The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

Charles de Lint, illus. by Charles Vess. Little, Brown, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-05357-0
In this enchanting expansion of De Lint and Vess’s 2003 picture book, A Circle of Cats, the duo tells the story of Lillian Kindred, a spirited orphan living on a farm at the edge of a forest with her beloved aunt. While exploring, Lillian is bitten by a snake but saved from death by the magic of the feral cats she has befriended, who turn her into a kitten. Seeking a return to human form, Lillian makes a deal with Old Mother Possum, only to discover that her aunt has died of snakebite. A complex series of adventures, transformations, and tradeoffs occurs, involving a number of De Lint’s typically syncretistic magical characters, including Aunt Nancy the spider woman and T.H. Reynolds the fox, who unapologetically informs Lillian that he’s eaten Mother Possum’s husband, saying, “I’m a fox. It’s what we do.” De Lint zestfully combines the traditional and the original, the light and the dark, while Vess’s luminous full-color illustrations, simultaneously fluid and precise, capture Lillian’s effervescent blend of determination and curiosity. Ages 8–12. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 03/12/2013
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