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About the Author

L. S. Matthews first novel for young readers, which won the Fidler Award. She is also the author of A Dog for Life, Lexi, and The Outcasts. She lives and writes in England, where she lives with her husband and two children.


Gr 4-8-Tiger and his presumably British parents live in a war-torn, drought-ravaged, unnamed country, providing help and medical attention to the poverty-stricken villagers in this novel by L.S. Matthews (Delacorte, 2004). As the political situation worsens, the family must leave the country. Unfortunately, the borders have been closed due to masses of refugees. Thus begins an incredibly arduous journey across an arid, mountain-strewn land. The addition of Guide, who lost his family in the war, and his reliable donkey makes the group complete. Tiger narrates the tale. On the day they must leave, the child finds a little fish in what was once a pond, that is still alive. The continued survival of Fish, who Tiger brings on the journey, becomes of utmost importance and symbolic of his own and the group of traveler's survival. All of the players are well drawn, particularly Tiger, who views the adults' actions with varying reactions-bewilderment, irritation, dry humor, and loving acceptance. The travelers encounter a number of dangers, including a trio of vicious soldiers and the mud flats that can swallow a person whole. Jenna Lamia narrates in a way that successfully keeps up the conceit of whether Tiger is a boy or a girl. she flawlessly maintains the British accent and brings the endearing narrator to life. This is a highly recommended recording, both as an allegorical tale about the effects of poverty and war and as a treatise on the perseverance and righteousness of human and animal spirit.- B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"The story starts with the day I found the fish," states the deceptive opening of this debut novel, an allegory grounded in remarkably tactile storytelling. The child narrator, whose name, gender and age are concealed by the nickname Tiger, has found the fish in a mud puddle, after a torrential downpour in the unnamed, drought-ridden and war-torn land where the narrator's parents are relief workers. Spare as the prose is, it teems with evocative details (e.g., when Tiger discovers the Fish, "The glow of the colors had flooded my eyes, like when you open the curtains on a lovely sunny day"). But as war encroaches, Tiger's parents engage a man called the Guide (he tells Tiger his name is too difficult to pronounce) and his donkey to lead them across the border. The Guide respects the child's wish to save the Fish and suggests Tiger transport it in a lidded pot. As the Guide and Tiger's family make a dangerous journey through the mountains, the allegorical elements of the novel take on dramatic import (e.g., the fish changes size to fit the containers available-a water bottle; even Tiger's mouth at one desperate point), and readers can bring their own interpretation and experience to the symbolism embedded here. In keeping the narrative so carefully attuned to a child's perspective, Matthews allows just enough detail-and heart-to make miracles feel possible. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

ALA Notable Children's Book Choice
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Fidler Award [
STAR] "Matthews allows just enough detail--and heart--to make miracles feel possible."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "An amazing book."--The Washington Post "Exciting and filled with crises and adventure... it is a story that celebrates the human spirit and inherent kindness."--School Library Journal "Matthews is a compelling new voice."--VOYA

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