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First Look: When You Trap a Tiger

First Look: When You Trap a Tiger

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.

Jean and Jody share their thoughts on Tae Keller's latest tale of magic and family. Read the First Look reviews below.


First impressions

Jody saysWhen You Trap a Tiger is a story that roars and rumbles with simplicity, strength, and magic.

Jean says: Magic and Korean folklore is woven through every page of Tae Keller’s When You Trap A Tiger, a heartfelt coming-of-age story about family and loss.

On magic

Jody saysKeller harnesses this magic skillfully in shaping Lily’s story, bringing to life the kids we once were through the tales and traditions that are unique to Korean culture. The magic isn’t the swish-and-flick kind, but the more ancient and subtle one that explains both the simplest and most archaic of practices.

On growing up

Jean saysHere’s the thing about growing up: you will realize that not everything has a happy ending, and that’s okay. Things won’t stay the same, a difficult lesson that Lily learns as she struggles with fitting in and dealing with Halmoni’s illness. Everything changes, but there is still so much love, if you know where to look.

On stories

Jody says: When You Trap a Tiger is the kind of book that allows readers to take whatever they might need—a heartrending and heartwarming family story, a mythical coming-of-age tale, a statement on the tiger-like strength of women. For me, it is a reminder that there are so many stories out there that can be overwhelming, but ultimately, what matters are the stories we choose for ourselves.

Jean says: Stories have power. The stories we tell ourselves often shape who we are and how we understand the world. They shape our family history, and bind us to the generations that came before us.


Jean has, at different points in her life, worked in government, interviewed international celebrities, and been the social media manager for several brands.
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Jody is currently an undergraduate student taking up Education and is discovering everyday the greatest bits about reading and learning that fuel our thinking.
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[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]