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When You Trap a Tiger

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A hopeful, heartwarming story of a girl discovering her family's past and present when she makes a deal with a magical tiger from her grandmother's stories . . .

Some stories refuse to stay bottled up...

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni's Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Random House Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  73 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Lorie Barber
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was in a bit of a reading slump when this book came to me from the publisher via a member of my reading group. I’ll be forever grateful that it did.

You never know what a book will truly be for you until you read it. It might give you the gift of humor. It might show you the world in a new way. Or it might help heal a part of you that is broken.

Sure, I could describe When You Trap a Tiger as MG magical realism. But when a book acts as a window and a mirror (Sims Bishop, 1990) simultaneously,
Roubeeni Mohan (bookish_owl06)
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Times Reads in return for my honest review

Tackling grief, loss, family dynamics and cultural heritage, this book combines wonderfully contemporary events with folk stories or family stories and traditions handed down from one generation to the next. I really appreciated how Lily wasn't perfect and made some big mistakes, and how real the conflict between Sam and her mother appeared to be, just as the mother of the girls had substantial differences with
Ava Budavari
A gorgeous story about grief, ancestry, family and love, When You Trap A Tiger is a beautiful middle fade you won’t want to miss. The writing is stunning and the story will touch anyone of any age deeply. Pick up your copy on January 28, 2020.
Jen Petro-Roy
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, arc, ebook, 2020
Just beautiful.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since she was a small child, Lily’s Halmoni has told her stories about tigers and warned her of their duplicity. When Lily’s family moves to Washington and she sees a tiger in the middle of the road, she learns that the stories her Halmoni told her are tangled with half-truths, stars, and family secrets. In an effort to save her Halmoni from her terminal illness, Lily traps the very tiger that she was warned about — but will it help heal Halmoni, or will the terrible stories grow teeth?

Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Lily, her mother and sister move in with her elderly Korean grandmother. In the small town, Lily soon discovers that everyone knows and loves her grandmother, who wears glamorous clothes and tries to offer advice and help to her community. Halmoni has always been special to Lily too, sharing stories of tigers, girls and stars with her and her sister. So when they are heading to Halmoni’s house and Lily sees a tiger out of the car window, she knows it’s from her grandmother’s tales and that ...more
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Miz Lizzie
While in the car on the way to her grandmother's house, Lily sees an enormous tiger in the road. The tiger is hunting for the stories the Lily's halmoni (grandmother) stole from her. Lily, her older sister Sam, and mother are staying with Halmoni for the summer because, it turns out, Halmoni is seriously ill. Lily thinks she can save her grandmother, if only she can be brave enough to face the tiger and hear her stories. This is an interesting story of a family in crisis that draws on Korean ...more
Kristin Crouch
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to the author for sharing a review copy with Collabookation.
There is so much love in this story, it kept me fulfilled all the way through. Lily, her mom, and her big sister have just unexpectedly up and moved in with Halmoni (the Korean word for grandma). Lily treasures time with her Halmoni, and they bond over Korean tales. But when Lily starts seeing the tiger her Halmoni has always warned her about, she realizes that some stories can take hold of us.
This book is about lots of
Cassie Thomas
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Why does hope always come at a price?”

Lily, her mom, and sister move in with her sick halmoni (grandmother) without fully understanding the meaning behind why they had to pack up and leave their lives. When a tiger starts appearing to Lily, she suddenly realizes there is a lot more to her Halmoni and her illness that what she truly understood. The tiger offers Lily a deal, one of which promises to heal her Halmoni - but Lily has grown up hearing her Halmoni’s stories of how not to believe the
Katie Reilley
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to the author & publisher for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group!

Lily and her mother and sister are leaving their California home behind to move in with her sick grandmother (Halmoni) in the state of Washington. After years of listening to warning stories about tigers, a magical tiger just like the ones from her Halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives and offers Lily a deal that may help her grandmother. But Lily knows that tigers can’t be trusted and has a difficult choice
When You Trap a Tiger is a magical story about the power of stories and how they can shape a person, and about the family history, strong Korean women (grandmothers, mothers, sisters), and unexpected friendships. When Lily and her mom and sister move back in with her Korean grandmother (halmoni), she runs into a tiger from her halmoni's tales. Before long, Lily finds herself making a deal with the tiger in an effort to save her grandmother and finding herself in the process. This books is so ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as an ARC through the bookstore I work at.

