Music for Tigers Reviews

Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review

Cover: Music for Tigers Author: Michelle Kadarusman Publisher: Pajama Press“Kadarusman masterfully creates a lush, magical world where issues associated with conservation, neurodiversity, and history intersect in surprising and authentic ways….Crucially, the author acknowledges the original, Indigenous inhabitants of the land as experts, something rarely seen in books about environmental degradation. Louisa’s narratorial voice strikes the right balance of curiosity, timidity, and growing confidence, and her character’s transformation feels both incredibly natural and incredibly rewarding to behold.

A beautiful conservation story told in a rich setting and peopled with memorable characters.”

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Shelf Awareness ★ Starred Review

“The magic and mystery of the Tasmanian rain forest take center stage in Michelle Kadarusman’s novel about a middle-grade Canadian girl finding herself—and a species believed to be extinct—in the wilds of Australia. Incorporating themes of diversity and environmental preservation into her adventure, Kadarusman (Girl of the Southern Sea) creates a story straight out of adolescent daydreams….

As Louisa discovers a new, exciting side of herself, Kadarusman guides readers through the majestic intricacies of a remote corner of Australia. She pays homage to the Australian Aborigines, granting deep respect to their role as caretakers of the Tasmanian rain forest, and paints her characters as respectfully and authentically as the setting. The friendship that evolves between Louisa and Colin, who is on the autism spectrum, adds a layer of complexity to Louisa’s character as well as to the plot itself. Compassionate and endearing, Music for Tigers hits all the right notes.”
—Jen Forbus, freelancer

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Foreword Reviews ★ Starred Review

“The wilds of Tasmania are described with tangible reverence, making clear the drive which the characters have for preserving it….Descriptions of the ‘pastel-blue sky’ and twinkling constellations are enchanting, while Louisa’s growing attention to the natural beauty around her mirrors her increasing commitment to the camp and its mission….

A stirring tale that will inspire young readers to take to heart our collective responsibility as stewards of the planet, Music for Tigers is a coming-of-age story with a conservation twist.”
—Danielle Ballantyne

Read the full review in the May/June 2020 issue of Foreword Reviews

Quill & Quire ★ Starred Review

“In her third outstanding middle-grade novel – after Theory of Hummingbirds and Girl of the Southern Sea – Kadarusman continues to be a clear, insightful, and humourous guide to unfamiliar experiences and settings, and in this case species. She’s unearthed the fascinating history of an extinct animal and entwined it with a heartfelt story of a dedicated family whose good deeds have run up against the ever-encroaching, commerce-driven modern world. The dire ecological realities are spelled out by a secondary character, who gives eco-tours and discusses the ways we can protect and respect the rainforest and its original inhabitants, both human and animal.

But Kadarusman is not out to tell a didactic activist story. She’s concerned with character development: how Louisa shifts from her one-track musical mindedness to being engaged with the unique and passionate work that’s so meaningful to those around her, and how Ruff, a dedicated and accomplished vet, eventually comes to understand there’s more to life than marsupials. With a light touch, Kadarusman presents a family coming to an end of a chapter and instead of fighting the inevitable, using this last bit of time to strengthen their connections to one another before starting fresh.”

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Washington Post KidsPost

“Imagine wanting to focus on a favorite pastime during your middle-school summer vacation, but instead you are sent 10,000 miles away from home….

Throughout Music for Tigers, Kadarusman provides interesting information about Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforest, its original human inhabitants and the variety of wildlife that has lived there, before and after European settlers destroyed a way of life. Absorbing what she can of this world, Louisa faces challenges and lets new experiences change her. As she says at one point, “I hardly recognize myself. And I like it.”

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“Author Michelle Kadarusman deftly incorporates Australian history into this middle-grade book that reads like a love letter to the unique flora and fauna of the Tasmanian Tarkine. The author’s note at the end gives more historical information about the Tasmanian tiger and efforts to preserve other endangered species. Music for Tigers is perfect for young readers interested in ecology and preservation.”
—Bridget Ward

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School Library Journal

“This is a well-told and timely story, which gently but firmly addresses topics such as environmental impact, endangered species, neurodiversity, friendship, bullying, and being your best self….short chapters and narrative style make a fantastic amount of information highly accessible.

VERDICT A solid choice for middle grade collections providing a balanced and comprehensible voice to the environmental discussion for young people.”
—Emily Beasley, Omaha Public School

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Winnipeg Free Press

“In Music for Tigers Toronto writer Michelle Kadarusman suggests how a single tiger might have survived, and created an incredible experience for a girl from Canada….Kadarusman grew up in Australia and undoubtedly has heard rumours of modern-day sightings of this elusive creature. It makes for a good story in an unusual setting. Written for readers 8-12 years of age, especially animal lovers.”

