________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 19. . . .January 17, 2014


Tiger by the Tail.

Eric Walters.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1999/2013.
193 pp., trade pbk. & EBK, $7.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-2412-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-2899-5 (EBK).

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



“PURMFFF,” the tiger said loudly.

“What was that?” Nick asked apprehensively.

The old man turned around to face us. “That’s called ‘puffing’ and it’s a greeting. Old Buddha was just saying hello.”

“Ah, hello,” I answered back.

“I know what to do with you two now. Come on, both of you, up to the house.” He stood up, picked up his gun and came toward us.

“I don’t think we can do that,” I answered. “We’re not supposed to go into the house of a stranger.”

“You’d better come along,” he said as he brushed past us, this time in the other direction.

“But…” I started to object.

“Sarah, are you crazy? He has a gun, remember?” Nick whispered to me.

“Yeah, I do have a gun. Here.” He said, turning around and offering the weapon to my brother. “Carry this.”


Originally published in 1999, Tiger by the Tail, the first book in the Walters’ four-part “tiger” series, introduces readers to 10-year-old Nick and Sarah, his 14-year-old sister. Just two weeks prior, they moved into a farm house with their mom, and, while exploring the surrounding area, the siblings get caught in a lightning storm. When they are forced to take shelter in a place that most people would avoid, they meet old Mr. McCurdy and his “family” of retired circus animals. In the beginning, Nick and Sarah are hesitant to spend time at the messy house, but they grow to care for the animals, which include a tiger, a macaw, a cheetah, a chimpanzee and a python. Mr. McCurdy and the siblings bond over wild animal facts and memories of a person they all loved, Sarah and Nick’s grandma. Mr. McCurdy takes on the role of a father/grandfather, especially for Sarah, who feels abandoned by her newly single, busy mom. Adventure ensues when the tiger escapes and the mayor and police come to take all McCurdy’s animals away. When all hope looks lost, support comes from two unexpected places. A group of trespassing teenagers become protesters after being befriended by McCurdy, and Sarah’s mom agrees to be McCurdy’s lawyer after Sarah makes her realize what’s important – helping those in need. There is some humour in Tiger by the Tail as well as surprise and action. Both boys and girls can enjoy this book, especially if they like reading animal stories.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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