Monday, January 27, 2014

Catkin mouse hunter closer than friend, wind dancer at the bough's end by Antonia Barber illustrated by PJ Lynch

I have a small collection of special longer picture books.  They fall into the fantasy genre, which I enjoy sharing with Grade 3 each year. These include The Mirrorstone, The Moon's Revenge, The Quiltmaker's Gift and The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup.  This year I will add Catkin to this selection.

The farmer and his wife have only one child and they have waited many long years for her arrival.  A small cat, the last, is born to an old cat who lives with a Wise Woman.  When Catkin is old enough the Wise Woman gives him to the farmer's wife.  She tells Catkin to watch over the baby girl called Carrie because the old woman had seen danger signs in the sky on the day Carrie was born.  Antonia Barber hints at the source of this danger early in the story when she tells us :

"And deep inside the hill (where the farmer and his wife live) lived the Little People, who are not born, and who do not die, but are there always."

This book uses the motif of three riddles.
"So be it, though I am not high, my magic branches sweep the sky."
"The meadow's wealth I trade for gold, yet wisdom in my fruit I hold."
"Mouse hunter, closer than friend, wind dancer at the bough's end."

This last riddle is a trap but if Catkin does not answer Carrie will not be saved.

If you are new to the work of PJ Lynch make sure you look for other books he has illustrated.

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