A National Book Award Finalist, The Tiger Rising is about two 12-year-old friends, which would seem to limit the readership to older children, yet all ages can read it from various perspectives and appreciate it fully. The cover sets the mood: a hazy view of a tiger, a boy, and a girl in a forest, the girl riding the tiger and the whole looking like a tale of fantasy--something like a story of a unicorn. We meet the boy and his father, wounded people mourning the death of the boy's mother some months ago. The father has forbidden the boy to speak of the death, not out of cruelty, just ignorance and pain. Rob is bullied terribly at school, suffers from a disfiguring skin rash, and gets his only comfort from carving wood as his mother taught him to do, and from the wisdom and care of Willie May, who cleans rooms at the rundown motel where Rob's father works.
You might be wondering why this book is called The Tiger Rising. Well, as Robert and Sistine become best friends, he tells her about the tiger and how he is not sure whether to let it free or not. As they are deciding, Sistine meets the motel house-keeper, Willie May. She expresses that by letting the tiger go free, it was as if he was rising out of the Florida mist; as if all of Robert's sentiments being opened up into the wild.
I am using this book as part of the Dare to Dream's Autumn 2012 Reading Challenge. The Tiger Rising will meet the task of reading a book with a yellow and/or orange cover because there is orange on the tiger, yellow on the title words and yellow on Sistine's hair :-)