"The Cat And The King"
Biblio File column
Meghan Irene, co-host of the Writing On Air program on KZFR (kzfr.org) and a Camp Fire survivor living in Chico, posted on Facebook (poetmirene) about a story she wrote in 7th grade.
When the fire consumed it, she rewrote "The Cat And The King" ($22 in paperback, independently published) "with the intention of capturing the magic and meaning that I had when I was eleven years old." The story was "brought to life with original watercolor on tea-stained paper" by Steve Ferchaud, illustrator extraordinaire (who sneaked her beloved Mt. Shasta into the background).
"Long, long ago," we're told, "in the Kingdom of Starrybourne, lived a princess named Isabel Wilde. Isabel's father was the infamous King Henry Wilde III … a very greedy man. As a child, Henry longed for attention, friendship, and love. Yet, once Henry was given reign as King of Starrybourne, he cared not for empathy and goodwill."
Trees are chopped down to build castle walls, roads are cut through villages, and where "songbirds once chanted, now only the caw of a lonely raven could be heard."
Isabel, isolated in her castle, dreams of exploring "the emerald forests and cobblestone streets." Later, walking the hallways, she sees "a small cat with a tawny star on his forehead." She calls him Louie, because, why not? When Louie pounces on a strange, glowing emerald, something begins to change in her.
Louie gives her courage to venture outside the castle into the bleak countryside. "If only I could save this land," she tells Louie, "and give back to the people what my father has taken away." That's her desire, and suddenly Isabel remembers the story "about the magical wishstone of the Starrybourne forest … a mysterious gem that could make a single wish come true for whomever held the stone."
Her wish? "I wish you could be King, Louie. I know you would show me how to make this world a better place, and you would use your power to do something wonderful."
And just like that, Louie is King and the King is Louie. What happens next is the stuff of dreams, a valentine to the hope deep within each of us.
Copyright Chico Enterprise-Record; used by permission