Book Review: Tiger Skin Rug

TitleTiger Skin Rug

Written by: Joan Haig

Illustrations: Marian Brown

Cover designed by: Purple Sky Design / Krol – Denis Krasavchikov

Published by: Pokey Hat an imprint of Cranachan Publishing

Tiger Skin Rug by Joan Haig

This brilliant fast paced and exciting middle grade adventure story will have you turning the pages late into the night. It is not surprising it was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2021, as well as a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2021 and one of The Reader Teacher‘s favourite Books of 2020.

I won a copy of Tiger Skin Rug for my grandson in a Twitter competition run by Joan. He has recently asked for it to be read to him again when he was staying over in the summer, bringing it with him especially from home. I would like to thank Joan for this great prize that has given us both so much enjoyment.

Tiger Skin Rug explores the themes of betrayal and what makes a home, whilst seamlessly weaving in environmental issues of tiger conservation and illicit trafficking of endangered species. It is expertly written and has a timeless quality.

The book opens with Lal who is feeling homesick. He and just arrived with his family from India to live in Scotland in cold and murky house that smelt of old age and is packed with the strange relics left by its previous owner. Lal thinks the whole place is creepy and in the drawing room he discovers an even creepier old tiger skin rug. He reminisces about the beauty of India and playing cricket with his friends and wants to go back home.

Lal’s younger brother, Dilip only speaks in a whisper and he has a special connection to the rug as only he is able to talk to it. Dilip discovers the tiger skin rug can come to life. He explains to his brother the tiger is unable to rest as poachers shot him before he had fulfilled his promise to deliver an important message.

The boys and their new friend, the feisty and wild-haired Jenny next door, are determined to help the tiger. They embark on a quest to discover what the message was and take it to its intended recipient. The tiger in return promises to take the children back home.

They use the tiger’s magic and their critical thinking skills to unravel the mystery and deliver the message. The three children embark on an incredible journey from Scotland to a nail shop opposite the abandoned Joseph Ecks Auctioneers near Waterloo station, then on to the Department of Conservation and Biodiversity at Coventry University in search of Professor Menko Chatterjee and finally they go to India.

Lal, Dilip and Jenny are brilliantly rounded characters, who are instantly likeable and relatable. Their diverse cultures are skilfully woven together. I particularly liked the strong bond between the two brothers.

Joan Haig has created a vivid sense of place with her delicate, yet vibrant descriptions. She takes us on a journey from the rainy Scottish suburbs to the bustling Indian cities, which portray the contrast between classes, with overcrowded buses and crawling through drains in monsoon rain and onto the rich, green jungle where criminal hunters lurk. The magic of this book is amplified by the addition of some beautiful illustrations of the tiger by Marian Brown.

I would recommend this book to all middle grade readers and it would be a much coveted addition to any school library or book corner.

You can buy copies of the Tiger Skin Rug by Joan Haig from HiveBookshop.org, Foyles, Blackwell’s, Waterstones and Amazon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s