- US Edition
When You Trap a Tiger
Winner of the Newbery Medal and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children's Literature, this is an unforgettable novel about family, the power of stories, and finding your voice.
“Halmoni,” I whispered, “will you tell us a story?”
My grandmother smiled, took a deep breath, and started with the Korean version of “once upon a time”:
“Long, long ago, when tiger walked like man . . .”
Lily often feels invisible. Her older sister calls her a QAG (Quiet Asian Girl). When Lily and her family move in with her sick halmoni, a magical tiger straight out of her grandmother’s Korean folktales arrives. Suddenly, Lily feels seen.
The tiger offers Lily a deal: if Lily will open Halmoni’s star jars and let the tiger drink the stories inside, the tiger will heal her grandmother. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice . . . and the courage to face a tiger.
USA/Canada: Random House (January 2020)
Audio: Listening Library
Complex Chinese/Taiwan: San Min
Simplified Chinese: China South Booky
Romania: Grupul Editorial Art
Lithuania: Baltos Lankos
Film representation: Jasmine Lake at United Talent
Enters the Indies Bestseller list the week of January 31, 2021
New York Times Bestseller list
Enters the list the week of February 14, 2021.
John Newbery Medal – ALA Book Awards 2021
School Library Journal Editors’ Best Book Covers of 2020
Texas Lone Star Reading List 2021
Kirkus Best Middle Grade Books of 2020
New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2020
NCTE Charlotte Huck Recommended Title for Outstanding Fiction for Children
SLJ Best Middle Grade Books of 2020
A Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2020 (middle-grade category)
Boston Globe & Horn Book Awards 2020: Fiction & Poetry Honoree
An Amazon Best Book of January 2020 (age 9-12)
Starred review (#5!) from School Library Journal
“Keller weaves ancient folklore with Korean history through contemporary magical realism. She calls on the power of stories to bring families and communities together and the ability to heal by speaking to their pasts. VERDICT This deeply moving book is a must-purchase for all collections, showcasing vulnerable and mythic storytelling in the vein of Erin Entrada Kelly and Kacen Callender.”
Starred Review from Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Readers will pick up on the themes of repressed trauma and healing through storytelling, which are rendered age-friendly through the folkloric framework. It’s a complex, satisfying story, one that foregrounds family and healing alongside a love for Korean folklore.”
Starred review from Publishers Weekly
“[The]#OwnVoices journey through Korean mythology begins with a fantastical quest and slowly transforms into a tale about letting go and the immortality that story can allow.”
Starred review from Kirkus
“Keller infuses this tale, which explores both the end of life and coming-of-age, with a sensitive examination of immigration issues and the complexity of home. It is at one and the same time completely American and thoroughly informed by Korean culture. Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic.”
Starred review from Booklist
“Every chapter is filled with a richness and magic that demands every word be treasured, a heartfelt reminder of the wonder and beauty in our everyday lives … Readers young and old will want to trap this story in a jar forever.”
Tae (pronounced Tay) Keller grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii (where she danced hula for eight years), and graduated in English with a major in Creative Writing from Bryn Mawr College, where she won the M. Carey Thomas Prize – the highest award given for distinction in writing.
THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS, her debut novel, was sold in a fierce bidding war and published with Random House in 2017.
Tae’s second novel, WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER, published in 2020 and (after gaining 5 starred reviews) won the Newbery Medal and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature at the American Library Association Awards in January 2021.
She lives in Seattle.