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The Tiger Rising

Last updated Monday, December 27, 2010

Author: Kate DiCamillo
Date of Publication: 2001
ISBN: 0763609110
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2011

Synopsis: From Publisher's 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

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  (Note: Read the inside front cover for background. This author also wrote The Tale of Despereaux; Because of WinnDixie; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane—all books we have read in the reading clubs)
•  BEFORE Q’s:
•  1) What continent do tigers come from? (Eastern and Southern Asia—tigers are not native to Africa as many childhood stories depict.)
•  2) Would you ride on top of a tiger?
•  3) Have you ever seen a tiger? Where can you find them in Los Angeles? (the zoo at Griffith Park)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  1) Where is Kentucky? Where is Florida? How far are they from where tigers usually live? (Eastern/Southern Asia)
•  2) Where is the Sistine Chapel? (in the Vatican in Italy)
•  3) What does it mean to “put your foot in your mouth”? (to embarrass yourself by saying something rude without knowing it)
•  4) Should you hit someone or make fun of someone or their clothes in school? Why not?
•  5) How does it feel to be bullied?

Craft ideas:
•  1) Carve tigers out of soap. Take a bar of soap and a wooden stick, use the stick to carve out your animal. To start, trace the outline of the animal/figure first in pencil. Carve out the starting shape and add details as you go.
•  2) Draw a tiger in his natural setting.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!