The Tiger Rising
The Tiger Rising
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Annotation: Rob, who passes the time in his rural Florida community by wood carving, is drawn by his spunky but angry friend Sistine into a plan to free a caged tiger.
Catalog Number: #109494
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 121 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-8087-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-90724-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-8087-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-90724-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 99088635
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Rob Horton has "a way of not-thinking about things," including his mother's recent death. His life changes when he discovers a caged tiger in the woods and meets an emotionally volatile new classmate. Though overwhelmed by heavy-handed symbolism and sentimentality, the brief novel, which features a well-realized setting and an almost palpable aura of sadness, has a certain mythic quality.
Kirkus Reviews
Themes of freedom and responsibility twine between the lines of this short but heavy novel from the author of Because of Winn-Dixie (2000). Three months after his mother's death, Rob and his father are living in a small-town Florida motel, each nursing sharp, private pain. On the same day Rob has two astonishing encounters: first, he stumbles upon a caged tiger in the woods behind the motel; then he meets Sistine, a new classmate responding to her parents' breakup with ready fists and a big chip on her shoulder. About to burst with his secret, Rob confides in Sistine, who instantly declares that the tiger must be freed. As Rob quickly develops a yen for Sistine's company that gives her plenty of emotional leverage, and the keys to the cage almost literally drop into his hands, credible plotting plainly takes a back seat to character delineation here. And both struggle for visibility beneath a wagonload of symbol and metaphor: the real tiger (and the inevitable recitation of Blake's poem); the cage; Rob's dream of Sistine riding away on the beast's back; a mysterious skin condition on Rob's legs that develops after his mother's death; a series of wooden figurines that he whittles; a larger-than-life African-American housekeeper at the motel who dispenses wisdom with nearly every utterance; and the climax itself, which is signaled from the start. It's all so freighted with layers of significance that, like Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue (2000), Anne Mazer's Oxboy (1995), or, further back, Julia Cunningham's Dorp Dead (1965), it becomes more an exercise in analysis than a living, breathing story. Still, the tiger, "burning bright" with magnificent, feral presence, does make an arresting central image. (Fiction. 10-12)
Publishers Weekly

AfterRob's mother dies, he and his father move to a new town to get a fresh start, he discovers a caged tiger in the woods. In a starred review, PW called this "an emotionally rich story about a boy caught in the powerful grip of grief." Ages 8-up. (Aug.)

School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-A multifaceted story with characters who will tug at readers' hearts. Rob and his father moved to Lister, FL, to try to begin life anew without Rob's mother, who recently died from cancer. The boy goes through his days like a sleepwalker, with little or no visible emotion. "He made all his feelings go inside the suitcase; he stuffed them in tight and then sat on the suitcase and locked it shut." His sadness permeates the story; even the weather, with its constant dreary drizzle is sad. With the arrival of a new student, Sistine Bailey, Rob's self-contained world begins to crumble. He and Sistine are both friendless and victims of the cruelty often shown outsiders at school. The principal, worried about contagion, decides that Rob should remain at home until the rash on his legs improves. Rob appreciates the respite and Sistine appears daily on the pretense of bringing him his homework. She seems to have the keys to unlock the suitcase on Rob's "not-wishes and not-thoughts." When the boy finds a caged tiger in the woods, he recognizes a similarity between himself and the animal. Then the sleazy owner of the motel where Rob and his dad are living gives him the responsibility of feeding the creature, and Rob realizes he finally holds in his hands the keys to freedom. Quotes from William Blake's "The Tiger" intimate themselves into the narrative and set the tone. This slender story is lush with haunting characters and spare descriptions, conjuring up vivid images. It deals with the tough issues of death, grieving, and the great accompanying sadness, and has enough layers to embrace any reader.-Kit Vaughan, Midlothian Middle School, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
DiCamillo's second novel may not be as humorous as her debut, Because of Winn-Dixie, but it is just as carefully structured, and her ear is just as finely tuned to her characters. In the first chapter, readers learn that Rob lost his mother six months ago; his father has uprooted their lives from Jacksonville to Lister, Fla.; the boy hates school; and his father's boss, Beauchamp, is keeping a caged wild tiger at Beauchamp's abandoned gas station. The author characterizes Rob by what he does not do (""""Rob had a way of not-thinking about things""""; """"He was a pro at not-crying""""), and the imprisoned tiger becomes a metaphor for the thoughts and feelings he keeps trapped inside. Two other characters, together with the tiger, act as catalyst for Rob's change: a new classmate, Sistine (""""like the chapel""""), who believes that her father will rescue her someday and take her back to Pennsylvania, and Willie May, a wise and compassionate woman who works as a chambermaid at Beauchamp's hotel. The author delves deeply into the psyches of her cast with carefully choreographed scenes, opting for the economy of poetry over elaborate prose. The climax is sudden and brief, mimicking the surge of emotion that overtakes Rob, who can finally embrace life rather than negate it. DiCamillo demonstrates her versatility by treating themes similar to those of her first novel with a completely different approach. Readers will eagerly anticipate her next work. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)
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Word Count: 19,369
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 3.0 / quiz: 45130 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:7.0 / quiz:Q24443
Lexile: 590L
Guided Reading Level: T
Fountas & Pinnell: T
That morning, after he discovered the tiger, Rob went and stood under the Kentucky Star Motel sign and waited for the school bus just like it was any other day. The Kentucky Star sign was composed of a yellow neon star that rose and fell over a piece of blue neon in the shape of the state of Kentucky. Rob liked the sign; he harbored a dim but abiding notion that it would bring him good luck.

