Warrior Cats

The New Prophecy, book 1

I just love the second set in the Warrior Cat series, THE NEW PROPHECY (six books). It’s all about coming together across boundaries, a message that we desperately need to hear and act on in these divisive times. If every child read these books and internalized their message, I venture to say that we would be looking forward to a world where justice and respect for the natural environment are key values of society.

I hasten to add that the Warriors series is anything but didactic. They are addictive, page-turning stories about four “clans” of feral cats who live in a forest on the edge of a human community.

The hero of the first set of six books starts out as a “kittypet” named Rusty who becomes curious about the wild cats he sees on the edge of his yard and eventually decides to join them and forsake his safe, comfortable world for the call within himself to hunt his own food, experience the untamed natural world, and enjoy the camaraderie—and the rivalries—of living amongst his own kind, unbeholden to any human providers.

The stigma of being raised as a “kittypet” rather than being born to the clan is one of the many ways that the author, Erin Hunter, artfully raises questions of belonging and prejudice among humankind.

Into the wild

These books teach political lessons, too. The dark shadow of the clan’s deputy, Tigerclaw, overshadows the span of the entire series. Tigerclaw, ruthless and cunning, who seeks power at any cost, forms a stark contrast with our hero, who on entering the clan as a kitten-apprentice is rechristened “Firepaw.” Throughout the series, Firepaw consistently reaches out to cats in need of help—whether they hail from his own “Thunder Clan” or one of the three rival clans who populate the wood and meet in peace only on the nights of the full moon, where they discuss common threats and negotiate boundaries and other concerns, much like nations coming together at NATO or the UN.

I realize these books are wildly popular, and some readers may feel inclined to rail at me for publicizing them rather than equally deserving, but less well known, children’s books. My feeling, however, is that any books which have so much potential to instill a love for wilderness and wild things along with an appreciation for the role of compassion and justice both within and across social boundaries deserve all the publicity they can get.

If you decide to read them or pass them on to the little ones in your life, please note that they really need to be read in order! The original series begins with INTO THE WILD, and there is a handy list of all the books on the website: Http://warrior cats.com. Be careful venturing beyond the booklist on the website, though, or you will encounter spoilers.

Thanks to Same and Violet, my nephew and niece (niece’s daughter, actually) who piqued my interest in the series.

%d bloggers like this: