Lillian Kindred spends her days exploring the Tanglewood Forest, a magical, rolling wilderness that she imagines to be full of fairies. The trouble is, Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills–until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. Now she must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creates–from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People–to find a way to make things right (amazon.com).
I picked this book up at my local library book sale. The beautifully illustrated cover caught my eye at first, but what made me really buy the book were the illustrations contained within and the overall design of the book. It’s magnificent!
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest isn’t really about cats at all, but about a little girl growing up learning about magic, friendship, and shaping your own destiny. It is based upon the author’s picture book, A Circle of Cats, which I hope to be able to read soon. I would love to compare these two books! However, it seems pretty difficult to find and isn’t cheap.
Lillian is a young girl who happens to get bitten by a deadly snake and in order to save her life the cats of the forest transform her into a kitten. When she awakens she wants to figure out a way for her to be changed back into a girl; however, it isn’t that simple. She meets lots of different animal friends on her journey who attempt to help her along her way. Eventually, she finds someone who is able to perform the magic and take her back in time before she was ever bitten by the snake. But all magic comes with a price and she soon finds out that she can’t live with her decision. She then attempts to find a way to turn back time once again to become a kitten. She accomplishes this task with much difficulty and is satisfied for a time with how things turned out. She seems to have many friends in the forest and one is able to help her transform her self back into a girl and is able to remove the poison from her body.
This plot of this book is very simple, even for a children’s book. I still loved it because the story was cute and just a quick, fun read. I believe children will love to read this book because the adventures Lillian undertakes are interesting and mildly exciting. It’s her friends she finds along the way and whether or not she will succeed in her mission that really keeps your interest. The accompanying illustrations are beautiful and really add something to the story as well.
I would have made this book more interesting by making the plot slightly more complex. To put it simply this book is about a girl who is turned into a kitten, turned back into a girl, turned into a kitten again, and then back into a girl. Not that great of a plot for adults, but children will enjoy the adventure.
Even though the plot of the book wasn’t that great it did contain several meanings, one being that you are always who you are no matter what you look like on the outside. There are some pretty good lessons in this story.
The first half of the book I would say is actually pretty depressing. The little girl dies right away in the story after being bitten by a snake and her decision to turn back time causes someone else to die her in place (this is where the story gets super depressing). I would caution allowing young children to read the book because of this. Despite part of the book being sad, it did have a happy ending!
Lillian is a great character. She is opinionated, adventurous, caring, and rather spunky, all of which make her fun to follow on her adventure.
Lillian meets several animal friends including T.H Reynolds, who is a rather trustworthy fox. One of the things I enjoyed most about the novel was all the interesting characters she meets on her journey.
I loved the whimsical writing of the story and the illustrations really brought it to life! This book is the perfect example of how illustrations and text can work together to create a beautiful story. I loved how the illustrations weren’t just on a page but wrapped around the text or spread into it. Definitely a work of art.
This is a cute book that would be most appropriate for children 10 and older because it deals a lot with death and is rather depressing at times. Some adults may enjoy the story as well, if anything they will admire the illustrations. This would be fun book to read with your child. I did really enjoy the book and hope to be able to get the companion to this book entitled, The Seven Wild Sisters, as well as the picture book, A Circle of Cats.
My rating: 4/5 stars!
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*photo provided by goodreads.com