Wednesday, November 06, 2019
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint and Charles Vess
I'm going to keep this one short but I want to mention it because I loved it so much and it was the perfect story to keep me from falling into a reading rut. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint is the story of a girl, Lillian Kindred, who loves to spend time running barefoot through the Tanglewood Forest. Then, one day, Lillian is turned into a kitten by a magical circle of cats to keep her from dying. She's been bitten by a venomous snake and is lying on the forest floor when the cats surround her and cast a magic spell. They're not supposed to use their magic in such a way and the big cat who rules the kitties of the forest will not be happy, but they can't bear to watch a little girl die.
Can Lillian find a way to become human again? And, if she does, will she be able to bear the consequences of her choice?
Highly, highly recommended - I absolutely adored this magical gem of a book. Lillian is a sweet little girl who loves to explore, loves nature, but above all loves the elderly aunt who cares for her. It's alternately whimsical and terrifying, always magical and imaginative. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is going on my favorites pile for 2019.
I'm not sure of the age range for The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, but I'm going to say it's probably classified as "middle grade". Of course, that always comes with a grain of sale. I had a child who was reading at middle grade level by 6 or 7 and one who didn't really get going till he was about that same age but then read his all-time favorite book, White Fang by Jack London, at 10 (and immediately dived into other 19th-century writing, which he still loves). At any rate, it's also great for an adult who is in the mood for a touch of magic and whimsy with some scary moments.
Notably, Charles Vess, the illustrator, and Charles de Lint are apparently best buddies and they came up with the idea together, although de Lint wrote and Vess illustrated. I'm so glad I bought this book because I will definitely return to it and it's one that my grandchildren can read when they get older and visit. Yes, I'm already thinking ahead to what they'll read when they hit middle grade age!
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