Amber gasped, heart thudding. Stop it, she told herself. It was only a pop-up picture on the park map. She pushed at it with her hands – yes she could make the tiger’s jaws open and close, open and close. Even turn the page to see the serious, funny little meerkats instead. There was no need to worry about Tiger. She could get rid of him any time she liked. She had complete control.
Amber has been sent to stay with her uncle and twin cousins Kyla and Ben at their New Zealand Wildlife Park while her parents holiday in Europe without her. Angry and resentful, she finds that all is not well with her New Zealand family either. Ben and Kyla’s mother has left, Kyla has an animal activist boyfriend and Ben’s dodgy friend Spike seems to be everywhere. Strange things are happening in the Wildlife Park. Amber is captivated by the meerkats but terrified by the Wildlife Park’s main attraction, a Sumatran Tiger.
There are many themes to be explored in Summer Tiger. Animal conservation is one, and more than one approach is explored. Family is another, as Amber worries about her own family and the family of her cousins. Managing fear is yet another. Summer Tiger weaves all these and more into a believable and action-packed story. Main character Amber grows in understanding and compassion across the novel, learning about herself and her family as she simultaneously begins to overcome her fear of animals, big and small, wild and ‘tame’. Recommended for upper primary readers.
Summer Tiger, by Wendy Catran
Hachette Livre Australia 2007