Cats of Tanglewood Forest

Cats of Tanglewood Forest

It was the cats who decided to save Lillian. She just wanted to say hello to the fairies, but here she lies, dying of snakebite. Changed by their magic from a dying girl into a live kitten, Lillian can’t comfort her aunt or the neighbors who search the old woods. She must find out how to turn back into herself… and then how to make right the consequences of her choice.

These forest cats know that their magic might anger the Father of All Cats, that great black puma who stalks these ancient woods, who prowls in dark dreams. But they just couldn’t let the girl die, not after she’s been so generous with milk for them and respectful of the Apple Tree Man.

Lillian-kitten sets out to find Old Mother Possum, who might help her turn back into girl-Lillian. Accompanied by T.H. Fox (his mother named him Truthful and Handsome), she makes the long journey, despite his warnings that the part-witch-part-someone may not choose a solution that’s easy or simple.

Oh, turning back one death puts it onto another! Now Lillian has a bigger problem to solve and consults the wise woman at the Kickaha reservation nearby. Aunt Nancy sees only one path and not an easy one, as this problem is so big that Lillian must ask a difficult favor of the fearsome Bear People, no matter what the personal cost.

Does young Lillian have the courage to walk alone into the Bears’ den?

Why do the cats of the forest keep watching her?

Is love enough to turn away death?

Originally a very short picture book, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest brings even more depth to Lillian’s journey as she searches for a way to make things right again in her world, despite the danger to herself.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at


A forest of hickory and beech and wandering rhododendrons and if you look closely, a fox named T.H. Reynolds, an olde possum witch, the bear people and just maybe fairies.  This is the world just outside  Lillian Kindred's front door.  She lives on a farm with her Aunt since her parents died and life is filled with the fun and magic of exploring the pathways and imagining the wonder of the Grandfather Tree and whatever else lies just out of sight.  

Lillian is a free spirit and on one fine day her heart sends her chasing a white-tailed deer.  One minute she can still see his tail waving ahead and then he's gone and then she catches sight of him once more.  She is free and the world holds such possibilities and goodness.  Tired, Lillian curls herself up at the base of a solidly planted tree and in her trusting way, she does not notice the snake she has awakened and surprised.  Strike.  The snake bites her not once or twice but again and again.  This snake bite is filled with deadly poison.

Is there any one or anything who can save her?  Will the magic of her world gather just in time? Has she made choices in her days that will come back to gift her with the love and kindness so desperately needed in this dark hour?  Will her aunt ever see her again?

And beyond this moment are the even great questions of who is Lillian to be?  Can she find a version of her world that allows her to be true to herself and is filled with the people and adventures she needs so deeply?

Outwardly, Lillian journeys through magical worlds where time and form can be shifted and rearranged to form a new picture of life.  Inwardly Lillian visits the corners of being alive with its unanswered questions.  Do we control our lives through our choices?  Can we make mistakes and still find our way back to the best place we want so deeply?  Can we overcome the mistakes of others that threaten our today?

There are beautifully written emotional arcs here that will create a wave that holds us in its grip as we wait and watch and wonder.

There are those who write with great respect for the work of childhood and this is a folk tale that dares to wander into the darkest and lightest places of young minds, hearts, and souls.  Along the way it will delight with its feisty main character, her faithful watchful friends and the wonder of the magic that just might be one blink away from becoming the reality of the fabric of our lives.

A rare beast indeed with its roots in children's literature of old and its wings in the eternal childhood mysteries.  282 beautifully illustrated pages  Ages 8-12  978-0316 053570

(especially nice for the children who want a chapter book but still love the pictures...they're in color!)

Recommended by:  Barb

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