When You Trap a Tiger – Tae Keller


  When You Trap a Tiger – Tae Keller, Random House; (9781524715700), 2020

Format: hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre: magical realism

What did you like about the book? “Sometimes believing is the bravest thing of all.”

Lily, her sister, and her mother have moved in with her sick Korean American grandmother, her Halmoni. Lily feels lost — she’s shy and quiet in normal circumstances, but now with her beloved grandmother sick she feels especially unmoored. When Lily encounters a magical tiger, she makes a deal — she will return the stories her grandmother stole in exchange for healing her grandmother. Lily is assisted in her task by a new friend, Ricky, as well as kind public librarians. Along the way, Lily will discover family history, secrets, as well as her own voice. 

Keller has written a gorgeous book that incorporates Korean mythology and folktales into a book about the cycle of life. Highly recommended for all collections.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Students who like books about grief or realistic books with elements of magic and folktales. I will recommend this one to sophisticated readers. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? The book is slow paced, but it felt appropriate.

Who should buy this book? Recommended for all middle school libraries and most elementary libraries. 

Where would you shelve it? Realistic fiction (this is one of those ones that sometimes makes me wish I didn’t have a genrefied library, but I still think magical realism belongs in realistic fiction) 

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date reviewed: March 26, 2020

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