by Ursula Le Guin, published 1988
“Mrs. Jane Tabby could not explain why all four of her children had wings.”
In four small children’s books, Ursula Le Guin has created a very endearing set of cat characters with personality, adventure, and wisdom. This set of stories, beginning with Catwings, continuing with Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, and Jane on Her Own, are the perfect mixture of fantasy and realism. The settings are real, the troubles of the cats are real, and the fact that the cats have wings and can fly…well, perhaps that’s a stretch! What a wonderful way to weave fantasy into stories. It’s just real enough to be true to life, and then, that extra little thing, a wing!
In addition to the imaginative aspect, each of the stories also deals with a potentially difficult theme for a child to deal with. In the first book, the cat children leave their mother, at her request. In the second book, a kitten gets separated from her mother and gets quite frightened. And the Alexander story very deftly deals with how a child/kitten might handle trauma. These are all pretty hefty themes for such little tales. But they are handled skillfully.
The stories also have a slight amount of scary parts.. enough so that I decided against reading it to my five-year-old grandson, but by six or seven, no problem. These are great read aloud books, and also easy books for a new reader who might want to read them on their own. Written with simplicity, both in language and plot, they are very easy to follow. I think of the old “See Dick Run” books, and wish that all early readers could be as imaginative as these. I give it five stars!
It would be ideal to get all four books in one set, but that seems to be hard to find these days. Definately, if you get one of the books, get them all, because they are so small, and after you finish the first, you are ready for the others.
Buy this at your local independent bookstore