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Author: Erin Bow

Reserve at the Library

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books,

Material: paperback

Summary: As life in Samilae worsens, the fears of its people grow. Kate's father lost his battle with the deadly fever taking lives every day. Now she is an orphan, left exposed to the town's beliefs that the deadly fever is the work of witches. With the help of a mysterious traveler named Linay, Kate escapes. Life after Samilae isn't any easier, and Kate finds herself on the run again. By the time she and Linay cross paths again, her dire circumstances leave her few choices. Which will she make? This is a fantasy adventure set in a different time that has a Louisiana Bayou feel to it. This is a High Interest / Low Readability option.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 10 and Up

Reading Level: 4.4

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: I liked, but did not love, Plain Kate. Kate is a sympathetic more than likable character; I almost abandoned it several times. There is a lot of sadness, and a surprising amount of violence. I would be uncomfortable sharing with a 10-year-old, but can see this as a good choice for an older reader (12 and Up) who wants a sophisticated story but needs a more comfortable reading level. eader.

Pros: Readers who love dark tales akin to Edgar Allen Poe, will love Plain Kate.

Cons: The story is dark, with knives having both a symbolic and literal impact. It does not have a 'happily ever after' ending, which could leave some young readers unsettled.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. I would recommend adults read this before sharing with kids.


Educational Themes: Strip away some of the violence, and you have interesting characters and themes worth discussing: prejudice, superstition, historical views of magic, and trust, among others.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, middle grade

Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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