A Book A Week #10

10.The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Kate, Kate, Kate.  How does she do it?  First there was Because of Winn Dixie and the marvelous Opal- as satisfying a character as any.  Then, of course, we met a mouse with a large vocabulary in The Tale of Despereaux which, without a doubt, would go on my list of favorite books of all time (not children’s books, mind you. Books).  But in between, there was the lesser know The Tiger Rising. This book may not have gotten as much press as the others, but delivers no less powerful a punch.

The Tiger Rising is the story of a boy who has recently lost his mother.  He and his father are drowning in sorrow, the rain is unceasing.  And then there is a tiger.  A real tiger.  In just over 100 pages, Kate takes the characters full circle- not a single superfluous word or detail; just magic.

Her website is as beautifully written as her books.  A quote from her On Writing section:

“Each time you look at the world and the people in it closely, imaginatively, the effort changes you. The world, under the microscope of your attention, opens up like a beautiful, strange flower and gives itself back to you in ways you could never imagine.”

Reading Challenges and Teaching Opportunities:

Setting: Kate grew up in Florida, and this book is set there- in a swampy, damp place that hasn’t seen the sun in a while.  The setting really helps set the mood of the book and adds a rich dimension to the characters.

Character Development: The characters are perfect fictional specimines:  the main character- Rob, and the major secondary characters- Sistine and Rob’s father, complete a perfect arc.  The internal and external journeys are tightly connected and would be accessible for students to identify in a class discussion.  Because she writes the characters so perfectly, you could also study this book from a writer’s perspective to study how she exposes characters through what they do, say and think, how they react to events, how others react to them.

Symbolism: This book is ripe for opportunities to talk about symbolic relationships:  Rob’s itchy legs, the rain, the tiger (of course), and so on.

Sorry to run out of steam on this one… I want to get this posted before too much of the week goes by.

I’m 2 months in and still on track!

One response to “A Book A Week #10

  1. Yes! This book is remarkable. Kate DiCamillo is remarkable. It is also interesting for kids to see parallels between The Tiger Rising and Because of Winn-Dixie (our back-to-back DiCamillo read alouds). The main character’s loss of mothers, taciturn fathers, bullies who come in twos, wise old sage characters who offer significant words of advice, ongoing suitcase/turtle shell metaphors… What rich writing! The kids go to town.

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