Heart of a Tiger

Illustrated by Jamichael Henterly

Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin

Dedicated to my children, Amy and Cal, for their inspiration, and to my editor, Diane Arico, for her faith.

As the Name Day celebration approaches, a young kitten tries to deserve a noble name, by following the path of the beautiful Bengal tiger.

The Story Behind The Story

How do you go from a name like “Little Four” to the name “Bangali Sher Ka Dil?” You’ll find out when you read this book.

I’ve never been to India, although I hope to travel there some day. In a way though, I did travel to India while writing this story—through books. I did a lot of research about the geography, the weather, the plants, and the animals of India.

I wanted to use Hindi for the names the kittens chose for themselves, but unfortunately, I don’t speak Hindi! I found Dr. Laxmi G. Tewari at Sonoma State University. He did speak Hindi and he had lived in India. He graciously translated the animal names into Hindi; he was most patient in helping me make a pronunciation guide for the Hindi words.

I believe that through my character Little Four (later to become Bangali Sher Ka Dil) I was trying to teach myself about the value of having a dream and of having the courage to take action to make that dream come true.

Awards and Honors

  • Ridgway Award – Best First Book by a New Author
  • IRA Children’s Book Award – Distinguished Book
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Houston Chronicle “Best Books of ’95 Roundup”
  • Missouri Show Me Readers Award Winner
  • Washington Children’s Choice Award Winner
  • Young Hoosier Book Award Winner
  • SCBWI Book List for Children in Crises

Houston Chronicle

“Marsha Diane Arnold tells an inspiring tale. Jamichael Henterly’s paintings are wise and endearing.”


“Arnold makes an appealing debut in a book set in India.”

School Library Journal

“The story’s strong suit is child appeal.”

The Horn Book

“Arnold’s original story has the feel of an oft-told tale, and Henterly’s luxuriant watercolors reward a lingering look.”