Kate DiCamillo, the Newbery honor author for Because of Winn-Dixie, gives a brief view into the shattered lives of two children. In The Tiger Rising Rob and Sistine meet on the Florida school bus that is their vehicle of torment. Instead of being a haven from their troubled homes it is a place of cruelty and violence inflicted by other students. The teachers and staff of their school offer only neglect.
Rob has locked away his feelings and memories. Literally struck from grieving for his dead mother, Rob looks to the Kentucky Star. This is the motel that his father manages. Each night Rob wishes upon the flashing, neon star he sees from his window. Life seems flat and hopeless until the day he sees the tiger.
Just as the poem states, this tiger burns bright. It burns bright in the dreams of Rob and Sistine. It becomes for them the symbol of their own captivity. True to their characters Rob and Sistine make different plans. Sistine insists on freeing the tiger. Rob, unsure as always, takes a job feeding the tiger.
The situation does not resolve itself prettily. When Rob and Sistine chooses a course of action there are immediate consequences. What results is a family trying to come to grips with their grief and love for each other. While this book does not have the same lighthearted touch as her first book, DeCamillo has written a story of hope. The writing is quick and simple. There are no long, drawn own scenes. The lines have been whittled with a sure hand that tells a fine story.
Kate DiCamillo is a former resident of Florida. She earned a bachelor's degree from the Univeristy of Florida in Ganesville. DiCamillo was awarded a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers in 1998. She now makes her home in Minneapolis.