Plain Kate written by Erin Bow
Plain Kate Plain Kate is the wood-carver’s daughter, and right from the beginning of this story, you know her life is going to be difficult. Her father dies, leaving her alone and even though Kate herself has an incredible talent as a wood-carver, the wood guild sends another carver to take over the shop. People in the village are dying from a mysterious sickness, and Kate is suspected of witchcraft, because her carvings reveal uncomfortable secrets about people. So off she goes, to find another place to live, with her cat Taggle, her only friend.
Then she meets Linay, a stranger who promises her he’ll grant her a wish if she gives him her shadow. She does so reluctantly, but it comes at a high price. Eventually she realizes that Linay has something to do with the sickness that is spreading from village to village, and she must try to stop him.
This book won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for 2011, and I can see why. There is so much going on in this story – themes of courage, abandonment and belonging. Although she has some flaws, Kate is not plain at all. Her determination, and true heart make her the perfect heroine. She really wants to find a place where she fits in, and gets close when she joins a group of Roamers, who see value in magic in her carvings. The Roamers are also despised people, and move around a lot. For the first time, she starts to feel like she’s part of a family. But the problem of being suspected of witchcraft follows her, and puts these new friends in danger. I love the dark mysterious characters, and the fears that Kate overcomes. And I especially love her cat Taggle, a funny sarcastic and arrogant cat who cares so much about Kate that he risks his own life to save her.
This is a great original story, and I hope to see more from this author. She has the magic touch.
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