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Children's Fiction Love & Romance

The Taming

by (author) Teresa Toten & Eric Walters

Tundra Book Group
Initial publish date
Jan 2012
Love & Romance, Physical & Emotional Abuse, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2012
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 14 to 18
  • Grade: 9 to 12


Katie likes to believe she’s invisible. It seems so much safer than being exposed as who she is: shy, poor, and vulnerable. So getting up in front of audience as the lead in her school’s production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: “My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! Invisible Katie became visible Katherina.”

Evan is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he’s perfected from years of being the new kid at yet another new school. Rich, smart, and ridiculously charming, he’s like nothing and no one Katie has ever encountered. How then could someone like him possibly be interested in someone like her? But before she knows it they are inseparable. Over the dizzying course of their relationship, Katie must confront the fact that the power of love can conceal darker truths.

About the authors


TERESA TOTEN won the Governor General’s Literary Award in Canada for The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, which also won the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award, and was chosen by the International Board on Books for Young People as one of its Outstanding Books for Young People With Disabilities in 2015. She is the author of the international bestseller Beware That Girl and the acclaimed Blondes series, as well as The Game, The Onlyhouse, and, with Eric Walters, The Taming. Teresa lives in Toronto, Ontario. Visit her online at and on Facebook, and follow her at @TTotenAuthor on Twitter.


Teresa Toten's profile page

Eric Walters is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling novels for children and young adults. His novels have won numerous awards, including the Silver Birch, Blue Heron, Red Maple, Snow Willow, Ruth Schwartz, and Tiny Torgi, and have received honours from the Canadian Library Association Book Awards and UNESCO's international award for Literature in Service of Tolerance.

Eric lives in Mississauga with his wife, Anita, and three children, Christina, Nicholas, and Julia. When not writing or touring across the country speaking to school groups, Eric spends time playing or watching soccer and basketball, or playing the saxophone.

To find out more about Eric and his novels, or to arrange for him to speak at your school, visit his website at

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Eric Walters' profile page

Excerpt: The Taming (by (author) Teresa Toten & Eric Walters)

The noises in my head got louder. It was like I was a walking construction site. Metal crashed into concrete and a relentless hammering pounded “Run, Katie, get off the stage, freak, hide, hide.” Instead I clutched my script tighter. I was projectile sweating. I knew from auditions last week that gripping the pages with my wet hands would end up moulding my script into a rock-hard and useless bow tie. “Cut and run, Katie. Go!

I focused on my most important audience member. Ms. Cooper smiled at me like I’d just discovered penicillin. “That was lovely, Katie. Nice tone and perfect clarity. I’m sure our director would agree.” Travis nodded and gave me his signature A-OK sign.

We were in the middle of our first read-through in our first script meeting. Travis hadn’t taken over the reins from Ms. Cooper yet. That would happen in first rehearsals, starting tomorrow. It should have been more reassuring that the director was an actual friend. Thing is, Travis was just as surprised as I was that I got the lead. So how was he going to save me when they realized the massive mistake they’d all made when they gave me Katherina, the shrew, the lead role? It could get ugly.

Ms. Cooper flipped through her manuscript. “Katie, page thirteen of your script, please. Everybody else just pay attention to Katie’s rhythm here. I want you all to think about her pitch and near-perfect feeling for the language.”

Oh dear God, why would she say that? Now they were all looking and would feel compelled to hate me. Even I felt compelled to hate me.

I didn’t unfurl my mangled Taming of the Shrew script. I knew the speech she meant. The rest of the cast, including Josh, my Petruchio, sat and faced me. I searched for signs of contempt and couldn’t find any. It was confusing.

“Centre stage, dear. Josh, pay attention,” Ms. Cooper said.

I stepped forward into the key light and prepared to respond to Ms. Cooper’s reading of Petruchio’s lines. Josh looked like he’d rather be performing surgery on himself. Everyone said that Josh had been tapped for the lead because of his physical presence, which, in all honesty, was significantly smouldering. I think Ms. Cooper and Travis both hoped that Josh would magically develop actor chops through rehearsals. At the moment, our dumpling-ish, five-foot- nothing, pastel-wearing drama teacher was a more convincing Petruchio than Josh was. And Josh knew it.

“Ready, Katie?” she asked.

I nodded and listened for my cue. This part was bad, the waiting for my cue part. The construction noises stopped just in time for my new obsession to take over. I scanned the stage searching for the horror-movie machinery. This was where the vat of pig’s blood would tip over and drench me and my colossal actor pretentions and everyone would hoot and laugh and . . . wait a minute. What pretensions? I hadn’t asked for the lead. I was never gunning for the part of the fiery and crazed Katherina. I was going for costumes and crowd scenes. It was Ms. Cooper who’d insisted I read for Katherina on the last day of auditions. I’d wanted to die, kill her, and blow up the school, in that order . . . until I read that first speech out loud.

Standing in the middle of the stage, under a spotlight, facing a motley audience of our future director, Travis, and Lisa, two of my best friends—okay my only two friends—plus a few teachers, six detention students and a couple of straggling stagehands all with their eyes trained on me, waiting . . .

And my head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! I was someone else, but as that someone, I was heard and I was seen. Invisible Katie became visible Katherina. Every nerve ending fired and I came alive. You’d think I would have choked and screwed up my speeches. But I didn’t, not once. Unbelievable. I liked being up there, and it immediately became very, very important that I stay up there. Somehow I was more me on that stage than I was anywhere else. I didn’t understand it, but there it was.

The first miracle was that when the cast list was posted yesterday, Katie Rosario had been picked for Shakespeare’s shrew. The second miracle was that no one laughed or rolled their eyes when the list was posted. Josh was really pissed. Not at me being picked as his Katherina, but at his being picked for Petruchio.

“No offence, Katie, you’re brilliant.” He shook his head. “But you’ll be dragging my sorry butt from one end of the stage to the other.

I apologize in advance. I just needed the credit. I don’t know what the hell Cooper and Travis were smoking.”

The most popular boy in the entire school, a star basketball player, not only saw me, but he was asking forgiveness for as yet unspecified crimes. I may have been in a fog, but I was clear enough to recognize that my life had just been turned on its head.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied. “You’ll be a perfect Petruchio, Josh.”

Now Ms. Cooper was prompting me. “Anytime, Katie, starting at line 280.”

Call you me daughter?” I spat.

It was the speech that a furious Katherina throws back at her father. She knows her father doesn’t love her and is only interested in getting her off his hands. I got that—just exchange my mother for Katherina’s father.

Now I promise you.
You have showed a tender fatherly regard
To wish me wed to one half lunatic,
A madcap ruffian and a swearing Jack
That thinks with oaths to face the matter out.

I spaced out again for a bit while Josh fumbled for his response. He had real trouble following the language. I don’t know why I didn’t, but I didn’t. Shakespeare made sense to me. From grade nine on, I’d been reading the plays in secret. I loved the way that Shakespeare’s words felt on my tongue, and I trusted him. I got him, and now look where that had got me. What would be the price I’d have to pay for this? There was always a price.

As soon as my lines were done I was Carrie in the Stephen King movie again, the 1976 one with Sissy Spacek, not the 2002 poseur version. I’d been YouTubing the pig’s blood scene ever since I got the part. Red rivers of blood stream daintily down Sissy Spacek’s stunned face until it eventually obliterates her shoulders, her arms, her prom dress. Poor thing, she thought her life had changed too.

“Katie?” It was Travis, our, my, director. I turned to him.

“Remember that by the time you get to ‘I’ll see thee hanged on Sunday first ’ you have to have established yourself as loud, crude.

Katherina is a wild animal that has to be tamed. Give Petruchio something to tame.”

Librarian Reviews

The Taming

Katie and Evan are complete opposites. Katie is shy, poor and vulnerable. Evan is rich, smart and ridiculously charming. When Katie gets the lead role in her school’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, she expects to hate it but ends up loving it and goes from being invisible to very visible. When Evan shows an interest in Katie, she can’t believe what’s happening. But love sometimes conceals darker truths!

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

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