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The Sultan's Tigers (Tom Trelawney) Hardcover – November 5, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—In this follow-up to Island of Thieves (Houghton Harcourt, 2012), Tom Trelawney once more finds himself on a quest with his daring yet morally ambiguous Uncle Harvey. This time, the pair is reunited on the occasion of Tom's grandfather's death. When the boy is threatened by a mysterious man named Marko, he learns of some letters written by his Trelawney ancestor describing the location of a stolen tiger statue (based on the real-life "sultan's tigers" in Mysore, India)-worth two million dollars. Tom and Uncle Harvey embark on a race to get to the statue before Marko, both to satisfy the Trelawney love for adventure and to cover Uncle Harvey's debts. Fast-paced action is to be expected from this title, which has compelling, movie-poster-like cover art, but there's a lot more to it than that. As Tom explores India for the first time, he learns about the current state of affairs, especially the level of poverty afflicting the region. What could have just been an exotic thrill ride turns into a reflection on American privilege. The Sultan's Tigers is a rollicking story that works as a stand alone and is a great choice for reluctant readers, especially those looking for books with male protagonists.—Jessica Ko, Los Angeles Public Library
Lured by the promise of adventure and treasure, Tom again skips town with his unprincipled uncle Harvey. This time they follow a trail of clues to southern India to find a jeweled tiger statue buried by their ancestor Horatio in 1799. The search brings danger, friendship, arson, cultural understanding—and a bit of introspection on the part of Tom. His budding maturity never fully blooms, though, and by the end of the novel, Tom ignores his punishments and slips out of the house on a new adventure. Hand this fun adventure series (Island of Thieves, 2012) to future fans of Clive Cussler. Grades 4-7. --Suzanne Harold
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I'm not sure his parents were thrilled by that, but the author should be. He has pulled together a lively, fast-paced and tremendously entertaining adventure tale that propels Tom and his uncle Harvey around the world in quest of a treasure: a tiger covered in precious stones, apparently looted by an ancestor back in the days when British soldiers were seizing control of what would become the Indian Raj.
I see a lot of other readers had reservations about the attitudes toward parental authority -- disrespectful attitudes, behavior that most boys would never get a chance to indulge in (like escaping from the police) -- but frankly, given the book's target audience, I'd suspect that most of this is pretty tame relative to the kind of stuff you can see in action movies that a 10-year-old boy would go to. In terms of this particular 10-year-old, when I asked what he thought about some of these issues, he looked at me as if I was crazy. "That's in the BOOK, not real life," he explained to me, patiently. "I don't get to do that stuff." Although he admitted he'd like to go to India and see some of the places for himself one day.
Do the antics of a fictional hero of a children's boy encourage disrespect and misbehavior? I can understand why a parent might be worried, but I suspect by the age of 10 or 11 -- the target audience -- while they may think wistfully about running away from home or having madcap reckless adventures, if they're the kind of kid who is going to get into trouble, it's not going to be this book that takes them there. What was more on my nephew's mind, finishing this book, was the adventure and the history; it simply never registered that this made it OK for him to be rude to his parents. He did demand to read the first book, but in the same way that he'd nag for an extra piece of cake, which strikes me as typical 10-year-old behavior, rather than a sign of incipient juvenile delinquence, and was rapidly pacified with the promise of a trip to the library.Frankly, if your kids are reading Harry Pottery, they can quite easily read this without it corrupting them, I suspect.
Recommended as an engaging romp for the target audience, which isn't young kids or children who struggle to separate fantasy from reality.
After a thrilling adventure in Ireland, Tom and his uncle find themselves on a plane to India in search of a tiger. This particular tiger is jeweled and probably worth a few million dollars, but nothing every comes easy for Tom. He needs to be able to make it past some real tigers and real enemies in order to fetch his prize.
With quick chapters and tons of action, there isn't much to dislike about the second installment of Tom Trelawney's series. Easily suited for the middle grades (4th and up probably), this is an excellent pick for a reluctant reader, especially boys. It's not difficult to read and the shorter chapters are sure to keep the pages flying by. I didn't have a problem with the content, like some others have. Artemis Fowl (in his series) has an odd relationship with his parents, so it is not odd in a middle grade book to see that. It's also quite clear that Tom is not the most upstanding little boy. If a parent is worried, talking through the fact that Tom is not a role model, which should be clear from some of the thieving ideas he has, is an easy part of a read aloud with your child.
Kou enjoyed watching The Adventures Of Tintin, which features the salty Captain Haddock as the young boy's adventure mate. In The Sultan's Tigers, that role is filled by Uncle Harvey. The two adventure tales also share an older, rougher approach to children's fiction. If The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn offends your sensibilities, stear clear of Tom Trelawney and Tintin.
I ask my sons Kai (age 11) and Kou (age 9) to help me with book reviews. My start here on Amazon began with the picture books that I would read to them at bedtime. Over the years, the picture books evolved into chapter books and my nighttime reading became their own. Not every book they read is a pleasant experience. I push and cajole them to read different genre, to expand their horizons. Occasionally, though, I provide them with sheer entertainment.
The Sultan's Tigers was great fun for Kou.
Rating: Five stars