Staff Report

Sajan Basyal Fowler has never owned a vegetarian tiger. Not in real life, anyway.

The Dunn School senior has published a new children’s book entitled “Sajan and the Vegetarian Tiger,” which tells the touching story of how a young Nepalese boy helped a tiger that didn’t like the taste of meat.

The story is based on an award-winning poem Sajan wrote in middle school.

“I originally wrote it as a middle school poem … and won a contest. Mom and I found the poem again a few years later, and we thought it would be neat to write a children’s book,” Sajan said.

He and his mother started to adapt the poem into a book-length manuscript during his freshman year and found an illustrator online they thought could capture the spirit of the book. They are both pleased with the final product.

“I never expected that we would actually publish it,” he said.

Sajan grew up in Santa Ynez and attended Santa Ynez Valley Charter School before coming to Dunn. He was born, however, in a small village on the outskirts of Kathmandu in Nepal.

After his mother died when he was only two years old, his father and grandmother sought better opportunities and education for him than they could provide in Nepal. So they offered him for placement through an international agency, and an American family from California adopted him at 4 years old.

“I’ve loved growing up in the (Santa Ynez) Valley,” he said. “It’s small and people are nice. It’s a peaceful place.”

Sajan is still in touch with his birth family and has traveled to Nepal twice to visit them. This personal connection, and his pride for his homeland, led him to donate a portion of proceeds from the book to an orphanage that provides food, shelter and education for children that can no longer live at home.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to my family,” Sajan explained. “Knowing that it gets back to my roots in Nepal reminds me of home.”

“When I first wrote the poem as a 12-year-old, I remember thinking that if a big tiger can eat his veggies, then so can you,” Sajan said.

While vegetables play a key part of the narrative, however, the moral of the story is about finding unique solutions to surprising problems.

Sajan plans to attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall to begin work on his general education requirements.

“Sajan and the Vegetarian Tiger” is available for purchase at, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Children’s Home orphanage.