At the beginning of the school year, the fifth-grade team asked me for a book recommendation. They wanted a book that they didn’t know so they could authentically model the interpretation process with their students through a think aloud. They wanted a book that would make them hypothesize and wonder, a book that would invite discussion, and linger. Without hesitation, I handed them Camp Tiger.
The team came back to me later that day and declared that it had been PERFECT for their purposes. We stood in the hallway and talked long after the kids had left for the day pondering the story… Was it all imaginary? What was the theme? When did we notice something out of the ordinary on the end pages? As we continued our discussion, we thought of another book with a tiger, that had captivated us all as adult readers years before. Like Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Camp Tiger is brimming with symbolism and begs to be discussed.
The illustrations by John Rocco are rich and lush. There are several pages without text including a stunning two-page spread where you can almost hear the water moving beneath the canoe and pebbles crunching beneath paws and feet.
Although the main character is on the brink of entering first grade, this isn’t just for little ones. Our fifth-graders were enthralled by this book, and even so many months later in March, it still comes up, “Remember when we read Camp Tiger?… Remember that part in Camp Tiger?… Can you please read Camp Tiger again? ”
Just like the boy in Camp Tiger, we all long to stay in the moment a little longer.
Don’t miss this one.
To learn more about the author and illustrator of Camp Tiger:
- My Writing & Reading Life with Susan Choi from The Children’s Book Review
- Picturebooking Podcast with Illustrator John Rocco
- John Rocco’s Webpage