Tiger Boy
Tiger Boy
Mitali Perkins , illus. by Jamie Hogan
ISBN 9781580896603
Charlesbridge, 2015.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: animals education family friendship gender-roles mitali-perkins nature tiger-boy west-bengal

Tiger Boy
by Mitali Perkins , illus. by Jamie Hogan

Following up on her illuminating book set on the Burma-Thai border, Bamboo People, Mitali Perkins now takes readers to the Sunderbans of West Bengal, where young Neel must similarly stand up for what's right even when the adults around him seem to be betraying the moral code of his village.

Neel loves life on his island, feeding the goats, and enjoying meals prepared by his sister, Rupa, and his mother, and long conversations with his father. But Headmaster sees in Neel great promise and wants the boy to compete for a scholarship that would take him to Kolkata, away from the place and people he loves best. When wealthy Mr. Gupta begins to tear down his beloved sundari trees, and threatens to hunt down and sell one of the rare Bengali tiger cubs on the black market, Neel realizes that his gifts could help him preserve the way of life he cherishes--even if that means leaving for a time. Perkins once again lays out the hard choices for Neel, especially when he must stand up to his beloved father.

Perkins brings the island to life through its sounds, smells, foods and people. Jamie Hogan's charcoal drawings help readers picture the exotic setting, and the pictures of Neel and the tiger cub make palpable the bond between them. A glossary and list of organizations working to support the wildlife and people of the Sunderbans round out this enlightening novel. Perkins shows young readers that their actions can force adults to confront their own conscience.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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