A young boy struggles with the death of his mother and the depression of his father in Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising. Rob Horton and his father live in the motel where his father works. Bullied, lonely, and grieving for his mother, Rob develops a chronic rash. His life becomes much brighter when he becomes friends with a girl named Sistine, who is also a newcomer to the town. Rob opens up to Sistine, and in return, she teaches him about art and many other unsuspected wonders. Mr. Beauchamp, the motel's owner, later gives Rob the duty of feeding a tiger caged in the woods. Irascible and fierce, the tiger paces around his cage, and Rob both pities the animal and relates to his pent up rage. One day, he promises Sistine to release the tiger, with a tragic result as Rob's father is forced to shoot the dangerous animal to protect his son. Through this catastrophic event, Rob and his father begin to understand one another's needs. DiCamillo has a knack for addressing thematic issues of self-identity and loss with a poetic ease, and her slew of novels are all highly recommended for study, including her critically acclaimed debut, Because of Winn-Dixie and the Newbery Medal award-winning The Tale of Despereaux.