Author: Kathleen T. Pelley
Illustrated by Page Keiser
Interest Level: Ages 4-8
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From the Book Jacket: Being a bookstore "tiger" is lots of work. Raj has to patrol the storerooms, keep an eye on the front window (while sun basking, of course), and greet customers with a hearty meow. But Raj loves his job, especially story time with the children.
Things change when Snowball comes on the scene. The cranky cat's snide remarks cause Raj to doubt his own tigerness. So Raj is forced to figure out if he's just an ordinary kitty-cat after all...or if, just maybe, it's Snowball who's got it wrong.
Why It's On My Bookshelf: It is such a great feeling when you feel your best self. It's a fill you up happy state called high self-esteem. But there is nothing worse when it all of a sudden plummets. And why did it plummet? WHAM - you got knocked down by a put down. This is what happens in one of my new favorites Raj the Bookstore Tiger. Another cat named Snowball takes over his turf by using put-downs and bully behavior.
I see this happen in school ALL the time. A student arrives in the morning all cheery and ready to learn and then I see them at their last recess looking absolutely broken. Whoa. What happened? A lot of times it's negative comments or mean words they received at one point during their day from another student. Just like Raj they feel withdrawn and a bit hopeless... like they want to disappear. Any power they once felt they had - poof - it disappeared. Enter one of my favorite words - EMPOWER. Raj teaches kids to stand up for themselves, don't believe in the put-downs, and guard your self-esteem. You have the POWER to not allow your self-esteem to plummet in the first place. I get excited teaching kids this stuff!
Something else I liked about this story is how Snowball and Raj didn't remain enemies but they became friends. It didn't end with Snowball being condemned as the bully and Raj as the hero. It made them equal and showed the possibility of healing a situation even when a major hurt has been caused. Stories that bring characters together are ones I relish reading to kids. Ask your students to look around the room at each other...who do they need to have healing with? This book will give them inspiration to do so.
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