Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis

Title: Tiger Moon
Author: Antonia Michaelis
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: October 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0810944992

Plot Summary: In early 20th century India, a beautiful young woman named Safia is sold by her family (high in caste but financially poor) to become the eighth wife of a rich merchant, Ahmed Mudhi.  They are married quickly but the merchant becomes ill with a fever and is not able to consummate the marriage for a few nights – which Safia views as a few more nights added to her life, since she knows that he will kill her when he discovers she is not a virgin.  She passes the nights telling a story to the beautiful eunuch named Lalit who serves the merchant’s harem.

The story she tells is of an unlikely hero, a thief named Farhad, who is sent on a quest by the god Krishna to rescue his daughter, who is doomed to become the eighth wife of a wicked demon.  Farhad is accompanied on his journey on by a sacred white tiger, and the pair encounter a series of trials and mishaps that force Farhad to prove his worth.

As Lalit discovers, the two stories are connected in miraculous ways.

Critical Evaluation: Similar to The Sherwood Ring, this book has a story set within another story, and both tales end up being connected in surprising ways.  Safia is the main character for the “real” story – a poor but high class girl who has no choice in deciding her future, and is sold by her father to a wealthy merchant.  Although she cannot change her situation, she can tell a story that imaginatively creates a hero sent by Krishna to come rescue her.  Her audience, a eunuch named Lalit, becomes so inspired by the story that just listening to it makes him feel heroic.

Most of the book is focused on the story that Safia tells.  Farhad is a great protagonist because his character actually develops as he takes his journey.  He begins as a common thief that will steal without thinking about it or feeling guilt, but as the story progresses he learns to care about other people, he prays for the first time, and cries for the first time.  The white tiger, Nitish, provides some comedic relief, and rescues Farhad when he gets into trouble.

Tiger Moon might be best for an older teen audience, since younger readers may not be mature enough for some of the content.  There are a few sex scenes (not too explicit), and some violence and death of characters that some may find disturbing.

Reader’s Annotation: A young Indian bride knows that her husband will kill her when he finds out she is not a virgin, so during her last few nights she tells a story to one of the servants about a hero coming to rescue a young woman from being married to a demon.

Author Information: Antonia Michaelis is a German author of books for children and young adults.  She lived in a small coastal village in the Baltics for her first two years, then moved with her family to South Germany, where she grew up.  Michaelis lives in North Germany and is currently focused on writing books, although she has also studied medicine.

Michaelis became interested in India after living in South India for a year, teaching at a school near Madras.  She has also traveled to Turkey, Greece, Syria, Italy and the UK. (Source)

Tiger Moon was translated from German into English by Anthea Bell, a British translator who specializes in children’s literature.  Bell also translated the Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke.

Genre: Multicultural Fiction

Curriculum Ties: Indian culture and mythology

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Discuss Farhad’s transformation from a thief into a hero.  What caused it?
2) Does everyone have the potential to become a hero?
3) Talk about what the bloodstone symbolizes – why is an evil object so integral to Farhad’s journey?  Compare it to the ring from The Lord of the Rings if you are familiar with both works.

Interest Age: 14 and older

Challenge Issues: sexual content, violence and death

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: I ran across a copy of Tiger Moon at the bookstore where I work, and the description was enough to get me interested in reading it.  It diversifies my current collection because it is set in India, and the author is not American.  I wonder how many great young adult books there are that I’m not aware of because they haven’t been translated into English.

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March 4, 2010 - Posted by | Books |

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