Monday, October 28, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

Today’s Pick: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint

illustrated by Charles Vess

From the Publisher:

In this whimsical, original folktale written and illustrated throughout in vibrant full color by two celebrated masters of modern fantasy, a young girl's journey becomes an enchanting coming-of-age story about magic, friendship, and the courage to shape one's own destiny.

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 Lillian must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creatures--from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People--to find a way to make things right.

My Take:

It was interesting to read about Lillian’s adventures and the forest from her two perspectives as a girl and as a cat. I also liked the unexpectedness of where the story was going. It meandered like a walk in the forest, where you never quite know what you’re going to find.

I haven’t read many middle grade novels with full colour illustrations. Charles Vess , who collaborated with Charles de Lint in developing the ideas behind the story, created lovely pen and ink drawings to complement the action and enhance the magical, fairytale feeling.

Opening Line:

“Once there was a forest of hickory and beech, sprucy-pine, birch and oak. It was called the Tanglewood Forest.”


“Lillian was deep into the forest when she felt the first pinprick of fear crawl up her spine.”

“It was hard, hard, hard to go through the rest of the day pretending that nothing had happened and she wasn’t going to run away tonight.”

“Everything is a lesson if you’re willing to learn something from it.”

Other Info:

Charles de Lint lives in Canada, near Ottawa. Along with being an author, he is a painter, poet and musician.

He writes for adults as well as children and teens. His books have won many awards, including the World Fantasy Award, the Canadian SF/Fantasy Aurora Award and the White Pine Award.  

In an interview on The Hub (the literature blog for the Young Adult Library Services Association) he says, “Books and music saved me as a teenager because it was through them that I realized that I wasn’t alone in my obsessive love for words and music”

In response to a question from David Levithan in the same interview, Charles talks about how important reading is to for writers: “...the beauty of writing is that we have the luxury of having the best writers of the past few hundred years to mentor us.”   

Other Children’s Books by this Author Include:

The Dreaming Place
The Blue Girl
Little (Grrl) Lost

The Painted Boy

Under My Skin

For more info, visit Charles de Lint’s website.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger's blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. I'm not a huge fan of books about animal main characters. But since Lillian starts out as a girl, I might like it. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. Full color illustrations in a MG! Love that.


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