“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Friday, February 4, 2011

Raj the Bookstore Tiger • Picture book

Just out! • Charlesbridge • Ages 4-8
Books make everything better.
Story:  Being a bookstore tiger is hard work. There’s much patrolling, and a lot of sitting in laps at story hour, and then there’s sleeping in the window display. But Raj is up to the task. He is fierce and proud—until Snowball comes along. The new cat in the bookstore informs Raj that he’s just a marmalade kitty-cat. Times get tough, then, for the bookstore tiger. But bookstore and Raj owner Felicity, with the help of poet William Blake, knows how to fix things. In turn, with a very special book, Raj is able to fix things with Snowball.
Story behind the story:  I had the pleasure of corresponding with author Kathleen T. Pelley and asked her a few questions about how this book came to be.  Here's what she had to say:   "As a little girl, growing up in Scotland, I fell in love with stories before I could read or write, by listening to the children's Story Hour on the BBC. Today I continue to share that passion for words, not just by writing stories, but also by reading aloud to children at an inner city elementary school.

My latest picture book, RAJ THE BOOKSTORE TIGER, is a story that celebrates the power of reading aloud. Raj, a marmalade kitty cat, who is convinced that he is a tiger, begins to doubt himself when a visiting cat mocks his "tigerness." Fortunately, his owner, Felicity Fotheringham, a lover of words and books, knows just the right poem to read aloud to Raj, "Tyger! Tyger! burning bright..." As children's book author Jane Yolen wrote, "
Adult books maintain lives, children's books change lives."  To all the Felicity Fotheringhams who open books to young readers (and tigers) and "change lives"...thank you."
Kirkus Reviews praised the work:  "Nice nourishment for the blossoming bookworm." Be sure to check out this activity guide and watch the trailer:

FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...


Angela said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger gets 5 stars in my book. I can see so many teaching uses for it. For comprehension, it would be a great model for using the questioning strategy, as there are many points in the story that beg the reader to wonder. There are inferencing opportunities abound as well. The story elements are clear - there are strong characters, setting, problem and solution. I love the rich vocabulary and felt there were just enough new words to introduce to students with explicit instruction. The lead is fantastic - I love the juxtaposition of a short sentence with a longer one. The message in the story is meaningful to kids - learning how to deal with a bully in a not so conventional way. I love how Raj got Snowball to stop teasing him by simply inviting him into the game. Great book with diverse teaching possibilities.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a wonderful book. I would give it five stars. The content can help students discuss ideas related to self-esteem and bullying. The story would be entertaining to elementary-aged students. It moves along at just the right pace. Very well-written story - great vocabulary and language. I can't wait to share this story with my students.

Heather Hill said...

"Raj the Bookstore Tiger" is a unique story that kids and adults will enjoy. One of the themes that would be a great discussion point is the choice that Raj made to not let Snowball's mean words bother him anymore. Raj solved his problem by choosing not to let himself be bullied anymore. The class could talk about making good choices or bullying - just two possibilities for classroom discussion.

The story could be shared with any elementary grade level and different themes could be discussed or considered. This book will become a classroom or library favorite and children will want more stories about Raj the bookstore tiger. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

wordwarrior said...

Anyone who has ever been owned by a cat can appreciate the charming tale written by Kathleen Pelley and illustrated by Paige Kaiser, Raj the Bookstore Tiger. Raj is a golden tabby with brown stripes who is brought to live with Felicity in the attic above Felicity’s book store. Felicity tells Raj often that he is a tiger, and Raj spends his days patrolling the storerooms, sunning himself in the front window and enjoying the customers, particularly the children who attend story time. All is wonderful for the miniature “tiger” until the day that Snowball, a difficult kitty owned by one of Felicity’s friends, comes to spend the shop hours with Raj at the store. Snowball is disgruntled about a new Labrador puppy that lives at his home and he takes out his grumpiness on poor Raj. Prior to Snowball, Raj would stalk about the store purring…I’m a tiger, I’m a tiger. After the arrival of Snowball, he loses his self esteem and mopes saying…I’m just a plain old kitty-cat. Thanks to the intervention of Felicity with a recitation from the classic William Blake poem…”The Tiger”, Raj is soon back to his old self and before long convinces Snowball that they are both tigers and can patrol the bookstore together.
Raj the Bookstore Tiger is a delightful romp with a spirited kitty whose self worth is endearing to readers of all ages. Even an out-of-sorts interruption to his daily routines doesn’t keep Raj down for long. Raj teaches the reader that circumstances may throw obstacles that threaten how one feels about his self, but a person’s true personality will come through…often with the help from a good friend. Raj the Bookstore Tiger is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf.
I rate Raj the Bookstore Tiger a solid 5!

