c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule


I deeply admire you as a fine human being. I look forward to reading your books.

I gave your book (The Girl Who...) as a 14th birthday present to my best friend's daughter in March. I always give books as gifts and she's always politely thanked me but this one was the only one I got a really strong reaction from her about.

She said in an email to me, and I quote, "It's seriously one of the best books I've ever read. Every paragragh I come across something I want to quote on facebook! It's lovely! Thank you so much!"



Edited at 2012-05-08 02:41 pm (UTC)

THANK YOU! I work in textbook publishing and I HATE the way writing is dumbed down for children. We need to challenge kids, not spoon-feed them!

As for your other comments, I argued with my mother when she handed me Narnia books at eight because I saw straight through the Christian overtones. I put Narnia back on the shelf and returned to Tolkien and ElfQuest.

...but I didn't understand what an "orgy" was, and after having it defined, I STILL missed that was the actual purpose behind the "slumber party" before the Great War in ElfQuest book 4.

Also, that Lewis Carrol pun was very helpful when I eventually took Latin in High School. Which I studied because characters on Gargoyles cast spells in that language. Gargoyles is another thing I can go back to as an adult and see so many shades and implications that I MISSED as a teenager.

I'm just right now reading Fairyland for the second time for my kids. The first time - when you were publishing it online - they were much younger and only got bits and pieces. Now they are listening to it again and getting so much more out of it and they LOVE it. Do they get everything? Nope. But are they enjoying what they do get out of it? Oh yes.

When they don't understand a word they either ask me or skip it or figure it out on their own. That's how you learn!

Kids are so very much smarter than so many people give them credit for.

Thank you for your promise. I promise, in turn, to make all of these books freely available to my children as they are ready (my kids are 5 and nearly-3). The 5-year-old has already had Alice in Wonderland read aloud, chapter by chapter, and we're on Through the Looking Glass. I rather think Fairyland might be next. :)

When I was a kid (and an avid reader), so many children's books tended to annoy me because I felt so often like they were taking me for an idiot. Those books would be the ones I'd put aside without a second glance, vague entertainment without consistence. The books that I really loved at 8 years old are the ones I can still pick up today and think "this is good".

A breathtaking promise. It makes me want to turn circles and leap.

Looking forward to Morgenstern being old enough for this!

(A rather wondering what kind of complaints I'll get when/if agent sells my pre-YA dark age adventure.)

YES! Never talk down to your readers, especially not the children. How will they know how smart they are if everyone treats them as if they are stupid?

*slow, wildly appreciative applause*

Dammit, Cat, you made me cry first thing in the morning.

Thank you so much for this post. My child-self, who went to the adult section in grade one because the children's books were too insipid, just wants to hug you forever.

In a few years my nieces will be old enough for Fairyland (they're 8 and 6 now) and I am doing all I can to help prep them for the experience.

I wish I could wake every day to something that makes me feel so good about the world and the people in it.

These are the books I needed as a child, the books I remember best as an adult, the books I still reread. I wish Fairyland had existed when I was a kid so that I could have grown up with it, but I'm still hugely thankful that it exists for young audiences now.

Bravo! We need another hundred writers who will make this promise, and then we might have a stronger basis for education and delight in reading to give our children.

What a sad and fitting day to make this declaration.

As a young gifted reader in a school system that had no idea what to do with me, I lived on Carroll, on The Phantom Tollbooth, on old book versions of Disney-fied stories before the big words were stripped out, and then, all too early, ran out of anything that interested me and challenged me, stuck between too-easy drivel and uninteresting adult topics. (Luckily, I eventually found the library's world myth section, and comics.) The world needs more books like Fairyland and more authors who know it. So now, as a chosen-family crazy auntie of a tribeful of young gifted readers I can happily throw books at, thank you.

Yes. Here are two things:

1) Children are not stupid. No child may get all of the references, but most children will get some of them, and occasionally, a child will get most of them, depending on the child.

2) Most adults don't get all the references in Joyce's Ulysses the first, or even the second time through. Does that mean it's not really a book for adults?

When I was a child, I loved to have my mind stretched (still do). Blogging this.

And more applause.

It just makes me so sad when someone - anyone, of any age - says they don't like to have to look up words they come across in the books they read. Seriously - there's something wrong with them. That was one of my greatest pleasures when I was a kid! I don't get it.

Thanks for this. Keep up the good work!

I never looked anything up. I just went by the context and made a guess -- or filed it "insuffcient data". Great practice learning to "live with uncertainty".

You can get the point of something -- or at least one of the points of something -- without having to know all the details. Then years later there are still surprises.


No fair making me cry at work.

Thank you. This is why I read Fairyland out loud to my girls, who are 7 and 3 now. And yes, they didn't get everything. But the bits they did, they loved. And I was able to tell them, "This was written by a dear lady I know by the name of Cat. She wrote it for girls like you."

And the book sits on their shelf in their room and it Means Something to them. It's next to Alice and Oz and Middle-Earth and Narnia. Where it belongs.

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That's an excellent essay-- I remember the same issue being discussed thirty years ago or more, and I think Dr. Seuss was the example of a well-loved children's author who used words which weren't already in the kids' vocabulary.

I'm not sure how much the idea of age-appropriate books is just an irrational desire for control, and how much is that a lot of adults don't like learning, so they assume children will find it stressful.

I could kiss you for this.

My mother was a librarian, and according to my CAT tests, I had a 4th year college reading level by the sixth grade. I was reading classical Greek mythology in elementary school, and NOT the "age-appropriate" versions. (Yes, I first read "Metamorphoses" in the 4th grade.) When I came across a word I didn't know, my mother's invariable response was "Look it up".

"Too smart for kids", my ass. People need to stop thinking that kids are brainless idiots, and start challenging them to expand beyond their perceived boundaries again.

This made my day and made me cry, all at the same time. I cannot tell you how much this means to me, so I won't even try, but thank you, thank you so much! Books like Fairyland is the reason that keeps me going although I have not been able to put into words to puzzled friends and family members why they mean so much to me, and I feel like I've gotten a glimpse of myself when I read this post.

And thank you for "Fairyland is in for the long haul" - all I can say is Oh YAY!!!

Brava, Cat. Brava.

This is EXACTLY right.

You are amazing, and your readers -- all of them -- are incredibly blessed by your books.

Also? YAY MORE FAIRYLAND BOOKS!

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