Summary: 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 heartache, and tigers--can’t be locked up forever. -- Candlewick Press
This month, we read THE TIGER RISING by Kate DiCamillo. I absolutely loved this book because I thought it was such a powerful story and so well-written. Unfortunately, my daughter didn't share my feelings about it (nor did a few of the other girls.) My heart is just breaking that they didn't appreciate this novel the way the moms did. I'm wondering if they weren't just a little too young to grasp all of the deeper meanings and symbolism.
Our discussion did go a little smoother this month because there was an actual discussion guide in the back of our copies of THE TIGER RISING. I thought the questions were excellent; and as is the case with my adult book group, having "real" questions kept us on topic. The guide also helped the girls to realize some of the symbolism in the novel. They did a terrific job of taking turns asking and answering the questions; and as always, I was amazed at how much they do take away from their reading.
Once we all sat down and talked about the deeper meanings of the novel, I think it started to "click" with them. I was so excited that some of the girls even added their own interpretations about the symbolism. I guess the idea of symbols in a novel is probably a new concept for all of them, but they all caught on very quickly. We also spent some time talking about the different characters and many of the major themes in this novel including loneliness, grief, anxiety, anger, etc.
Since this is our last meeting before the holidays, we did a little paperback book exchange. Each girl brought a wrapped new or used book to share with someone else. They each picked a number and then got to choose which gift they wanted to open in order of their numbers. In my book group we do a similar gift exchange, but we actually can "steal" someone else's gift. We thought better of this idea considering they are all nine years old and feelings could get hurt!
Next month, we are reading FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konigsburg. I am so excited about this selection because this book was one of my all-time favorites when I was growing up. It's been quite awhile since I've read this book (probably 30 years), so I'll be anxious to see how I like the book now. I'm hoping that my daughter enjoys it as much as I did!