Book Review: The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo #BookReview #KateDiCamillo

The Tiger Rising

by Kate DiCamillo


From Goodreads:

The National Book Award finalist from the best-selling author of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE – now in paperback 

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 heartaches, and tigers – can’t be locked up forever.

My thoughts on this book:

At this point, I’m fairly certain there isn’t anything Kate DiCamillo can write that we won’t enjoy. This one wasn’t as good as the others we’ve read so far, but we still enjoyed it. It turned out to be a speedy read at just a smidge over 100 pages.

Rob Horton, a 12-year-old boy, lives with his dad at the Kentucky Star Motel. His mother (Caroline) recently passed away from cancer and he’s dealing with a lot of bottled up emotion from that, plus he deals with a blistering skin condition on his legs and bulling at school. He has unresolved problems with his dad because both of them are still mourning the loss of Caroline. While wondering in the woods behind the motel one day, he discovers a tiger locked up in a cage. Rob is fascinated by the tiger as it seems to have magically appeared.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Meanwhile, at school, Rob meets the new girl (Sistine) and they begin to develop a beautiful friendship. Sistine has her own problems she’s dealing with and she’s just flat out angry about everything. She’s quite aggressive and outspoken. She encourages Rob to talk about his mom and to deal with his emotions.

“I don’t want to see your stupid tiger!” she shouted. ” I don’t care about it. You don’t know how to talk to people. I told you about my father and my mother and Bridgette, and you didn’t say anything”…”Keep your stupid secrets!” she shouted. ” Keep your stupid tiger, too. I don’t care.”

Surprisingly, Rob eventually finds that it’s not so complicated to open up to her. He shows Sistine the tiger and after she meets the tiger, she has her own opinions on what they should do about it. She want’s Rob to follow through on her plan, but Rob isn’t sure what to do. Will he make the right decision?

The story started off a little boring at first, but then as I read on and more characters came in, along with their individual backgrounds, I simply couldn’t put the book down. I think my favorite character in the book turned out to be Willie May–she was so wise and warmhearted. I enjoyed all the characters though–sympathizing with each one–similar to how I felt reading Because of Winn-Dixie.

With this being a coming of age story that deals with themes of friendship, grief, and loss, I definitely had some tears. I didn’t find the book over-predictable at all and was quite surprised with the end. My two 4th grade children didn’t seem to enjoy this one as much as the others by this author we’ve recently read, but they were still able to hang in throughout. I have no doubt they’ll enjoy reading it again as they get a little older.

This is another one of Kate DiCamillo’s books that’s wonderfully written with strong character development and symbolism. I’m happy to have this one added to our collection.


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 – 6
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763618985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763618988


About the author:

13663.jpgKate DiCamillo, the newly named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2014–2015, says about stories, “When we read together, we connect. Together, we see the world. Together, we see one another.” Born in Philadelphia, the author lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.

Kate DiCamillo’s own journey is something of a dream come true. After moving to Minnesota from Florida in her twenties, homesickness and a bitter winter helped inspire Because of Winn-Dixie – her first published novel, which, remarkably, became a runaway bestseller and snapped up a Newbery Honor. “After the Newbery committee called me, I spent the whole day walking into walls,” she says. “I was stunned. And very, very happy.”

Her second novel, The Tiger Rising, went on to become a National Book Award Finalist. Since then, the master storyteller has written for a wide range of ages, including two comical early-chapter-book series – Mercy Watson, which stars a “porcine wonder” with an obsession for buttered toast, and Bink & Gollie, which celebrates the tall and short of a marvelous friendship – as well as a luminous holiday picture book, Great Joy.

Her latest novel, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, won the 2014 Newbery Medal. It was released in fall 2013 to great acclaim, including five starred reviews, and was an instant New York Times bestseller. Flora & Ulysses is a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format – a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black and white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell. It was a 2013 Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner and was chosen by Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Common Sense Media as a Best Book of the Year. – Goodreads

Thanks for reading my review of The Tiger Rising. Have you read this book or any others by Kate DiCamillo? Feel free to share thoughts and suggestions below.

❤ Mischenko

16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo #BookReview #KateDiCamillo

  1. David R. Dowdy

    Freedom is a great theme for children. They need to learn it’s possible to be locked up by their desires, fears, and habits and how they can set themselves free. I like that you touch on characters because they drive the story and I think young people can identify with them more than deep plot concepts at their age. Great review! You’re always so fair-minded about the overall rating of books. You don’t skewer the whole work over one fault.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! I totally agree and its helpful for them to learn at a young age that they’re in control. Not only that, but that it’s okay to express their emotions. Really loving this author! Have a great weekend! 😁🎃

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How can I have been an elementary school librarian and not heard of this book? It sounds wonderful. With themes like friendship, grief and loss I can understand how it would be a tearjerker. Have you ever read Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner? I think you would like it, but it is a tearjerker as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised to pick this one up too. It happened to be sitting right next to Winn-Dixie at Barnes so we grabbed it. I don’t think I’ve read Stone Fox? Is it an older book? I’m going to add it now. Thanks, Carla! ❤


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