The Tiger Rising has much of the same flavor as Bridge Over Terebithia. Both focus on children wrestling in contrasting ways with the limitations of their power over their circumstances, and with the decisions of the adults in their lives. Both are stories of redemption. And both stories are expertly crafted to keep the reader's interest, and to explore deeper concepts without compromising a good story.
Ever since the death of his mother, loner Rob Horton is a boy with a lot bottled up inside him. The concurrent discovery of a caged tiger and the aquisition of a new friend begin his journey into the pain of loss and bittersweet memories. His new friend, Sistine Bailey also carries a lot of emotional weight after the divorce of her parents, resulting in separation from her dad. Instead of bottling it up, Sistine is angry at everything, fighting the world. As the two wrestle with the choice of freeing the tiger, they also wrestle with the decisions of freeing their emotions so they can reconcile them. Both of these decisions will lead either to healing or to sealing their emotions inside forever.
I love books with great symbolism--I love to peel back the layers and look for more than the obvious story--and although The Tiger Rising is a quick read, it is rich in depth. True to her other novels, Kate DiCamillo writes vividly, a real treat for me since I live in the region she describes so well. The only objections some might have is the occurence of two uses of the Lord's name in vain. Other than that, there is no mention of faith in this book positively or negatively. I have an idea of writing a literature study to go with this book for children. This novel is appropriate for older elementary students through junior high. It is a great book to use to teach kids about the appropriate dealing with emotions.