MG – When You Trap a Tiger

Keller, Tae. When You Trap a Tiger. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-524-71570-0. 287 p. $16.99. Grades 5-8.

Lily, known as Lily Bean to her mom, and Eggi in her Halmoni’s stories, and her family suddenly pack up and move to Washington one rain soaked evening. They are moving in with her Halmoni, a storyteller, and the story she shares with Lily from many years ago is about how she stole the stars from the sky and bottled up the bad stories which angered a tiger. Lily is intrigued by her story, and when a tiger suddenly appears in the middle of the road one rainy night, Lily is convinced everything is real. But time is of the essence, as Halmoni is showing signs of illness – could it be a consequence of her stealing the stars? With the help of Ricky, a boy Lily meets at the library across the street, the two devise a “hypothetical” tiger trap. Little did Lily know that the Tiger would make her an offer that can help her Halmoni, but with consequences. Lily wants answers and to find a way to help her Halmoni before it’s too late. But can a QAG, short for quiet Asian girl, really find the truth? Can she rescue her family before it’s too late?

THOUGHTS: Readers will not be disappointed with the characters in this book – they are full of heart, determination, love, and curiosity, even if one of them is a tiger. This title is perfect to add to your collection of diverse books, as it shows the struggle of an Asian family and how their history and heritage affect their lives today. I truly enjoyed reading this story and believe it is the perfect story to capture how storytelling and reading books can truly be art.

Fantasy          Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

Change is happening in Lily’s life. With little notice, her mother has uprooted her daughters from their California home to their halmoni’s (grandmother’s) home in Sunbeam, Washington. Lily does her best to be the invisible, accommodating, “QAG” (quiet Asian girl) while her older sister, Sam, finds every reason to voice her displeasure to their mother and often rebukes Lily. Lily both chafes under and finds comfort in her invisibility. Lily’s many worries worsen when she (and only she) sees a tiger in the road as they approach their halmoni’s home. Her grandmother has shared countless Korean folktales with Lily and Sam, often with a dangerous tiger involved. When Lily discovers that her grandmother is ill and facing death, she’s determined to convince the tiger to use its magic to cure her grandmother, despite admonitions from her mother and sister that dissuade her from believing the “silly” stories have any power in their lives. The library across the street provides hope and friendship for Lily, who teams up with Ricky to build a tiger trap in her grandmother’s basement. Can she convince the tiger to help, and can she convince her family that the stories are real and useful?  Will the stories save her grandmother and her family?

THOUGHTS: This is a tale of a young girl growing up and deciding who she will be, while she comes to terms with death. The targeted age level seems to increase through the story as Lily matures, and this may not quite work for readers. The grief, anger at moving, and the sister difficulties between Lily and Sam smooth a bit too perfectly by the story’s end. I found myself wishing for more scenes with the interesting, enigmatic tiger.

Magical Realism          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD
Korean Folktales

Elementary Early Chpt. Books – Dyamonde Daniel; Noodleheads See the Future

Grimes, Nikki. Dyamonde Daniel (series). Puffin, 2017. $5.14 ea. (paperback). Gr. 1 – 3.

Almost Zero (Book 3). 978-0-425-28855-9.

Rich (Book 2). 978-0-425-28854-2.

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel (Book 1). Puffin, 2010. 978-0-14-241555-9. $5.14 (paperback)

Halfway to Perfect (Book 4). G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. 978-0-399-25178-8. $9.49 (hardcover)

Dyamonde Daniel is a spunky, outgoing girl whose classmates go through a variety of difficulties. The topics that are brought feel genuine (being new in school, someone who lives in a homeless shelter, a classmate who loses everything in a house fire) to the story and are great discussion topics with students.  THOUGHTS:  Books 2 and 3 in this series are re-releases in paperback in 2017. Although not brand new to the publishing world, I still highly recommend these books. Finding early chapter books with such important topics and racially diverse characters are difficult. This series is a great addition to any library, no matter the publication date.

Easy Chapter Book, Realistic Fiction        Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School


Arnold, Tedd et al. Noodleheads See the Future.  Holiday House, 2017. Unpaged. 9780823436736.  $15.95. Gr. 1-4.

Tedd Arnold has teamed up with Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss to create what seems to be a silly early chapter book about noodles. Quickly one realizes that there is more here than first meets the eye.  In a series of three short chapters, the reader learns about the antics of the hapless Noodlehead brothers, who take what is said to them literally, which leads to some humorous situations.  Mac and Mac also have problems with logical thinking. In one incident, they are sawing off a branch that they are sitting on.  They are amazed that their friend Meatball can “predict the future” when he tells them they are going to fall on their bottoms, which of course does happen.  In the back matter, the authors explain that their stories are based on the traditional “tales of fools,” also known as noodle tales.  They discuss which folktales or motifs were the inspiration for the stories in this book. Arnold uses a graphic novel approach and his illustrations are over the top funny.  It is amazing how Arnold can make the faces of the noodle characters so expressive.  Children will laugh out loud at this pair and will eagerly await the next book. Thoughts:  This book would serve well in folktale units and is a good example of the noodlehead motif with a modern touch.  Children will enjoy reading this one on their own as well.

Early Chapter Book; Folktales      Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD