Books: Fiction

Catch a Tiger by the Toe

Book - Fiction. By Ellen Levine. 2005. 176 pages. A historical novel for middle school on McCarthyism.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Media

catchatigerEllen Levine, author of Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories, tells the story of a young girl whose parents lose their jobs during the McCarthy era. Jamie Morse wants to be “normal” and wants to be liked, and worries about what will happen if her classmates find out that her parents participate in actions toward racial and economic justice. Jamie even finds herself joining in when her classmates tease a boy caught with a copy of The Daily Worker at school.

The book presents a great deal of historical information about the McCarthy era, with touches of humor. Jamie finds her courage over the course of the story and stands up for herself and her family’s social justice values. The text can also be used to explore themes such as fitting in, bullying, standing up for oneself.

The title of Catch a Tiger By the Toe comes from an instance where white racists use the N-word. The author includes a bibliography of sources on McCarthyism, including many for young people.

The book is recommended for 5th grade to high school.

ISBN: 9780670884612 | Viking Children’s Books | Out of print. Used copies available.