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Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center

“Verdict: Students who enjoy nature stories, especially those who are interested in cryptid species, will enjoy this book. The idea that a large extinct predator species might actually be found is exciting….This character and setting driven plot appeals on many levels and introduces a setting not well represented in children’s books in the United States. I recommend it for middle school and public libraries.”
—Jane Cothron

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CM Magazine

Music for Tigers seamlessly blends several themes together to create a unique story. The most obvious theme of wildlife conservation is beautifully executed with important messages that we, as humans, can often do more harm than good, even when we try to help….

Another important theme in the novel is that of mental health and personal growth. Both Louisa and Colin are neurodivergent children who have to deal with real life implications of their mental health….

Kadarusman’s novel also provides an uncommon but insightful blending of science and art. Louisa feels at the beginning of the novel that her parents wish she was more interested in biology like them. She feels that they can’t understand her passion for her music because the two things are polar opposites. However, she finds through Eleanor’s journals that the two things can be used together for a very good purpose. Louisa learns that her music can be used along with her parents’ biology to help the animals she’s come to love.

Michelle Kadarusman’s, Music for Tigers is a fun, engaging read for middle grade children, one that will appeal to many different readers because of its diverse themes and subjects. Louisa’s relationships with Colin and Rufus are delightful to read, and the novel covers important topics with delicacy and grace. Music for Tigers is a heartwarming story of personal growth and friendship that will draw readers in with its charm.

Highly Recommended.”
—Deanna Feuer is an English Literature graduate from the University of the Fraser Valley. She lives in Langley British Columbia.

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature. (Cicero)

There is art within the pages of Music for Tigers. It’s the art that comes from seeing and hearing and knowing a place and its people. Just as she did in her earlier books, The Theory of Hummingbirds (2017) and Girl of the Southern Sea (2019), Michelle Kadarusman delivers us with her art, this time to the island of Tasmania, a land rich with stories, of history, of landscape and of life….

Music for Tigers is a statement, albeit a songful one, of our impact on the natural world for our own purposes, destroying critical habitats and species. It implores us to step up and put conservation and preservation measures in place before it’s too late, when even the music of our efforts won’t be enough to save ecosystems and their species.

With Music for Tigers, Michelle Kadarusman reminds us, again, that being human requires much of us but the dividends from benevolence to others, human and not, may be unforeseen but boundless.”

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Elizabeth CookCanLit for LittleCanadians guest reviewer

“As an avid traveller, I love stories that help me relive fabulous trips I have taken in the past. While I never made it all the way to Tasmania when adventuring around Australia, where Michelle Kadarusman’s Music For Tigers takes place, I felt as though I had. Her description of the Tasmanian rainforest is breathtaking. Michelle Kadarusman weaves her words in such a way that makes the world down under come alive. The best way I can describe it is that she not only created a beautiful story, it felt like she created a melody with her words. I could feel the rhythm and cadence of the eucalyptus trees and all of the animals contained on the island of Tasmania….

Michelle Kadarusman’s Music For Tigers is a beautiful novel that is a captivating read. It weaves in themes of animal stewardship, environmental protection, family, and friendship into one heartwarming book. This novel would be an excellent read for adults as well as students in Grades 4 and up. If you love protecting animals in their natural environment, you will love this book…just be sure to watch out for those bunyips!”
—Elizabeth Cook is a teacher-librarian in the Halton District School Board. She is an avid reader and fan of Canadian literature.

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Christina Ammirati

“This captivating story is full of heart, hope, music, and science. Louisa’s many new relationships evolve so beautifully and I especially adored her interactions with Colin, who has autism spectrum disorder. Kirkus starred reviewed, MUSIC FOR TIGERS is a special coming-of-age story that pays homage to Tasmanian aboriginal people, nature, and the magnificent beings with whom we share the earth.”

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Book Gaga

“Kadarusman weaves beautifully themes and issues such as environmental fragility and protection, understanding and respecting neurodiversity differences, reverence for family and history and more into an engaging and at times suspenseful storyline….Michelle Kadarusman orchestrates it all with compassion and storytelling verve. Music For Tigers is uniquely good and genuine, truly ‘fair dinkum’…!”

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Homeschool by the Beach

“There is nothing better than getting so entranced by a book that you are able to finish it in one day. Music For Tigers completely captivated me from the very first pages. It was full of lovely and diverse characters, adventure, mystery, messages of conservation, and so much heart! A truly beautiful combination!…

I absolutely adored this book. Author Michelle Kadarusman is a beautiful storyteller. This was the first book I have read of hers and I am eager to read more. She transported me to the wilds of Tasmania…I could almost see the ginormous spiders!! I love that she tackled so many important topics in the pages of this book. Topics like species extinction, environmentalism, neurodiversity, and anxiety are woven beautifully throughout the pages.

The relationships in the story were so beautiful. Being able to watch the bond grown between Louisa and Uncle Ruff was so heartwarming. I also loved seeing such a special friendship build between Louisa and Colin. It is such a breath of fresh air to read a book with characters that are so relatable and so real. I also absolutely loved the strong message of conservationism!”

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