My kids LOVE it when they find out that a beloved book has been made into a movie, from the youngest right on up to the teen. Some of our favourite family movie night selections have first been books we’ve enjoyed together as read-alouds.

Movie versions of books also provide great motivation for reluctant readers who’d rather have screens than books — sometimes the promise of watching the movie afterward is all they need to get those pages turning!

Since we’ve already done two of Kate DiCamillo’s books as read-alouds & movies, I was excited to learn that another one of her books was being made into a movie. I promptly got my hands on the audiobook version of Tiger Rising and planned for a movie night!

Read the book,, watch the movie - Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising

This post contains affiliate links. I was provided with access to The Tiger Rising movie in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for details. 

The Tiger Rising: Book Overview

Tiger Rising is a short novel (scarcely over a hundred pages) set in rural Florida. I listened to the audiobook together with my children ages 7-14 while driving around running errands and to and from piano lessons. It’s only around 2 hours long so it took us about a week to get through it.

The story is about a 12-year-old boy, Rob, who stumbles upon a caged tiger one morning before school. Rob is a grieving boy who has been keeping his feelings bottled up, but when he meets his opposite in Sistine, the new girl at school, they become unlikely friends. Sistine teaches Rob to let his feelings free and then wants him to do the same for the tiger.

The Tiger Rising was probably our least favourite Kate DiCamillo book thus far (my youngest loved the Mercy Watson books when she first learned to read and everyone LOVED The Tale of Despereaux.

It did deal with many important but difficult topics and themes:  the death of a parent, grief, bullying, emotions, bravery, and friendship. It also contained some language that I’m not comfortable with in children’s literature and had I been reading it aloud I could easily have skipped over its several uses of “damn” and instances where the Lord’s name is taken in vain.

Sensitive children may have difficulty with the bullying experienced at school by Rob & Sistine, as well as how the story ends for the tiger.

The book ends with the promise of a better relationship between Rob and his father as they grieve the loss of Rob’s mother together. The question of what will become of them and what will Beauchamp (the Tiger’s owner) do when he finds out what has happened to his tiger remains unresolved, however.

The Tiger Rising: Movie Review

The Tiger Rising stars is a new, 2022 film by The Avenue, starring Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid.

If you’re a purist who only enjoys movie adaptations that are true to the book, then you’ll appreciate The Tiger Rising movie! Most of the movie is almost word for word taken from the book.

The Tiger Rising movie review

There were only two notable differences we noted between the movie and the book.

The first is the addition of a minor character, an art teacher at Rob’s school. I don’t find it affected the story much though it did provide a positive, adult character to counteract the overabundance of negative ones. The only other positive adult influence in the story (apart from Rob’s memories of his mother and his father before her death) is Wille Mae, the hotel maid who works for Beauchamp and who offers encouragement and advice to Rob & Sistine.

The other deviation from the book we found is in regards to the relationship between Rob’s dad and his boss, Beauchamp, who also owns the Tiger. The movie shows many instances of Rob’s dad arguing with and being insulted and degraded by his boss.  In the final scene of the movie, Beauchamp and Rob’s father are arguing and the impression is given that Beauchamp is going to shoot Rob’s father. Rob’s father struggles with Beauchamp and gains possession of the gun. In the book though, Rob’s father uses the gun to protect the children from the tiger and Beauchamp doesn’t make any appearance at all.

I really liked the creative way the movie communicated Rob’s imagination by making his drawings and carvings come to life and talk to him. It was a great way to portray the imagination of a child at work in a sometimes harsh world.

While I’m a big fan of movie adaptations being faithful to the book, I did find it unfortunate that the movie was faithful to the book to the extent that it included the same objectionable language issues I mentioned in my book review — although not extreme by any means, it is still out of place and completely unnecessary in a children’s film.

Read the Book – Watch the Movie!

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo provides lots of opportunities for discussion when you Read the Book – Watch the Movie! It’s always profitable to talk about books with your kids, what they’re reading and what you’re reading, but watching the movie adaptation of a book after reading it provides even more opportunities. You can talk about the similarities and differences between the two, if there was a change in emphasis in the themes, and if the adaption is true to the spirit in which the author wrote the book. And of course, you can talk about which you liked better and why.

I think The Tiger Rising would be best read or viewed with parents being fully aware of the issues I mentioned to determine if it’s appropriate for the ages and temperaments of their children.

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