Anonymous said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger is a sweet story. There are many ways this book can be used with children. For example, it would be a great book to use if children are having difficulties with hurtful words/bullying. 5 out of 5

Elementary School Librarian

StacyB said...

I received my copy of "Raj the Bookstore Tiger" today and was anxious to read it after viewing the colorful cover and wondering if he was truly a tiger or merely a cat. The story quickly drew me in and it wasn't long before I could was thinking of points where I would stop and let my Kindergarten students question and explore the story before I would want to continue. The characters are well developed and the problem solving techniques used throughout the story would be something that I would definitely focus on with my young learners. This book is a 5/5.

Carol said...

The story had a sensible structure, interesting vocabulary, and offered places to visualize, inference, and make connections. Cat characters are popular and the idea of a prideful cat feeling like a "tiger" translates well to make connections between self esteem and building friendships. I feel this would be a fine book to add to a library collection. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

K-8 Librarian

Linda said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger gets five stars from me. It’s a great book to use to teach inference, comprehension, social interaction (anti bullying), and writer’s craft (just to name a few things). I loved the way the author crafted the words in the book…”Mornings began with a patrol of the storerooms, followed by sun baking in the front window. And if passerby rattled the window, Raj never flinched.”…just to quote a few sentences. It’s a wonderful way to introduce the students to using descriptive verbs and also teach learning vocabulary in context. All children can relate to the cat rubbing against their legs, purring and wanting attention. It reminds me of so many lessons in life…getting a new baby brother or sister; getting along with others; patience; bullying; name calling; becoming sad/melancholy; facial expressions; teaching inference (sprawled in a child’s lap with a smirk spread across his face).

Anonymous said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger is a sweet book that invites the readers (or listeners) into the story. The illustrations are endearing and the body language and facial expressions of both humans and cats are easily understood. The vocabulary is "just enough" without overwhelming the pace of the story.
As mentioned by others, bullying, self-esteem, problem solving, friendship, and self-reliance are all themes that are explored.
Although I see this as primarily an elementary level read, some of my 6th grade, cat-loving students will still enjoy this book.
Picnic Basket rating: 5

Anonymous said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger gets a 5 in my picnic basket. I felt that the relationship between Raj and the "new" cat to the library was a great one to use to teach how to get along with others. Raj did not like Snowball teasing him, and he learned so much about himself in the process. By demonstrating how Raj and Snowballs relationship developed it led to great discussion about the childrens own relationships. All children love to hear about animals, and Raj is a great character.

Shanie said...

I am a parent to a 2 and a half year old. She doesn't quite understand the power of peer pressure and the need to feel a part of a group, but, I know it is coming. When she experiences her first feeling of not belonging or feeling bad because a peer makes a rude comment, I will turn to Raj The Bookstore Tiger to help alleviate her pain and confusion. I give Raj the Bookstore Tiger 4.5 stars because it answers the needs of young children trying to figure out how to interact with the world. Wether my child is the bully or the bullied, I would read them this story to help them understand the importance of being kind to others and the importance of being confident in themselves. A must have for pre-school and early elementary school classrooms.

Aubrey Heusser said...

This was a cute, fun book, but nothing really stood out about it. The illustrations are warm and soft, and sometimes funny - perfect for the target age group. I liked that the Indian names were just part of the story, not calling attention to "diversity" but accepting another culture as just part of life. The message was a tiny bit preachy, but I've seen much worse and, sadly, it's a message that still needs to be taught. I think this is the first Picnic Basket book I've reviewed that really fit with the age group it is intended for. It's a good length for reading aloud, but not too long to intimidate early independent readers.

I give it 4 stars - definitely worth sharing.

