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Notes From a Children's Librarian: Great Sequels (and Great Cats)

Our children's librarian columnist, Julie Booker, on very good kids' series where cats (and/or superheroes) figure large.

My three-year-old goes nowhere without his Iron Man. Held tight in the crook of his armpit, this obsession with the foot-high plastic figure forces him to experience life as a one-armed boy. When he spotted Ted Hughes’ novel, The Iron Man, on the kitchen table, he demanded to hear the story. Luckily, a few perfectly placed illustrations hit the plot points necessary to capture a toddler’s interest. He asked for it again and again, carrying the book around for days, which made for a very crowded armpit. I don’t think Hughes would have been surprised. The book is brilliant in its simplicity, pared-down language and action-oriented sentences.

Hughes knew just what to leave out. Written in 1968, it’s still a hit with the tween crowd, opening with the Iron Man standing atop a cliff. “How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows.....His great iron head, shaped like a dustbin but as big as a bedroom....” He topples, his body parts lie scattered on the beach. A hungry seagull picks up an eye, unites it with a hand, allowing the figure to reassemble itself. A small boy named Hogarth becomes the compassionate liaison between the terrified villagers and the "monster." It’s a fabulous, classic fable. I was thrilled to find the 1993 sequel, The Iron Woman, on my library shelves. Much lesser known, …

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