cover image Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

Ron Koertge. Scholastic, $17.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06840-3

Thanks to Koertge's ( The Arizona Kid ) imaginative characterizations, wacky humor and crackling, authentically adolescent dialogue, his protagonist's life in tiny, remote Norbu--an economically depressed, drought-stricken central California town--seems very rich indeed. Much of this wise novel revolves around Jesse's vigilant efforts to keep his mother from realizing the full extent of his beloved grandfather Pappy's senility; not far beneath the anguished slapstick, however, lurks a tender and serious examination of how a father (or grandfather) can best teach a boy to become a man. When Pappy, an experienced tracker, returns from a desert camping trip convinced he has seen a tiger's paw print, skeptical Jesse and a gang of friends comb the countryside looking for further evidence--anything to keep the old man quiet. By novel's end, Pappy is vindicated, and the conclusion of his wild tiger chase is dramatic enough to keep readers from caring that it is also fairly farfetched. Other story lines involve Jesse's long-distance flirtation with a shoe-crazy girl; local ostrich races; and Jesse's study group, The Savage Avengers. Hilarious yet poignant cameos of Norbu residents and plenty of Wild West atmosphere provide additional zest. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)