Sahira is alone in the world after her parents died on the voyage from India to Englad. They were transporting animals to become part of the King's Menagarie and all had been fine until her parents caught a fever from a sailor, leaving Sahira an orphan. She is quickly scuttled off to an orphanage.
Having a Muslim mother from India, Sahira's ethnic identity is looked down up by her peers as well as the orphanage staff. A spunky, intelligent 12 year old, Sahira wants nothing more than to live with and take care of the tigers with whom she had crossed the ocean. But neither the zookeeper, nor his wife have any interest in taking on a boarder. Sahira's prominent grandfather, wants nothing to do with her-- fearing she may ruin his other granddaughters' social prospects.
There are hints of The Little Princess within the story but with the wonderful addition of Sahira's rich, cultural upbringing in India. While she tries to hold on to her Indian identity, her new guardians are doing all they can to erase not only that but also any inheritance she may be owed.
When the tigers become lethargic and refuse to eat, the zookeeper is forced to request Sahira's help to bring them back to health. This leads to an arrangement with the orphanage to allow Sahira to help the animals daily. When the zookeeper offers money to the orphanage for the use of Sahira, the deal is sealed. Those moments at the zoo help make up for the misery Sahira experiences at the hand of resident bullies.
Sahira is a well-educated young woman and readers will learn a great deal about animals as well as history as she shares stories and educates other characters. Sahira's spunk and determination in spite of incredible obstacles (and determined enemies) will have readers cheering for her from the very first page.
The exciting conclusion reminded me a bit of Little Orphan Annie. I highly recommend this story that packs in lots of adventure, loyal friends, and a thoroughly satisfying conclusion!
Parental Advisory: Charles Darwin is a minor character in the book and he offers some explanation of his theories about adaptations of species. Could provide some opportunities to research and discuss the validity of his theories. There is also some discussion of Sahira's mother's religion.
Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of The Tigers in the Tower from the publisher Lion Hudson, Ltd. through NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was recieved.