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When You Trap a Tiger
Cover of When You Trap a Tiger
When You Trap a Tiger
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Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.Some stories...
Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.Some stories...
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  • Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.
    Some stories refuse to stay bottled up...
    When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni's Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal—return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni's health—Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice...and the courage to face a tiger.
    Tae Keller, the award-winning author of The Science of Breakable Things, shares a sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family. Think Walk Two Moons meets Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!
    "If stories were written in the stars ... this wondrous tale would be one of the brightest." —Booklist, Starred Review

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    1

     

    I can turn invisible.

    It’s a superpower, or at least a secret power. But it’s not like in the movies, and I’m not a superhero, so don’t start thinking that. Heroes are the stars who save the day. I just—­disappear.

    See, I didn’t know, at first, that I had this magic. I just knew that teachers forgot my name, and kids didn’t ask me to play, and one time, at the end of fourth grade, a boy in my class frowned at me and said, Where did you come from? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.

    I used to hate being invisible. But now I understand: it’s because I’m magic.

    My older sister, Sam, says it’s not a real supersecret power—­it’s just called being shy. But Sam can be rude.

    And the truth is, my power can come in handy. Like when Mom and Sam fight. Like right now.

    I wrap myself in invisibility and rest my forehead against the back-­seat window, watching raindrops slide down the side of our old station wagon.

    “You should stop the car,” Sam says to Mom.

    Except Sam actually says this to her phone, because she doesn’t look up. She’s sitting in the passenger seat with her feet slammed against the glove compartment, knees smashed into her chest, her whole body curled around her glowing screen.

    Mom sighs. “Oh, please, we don’t need to stop. It’s just a little rain.” But she ticks the windshield wipers up a notch and taps the brakes until we’re going slug-­slow.

    The rain started as soon as we entered Washington State, and it only gets worse as our car inches past the hand-­painted welcome to sunbeam! sign.

    Welcome to Halmoni’s town, a town of nonstop rain, its name like an inside joke.

    Sam smacks her black-­painted lips. “K.”

    That’s all. Just one letter.

    She tap-­taps her screen, sending bubbles of words and emojis to all her friends back home.

    I wonder what she’s saying in those messages. Sometimes, when I let myself, I imagine she’s writing to me.

    “Sam, can you at least try to have a good attitude about this?” Mom shoves her glasses up on her nose with too much force, like her glasses just insulted her and it’s personal.

    “How can you even ask me that?” Sam looks up from her phone—­finally—­so she can glare at Mom.

    This is how it always starts. Their fights are loud and explosive. They burn each other up.

    It’s safer to keep quiet. I press my fingertip against the rain-­splattered window and draw a line between the drops, like I’m connecting the dots. My eyelids go heavy. I’m so used to the fighting that it’s practically a lullaby.

    “But, like, you realize that you’re basically the worst, right? Like, this is actually not okay—­”

    “Sam.” Mom is all edges—­shoulders stiff, every muscle tensed.

    I hold my breath and think invisibleinvisibleinvisible.

    “No, seriously,” Sam continues. “Just because you randomly decided that you want to see Halmoni more, that doesn’t mean we want to uproot our entire lives. I had plans this summer—­not that you care. You didn’t even give us fair warning.”

    Sam’s not wrong. Mom told us only two weeks ago that we were leaving California for good. And I’ll miss it, too. I’m going to miss my school, and the sunshine, and the sandy beach—­so different from the rocky...

About the Author-

  • TAE KELLER was born and raised in Honolulu, where she grew up on purple rice, Spam musubi, and her halmoni's tiger stories. After high school, she moved in search of snow, and now lives in New York City. She is also the author of The Science of Breakable Things. Visit her at TaeKeller.com, follow her monthly love letters at bit.ly/lovetae, and find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 4, 2019
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Greta Jung is outstanding at capturing both the youthful and adult voices in this chapter book for tweens. She embodies the quiet, thoughtful Lily in a subdued tone. Listeners will empathize with the shy Korean-American girl who wants to disappear at the sign of any conflict. Lily's quiet personality alternates with the sassiness of her older sister, Sam, who will entertain young listeners with her bristling retorts to adults. Sam is contrasted with the girls' grandmother, whom they address in Korean: "Halmoni." Jung makes her character distinctive with lightly accented English. A lively, confident narrator is exactly what listeners need for a story that bends into Korean mythology as Lily realizes she is being followed by a tiger only she can see. M.R. � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2020

    Gr 3-7-Keller's narrative can't be faulted-the story is achingly gorgeous. A widowed Korean American mother and her two mixed-race daughters move from California to Washington to live with their glamorous, unconventional Halmoni-grandmother" in Korean. Older sister Sam-living in sullen teenagerhood-is resistant, but younger Lily can't get enough of Halmoni's magical tales. When Lily learns of Halmoni's illness, she negotiates a deal with a mythic tiger to save Halmoni's life. While Keller, whose own grandmother is Korean, has written an affirming book, the audio adaptation, narrated by Korean American Greta Jung, amplifies Keller's easily correctable cultural stumbles. Keller's use of "Unya" for "older sister" is particularly jarring; "unnee" is older sister, the suffix '-ya' akin to adding 'hey' or 'yo' when calling to someone-"This is it, Unya cried, " translates to "hey, unnee cried." Perhaps Jung could only read exactly what's on the page, but as her Korean is uneven (the pronunciation of "Halmoni," for example, is inconsistent), writer, reader, and certainly the producers missed an obvious opportunity for improvement or correction. VERDICT Alas, this audio interpretation misses the mark.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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