Review of When You Trap a Tiger, by Tae Keller

When You Trap a Tiger

by Tae Keller

Random House, 2020. 297 pages.
Review written July 17, 2020, from a library book
2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor
2021 Newbery Medal Winner

As the book opens, Lily and her big sister Sam are being taken by their mother to move to the Pacific Northwest to live with their Halmoni, their Korean grandmother. Lily and Sam aren’t thrilled about this sudden move, which changes all their summer plans. As they get near Halmoni’s house, Lily sees a giant tiger in the road, a tiger that looks just like the one that appeared in the tales Halmoni used to tell. Her mother and Sam don’t even see the tiger, and nothing happens when they drive through that part.

It isn’t too long living there before Lily learns Halmoni is very sick. And it turns out the tiger is willing to make a deal with Lily, in exchange for some stories Halmoni stole long ago. But Halmoni has taught Lily never to trust a tiger.

At the same time, Lily is trying to make friends in the new community, and Sami is sometimes nice, sometimes harsh, and she’s so worried about Halmoni.

I wasn’t crazy about the way the fantasy in this book was handled, because I could find logical holes. However, it does nicely leave you wondering what’s real and what’s Lily’s imagination. The overtones from Korean mythology, along with thoughts about the importance of stories, add richness to this book.

Buy from

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

*Note* To try to catch up on posting reviews, I’m posting the oldest reviews I’ve written on my blog without making a page on my main website. They’re still good books.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *