I could gush about Kate DiCamillo like a young fan girl. There I said it. She has a knack of hooking me on page one and I slip into her world forgetting mine, the bills, the dog, and am transported back to my youth. A place and time devoid of Kate DiCamillo. For if her books were around when I was a child, I’d of found my best friends in the pages of her works. The Tiger Rising is no different. Well maybe a little. What person is not fascinated by a wild creature, a tiger no less?
From the first words we are off and running on an adventure. The characters are real, and while I might have found Sistine or Rob my heroes as a kid, it is Willie May that captures me as an adult. She is wise, well rounded and a great guide for two unguided children trying to come to terms with what to do about the tiger and the problems in their own lives.
Kate DiCamillo tends to deal with darker themes, sorrow, rage, divorce, death, friendships, all the things children face and handles them not with kid gloves but a gentle reality that can take the child by the hand and say, you are not alone. She then wraps these issues around strong characters and masterful prose. It is not surprising that Kate DiCamillo’s books are Newberry Award winners, or as The Tiger Rising is, a National Book Award Finalist.
Kids of all ages can enjoy this tale. While the writing is meant for middle school age – making it a fast read for me, there are gems that remind us childhood may be forgotten in our adult hustle bustle world but it is never forgotten in our hearts. Tigers are meant to be free, whatever the cost.