The Tigers in the Tower by Julia Golding
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Published:18th September 2020
Sahira’s family are travelling to England to deliver two majestic Indian tigers to the menagerie in the tower of London. But tragedy strikes and sickness steals Sahira’s parents from her on the journey.
Left alone in London, Sarhira finds herself confined to a miserable and dangerous orphanage. Despite her heartache and the threats she faces, Sahira is determined to carry out her father’s last request – to protect God’s beautiful creatures: her tigers. To do so, Sahira must set out on an adventure and use all her powers of persuasion to engage the help of some new friends along the way.
Can the quest to find her tigers a safe home, lead Sahira to find her own place of hope and belonging in this strange and foreign land?
I loved this book, it had a real Dickensian feel about it with an added cultural element which I adored.
Sahira Clive, born of an English father and an Indian mother, travelling to London with a pair of Tigers finds herself an orphan after her parents contract a deadly illness. With nowhere to go Sahira finds herself placed in an orphanage and separated from her tigers. The way Sahira is treated due to her mixed raced heritage was powerfully portrayed in this novel and would be a great opportunity to discuss inequalities and prejudices in society.
I adored hearing about Sahira's culture, through her stories of India, the vocabulary used (see glossary at the back of the book) and her amazing assortment of clothing. I loved how there were nods to different religions slipped into the novel too, from the tigers' names - Rama and Sita, to her mother's and father's different religions, Islam and Christianity. If read in the classroom, I could really see how this would be a great starting point and opportunity to explore these religions further.
There is also a huge historical pull to the novel and I was fascinated to learn about the Tower Menagerie (The Tower of London), the Zoological Gardens (London Zoo) and society in London at the time. I found myself researching these aspects after I had finished reading, becoming absorbed in London's rich history.
This book definitely appealed to me as an adult and I found it both fascinating and engaging. As I have mentioned (a lot) I really feel this book would be a great class read to share with Year 5/6 as there are so many discussion opportunities and a whole unit of work could be built around this book. For independent readers this book would also provide a rich reading experience as it is beautifully written, is packed with adventure and is character driven.
The Rangoli patterns in the corners of each chapter was a nice touch to the book as too were the glossary and Menagerie poster at the front. Many thanks to Fern Lindsey-Tolley at Lion Hudson for sending me a copy of The Tigers in the Tower, which I highly recommend.
About The Author:
Julia Golding is a multi-award winning writer for adults and young adults, including the Cat Royal series. Former British diplomat and Oxfam policy adviser, she has now published over fifty books in genres ranging from historical adventure to fantasy. She has a doctorate in English literature from Oxford. For Lion Children's, she has written The Curious Science Quest series, The Curious Crime and The Tigers in The Tower!