Monday, June 29, 2015
MMGM: Tiger Boy and Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book V: The Unmapped Sea
I have two reviews for you today and on first glance, these books couldn't be more different. One is a satirical mystery set in Victorian England and the other is a realistic portrayal of an Indian boy's search for a tiger cub. But I devoured both in days.
TIGER BOY has all these qualities , but even better, it’s a short read with a protagonist that’s sure to appeal to kids, especially those who love animals. And for the record, my 10-year-old son is dying to read it next.
Here’s the synopsis (from Amazon):
When a tiger cub goes missing from the reserve, Neel is determined to find her before the greedy Gupta gets his hands on her to kill her and sell her body parts on the black market. Neel's parents, however, are counting on him to study hard and win a prestigious scholarship to study in Kolkata. Neel doesn't want to leave his family or his island home and he struggles with his familial duty and his desire to maintain the beauty and wildness of his island home in West Bengal's Sunderbans.
What I loved about Tiger Boy:
1. A multi-layered protagonist. I loved that Neel had multiple goals: saving the tiger cub, figuring out what he wanted to do with his life, and passing an exam for a scholarship to a special school.
2. A strong female character, despite the limitations of her culture. I really enjoyed reading about Rupa, Neel's sister. I was touched by her love for Neel, and amazed at her bravery and strength, despite the limitations of being a female in India. I appreciated that Perkins did not whitewash the difficulties of being a female in India, and that Rupa finds way to be courageous despite them.
3. A close-knit family. I’ve noticed that this seems to be a hallmark of Perkin’s work (or at least what I’ve read so far), and I really enjoyed seeing a brother and sister work together, which was a refreshing change from the usual MG sibling rivalry. Not to mention how Neel inspires his father to be a better man.
4. Use of language. The metaphors were spot on and fit the setting and the culture. I also enjoyed reading the Headmaster’s misuse of English idioms: A moving pebble doesn’t get covered with dirt, etc. Maybe because I struggle with idioms myself (and I don’t have his excuse!)
5. A story set in a culture and setting that most North Americans know little about. Perkins includes an interesting author’s note at the end to explain more about the tigers and the complex problems in this area of India, which is close to Calcutta. I am always happy to see more books with settings like this—where only a curtain separates the rooms of a house and a cell phone is too expensive for a family. We all need a reminder that the majority of the world does not live as we do. I love books set in India, and this one had such amazing attention to detail (admirable considering it’s only 130 pages). I feel like I’ve just come back from a trip.
If you enjoy books set in another countries, especially India, you will enjoy this. This reminded me a lot of BAMBOO PEOPLE, although a bit gentler read. It would also appeal to fans of A LONG WALK TO WATER (Linda Sue Park).
My second highlight is the newest Incorrigible Children novel. If you've followed this blog for awhile, you know how much I love this series. I’m not going to do a full review of this one, since I featured another title in this series last spring. But rest assured, all the language fun and mystery continues with this one, but what I enjoyed the most was the introduction of the Babushkinov family from Russia. Hilarious! Many of the ongoing mysteries get answered, but many more questions are presented. I’m eager to read book 6 as book 5 has the most daring cliffhanger yet. If you’ve just started the series, keep reading. Book 5 is one of the best yet!
I'm enjoying having more time to read now that's summer. There's nothing like a cool glass of iced tea and a good book.
What books have you been enjoying this summer?
If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.