Title: Tiger
Series: The Five Ancestors
Author: Jeff Stone
Narrator: Kiki Barrera
ISBN: 0307206858
Pages: 196 pages
CDs/Discs: 4 CDs, 4 hours 33 minutes
Publisher/Date: Random House, c2005.

“What are you doing?”
Fu spun around and saw an average-size man. The man looked to be nearly thirty years old and had an extraordinarily long ponytail tied in a thick braid. He appeared to be wearing the univorm of the new Emperor, but Fu couldn’t be sure in the smoky blackness. The soldier, however, saw that Fun was wearing an orange robe.
“Where have you been hiding, young monk?” the soldier asked in a calm, deep voice.
Fu responded by picking up the tiger hook swords.
“Put the weapons down, boy,” the soldier said. “I have no interest in killing a child. I’ll only take you prisoner. I’ll ask you again, where were you hiding?”
Fu snarled and leaped at the soldier. (46-47)

Fu and his four adopted brothers have been forced to flee from the Cangzhen Temple where they have lived and been taught different kung fu styles by the Grandmaster. Ying, a former resident of the temple, has turned on the monks and killed everyone else. Hiding in the forest, the injured monk is determined to find the stolen scrolls that contain the temple’s secrets. His attempts to to defend a tiger and her cub get him in trouble and might lead to his capture unless he finds a way to escape again.

There is a lot of appeal with this series at my library, especially amongst the boys. After starting to listen to the audiobook, I switched over to the printed version because I recognized the appeal of the story but couldn’t get past the narrator. Although Kiki Barrera has a nice gravelly voice for Fu, the main character, his voices for the accompanying characters were too similar for me to appreciate. The dialogue is somewhat stilted, and I don’t know if he did that intentionally to mimic formal clipped speak patterns that are prominent in kung fu movies. It sounds weird to me hearing a 12-year-old say things like “Calm yourself, Fu” and a 13-year-old saying “Control your tongues, all of you!” instead of just “Be quiet”. The story is action packed, with lots of fighting throughout the book. Fu has a case of bad flatulence which is described in precise details, which I’m sure boys will especially delight in reading. The allusion of mysticism and a mysterious past at the end of the book will keep kids interested in the series.