Finding the tiger had been luck, he knew that. He had been out in the woods behind the Kentucky Star Motel, way out in the woods, not really looking for anything, just wandering, hoping that maybe he would get lost or get eaten by a bear and not have to go to school ever again. That’s when he saw the old Beauchamp gas station building, all boarded up and tumbling down; next to it, there was a cage, and inside the cage, unbelievably, there was a tiger--a real-life, very large tiger pacing back and forth. He was orange and gold and so bright, it was like staring at the sun itself, angry and trapped in a cage.

It was early morning and it looked like it might rain; it had been raining every day for almost two weeks. The sky was gray and the air was thick and still. Fog was hugging the ground. To Rob, it seemed as if the tiger was some magic trick, rising out of the mist. He was so astounded at his discovery, so amazed, that he stood and stared. But only for a minute; he was afraid to look at the tiger for too long, afraid that the tiger would disappear. He stared, and then he turned and ran back into the woods, toward the Kentucky Star. And the whole way home, while his brain doubted what he had seen, his heart beat out the truth to him. Ti-ger. Ti-ger. Ti-ger.

That was what Rob thought about as he stood beneath the Kentucky Star sign and waited for the bus. The tiger. He did not think about the rash on his legs, the itchy red blisters that snaked their way into his shoes. His father said that it would be less likely to itch if he didn’t think about it.

And he did not think about his mother. He hadn’t thought about her since the morning of the funeral, the morning he couldn’t stop crying the great heaving sobs that made his chest and stomach hurt. His father, watching him, standing beside him, had started to cry, too.

They were both dressed up in suits that day; his father’s suit was too small. And when he slapped Rob to make him stop crying, he ripped a hole underneath the arm of his jacket.

"There ain’t no point in crying," his father had said afterward. "Crying ain’t going to bring her back."

It had been six months since that day, six months since he and his father had moved from Jacksonville to Lister, and Rob had not cried since, not once.

The final thing he did not think about that morning was getting onto the bus. He specifically did not think about Norton and Billy Threemonger waiting for him like chained and starved guard dogs, eager to attack.

Rob had a way of not-thinking about things. He imagined himself as a suitcase that was too full, like the one that he had packed when they left Jacksonville after the funeral. He made all his feelings go inside the suitcase; he stuffed them in tight and then sat on the suitcase and locked it shut. That was the way he not-thought about things. Sometimes it was hard to keep the suitcase shut. But now he had something to put on top of it. The tiger.

So as he waited for the bus under the Kentucky Star sign, and as the first drops of rain fell from the sullen sky, Rob imagined the tiger on top of his suitcase, blinking his golden eyes, sitting proud and strong, unaffected by all the not-thoughts inside straining to come out.

The Tiger Rising. Copyright (c) 2001 Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, Inc. Cambridge, MA

Excerpted from The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

A National Book Award finalist by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo.

Walking through the misty Florida woods one morning, twelve-year-old Rob Horton is stunned to encounter a tiger—a real-life, very large tiger—pacing back and forth in a cage. What’s more, on the same extraordinary day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his. As they learn to trust each other, and ultimately, to be friends, Rob and Sistine prove that some things—like memories, and heartache, and tigers—can’t be locked up forever. Featuring a cover illustration by Stephen Walton.


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