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Plain Kate by Erin Bow

The Story of Plain Kate, daughter of wood carver Piotr Carver, who wants to apprentice to her father in a few years. Her father calls her Kate, My Star.  They live in the town of Samilae, “where people thought there was magic in a knife.Plain_Kate A person who could wield a  knife well was, in their eyes, halfway to a witch. So Plain Kate was very small the first time someone spat at her and crooked their fingers.” Kate wanted to become a full master carver before she was twenty but a sickness came upon the town and Kate’s father dies of it.  This was the year of skara rok, the bad time which was the time of the sickness and starvation.  Kate carved a grave marker for her father and the guild sent another carver to take over her father’s shop and she went and lived in their old market stall. She slept in the bottom drawer of a cupboard her father had carved and she discovered three kittens sleeping in a drawer above her.  One of the three kittens stayed with Kate and she named him Taggle. Kate and Taggle lived from hand to mouth and made do until one summer when “change and magic came loping and waltzing into her life.”  The stranger was an albino who sang and played a tambourine and “moved through the market like a lord.” And so begins a series of more and more frightening adventures for Kate who flees town and joins a band of Roamers where she makes friends with Drina and Daj. Taggle travels with her throughout the book and is a most wonderful companion. For those who like cats this is a great story of a true companion cat. Magic, spells, ghosts and more fill every page of this exciting adventure…..bravo Erin Bow.

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