Candlewick Press Published 2001, 121 pages of story, For ages 9-12--Young Adult
A 2001 National Book Award Finalist
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award Winner
Parents Choice Awards Silver Honor
More information about book:
This book was bought by me for the purpose of reading/reviewing.
I have so far read three of Kate DiCamillo's books:
The Magician's Elephant and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I have on my bookshelf one more
The Tale of Despereaux. My goal is to also read Because of Winn Dixie.
Twelve year old Rob Horton and his dad live in the Kentucky Star Motel in Lister, Florida. They moved recently from Jacksonville after Rob's mother died. Rob tries hard not to cry, he keeps his emotions packed up tight. He has itchy red blisters on his legs that his father puts ointment on every night. Rob is harassed and bullied by the other kids he is in school with. On the same day Rob discovers a tiger in a cage near where he lives, and meets a new girl at school named Sistine Bailey. The story has another important character named Willie May, she is the housekeeper at the motel. Wise and dramatic Willie May befriends both Rob and Sistine.
This book is a tear jerker! As an adult reading a young adult book I am sure I picked up on "things" that a young adult or child would not. The emotions that Rob is stifling is like a boiling cauldron inside of his body, eventually he will have to release a valve. The strained relationship between Rob and his dad is heart rending both of them need hugs, and absolutely grief counseling.
I did of course love this book, it speaks loudly of the grief a child and husband go through in the death of a parent and spouse.
Willie May's character is noble beyond any of the other characters, she permeates wisdom. She is the Yoda of Lister, Florida. She is the anti-hero, the unsung hero. I don't mean to make light of young Rob, I just adore Willie May!
The author did a wonderful job of making the reader see through the eyes of twelve year old Rob.
His experiences of being bullied in school is common to an extent for most of us, yet we are there in this story with Rob when he is terrorized.
The tiger that is found in the story is a wild and awesome threat, yet Rob and Sistine are unafraid. An adult would be petrified, maybe the threat to them is minimal in comparison with the complex issues they are both having.
This is a short story, but memorable!