The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
by Charles De Lint, Published 2013
“What’s your name?” she asked the fox. “T.H. Reynolds.” “What does the T.H. stand for?” “Truthful and Handsome. My mama always said that a child grows into his name, and I guess she was right because just look at me.”
I love everything about this fabulous, hot-off-the-press children’s book. First, the layout and design. The typeface is the easiest to read that I’ve seen in a long time. Second, it’s a chapter book with wonderful watercolor images generously spread throughout the book. And finally, it’s a fairy tale written by a contemporary author, based on an earlier picture book he wrote called Circle of Cats.
The book is complex but not hard to follow. And it is magical. Everything about it is magic, from the time a little girl is changed into a cat, to the ending…which I won’t spoil for you. The lessons in the book are life-lessons, one that are so important for children. The theme of putting others first, and also understanding the complexity of the web of life, are offered in a very understandable way. The ending chapters are so fabulous, explaining that one thing leads to another, and we always have to make choices not knowing the outcome.
I had really hoped this would be a book for younger children, since it starts out with a young girl looking for fairies. But I hesitated right in the first chapter, as the main character is about to die from a snakebite. I just don’t like bringing that to little ones. That’s me…Grimm fairy tales are far worse. So if you don’t mind a little death, then you can offer this book to children aged 8 or maybe 7. Otherwise, I think it’s perfect for the 9-12 group. I give this children’s book a 5-star rating.