Julia Pitau said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger is an endearing story that people of all ages can relate to. My favorite part of the story was when Raj reached out to Snowball as a friend showing him that in India there was also a white tiger, just like Snowball. This gapped the bridge between the two, creating a friendship. I was very happy to see Raj did not retaliate. This book receives a solid 4-star review. The main drawback was the artwork, which appeared to be in the rough-draft stages, not a final copy.

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Dr. Anja Comerford said...

I give this book 5 stars!

This is a well-written story that is easy for youngsters to follow. It offers many teaching opportunities -- basic comprehension, predicting story events, social-emotional issues, self-esteem, bullying, etc.

I can even see using this in college children's lit courses as a great example of how having the right book for the right kid at the right moment can make all the difference.

Love that Pelley brought some Blake into the story. That poem just begs to be looked up and read now.

Great book!

Dr. Anja Comerford
Gifted Teacher
Magnolia Park Elementary
Ocean Springs, MS

Lindsay Horne said...

Wonderful book! I think this is one of the neatest picture books I have seen yet.

Raj, is a cat who lives in a bookstore - Felicity, his owner, has named him Raj the Bookstore Tiger and he daily lives up to his name. When another cat comes to live there too, he challenges Raj and makes him believe that he is a simple cat, and Raj loses his spirit.

The book follows him as he once again remembers who he is at heart, and with the help of a William Blake poem (which I promptly downloaded and taped into the back of my copy), he gets his spirit back. He even helps Snowball, the other cat, believe himself - adorable premise for a children's book!

Picnic Basket rating: 5/5

Illustrations are beautiful and the pictures go right along with the text. This is a winner for any home or school library!

Anonymous said...

This is without a doubt a 5 out of 5! Raj is just an adorable main character who has a great message to send to kids. I teach 5th grade this year, but love to use picture books for samples and lessons. I also knew that the poem used in the book was one my students were familiar with, so I asked some of my students to read it and comment on it.

Some of their thoughts were that it was silly, funny, happy, and cute. They thought the message f believing in yourself was very clear and well delivered. They still enjoyed it even though it is geared towards younger students.

It is definitely one I am glad to have on my shelf!

Anonymous said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger gets 5 stars from me. It can be used in so many different ways in the classroom. I actually used it this past week as a jump off for our discussion on bullying. My 5th graders were able to pick different examples of bullying in the book which helped them to discuss some examples of bullying they have witnessed around our school. It also helped us to discuss reasons behind bullying and what we can do to stop it.

B Ready to Read said...

Raj the Tiger is a gentle story that is a nice addition to recent books about self esteem. It might make a good discussion starter about bullying that parents and teachers hear in 3-6 year olds. The illustrations are peaceful and cat lovers will enjoy the familiar cat antics of Raj and Snowball. This would be a good choice for an additional purchase for school or public library. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 Picnic Basket rating, it was a pleasant read but not especially noteworthy.

Barbara Huff
Youth Services Librarian
Farmington NM Public Library

ahslibrarian said...

Calling all cat lovers! Raj the Bookstore Tiger is a multifaceted book that will provide joy, entertainment, and many new connections to young readers and their classrooms. The story is a good one, in terms of both the idea and the execution of it. It is somewhat predictable, but that is not always a bad thing, and especially in this case. The story and its characters, combined with the warm tones of the illustrations, make for an interesting journey into many possibilities.

Classroom teachers will find great utility because Raj has the capacity to transport classrooms into many different units of study. Will students be intrigued with the poetry of William Blake? Or, maybe they are studying cats of all sorts? Perhaps they are beginning a study of India? Or book stores and libraries? Whatever the choice, Raj may be a great fit. Add it to the early childhood classroom and all libraries that serve that population.

Having just seen a portion of the Maximum India celebration at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, I am more appreciative of the watercolors selected for use in the book. They evoke India and they make me think of cats, but in a softer, less conspicuous way. Pelley’s words and Keiser’s brush strokes are an effective pairing that create a world that is inviting to kids to exercise their imaginations. Fortunately, I am still one of those kids.

5 of 5
John Parker

Media Coordinator

Andrews High School

50 HS Drive

Andrews, NC 28901


jgoetzke said...

