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The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair

Book Synopsis

London, 1880s: High up under the eaves of her father’s townhouse, twelve-year-old Emma Linden lives and never goes out. Her dream is to follow in the footsteps of Mary Anning, the famous fossil hunter. But Emma is kept hidden away from all the world, science and study, the tools that keep her mind well. When Emma’s brother, James, begins to speak obsessively of a tiger gifted to the Natural History Museum, everything she holds certain begins to crumble. Their only refuge is Kersbrook, the magical family home on the Devon coast.

Devon, 2023: After Rosie Linden has been found, missing for four days and four nights, no one believes her when she says she has turned into a tiger. A surprise inheritance and an unlikely friendship guide Rosie as she begins her journey to recovery. But as the mysteries around her family history threaten to unravel, past and present blur and a shadow looms. Tigers are prowling once more…

A beautifully told story full of hope and healing, empathy and acceptance, which challenges our perceptions of, and how we value, those who see things differently.

Our Review Panel says...

This is a nuanced and rewarding read combining so many different threads, suitable for mature readers in upper KS2.

After she falls ill, Rosie discovers family secrets buried like layers of fossils in the cliffs. On her journey to recovery, she must sift the past to find the answers, like the palaeontologist Mary Anning on the Jurassic Coast before her. 13-year-old Rosie experiences psychotic episodes. The book sensitively explores mental health and provides an honest depiction of this serious and highly distressing mental condition.

The Tiger who Sleeps Under My Chair is a powerful dual narrative which moves between Rosie’s life in the present day and that of her great-great-grandmother, Emma, as a teen in the late 1800s. This enables us to see the stark contrast between Victorian and modern attitudes around mental health. This historical perspective will be enlightening for younger readers as they are introduced to asylums, confinement, and the notion of mental illness as a weakness – and one that was associated mainly with women.

Other strong themes in the book are friendship and empathy: both Rosie and Emma’s stories centre around the girls and their close circle of friends. We witness the joy of shared experiences, and the succour and the lifeline that true friendship can provide. I particularly enjoyed the friendship between Rosie and Jude; the portrayal of a sensitive and highly-emotionally-intelligent teenage male was absolutely wonderful to see. He radiates empathy and kindness.

The book is set against the backdrop of the Jurassic Coast and its incredible geology. Emma, a talented scientist, is fascinated by fossils, rocks and shells and has a particular interest in the work and discoveries of Mary Anning. Later, inspired by some of her great-great-grandmother’s belongings, Rosie develops a similar interest. In addition, running throughout the story are references to the Indian myth – drawn from Garo folklore – of tiger transformation. This fascinating concept (the belief that a human physically transforms into a tiger) is a means of exploring and representing psychosis.

I loved the dual narrative and the parallels and connections between the two stories: the groups of four friends; the objects which bind characters from the present with those from the past; and the significance of Kersbrook – the family home which acts as a sanctuary to generation after generation. The Tiger who Sleeps Under My Chair made a real impression on me; it’s a powerful and important story, and it’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.

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The Tiger who Sleeps Under My Chair: Teaching Resources

A teaching resource pack provided by the publisher to accompany the book The Tiger who Sleeps Under My Chair.

The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair

tiger who sleeps under my chair

Book Details

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