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Book by DiCamillo Kate
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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
Kate DiCamillo, whose BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE was a Newbery Honor Book, again explores the difficulty of fitting into a new place. But THE TIGER RISING is even more emotionally affecting as Rob and Sistine, united by their aloneness, grapple with unlocking their own heartaches as they debate whether to free the tiger.
—New York Times Book Review, The
The author delves deeply into the psyches of her cast with carefully choreographed scenes, opting for the economy of poetry over elaborate prose. . . . 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.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
It deals with the tough issues of death, grieving, and the great accompanying sadness, and has enough layers to embrace any reader.
—School Library Journal, starred review
The story deftly shows the anxiety and suspense of getting close to someone after experience has taught you that may not be safe to do. DiCamillo's gorgeous language wastes not a single word: spare and taut her sentences spin out, with the Florida mist rising off them, and unspoken words finally said aloud.
Young readers who enjoyed DiCamillo's first novel won't be disappointed by her second.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, The
The brief novel, which features a well realized setting and an almost palpable aura of sadness, has a certain mythic quality.
—Horn Book, The
. . . the tiger, 'burning bright' with magnificent, feral presence, does make an arresting central image.
Together [the characters] learn about trust, friendship, and feelings as they plot to set the tiger free. In the process, they learn another valuable lesson, one that readers won't soon forget. This poignant, powerful story was written by the author of the Newbery Honor book BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE.
—Dallas Morning News
DiCamillo, who grew up in Central Florida and wrote the multi-award winning BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, could almost have titled her bittersweet second novel "Because of the Tiger" . . . because of the tiger, Rob and Sistine make the fateful decision that allows Rob and his father to grieve more openly for their loss.
Powerfully written by the author of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, this poignant story is certain to garner accolades on many levels.
—Syndicated Column - Kendal Rautzhan
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