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Plain Kate

by Erin Bow

  Print book : Fiction : Secondary (senior high) school  |  1st ed

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Plain Kate by Erin Bow is a great book for readers 12+   (2010-09-19)


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by Rommey

PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow is true about the darkness and pain of life as well as its beauty and light. And it is true about our eternal need to belong and to be loved.

This debut novel by an award winning writer is marketed by its publisher Scholastic as young adult book, and it is a beautiful coming of age story about a "plain" and courageous young woman. I’m 50 years beyond the "Young Adult" audience, but I care deeply about children’s literature-yes literature, and I loved Plain Kate.

And it’s not just me. I hear that Kate is being snapped up by international publishers. And there is  Arthur A. Levine, editor extraodinare, who obviously loves Plain Kate, and also multi-award winning author Meg Rosoff.

Here’s what Levine had to say about Erin Bow and Plain Kate at Book Expo America in NY May 2010 (I was there.):

“Arthur Levine of Scholastic set the bar fairly high when he began his remarks about Plain Kate by Erin Bow by saying that because he had a hand in bringing Brian Jacques, (Redwall series) Philip Pullman (Golden Compass) and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) to U.S. audiences, “I’ve been sent a lot of fantasy, some of it quite good. But it’s very rare for a book to stand out for me the way Plain Kate did.” The story of a girl who loses her father and is imperiled by suspicions that she is a witch, Levine said Bow’s prose has the “lyrical strength and classic proportions” of master writers. “She is a truly original talent,” Levine said, evidenced by a “breathless e-mail” he got from an associate at the most recent London Book Fair who said Printz Award winner Meg Rosoff had read Plain Kate and couldn’t stop raving about it. Rosoff’s blurb – “anything but plain, full of poetry, magic, sorrow and joy” – will be on the cover”. BEA 2010

Lots of us not-so-distinguished critics have also read and loved Plain Kate. Love exquisite writing?  That's all the reason one needs to love Erin Bow's first novel. Who else but a poet would write:

“It was just an uneasy little change, like the half-felt movement of a boat that slowly induces a great sickness.” 

Plain Kate has an exciting plot, indelible characters and elegant prose. This book is worth reading for the pure pleasure of the language. Really, it has much in common with Ms. Bow’s award winning book of poetry Ghost Maps which tells the life story of a WWII vet with simple beauty, extraordinary grace and feeling.

YA blogs and adult reviewers are raving about Plain Kate! And for good reason! My 13-year- old nephew loved it and has already given it as a gift to a 13-year-old girl. A 67-year-old male friend found the ending hard to finish because he didn’t want it to end, and because it’s very scary, sad and beautiful-all the while a very gratifying book for all ages. And who wouldn't love Kate's feline friend, the magnificent Taggle!

I expect to see Plain Kate short-listed for many awards and to be on reading lists for a long, long time.


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