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Hardcover September 2010 
Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic
Paperback
Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic
Plain Kate is published in the UK and Commonwealth as Wood Angel
Chicken House Books

Plain Kate

 

A long time ago, in a market town by a looping river, there lived an orphan girl called Plain Kate. 
 
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square. 
 
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.
 
Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that sems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.
 

Reviewers say

“[Plain Kate] is gorgeously well written, unafraid of plumbing joy and sorrow, and with a story that you can’t bear to stop reading.” -- The Times (London)
 
"Plain Kate, [Bow’s] first young adult novel, demonstrates a mature, haunting artistry... The plot unfolds with the swiftness and dramatic urgency of an adventure tale, yet each event has a measured gravity.... [An] outstanding novel." -- New York Times
 
 

Awards

  • "Canada's Newbery," the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award 
  • Winter 2010-2011 Kids' Indie Next List
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011
  • Kirkus Best Books of 2010
  • JLG Selection 
  • Shortlisted for a Cybil, a CBC Reader's Choice Award, a Sunburst Award, and several more.
 

Writers say 

"Plain Kate is anything but plain. Full of poetry, magic, humor, sorrow, and joy -- and featuring possibly the most delightful talking cat in children's literature. A wonderful book." -- Meg Rosoff, author of How I Live Now
 
The story is tense, beautiful, bleak, heart-rending, and unforgettable. Have a box of tissues close by!  Five stars.  -- Tamora Pierce
 
If I were in charge of the Printz Awards, I would have found my winner this weekend.... What a mysterious, horrifying, sweet, sad, romantic, haunting, funny book, filled with poetry and magic  -- Karen Cushman, author of Catherine Called Birdy, The Midwife's Apprentice
 
Finished PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow, am staggered by it. Beautiful in every way: gorgeous writing, imagination, storytelling, heart, heartbreak." -- Laini Taylor, author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone