The Tiger's Child

The Tiger's Child

by Torey Hayden
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Overview

The Tiger's Child by Torey Hayden

From the bestselling author of One Child comes this incredible, true story of the six-year-old girl who touched the hearts of millions—and the courage of one teacher who would not give up on her.

What ever became of Sheila?

When special education teacher Torey Hayden wrote her first book One Child thirty-five years ago, she created an international bestseller. Her intensely moving true story of Sheila, a silent, profoundly disturbed little six-year-old girl touched millions. From every corner of the world came letters from readers wanting to know more about the troubled child who had come into Torey Hayden's class as a “hopeless case,” and emerged as the very symbol of eternal hope within the human spirit.

Now, for all those who have never forgotten this endearing child and her remarkable relationship with her teacher, here is the surprising story of Sheila, the young woman.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380725441
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/01/1996
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.72(d)
Lexile: 920L (what's this?)

About the Author

Torey Hayden is an educational psychologist and a former special education teacher who since 1979 has chronicled her struggles in the classroom in a succession of bestselling books. She lives and writes in the U.K.

Read an Excerpt

The article in the newspaper was tiny, considering the crime. It told of a six-year-old girl who had lured a local toddler from his yard, taken him to a nearby woodland, tied him to a tree and set fire to him. The boy, badly burned, was in hospital. All that was said in what amounted to no more than a space filler below the comic strips on page six. I read it and, repulsed, I turned the page and went on.

Six weeks later, Ed, the special education director, phoned me. It was early January, the day we were returning from our Christmas break. "There's going to be anew girl in your class. Remember that little girl who set fire to the kid in November . . . ?"

I taught what was affectionately referred to in our district as the "garbage class." It was the last year before congressional law, would introduce "mainstreaming," the requirement that all special needs children be educated in the least restrictive environment; and thus, our district still had the myriad of small special education classrooms, each catering to a different disability. There were classes for physically handicapped, for mentally handicapped, for behaviorally disordered, for visually impaired ... you name it, we had it. My eight were the kids left over, the ones who defied classification. AH of them suffered emotional disorders, but most also had mental or physical disabilities as well. Out of the three girls and five boys in the group, three could not talk, one could but refused and another spoke only in echoes of other people's words. Three of them were still in diapers and two more had regular accidents. As I had the full number of children allowed by state law for a class of severely handicappedchildren, I was given an aide at the start of the year; but mine hadn't turned out to be one of the bright, hardworking aides already employed by the school, as I had expected. Mine was a Mexican-American migrant worker named Anton, who had been trawled from the local welfare list. He'd never graduated from high school, never even stayed north all winter before, and certainly had never changed diapers on a sevenyear-old. My only other help came from Whitney, a fourteen-year-old junior high student, who gave up her study halls to volunteer in our class.

By all accounts we didn't appear a very promising group, and in the beginning, chaos was the byword; however, as the months passed, we metamorphosed. Anton proved to be sensitive and hardworking, his dedication to the children becoming apparent within the first weeks. The kids, in return, responded well to having a man in the classroom and they built on one another's strengths. Whitney's youth occasionally made her more like one of the children than one of the staff, but her enthusiasm was contagious, making it easier for all of us to view events as adventures rather than the disasters they often were. The kids grew and changed, and by Christmas we had become a cohesive little group. Now Ed was sending me a six-year-old stick of dynamite.

Her name was Sheila. The next Monday she arrived, being dragged into my classroom by Ed, as my principal worriedly brought up the rear, his hands flapping behind her as if to fan her into the classroom. She was absolutely tiny, with fierce eyes, long, matted blond hair and a very bad smell. I was shocked to find she was so small. Given her notoriety, I had expected something considerably more Herculean. As it was, she couldn't have been much bigger than the three-year-old she had abducted.

Abducted? I regarded her carefully.

Bureaucracy being what it is in school districts, Sheila'sschool files didn't arrive before she did; so when she went off to lunch on that first day, Anton and I took the opportunity to go down to the office for a quick look. The file made bleak reading, even by the standards of my class.

Our town, Marysville, was in proximity to a large mental hospital and a state penitentiary, and this, in addition to the migrants, had created a disproportionate underclass, many of whom lived in appalling poverty. The buildings in the migrant camp had been built as temporary summer housing and many were literally nothing but wood and tar paper that lacked even the most basic amenities, but they became crowded in the winter by those who could afford nothing better. It was here that Sheila lived with her father.

A drug addict with alcohol problems, her father had spent most of Sheila's early years in and out of prison. He had no job. Currently on parole, he was attending an alcohol abuse program, but doing little else.

Sheila's mother had been only fourteen when, as a runaway, she took up with Sheila's father and became pregnant. Sheila was bom two days before her mother's fifteenth birthday. A second child, a son, was born nineteen months later. There wasn't much else relating to the mother in the file, although it was not hard to read drugs, alcohol and domestic violence between the lines. Whatever, she must have finally had enough, because when Sheila was four, she left the family. From the brief notes, it appeared that she had intended to take both children with her, but Sheila was later found abandoned on an open stretch of freeway about thirty miles south of town. Sheila's mother and her brother, Jimmie, were never heard from again.

The bulk of the file detailed Sheila's behavior. At home the father appeared to have no control over her at all. She had been repeatedly found wandering around the migrant camp late at night. She had a history of fire setting and had been cited for criminal damage three times by the local police, quite an accomplishment for a six-year-old. At school, Sheila often refused to speak, and as a consequence, virtually nothing was contained in the file to tell me what or how much she might have learned. She had been in kindergarten and then first grade in an elementary school . . .

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The Tiger's Child (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Siesta More than 1 year ago
Torey Hayden is an amazing teacher. I bought this book when I couldn't find it in the library. I read "One Child" and had and wanted to read more about Sheila. Torey goes out of her way to reach a child who she lost contact with for years. I would reccomend Torey Hayden to any teacher or any student with problems. I wanted more people to read "Tiger's Child so I donated it to the library. I've read 5 of her books and will continue to read more as they come out. "One Child", "Tigers Child", "Ghost Girl", "Twilights Children", and "Beautiful Child"
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Guest More than 1 year ago
one child was the best book i have ever read and i like when torey who had sheila the hopeless case and how she helped this little girl out when she need the help the most. I hope you come out with more books soon torey hayden. I think the next will be the best book that torey hayden ever written
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think how the teacher help Sheila who came into her class as a hopeless case. I think what happen to sheila was wrong and how a wonderful teacher came along and help get throw what happen to her. keep the good work up Torey Hayden
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read 'One Child' years ago and fell in love with Torey Hayden's honesty and very vivid experiences with Sheila in her classroom. I read all of her other books, and heard about 'The Tiger's Child'. I bought it and read it in one day. It honestly had me crying with Sheila and Torey and then crying from joy at the end. This a book you'll want to read over and over again. I love the way Torey refuses to give up on Sheila, even though it would have been a whole lot easier.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was just as touching as One Child. Sheila is amazing and I swear my mouth dropped opened when I saw the thing about her mixed up memory with Torey and her mother. It was great how she called Torey Mom in the end. It made my heart smile.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. I read 'One Child' and loved it and instantly became intrigued with Sheila. This book really exposed how beneficial dedication and love from a teacher can be to a child. Excellent Book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When finished reading One Child couldn't wait to get to the sequel.So far reading only two of Torey Hayden's book. I can't wait to read the rest of her books. Keep the good work up Torey!