May 23, 2012

Skyclan and the Stranger

by Erin Hunter and Dan Jolley

This little trilogy is about another Warriors clan I never heard of (having not read the novels): Skyclan. It's a small group of cats living in an isolated gorge. When the book opens the leader, Leafstar, is expecting her first litter of kittens. She's anxious and distracted, and very proud when they finally arrive. But not soon after, an elderly woman who lives in a cabin nearby finds the young family and "rescues" them from their forest life. Leafstar can't find a way to escape the cabin with all three kittens, but despairs at having them grow up as pets- she wants them to live as wild clan cats. The woman's resident cat tries to convince her to stay, that life is good in a house, but Leafstar is just waiting for an opportunity to get out.

In Beyond the Code, Leafstar continually struggles with managing her leadership duties and being a good mom cat at the same time. It's tough work, even with the help of her mate and the other clan cats. Things are made even harder with the presence of Sol, the "kittypet" Leafstar met in the woman's cabin who followed her into the wild. He's determined to join the clan but doesn't quite fit in. The other cats quickly start complaining that he doesn't pull his weight and can't manage to learn simple skills. Even worse, though, is the foreign viewpoints he introduces. Sol has entirely different ideas of how to solve the clan's problems, most of which don't fit within the warrior code, and could even place the entire group of cats in danger.

As the title might have you guess, when After the Flood begins the cats are reeling from a flood that swept through their gorge, nearly destroying their home. Not only is everything a mess, but branches and litter from humans create a potentially dangerous situation. Leafstar's mate, who spends his nights in a house as a pet cat- wants their kittens to go home with him, where he feels they'll be safer.  Arguments abound over who is better able to care for the kittens. Then in the busyness of cleaning up, the kitten suddenly go missing- have they wandered off? or did their father take them away? In the midst of accusations and worry, Leafstar's troubles soar when other clan members start to think of deserting the group, too. She has all she can handle with keeping her clan together and finding her lost kittens as well.

Compared to all the other Warriors "manga" I've now read, this one was my favorite, in spite of the superior artwork in The Rise of Scourge. It was just a better story. There was far more going on here than just cats fighting over resources and territory. The leader struggles to balance her parenting duties with her work as a leader (I think any mom can relate to that!). The cats have to recover from a natural disaster that nearly wipes out their home and question the wisdom of who chose that place to live in. They face threats not only from natural predators, but from alien ways of thinking- from outsider cats as well as members of the clan, Leafstar's very own family! The little segment of Sol's backstory- telling of his kittenhood with an absent father and a miserable mom who eventually abandoned them- was actually the saddest part of the whole miniseries for me. It's deep stuff for these little kitty books.

Rating: 3/5 ......... 112 pages (each), 2011, 2012

more opinions:
Portland Book Review


carol said...

To be honest, part of the reason I have never read the Warrior's books even though my daughter loves them is I'm afraid I'll get too attached to the cats, and they seem to die/get injured on a regular basis.

Jeane said...

Yeah, they fight so much a lot of them do die or get injured. I haven't quite gotten attached to any of the characters yet.