I fell absolutely in love with Catkin the first time I read it out loud to my second grade class. The tale by Antonia Barber is about a peculiarly small ginger cat named Catkin. The wise woman who owns Catkin’s mother gives Catkin as a gift to a good farmer and his wife. The wise woman tells Catkin that his job is to guard the good farmer’s daughter Carrie. Catkin and Carrie become fast friends and all is well until one sunny day Catkin is distracted by a butterfly and leaves Carrie sleeping unattended in the forrest. The magical Little People are wandering about on that lovely spring day and they come across the slumbering girl and take her with them back to their home under the green hill. Catkin finds a slightly changed Carrie where he left her and does not realize what has happened until the wise woman declares that it is not Carrie at all but a ‘changeling’ that will eventually disappear, leaving the farmer and his wife childless.
Catkin is a valiant main character whose true loyalty, goodness, and wit unfold as he goes on a journey to save Carrie and fulfill his obligation to protect her.
Children are enthralled by this tale of kidnapping, magic, riddles, and love. The story is long and I had to read it over several days but it was worth it each time the class collectively gasped or fist pumped in response to Catkin’s trials and triumphs. The gorgeous illustrations by P.J. Lynch add to the magic of the reading experience.