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First Few Pages: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

First Few Pages: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller - Winner of the Newbery Medal, Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children's Literature

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 family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal–return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health–Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice…and the courage to face a tiger.

Tae Keller, the award-winning author of The Science of Breakable Things, shares a sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family.

Read an excerpt below.



I can turn invisible.

It’s a superpower, or at least a secret power. But it’s not like in the movies, and I’m not a superhero, so don’t start thinking that. Heroes are the stars who save the day. I just—­disappear.

See, I didn’t know, at first, that I had this magic. I just knew that teachers forgot my name, and kids didn’t ask me to play, and one time, at the end of fourth grade, a boy in my class frowned at me and said, Where did you come from? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.

I used to hate being invisible. But now I understand: it’s because I’m magic.

My older sister, Sam, says it’s not a real supersecret power—­it’s just called being shy. But Sam can be rude.

And the truth is, my power can come in handy. Like when Mom and Sam fight. Like right now.

I wrap myself in invisibility and rest my forehead against the back-­seat window, watching raindrops slide down the side of our old station wagon.

“You should stop the car,” Sam says to Mom.

Except Sam actually says this to her phone, because she doesn’t look up. She’s sitting in the passenger seat with her feet slammed against the glove compartment, knees smashed into her chest, her whole body curled around her glowing screen.

Mom sighs. “Oh, please, we don’t need to stop. It’s just a little rain.” But she ticks the windshield wipers up a notch and taps the brakes until we’re going slug-­slow.

The rain started as soon as we entered Washington State, and it only gets worse as our car inches past the hand-­painted welcome to sunbeam! sign.

Welcome to Halmoni’s town, a town of nonstop rain, its name like an inside joke.

Sam smacks her black-­painted lips. “K.”

That’s all. Just one letter.

She tap-­taps her screen, sending bubbles of words and emojis to all her friends back home.

I wonder what she’s saying in those messages. Sometimes, when I let myself, I imagine she’s writing to me.

“Sam, can you at least try to have a good attitude about this?” Mom shoves her glasses up on her nose with too much force, like her glasses just insulted her and it’s personal.

“How can you even ask me that?” Sam looks up from her phone—­finally—­so she can glare at Mom.

This is how it always starts. Their fights are loud and explosive. They burn each other up.

Download the first few pages to read more.

Excerpted from When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. Copyright © 2020 by Tae Keller. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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