As a Middle Grade book, I loved it. It's easy to read without talking down to kids. It tackles the hard stuff with hope, love, and magic. I loved the representation and how Keller included different aspects of her culture. But, mostly, it was just a really good story where our main character got to be a hero and learns about the power of stories (which I am ALWAYS on board for.) I had fun with the characters and enjoyed the whole
WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER is a special book, brimming with love, insight, and magic. I’m so moved and inspired by this extraordinary novel and the way it explores Korean stories, grief, courage, and hope. It has well-developed characters, flashes of humor, and a deftly woven plot. It’s very different from Tae Keller’s first novel (which I also loved!), but it’s just as effortlessly readable and sensitively observed. Tae Keller is such a smart, thoughtful writer, and this is an incredible book.
Amber Webb
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly touching story of family, bravery, magic, story, culture and change, When You Trap a Tiger will touch your soul and make you look for magic in every moment. I promise you will never listen to a story the same again.
Tae Keller tells a beautiful story of Korean culture and the theory of stories through a family of strong, brave women.
Wow...just amazing! Didn’t want the story to be over.
Tae Keller's new novel is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful exploration of the relationships between mothers and daughters, particularly in families of immigrants. I absolutely loved this book! It is just beautifully written and full of wisdom for anyone dealing with grief. Highly recommended. Plus, I am obsessed with that cover!

Read more at Bookish Adventures.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished it with tears in my eyes. Sad and happy tears. This book reminds me of experiences that I wish I could block and bury deep (but I still find myself dwell on them often.) And this story says gently to me, that healing is about understanding and accepting; and facing the whole story, bad ones and good ones, is part of that healing, too.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-books
WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER by Tae Keller is a beautiful, magical book about finding your story, your family and yourself. This book is perfect for readers who love Natalie Lloyd's books that have just a bit of magic that keeps you wondering what's real. I loved learning what was going on with each character as they dealt with a difficult time.
*listens to the first 5 minutes of the audiobook*
Me: wait, who is this Harmony person? She just randomly appeared!
Me: ohhhhh, the narrator was saying halmoni...

Had to stop listening when I kept hearing Harmony. Will need to pick up the book version to read, after I get "Harmony" out of my mind.
Reads almost like a folk-tale. It deals with a few heavy issues, like moving to a new town, making friends, and caring for a dying grandmother. It’s tied together with some traditional story-telling and legends, and helps our characters find peace and closure as they say goodbye to someone they love.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great story of family, friendship and growing up with relatives who have migrated here. This book is not just for kids! It brought back memories of my Oma and our relationship. It will speak to those who have lost that special person.
Katie Bruce
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-fiction
Five starred reviews and I had to see what all the fuss was about! This was really great middle grade with a hint of magical realism & connections to Korean folklore. Be sure to read her author's note as well!
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-years, 2019
I'm just not a magical realism person. This story confused and frustrated me. There's a good heart here but it's not the book for me.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
So well written!
It’s magical realism, which is not my favorite genre.
Great Books
Feb 05, 2020 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewer #16
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: story-shop-reads
A beautiful book, full of family, hope, and the power of both the stories we tell & the ones we try to forget.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one, which is both a touching/heartfelt family story (3 generations of women), a friendship story, a great example of fantasy-infused fiction, and incorporates Korean folk tales beautifully. Also really approachable, and has a talking tiger so an easy "sell" to kids. :)
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful story about the power of storytelling, family, and love.
A great new perspective from an excellent author.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magical tigers, stories trapped in jars, and journeys towards self-discovery and letting go. I loved this book!
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Rating is more what my middle school self would have given this rather than my adult self. I'm so happy that these books are being written. The representation is so, so good.
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TAE KELLER grew up in Honolulu, where she wrote stories, ate Spam musubis, and participated in her school’s egg drop competition. (She did not win.) After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she moved to New York City to work in publishing, and she now has a very stubborn Yorkie and a multitude of books as roommates.

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