I almost read these books out of order, but quickly realized just a few sentences into Jane on Her Own that I’d missed a crucial part of the story. Then I had trouble locating this copy, because I’d bought it separately from the others and it was somewhere among my unread books. I was pretty sure it was with others I’d got at the same time from Scrawl Books, but I looked through that stack several times before realizing Wonderful Alexander was between two of them- that’s how small and skinny this book is!
This one starts out among another cat family. Alexander has always had life pretty easy. He’s a fluffy half-Persian kitten in a comfortable home, who happens to think a lot of himself. He’s confident he will do great things in the world, so one day he sets off exploring to do them. Finds out pretty quickly the big wide world is a dangerous place. He narrowly misses getting hit by vehicles, is chased by large dogs and ends up at the top of a very tall tree too scared to come down. Spends the night there, and in the morning is frightened again to be approached by what he thinks is a terrifyingly strange black bird. But it’s not a bird- it’s one of the catwings, who purrs to show she’s friendly, coaxes him down out of the tree and then leads him to the farm where she lives. There Alexander has another shock when he meets more winged cats. And they tell him their story.
Because the black one doesn’t talk. She’s Jane- the little kitten the other catwings had rescued in the city. I won’t tell you more of her story- so maybe you’ll go read these books! – but the crucial point is that Jane had been traumatized as a kitten. She never speaks of what happened, in fact she barely speaks at all. Alexander had always planned to do something grand and important in his life and he does- but his accomplishment is a far more personable one than he’d ever imagined. He gives Jane the comfort and security she needs to voice her fears. Finally understanding what she’d been through, the others all vow they will keep her safe from harm and now she’s able to put the past behind her.
I was floored by this little story. What a deeply important message to put in such a small, unassuming book for young readers. That the biggest accomplishments in life aren’t fame and grand feats that everyone will notice, but having compassion and helping those around us. The healing story of this little kitten overcoming her traumatic childhood was so sweet. She’s so fierce, too!