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A Circle of Cats
     

A Circle of Cats

5.0 1
by Charles de Lint, Charles Vess (Illustrator)
 

Lillian is an orphan who lives with her aunt on a homestead miles from anyone, surrounded by uncharted forest. She wanders the woods, chasing squirrels and rabbits and climbing trees. Free-spirited and independent Lillian is a kindred spirit to the many wild cats who gather around the ancient beech tree. One day, while she is under the beech, Lillian is bitten by a

Overview

Lillian is an orphan who lives with her aunt on a homestead miles from anyone, surrounded by uncharted forest. She wanders the woods, chasing squirrels and rabbits and climbing trees. Free-spirited and independent Lillian is a kindred spirit to the many wild cats who gather around the ancient beech tree. One day, while she is under the beech, Lillian is bitten by a poisonous snake. The cats refuse to let her die, and use their magic to turn her into one of their own. How she becomes a girl again is a lyrical, original folktale.

Set in the countryside north of de Lint's fictional Newford, with some of the same characters as the duo's recent, acclaimed Seven Wild Sisters, A Circle of Cats is the long-awaited first picture book by long-time friends Charles de Lint and Charles Vess, whose masterful art is as magical as the story.

Illustrations by Charles Vess.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Charles de Lint and Charles Vess team up for the second time in A Circle of Cats, the prequel to the novella Seven Wild Sisters. Free-spirited orphan Lillian roams the wild woods until a poisonous snake bites her. To save her life, the cats turn her into a kitten. How the Apple Tree Man and the panther help her become a girl again is a fantastic tale indeed. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Red-haired Lillian is an orphan who lives with her aunt in a mountain cabin and runs wild in the woods. After chasing a deer one day, she falls asleep under an old beech tree and is fatally bitten by a venomous coral snake. Since Lillian communes with the wild animals and even trees (but not, apparently, with snakes), a circle of feral cats comes to her rescue, summoning forbidden magic to transform her just in time into a healthy kitten. Her quest to change back to a girl involves a talking owl, the gnarled spirit of an apple tree, and a strangely powerful black panther. This is not a picture book; there is much too much text that is not integrated with illustrations. It is an illustrated book whose watercolors are best when evoking the woods and mountain streams. The Apple Tree Man is a bit too realistically twiggy to be as mysterious as he might be, but his revelation to Lillian of the tiny fairy people twinkling in the dark approaches the magical. Since this fantasy with a touch of folktale is shorter and not so scary as some popular examples of the genre, it may seem tepid in comparison, but for less intrepid fantasy-lovers, it could offer an enjoyable flight through an enchanted forest. 2003, Viking, Ages 8 to 11.
— Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-In this picture-book fantasy, a skinny, red-haired girl is lured into a forest inhabited by tree spirits, fairies, and magical cats. When Lillian falls asleep under an ancient beech tree, she accidentally disturbs a snake whose bite quickly draws her toward death, until the cats gather around her in a magic circle. However, to save her, they must change her into something that isn't dying, and thus she awakens transformed into a kitten. Her quest to return to her true self brings her into contact with many creatures, but it is the gnarled Apple Tree Man who finally leads her to her heart's desire. De Lint uses simple yet evocative language to describe Lillian's journey into this mysterious place filled with dark hollows and dense woods, where felines work their enchantment with voices that sound like "a kitchen full of fiddles not quite in tune with each other." Although the plot seems too neatly resolved, young readers are certain to enjoy the mood that has been created. The artwork is also appealing, with illustrations reminiscent of an animated film. Backgrounds are soft and misty and foregrounds set the scene, but the effect is sometimes too Disneyesque. Still, the book is worth consideration, particularly as a short read-aloud or for middle graders seeking a quick read.-Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A small tale of magic and mystery is hampered by its dependence on its sequel. Lillian lives with her Aunt in the hills, a wild, gentle girl who puts out saucers of milk for stray cats and gives the gnarled old Apple Tree Man a biscuit for breakfast every morning and whose greatest desire is to see the fairies. When a snake bites her, the cats save her by turning her into a kitten; in order to change back, she must make a portentous bargain with the Father of Cats. The plot is slight enough; what makes this story sing is its infusion with a sort of folkloric mysticism that places it firmly in the tradition of the original fairy tale. De Lint's sonorous, ingenuous language is complemented beautifully by Vess's full-color line-and-watercolor illustrations, the slightest hint of comics-style influence giving the old-timey setting a faintly contemporary air. But as a conscious "prequel" to the pair's earlier (and out-of-print) Seven Wild Sisters, the story has an unfinished and ultimately unsatisfying quality. (Fiction. 8-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670036479
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
06/23/2003
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
7.42(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
6 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Charles de Lint is a Canadian fantasy author who along with Terri Windling and a few other authors popularized the urban fantasy genre in the 1980s. De Lint is most well-known for his Newford series that takes place in the fictional city of the same name. He is very active in the science fiction and fantasy writing communities and has served as judge on several award panels including the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

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A Circle of Cats 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago