When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller is a juvenile fiction book and just so happens to be the 2021 Newberry Winner.
When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, she begins seeing a magical talking tiger. This tiger has starred in many of her halmoni’s Korean folktales, but why is the tiger here and why can only Lily see it?
Unravelling her families history, Lily learns that long ago her Halmoni stole something from the tiger and now she wants it back. If Lily will return what was stolen and listen to three “bad” stories, the Tiger will help “heal her Halmoni.”
But stories are tricky and Tiger’s are even trickier. With the help of her sister and new friend, Ricky, Lily will learn to step forward, be brave and most importantly accept her truth and face the tiger.
When You Trap a Tiger won the 2021 Newberry Award and I can see why. It is a powerful read about accepting ones culture, ones family and oneself. It is about finding your voice and telling your own story. And it is about watching a loved one fall ill, die and dealing with the emotional fallout.
Whether you’re Korean or not, whether you’re a kid or not, whether you have experienced the pain of losing someone or not… this book is for everyone. There is something for everyone to relate to. That being said, I loved the blending of story and reality that Keller is able to inject into the book. And it is worth reading the note at the end to see just how Keller went about writing and researching these stories.
There were a few too many tiger references for me but other than that it was a really good read. It’s a Newberry, it was powerful and it was a solid read, so I gotta give it five stars.
That’s all for now!