Title: The Tiger Rising
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: Dealing with Loss, Divorce, Friendship, Freedom
Age Range: 3rd through 5th Grade
Rob Horton is a twelve-year old boy living with his father in a run-down motel in Florida. After his mother died, he and his father both withdrew into their own grief, which mostly consisted of pretending they didn't have any. One day, while waiting for the school bus, Rob discovers something surprising in the woods behind the motel-an actual, real tiger in a cage, pacing back and forth. And that's not the only thing surprising that happens that day-he also makes a friend. Sistine Bailey is the new girl at school-even newer than Rob. Her mother has moved them back to her hometown after she discovers Sistine's dad is having an affair, and unlike Rob, Sistine has no problem sharing her feelings-loudly and often. She thinks they should let the tiger free, but Rob isn't sure. Letting animals-or feelings-out of their cage can be dangerous!
As one might expect from Kate DiCamillo, this book is beautifully written, with eccentric characters and lots of emotion. The setting (the south) and some of the characters (the slightly mystical, wise old black woman; the quiet, troubled man) are familiar to anyone who has read Because of Winn-Dixie. For a short book, The Tiger Rising packs a pretty big emotional punch, dealing with issues of divorce, loss, and finding your way through grief. Spoiler alert-the tiger does not meet a happy end. But I think that the choices that Rob and Sistine and Rob's father make could be a good jumping off point for discussion.
Scholastic Discussion Guide
Professional Development Institute Literature Guide
Bookrags Novel Study Guide