Raj The Bookstore Tiger

It'a another Perfect Picture Book Friday at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog and I've got another Kathleen T. Pelley treasure for you!

Title:  Raj the Bookstore Tiger
Author: Kathleen T. Pelley
Illustrator:  Paige Keiser
Publisher:  Charlesbridge Publishing
Date:  2011/Fiction
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Opening page: Raj was a tiger. Not a jungle tiger or a Indian tiger, but a tiger just the same. That's what Felicity Fotheringham had called him the day she brought him home to her attic of the bookstore she owned. "What a tiger!" Felicity had gasped as she held him up to the sun. "Look at that gorgeous golden coat and those beautiful chocolate stripes. Only a real tiger's name is good enough for you. I will call you Raj."
Brief synopsis: An ordinary little tabby is transformed into a courageous tiger by Felicity's affirmations but is just as quickly reduced to a scaredy cat because of the mean jabs of cranky feline named Snowball. Can a verse from a William Blake poem restore his tigerness? And then can his words help transform Snowball?
Themes:  cats, tigers, India, words
Click {here} for the author's Activities Guide.
Watch the author read the story {here}.
Click {here} for a review with activity ideas at Grade ONEderful.
A month-by-month poetry freebie {here} by Everything Elementary.

Watch the Book Trailer from You Tube:

Why I like this book: It so beautifully illustrates the power of words. I set the scene with a tiger puppet who doesn't want to tell the kids his name - Clarence - because it sounds like Clearance and he's NOT on sale! He's afraid they'll laugh, but my little peacemakers tell him that they think it's a cute name. He tells them that he'd prefer to be called Fred nonetheless which lodges us into a discussion about nicknames. We find out each other's nickname and talk about whether it's a home name, a school name, or both. I was surprised at how much they knew about nicknames. My favorite explanation was probably It's like a different name that you like

Then we talk about the power of words, and ultimately about their ability to build people up or to tear them down. We also talked about when to laugh and when not to laugh. Snowball laughs at Raj in the book and even calls him a "joke tiger," which really hurts his feelings, so we pause to process that. Empathy asks: What does Raj need on this page? At one point in the story, Snowball has a "smirk" on his face. Some students don't know what a smirk is; one student told me it was "a sassy smile!" That led beautifully into a bit on tone and body language, too. 

Did the kids like the book? Without a doubt! On his way out the door, one of my third graders scratched Clarence under the chin and said, "Good bye, Raj, I mean Fred!" to the tiger on my hand; it doesn't get any better than that! 


  1. Oh, I really like the sound of this story. I will add it to my "need to read" list. And I love the name, Felicity Fotheringham.

    1. Agreed - it IS a fun name and it just sings like poetry!

  2. Poor Raj! I'm glad he found his fierce self again after Snowball's mean words. This is a great way to open a discussion with kids about the power of words. In our house we talk about whether what we're saying hurts or helps a situation and what is being put out into the world from our mouths.

  3. I've read this one and it was great. What a thoughtful discussion to have with your students! They are so lucky to have you.

  4. Oh, Raj reminds me of my Fudgie! What a great classroom book and super activities/resources. I kinda hope mea ole Snowball gets transformed too!

  5. Thank you, Barbara, for such an insightful review of my book, RAJ.
    The idea for this story came in part from that quote of wonderful William Carlos Williams. "You cannot get the news from poems, but men die every day for lack of what lies therein." Here's to poems and stories and wonderful teachers like you, who can indeed make our little ones, "burn bright."

  6. I love the discussion you had with your students. Great activity. This book sounds like it is full of possibilities. Great review.

  7. This is my first visit here and boy am I glad came! :)
    Love your blog and what I've seen. :)
    Love this review and what the kids thought and said. Thanks for sharing them. I can see why you love what you do and that you love what you do. :)

  8. The power of words is such an important discussion to have with kids. This book sounds like a great jumping-off point! Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

  9. This book sounds darling, Barbara. I love the idea of a cat feeling like a tiger because his mistress thinks him so, and the message about how words can affect you is such an important one. Love your activities, and the class discussion you had. Wonderful :)

  10. As usual, you have amazing ideas. I really wish I was a kid at your school!
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers
    PS I LOVE the puppet

  11. A great story (when I first saw the title, I thought of Dewey the library cat). I like the authoer's activities too.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!