>"The Cats of Tanglewood Forest," by Charles de Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess (ages 8-12)
Transformation can be exciting. This summer, you may have finally found a series of books that you enjoy. You beg your parents every night to stay up late to read just one more chapter. You have become a reader.
But what if you were transformed in a way that was unwelcome?
Lillian Kindred, the main character in "The Cats of Tanglewood Forest," undergoes a strange and scary transformation. Afterward, she thinks she knows exactly what she wants to happen next.
After chasing a deer deep into the woods one day, the girl lies down under a large tree for a nap. Little does Lillian know that a poisonous snake is napping nearby. A sudden movement of the girl's foot scares the snake, and it bites her several times.
Lillian wakes and tries to run from the forest, but the poison works quickly. As she grows weaker, the girl notices that wild cats have appeared and killed the snake. After passing out, Lillian awakens, but she feels different.
"She lifted her paw, licked it and started to clean her face when she realized what she was doing," author Charles de Lint writes.
Lillian had become a cat.
A crow that had seen what happened explains that the cats, which have magical powers, had no way to save the girl from the poison. Her only chance to live was if they changed her into something completely different: a cat.
Lillian's reaction is immediate. She wants someone to turn her back into a girl. But it's not such an easy matter.
As Annabelle the cow tells Lillian, "If you work one magic to undo another, you might end up with a bigger problem than you had in the first place."
The warning doesn't stop Lillian. But she finds out by way of a long journey that her strange outward transformation might give her a chance to learn more about who she is on the inside.