Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Cat’s Eye Corner

SilverThe Silver Door and Invisible Ink by Terry Griggs

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Books two and three in the Cat’s Eye Corner series by Terry Griggs are just as magical and entertaining as the eponymous first book.  Each book follows the main character, Olivier, who is staying at his step-step-step-Grandma’s house, called Cat’s Eye Corner.  The house is not what it appears to be.  The rooms have a tendency to shift around, and sometimes disappear, so that Olivier and his grandparents have to eat dinner in the library.  Sylvia, Olivier’s step-step-step-Grandma (so called because she is his Grandpa’s third wife), owns a lot of interesting gadgets, including a flying carpet, an inkpen named Murray who has a personality all his own, and a book titled Enquire Within About Everything, which has a tendency to loose spirits and other living things from its pages.  The house also borders a wooded area, where some strange characters live, including Linnet, a young girl who lives in a boat in a tree and has a command of the winds.

I was sold on the first book in this series long before I knew it had been nominated for (and received) some literary awards in Canada, because it reminded me so much of the books that I read and enjoyed when I was a kid.  Olivier, in the first book, says that he considers The Phantom Tollbooth a personal friend, and a lot of the puns and other cleverness from that book are used in this series.  In a way, the author almost uses them too much, since I saw some obviously derivative characters and settings, but it’s forgivable.  They also borrow a lot from Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, as well as a key scene from Kai Meyer’s The Water Mirror, but the stories are just too much fun, with too many wild ideas, to judge them for being a little too familiar.

InkBesides, Griggs has her own style of writing, which makes her books unique.  Her characters are lively and realistic (well, as realistic as magical creatures can be, at least), and the challenges they face have a sense of importance and necessity to them.  The books themselves are full of wild ideas, vivid imagination, and creativity, and that alone will keep me reading these stories.  They’re very much children’s books, but the amount of detail and imagination in them should appeal to anyone who likes fantasy and magic realism, child or adult.

What’s interesting to discover is that the three novels in the series (thus far) all seem to take place within the same summer while Olivier is visiting his grandparents.  This timing gives the novels a sense of immediacy between them, even if a year or more is passing between the release of each novel.   It’s also interesting to note that there is very little repeated between the books, as far as the characters and settings that Griggs invents for the novels goes, so there’s also a freshness to each novel, even if they use the same central characters.

The books are great fun, and should be an inspiration to creative thinkers, inspiring imaginations in children and adults.  If you don’t walk away from these books with a chuckle and a wish to create something of your own, then you don’t understand the power of fiction and how it can shape people.  Luckily, I don’t think anyone who follows my blog are those kinds of people.

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June 11, 2007 - Posted by | Juvenile Fiction, Reviews

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