Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tiger by Jeff Stone

Premise: Fu is one of 5 children trained in kung fu. When their temple is viciously attacked, he must decide how to defend truth and justice now that he is on his own.
Title: Tiger
Author: Jeff Stone
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series or Stand-Alone: First book in a 7-book series
Content appropriate for: grades 3-5
3.5 Stars

3 adjectives that describe this book: action-packed, unique, simple

I enjoyed this kung fu novel. It's a genre I'm not accustomed to and I found it quite fun. It was kind of like watching a kung fu movie in my mind. I am already thinking of which students would love this book, especially some of my boys who are developing and dormant readers.

I have two primary thoughts on Tiger. For one thing, Jeff Stone does a great job managing perspective. I hate it when the reader understands things long before the character. That approach just makes me think the character is stupid. Jeff Stone, however, designed his writing so that my understandings evolved in sync with the character's understandings. When Fu was angry with the tiger hunters, I was angry. When he attacked them, I believed that his attack was justified. Later when he realized that he had acted too quickly and made a mistake, I found myself agreeing with him. When he felt ashamed, I also felt ashamed. Jeff Stone's writing really impressed me in this regard.

On the other hand, the kung fu fighting scenes were really confusing. There was so much detail about each hand, elbow, and finger position that I got lost. Also, the story only follows one primary incident (stemming from Fu's attack on the tiger hunters). I found the world of early China fascinating and wanted more. Yes, I know this is a series so I can get more that way, but there wasn't really enough here to get me really invested.

Still, I think several of my students, especially the boys, would love this book.

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