• Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Why You Should Read Mitali Perkins’ Tiger Boy


One of the great joys of being a book reviewer is the opportunity to read great books and occasionally meet their authors. I was very fortunate to meet Mitali Perkins in October during a trip in Sacramento. In all the commotion of packing up, I somehow managed to forget my copy of Tiger Boy; the extremely gracious Mrs. Perkins sent me a copy right away.

I’m so glad I got a chance to read this book! Here’s a blurb:

When a tiger cub escapes from a nature reserve near Neel’s island village, the rangers and villagers hurry to find her before the cub’s anxious mother follows suit and endangers them all. Mr. Gupta, a rich newcomer to the island, is also searching—he wants to sell the cub’s body parts on the black market. Neel and his sister, Rupa, resolve to find the cub first and bring her back to the reserve where she belongs.

The hunt for the cub interrupts Neel’s preparations for an exam to win a prestigious scholarship at a boarding school far from home. Neel doesn’t mind—he dreads the exam and would rather stay on his beloved island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal with his family and friends.

But through his encounter with the cub, Neil learns that sometimes you have to take risks to preserve what you love. And sometimes you have to sacrifice the present for the chance to improve the future.

I cannot express enough how much I love this book! It’s a look at life in India that’s not your Hollywood depiction aka poor children living in squalor who need rescuing. Perkins people are not wealthy by any means, but they are not to be pitied. Perkins takes life in the Sunderbans and turns it into a beautiful world of mangroves, baby tigers, glorious food, and a simple, honest life.  Our young Neel is the best kind of hero; he loves his community and doesn’t imagine ever wanting to leave, why would he, he has everything he wants right there. The sunderbans is an ecological paradise. Check out these photos from the UNESCO’s website.

Tiger Boy is a good book for children of all ages, and would be an especially appropriate book to build a unit of study around to include food, culture, finances, politics, ecology, etc. Any age group can understand how important it is to preserve animal life or to feed your family. While everyone could learn from this book, I believe it is best suited for 9-12, even on the young end of middle grade.

Great book. I want a sequel!

Perkins is a prolific writer and provides plenty of opportunity to learn about Indian culture and people. Check out her website to see what might interest you. Also worth following is Jamie Hogan’s Pinboard called Tiger Boy. In it you’ll see the beautiful surroundings of the Sunderbans and understand why Neel doesn’t want to leave his homeland.

Look at these beautiful tigers. No wonder Neel and his friends are so concerned for their saftety!

courtesy Jamie Hogan

This also counts toward the Diversity Challenge!