Charles Vess (Illustrator); Charles De Lint
“When it comes to spirits, it’s best not to draw their attention. Elsewise you never know what you might be calling down on yourself.” So Aunt advises. But Lillian longs to see fairies and other magical beings, and when she needs help, Lillian appears to have no choice and sets off a chain of events she would reverse if she could. The question is, can she?
An orphan since she was a baby, Lillian lives with Aunt on a homestead bordering Tanglewood Forest, a sweeping range of hills, meadows, a creek and a waterfall. Although most of Aunt’s conversations deal with practical matters such as schoolwork and how to run a farm, Lillian prefers when Aunt tells stories about the Apple Tree Man, L’il Pater the king of the magic cats, and the fairies. Desperate to make friends with them, Lillian incorporates tributes to them into her chores: a biscuit for the Apple Tree Man, bowls of milk for the cats, and daily hunts for the fairies. After running through the forest one day, Lillian falls asleep and is bitten by a poisonous snake. Rather than let her die, the cats, grateful for Lillian’s gifts, save her by turning her into a creature who has not been bitten: a kitten. Only Lillian doesn’t want to be a kitten. There are other consequences, too. If Lillian is not stricken, another -- her beloved Aunt -- must succumb to a snake bite. Determined to undo the magic, she seeks advice from Jack Crow, Old Mother Possum, Nancy Creek, the bear people, T.H. Reynolds the fox, and finally, the Apple Tree Man and L’il Pater himself.
Enchanting descriptions of Tanglewood Forest and its inhabitants are sure to spark youngsters’ imaginations while Lillian’s predicament and the obstacles she must overcome will hold them rapt. Full-color art captures the mystical, timeless quality of the place. Uncertain until the very end whether Lillian will regain her human form, one thing readers know for sure is how much she has learned about her own strength and resilience, the natural order of things, true friendship, and forgiveness. This is a transformative journey children, like Lillian, will not soon forget.
Reviewed by : JMcD
Themes : CATS. DEATH. FAIRIES. FANTASY. FOLKLORE. GRIEF. IDENTITY. SUPERNATURAL. SUSPENSE. TRANSFORMATIONS.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- "Sweetly magical…. A satisfyingly folkloric, old-fashioned-feeling fable." – Kirkus Reviews
- "The story’s lyrical, folkloric style is well suited to a tale of magic and mystery." – Booklist
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- Banks, Lynne Reid. The Fairy Rebel. Doubleday, 1988.
- Black, Holly, and Tony DiTerlizzi. The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1: The Field Guide. Simon & Schuster, 2003. (And others in the Spiderwick Chronicles series.)
- Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. HarperCollins, 2002.
- Oliver, Lauren. Spindlers. HarperCollins, 2012.