Since our kid is three and can’t read, he is still very much in the “picture book” phase of his reading life, but we recently introduced his first chapter books: the Catwings series by Ursula K. LeGuin. And no, this is isn’t going to be one of those “my six year old is reading Tolstoy” things. I mean, we read it TO him, and I’m not sure how much he got from it, but when reading one of her cat-centric picture books I mentioned her books about flying cats that he would get to read when he was older, and of course he was immediately taken with the idea of flying cats and demanded them the next day. So we went into the stacks, miraculously found them, and read them over the next week. He often fell asleep in the middle of one (making me love them even more).
Anyway, I learned while tweeting about it that a lot of people hadn’t heard of them, and others had only read the first one and regarded the rest of the series with understandable skepticism, so I want to evangelize a bit on behalf of these curious books that are too short for proper chapter books, too long for picture books, to serious for such a young audience, and blah blah blah, they are wonderful little gems and you should read them all. I am glad that LeGuin was already a legend and got away with a marvelous project that would have otherwise been shut down due to conventional wisdom.
I won’t post a review or plot summary. I”ll just say that these feel like classics and I wish they would be collected into a single volume of shelf-of-honor quality, since they are only available now in paperback. And that if you google you will find fan fiction and fan art by first graders that will slay you.
And hey, since I have your eyes for a moment, I want to remind you of this book which I wrote about last year because today it is actually OUT and you can read it. It has garnered praise and starred reviews in the eight months since I blogged about it, which is great, but remember that I was the first to know. Or at least the first to write about it.