When You Trap a Tiger

Tae Keller. Random House, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1570-0
Making deals with talking tigers was the one thing that biracial Lily’s glamorous Korean grandmother, Halmoni, warned her never to do. Yet when Halmoni falls ill, a magical tiger offers Lily an ultimatum: recover the stories that Halmoni stole years ago, or lose her forever. Keller weaves Korean folk tradition with warm scenes of Korean-American domesticity—preparing food for ancestral spirits, late night snacking on kimchi. The result is a story that seamlessly transitions from the mundane to the magical, never jarring when Lily’s contemporary America is sporadically replaced with a mythical land of sky gods and tiger girls. Beyond the magical elements, a diverse cast of characters populate Lily’s world—her sullen older sister, Sam; her widowed mother; the kind library staff; and Ricky, a new friend with more than one family secret. While the pacing is slow, the characters’ development feels authentic and well drawn. Keller’s (The Science of Breakable Things) #OwnVoices journey through Korean mythology begins with a fantastical quest and slowly transforms into a tale about letting go and the immortality that story can allow. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/30/2019
Release date: 01/28/2020
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 978-1-5247-1571-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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