“Catwings” (Catwings #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin, Illustrated by S.D. Schindler (1988)

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This was one of my human’s favorite books when he was a child, so when he realized I was working on this blog, he purchased a copy for me. I’m not sure what he perceived it to be when he read it, lo’ those many years gone by, but here are four things I noticed immediately:

1) This book is the first in a series.[1]

2) This book was written by world-famous sci-fi/fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin.[2]

3) This book, a scant 40 pages, is needlessly divided into chapters.[3]

4) This book rightfully presents dogs as merciless kitten-killers (well, attempted kitten-killers).[4]

5) This book contains a multilayered pun in the name of the kittens’ mother’s new husband – Tom Jones![5]

6) This book encourages the wrongful perception of humans as inherently kind towards cats.[6]

7) This book about kittens born with functional wings is actually a surprisingly rich and layered metaphor for the plight of minority groups in urban environments and their dreams of having their children leave the urban jungle and succeed where they could not.[7]

catwings-illustration-by-s-d-schindler

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[1] My human read this book when it first came out, and had no clue there were sequels!

[2] My human did not learn who Ursula K. Le Guin was until 5 years after he read this book.

[3] My human remembers this being a relatively long book. What a difference a few decades can make!

[4] Millions of kittens die every year because they lack the wings with which to fly away from the slavering jaws of their canine attackers. NEVER FORGET.

[5] “Tom” is a traditional term for a male cat and “Jones” is an extremely common last name in the West. But Tom Jones is also the name of the great Welsh singer who gave the world “What’s New Pussycat?” (a song I might review later on).

[6] Many humans are loving and obedient servants to their feline overlords. But not all. And that is why most cats know better than to trust humans implicitly.

[7] My human absolutely did not recognize this dimension of the story when he was a child. In fact, he initially dismissed this analysis when I explained it to him; thankfully, my detailed Power Point presentation finally brought him around.

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