The Winged Cat: And Other Tales of Ancient Civilizations

by Deborah Norse Lattimore

HarperTrophy, May, 2002.
Trade Paperback, 64 pages.
ISBN: 0064421546
Ages 7-10

The Winged Cat: And Other Tales of Ancient Civilizations by Deborah Norse Lattimore Deborah Norse Lattimore, who comes from a family whose hobby was archeology, has written a little book that will bring the world of ancient civilizations into the world of the twenty-first century child and make it seem familiar and believable. The first story of the Winged Cat will appeal because it is an animal story and it is also the story of a plucky girl who must stand up to a wicked priest, a pharaoh, and powerful, evil spirits in the Netherworld. Her only real help is from the winged cat. The winged cat is the spirit of the poor cat that the evil priest had killed and the girl, Merit, had tried to save. Pharaoh has sent all of them to the Netherworld to be judged. Merit is assisted by the winged cat, who like all cats, is tremendously practical and skilled in the art of survival.

Folktales and myths not only explain the point of view of ancient civilizations, but also offer either cautionary tales, or they are filled with wisdom about how one should deal with the powerful forces of nature. Enki, a slave boy, befriends a dog and an old man as he travels across the desert with other slaves on their way to be sold in the great city of Babylon. On their way to the great city and an uncertain future, Enki and the old man, Abrahim, endure a terrifying sand storm which the people have personified as a giant, vicious dog named Pazuzu. Enki survives the storm, but he still hears some growling and snarling. He is surprised to find that this comes from a dirty, trapped dog. Enki helps the dog and the three stay together as they travel towards Babylon. In Babylon the two are chosen by the evil king, Nebuchadnezzar, to work on his tower. The old man is a talented artist. With an inspired plan, the old man and Enki are able to escape from bondage with the help of Pazuzu, who again becomes the powerful sand storm. The story of the Minoan prince Akros and his sister Illyra teaches about what can happen to a powerful athlete who challenges a goddess but whose pride and boasting finally bring about defeat.

The author's notes at the beginning and preceding the story of "The Prince and the Golden Ax" are filled with the wonder she feels in investigating ancient myths and folk tales. Reading them just might inspire a young reader to become familiar with those ancient civilizations that still influence our world today to this day.

--Sarah Reaves White

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This review was published in the September, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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