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The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo



Book Summary Novel Activities Vocabulary Words Writing Activities Discussion Topics Online Test




Book Summary


Rob Horton has recently moved with his father from Jacksonville to a dumpy motel in Lister, Florida. Ever since his mother's death, Rob has packed up his feelings in a "suitcase" and clamped it down tight. He is determined that nothing will make him cry again–not the bullies who torment him at his new school, not the ugly, itchy rash on his legs, and especially not missing his mother. Then two extraordinary things happen. First, Rob discovers a real-life caged tiger in the woods behind the motel where he lives. On that same day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a feisty, independent-minded girl who lets her feelings out as readily as Rob holds his in. As Rob and Sistine learn to trust each other, and eventually become friends, they prove that some things – like memories, and heartache, and tigers – can't be locked up forever.


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Novel Activities


1. In chapter one, we learn that Rob thinks of himself as a full suitcase. As you read, keep a record of all the things Rob has stored in his suitcase.

2. The two main characters of the story are two very different people, yet in some ways they are very much the same. Compare and contrast Robert and Sistine.

3. As a class, discuss how hard the first day of school is at a new school.

4. What does the title of the story mean?


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Vocabulary Words


abiding sullen whittle ignorant
buoyed leprosy exertion hobo
fervently pelting reproachful emancipators


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Writing Activities


Sensory/Descriptive: The Tiger Rising is full of strong emotions. Choose an emotion and write a descriptive paragraph about it.


Imaginative/Narrative: We all have our good and bad days. Some of Rob's bad days include: his mother's funeral, moving to a new home where he has no friends, and getting bullied on a daily basis. His good days include: finding a beautiful tiger, getting to stay home from school, and making a good friend. Can you relate to Rob by making a connection to your own life? Have you ever had a horrible day? Or, how about an extraordinary one? Think about your best or worst day ever. Write a personal narrative about that day.


Analytical/Persuasive: In chapter 14, Sistine sees the tiger for the first time. She immediately insists that they let it go. Rob, however, is not so sure. Think about the reasons each character has for his/her opinion on what to do with the tiger. What do you think they should do? Write a two to three-paragraph persuasive essay to convince them of what to do.


Practical/Informative: Rob and Sistine have difficulty dealing with conflicts. Rob tries to ignore them, while Sistine turns to violence. Neither of these methods appears to be working for them. Write an informational guide for Rob and Sistine about how to peacefully solve conflicts. Be sure to include at least three new ways to handle conflicts with others.


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Discussion/Journal Topics


Chapter One: “Rob had a way of not-thinking about things.”

Chapter Five: “And then, finally he smiled. He smiled because he knew something Mr. Phelmer did not know. He knew that his legs would never clear up. He was free.”

Chapter Nine: “That was what the sun made him think of. The funeral. And so he didn’t care if he ever saw the sun again.”

Chapter Twenty-One: “Ain’t nobody going to come and rescue you, said Willie May. You got to rescue yourself. You understand what I mean"?


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Online Test


Your students can take an online test with immediate results at:

The Tiger Rising Online Test


The Professional Development Institute has a complete literature unit for this novel. For more information, click the link below.

The Tiger Rising Literature Unit (Check out the sample pages!)


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