Absolutely terrific!!! My class was spellbound. They recognized the "bullying" theme immediately. This lead to a great discussion with a positive outcome.Enchanting illustrations. Very inviting and calming. This book is a keeper. 5/5

Peaceful Reader said...

Five out of Five P.B. Stars:

Felicity holds up her beautiful new kitty and christens him "Raj" because of his golden coat and his chocolate stripes. Raj patrols Felicity's bookstore with the ferocity of a real tiger, happy with his life. "Mornings began with a patrol of the storerooms, followed by sun basking in the front window." and "after a face wash and a snooze, it was time to greet the customers with a leg rub or a hearty meow." Oh the simple happiness.

And then Snowball comes to town...or at least to the bookstore and quickly dampens Raj's tiger tendencies. Snowball now struts his stuff while Raj cowers under chairs. The reason for Raj's sudden sadness...Snowball informs him that he's "not a real tiger. In fact, you're just a plain old marmalade kitty-cat with muddy brown splotches that some people might call stripes." (insert snarky cat tone)

Oh, the indignation and with those words Raj is not the reigning cat of the bookstore.After days of kitty sadness, Felicity reads from William Blake's The Tiger , perking Raj up just a bit. Then Sanjiv Patel comes for the bookstore's storytime and shares a video of India. A Bengal tiger roars on screen, scaring Snowball and Raj, except he remembers Blake's poem and "roars" back.

Words can help or hurt and someone can easily take your gusto away just as it happens to Raj. Reading this to students it could easily be applied to bullying and self esteem. Would you rather cower under a chair or rise up and roar!

M. Battista said...

This was a huge hit when I shared it with our primary classes. I must agree with all of the praises listed above. Thank you for such a delightful treat in our picnic basket.

Rating: 4.5

Denair, CA

Anonymous said...

This was my first book to review from the Picnic Basket. “Raj the Bookstore Tiger” is a wonderful book! I would give it five stars! It is a great story to use in an elementary classroom. The story elements are clear, which makes it great to use for that type of lesson. It is also great to use with students when talking about how to get along with others. The illustrations were well done also. Students love stories in which animals are the main characters, so I know this will be a hit with my students.

Kindergarten Teacher

Anonymous said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger receives 5 out of 5! A wonderful story about Raj,a "cat" who learns that self worth comes from within and changes the mind and heart of a bully.

juli said...

My fifth grade studennts enjoyed this book. We read it at one of our morning meetings. It will now go in our "Character Building" basket of books. They gave it a 4 out 5 stars.

5th grade teacher

Natalie H. said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger is an excellent book! My first graders loved it! The book sparked a wonderful conversation about bullying. I give it 5 stars!

Lemon the Duck said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger is such a wonderful story in its own right but what a positive social emotional story as well. Raj, at first so happy and content, is suddenly taken over by Sanjiv, a bully. At first he shrinks and cowers. In the end, he shows he can stand up for himself AND be friends with Sanjiv the bully at the same time. He does so creatively and provides a great springboard for classroom discussions on how to deal with bullies and bullying.
The illustrations are endearing, they show playfulness and motion: leaves blowing in the wind, Sanjiv, jumping out of the page, and Raj swatting dust-motes.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5.
Laura Backman
Hathaway School

Ms. McFarland said...

Raj the Bookstore Tiger was a wonderful read with my 2nd graders. They stayed fully engaged throughout the story and were truly intrigued by the way Raj responded to Snowball's attempts to bully him. This book offers teachers many ways of incorporating the story into different types of lessons ranging from reading to writing to social issues. I would rate ths book 5 stars.

scrambledhenfruit said...

I shared this book with my second graders and it sparked a great discussion about bullying and standing up for one's self. My students love poetry, and this book gave them the incentive to look up the Tyger poem and read it as well. I'd give this book a 4.5, and I'd definitely read it again!

Mary Lou said...

Rajthe Bookstore Tiger is a fun read aloud for younger children. Having the setting in a bookstore was nice. This gave the book a cozy feel. The illustrations have a soft quality. Having Raj deal with a cat, Snowball, who is a bit pushy was unexpected for the children. Cat lovers will enjoy the antics of the cats. My first graders loved this book and so did I. I give it a 5.

Mary Lou
first grade teacher