Author: Bow, Erin
Kate's odd appearance and woodcarving expertise cause some to think her a witch, but friendship with a talking cat and, later, with humans help her to survive and thrive in a world of magic, charms, and fear.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 138405
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 3.50
Points: 17.0 Quiz: 49609
Common Core Standards
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (09/01/10)
School Library Journal (10/01/10)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (12/10)
The Hornbook (09/10)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2010 Gr 4–8—When Kate's wood-carver father dies, she is left to support herself with her woodworking talent while living in her father's former market stall with a cat named Taggle. When Linay, a mysterious and magical stranger, comes to town and buys Kate's shadow, he gives her the money she needs to escape her village home, where people are blaming her for the hard times that have fallen on them. It is rumored that her talent comes from magic, but Kate's journey leads to unexpected consequences and danger for her and the Roamer family whom she joins. It's up to Kate; her new friend, Drina; and Taggle to defeat Linay with their own magic, as they come to discover the truth about his past and his desire for revenge. Kate's journey involves physical, mental, and magical growth, presenting a character who truly matures and changes over the course of her story, and the bittersweet conclusion reflects honest choices and Kate's newfound strength. Supporting characters, from villagers to the tormented Linay, are presented realistically and move the story forward smoothly. Bow's first novel shows a solid control of story and characters, and the careful and evocative writing reflects her work as a published poet.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 10/15/2010 Young Kate is plain as a stick but a gifted wood carver. Her father had warned her that foolish people might think that she guides her knife with magic, and after he dies of fever, Kate becomes the target of suspicion and fear. As a plague worsens, Kate realizes that she must flee her village, and she reluctantly makes an odd bargain with a stranger: in exchange for her shadow, the stranger will provide essential supplies and grant a single wish. Soon Plain Kate is entangled in an elaborate noose of magic and revenge. In her debut novel, poet Bow writes with an absorbing cadence, creating evocative images that trigger the senses and pierce the heart. With familiar folktale elements, she examines the dark corners of human fear and creates intriguing, well-drawn characters, including Taggle, Kate’s talking cat, who adds a welcome lightness. The taut, bleak tale builds to a climax that unfortunately falters, solving a central dilemma with magical convenience. Still, with this debut, Bow establishes herself as a novelist to watch. - Copyright 2010 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 12/01/2010 It is an understatement to say that Kate (called “Plain Kate” by most) has a hard life: she is recently orphaned, she is widely thought to be a witch, and she is unable to make a living as a carver, despite her considerable talent, because she can’t afford the guild training. This is only the beginning of her woes, however, as Kate impulsively sells her shadow to survive and then spends the rest of the novel trying to correct this horrible mistake. The shadow is part of a spell that will be used to destroy an entire town, the plan of a brother devastated by the death of his sister, an accused witch. Kate, alone except for her talking cat, would be excused were she to only disappear and try to survive, but she was raised too well for that, and she steadfastly faces danger, ostracism, pain, and fear, understanding that an easy life is not always the best one. Kate’s endless series of horrible circumstances could be crushingly dark in less adept hands, but Bow seamlessly integrates ironic humor and existential distance, keeping readers, like Kate, quietly convinced that where there’s life, there’s hope. This sprawling landscape, dotted with superstitious villages and noble but equally uninformed gypsies, is superbly developed; it is entirely clear how Kate finds herself accused of being a witch when she is really only an intelligent, talented young woman. Realistic fiction fans may also be drawn to Kate’s grueling, dramatic story, as under the fantasy elements lies an effective and moving coming-of-age novel. AS - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.