorms. Her father told the children a story about a magical umbrella that takes them on adventures. Peter adds to this story by spotting two eyes and sharp teeth. Jandy immediately says it’s a tiger crying! The tiger then explains why it is crying — ‘All alone, no one likes me, talks to me, all friends have gone’. Peter bravely tells the tiger not to cry, that he will be his friend, but the tiger has never said it wanted to be friends. The tiger now waits in the hallway where Jandy lives.
Jandy’s father says not to be afraid because nothing can get past him, but Jandy’s father has left. Her father who had been there to dispel these fears, now lives elsewhere.
Finally mustering up her courage, Jandy goes out into the hallway at 28 minutes past nine o’clock. She asks the friendly objects in the hallway to take care of her and to help her make the imaginary tiger part of the house. The final line features Jandy resolving her fears: ‘When you look a tiger in the face there is really nothing to be afraid of. I would like everyone to know that’.
This book was Commended by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) in 1981 in the Book of the Year category. It was considered an unusual choice at the time because of the story, unusual book design and artwork. Large illustrations spread across three quarters of double grey-coloured pages. Predominant colours throughout are black and grey with occasional dark colours. These suggested a different reading experience. The story has appeared as an ABC film for young people and as several theatre productions.
The CBCA Judges’ Report commented: ‘a 10-year-old child’s real and imagined fears are sympathetically portrayed in this contemporary treatment of a single-parent urban family. The unusual format and strong illustrations break new ground in a book for this age group.’