Tag Archives: Karen’s Pick

Warriors: Into the Wild

Erin HunterSo… I’m officially a fan. I mean, cats, clans, intrigue and the ugly side of ambition, what’s not to love? If you haven’t guessed by now which cat series I’ve finally dipped my toes into, it’s the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Into the Wild is fast-paced with a plot that thickens with each page you turn, pulling you deeper and deeper into feline territory.

While our own coming of ages might not (have) resemble(d) Firepaw’s too much* in terms of fighting for our lives amongst kitty clans’ claims for land and power, Into the Wild is certainly a novel that finely balances some of the injustices of life and how to remain true to yourself in spite of these moments.

So please don’t be surprised if/when you see me writing and/or singing eulogies dedicated to beloved fallen cats (as I’m sure will happen throughout the series). Think of it as a kitty Game of Thrones: just because a character is dear to the audience and to other characters within the novel, doesn’t mean it’s immune to being killed off by the author.

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The Journey

Francesca SannaWhatever I was expecting when I picked this book up, Francesca Sanna completely exceeded them. I’d like to add this as a read-a-like to Why? (Nikolai Popov) and The Terrible Things (Eve Bunting), which I wrote about earlier, in that the reader is not spared for even a moment some of the experiences of refugees and migrants, and all of the authors do a spectacular job of opening up conversation about these heavier topics.

I’ll just quote Sanna’s blurb on her inspiration for writing The Journey:


The Journey is actually a story about many journeys, and it began with the story of two girls I met in a refugee center in Italy. After meeting them I realized that behind their journey lay something very powerful. So I began collecting more stories of migration and interviewing many people from many different countries. A few months later, in September 2014, when I started studying a Master of Arts in Illustration at the Academy of Lucerne, I knew I wanted to create a book about these true stories. Almost every day on the news we hear the terms “migrants” and “refugees” but we rarely ever speak to or hear the personal journeys that they have had to take. This book is a collage of all those personal stories and the incredible strength of the people within them.

I hope you pick up this book and go on a journey of your own through the story, because both the text and the illustrations complement each other well, making for an experience you won’t soon forget. Find below the cut some more suggested reads from the junior section about immigrant experiences, and displacement.

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Of Cats and Mice

Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney SmithSo this is a roundup of various picture books featuring cats (and some mice) that I loved and therefore want to share with everyone because of the joy of reading children’s literature as an adult. (See LitHub for a review of Wild Things also.)

First on the list is The White Cat and the Monk, which has been on my to-read list for a while. It recently made its way back into my periphery and so I decided to finally scratch one title off that ever-growing list and bring it home.

The White Cat and the Monk is one of many retellings of a poem titled Pangur Bán, penned anonymously sometime in the 9th c. in Old Irish. It’s a meditation on the relationship between the white cat and the scholar monk and how their daily activities parallel each other despite being so disparate.

My first exposure to the book was through a review on BrainPickings, which made me want to pick it up immediately, what with the sumptuous illustrations and glowing review (and of course, let’s not kid ourselves: the cat), and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The pace is slow, but in a measured way, such that even though by the end of the poem we haven’t strayed far from the room in which the monk resides, the reader is still left with a sense of accomplishment. Not much that is tangible has been completed perhaps, but there is a sense that something has been accomplished, and that we now in a sense have a greater understanding of the world at large.

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