Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“The Cats of Tanglewood Forest” by Charles De Lint with illustrations by Charles Vess

Age: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy

Lillian lives on a farm with her aunt, and she enjoys wandering the nearby forest, looking for fairies. One day she decides to follow a deer and ends up lost in the woods. While she lies under a tree to rest, a snake bites her. As the venom sinks in, Lillian knows she is dying. The world fades away, and cats of the forest surround her and decide to use their magic to save her by turning her into a kitten. What follows is a tale of Lillian trying to set her world right again through the help of magical creatures including a possum woman, a friendly fox, and some mean bear people. Along the way she learns the importance of considering consequences and remembering the past.

This book is filled with folktale-like characters and events, such as magic spells, potions, talking animals, and people who are part animal. The author uses language that suits the folktale medium as well. I don’t know that this will necessarily appeal to young readers, but I suppose it could. I found the story dragged a bit, especially in the middle, and I didn’t like how it occurred in a non-linear fashion. I also wanted the cats to be a more central part of the story since they are in the title. The story is really about Lillian, not the cats, so I found the title misleading. The book is interesting as a look at folktales and magic, but not enough to be really good.

Bibliographic Information:
De Lint, Charles. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.  New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

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