The Owl and the Pussycat

ISBN: 0698113675
ISBN 13: 9780698113671
By: Edward Lear Jan Brett

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Children Children's Children's Books Childrens Childrens Books Classics Picture Book Picture Books Poetry To Read

About this book

Edward Lear's nonsense poem about two unlikely sweethearts--an elegant owl and a beautiful cat--has found a perfect match in artist Jan Brett. She traveled to the Caribbean (the land where the Bong-tree grows, perhaps?) to research her illustrations as well as the settings, costume details, plants, and fish native to the area. Readers can follow an illustrated subplot of two yellow fish who also fall in love under the pea-green boat. A charming treatment of a classic children's poem. (Ages 3 to 7)

Reader's Thoughts

Meg McGregor

An absolutely enchanting version of one of Edward Lear's best-loved children's poem.The owl and the pussycat are in love and sail off together. They meet very interesting characters along the way and decide to get married.A simple story but so beautifully brought to life by Jan Brett. She is, in my opinion, one of the best illustrators ever!


There are many illustrated version of Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat -- some are so breathtakingly gorgeous but lack the silliness of this story, some are cartoony and have no depth, and some are so deep they tread some very disturbing waters -- so far, though, this is my favorite version.Jan Brett's illustrations, as always are colorful, well-rendered and quite lovely; and, as usual, somewhat jarring. That's what makes them so perfect for Edward Lear. Edward Lear's writings fall somewhere between Beatrix Potter and Hilaire Belloc. On the surface, they are silly with a rhyming scheme pleasing to the ear. But scratch a little below that surface and there is something a little "off" in his work. All was not safe in Potter's world -- Peter Rabbit's father was turned into a stew -- but there was a happy ending for the protagonist. Reading Belloc can still give me nightmares. There is no safety in Lear's writing, no guarantee of a happy ending, but it is thought-inducing, not nightmare-inducing.


I read the version with the illustrations by Wendy Straw and yes, it is a children's book. Ricky Gervais spiked my interest when he quoted the line "In a beautiful pea-green boat:" referring to one of Karl Pilkington's ramblings that fuse reality with fantasy. It sounded to me like this story should be common knowledge. I looked up the book and author and decided I wanted to know more. As I am a fan of Spike Milligan I found that Edward Lear is right up my alley. The Owl And The Pussycat is a romantic nonsense poem that I found funny and the little one found engaging. The illustrations done by Wendy Straw are comically beautiful.I will definitely be reading more of Edward Lear's work.

Peter Bensen

everyone should read this book. I am interested in what different illustrators have done with this. Kids inherently understand the whimsy and metaphor. I love the fact that two different people can fall in love. you don't both have to love dungeons and dragons, well then again maybe in that case you both do.


Ill have to be honest here. I read this a couple years ago and that was probably in gr. 5. I absolutely loved this book a lot because I loved to read poetry when I was younger but now I am not that much into it. Anyway... This book was my favourite and it was a book someone gave to me and I just loved. It's amazing book that I think parents should read to their kids because I absolute loved it when I was a kid!

Canadian Children's Book Centre

Once again the Kids Can Press Visions in Poetry series offers a stunning book. First published in 1871, The Owl and the Pussycat is one of Edward Lear’s most famous nonsense poems. It is a charming tale of love between two anthropomorphized animals: an owl and a cat. The poem features fantastical creatures such as a “piggy wig,” and made up objects such as the “runcible spoon.” Such creations are ripe for imaginative interpretations and the poem has indeed been illustrated, animated and set to music many different times. No interpretation I have seen is quite as remarkable as this one, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch. Jorisch is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration and his previous books include Jabberwocky, the first book in the Visions in Poetry series. In pencil, ink and watercolor, with a fine-line style reminiscent of surrealists such as Miro, Jorisch’s illustrations for The Owl and the Pussycat tell the tale of two creatures not only divided by physical differences, but also social differences. This back-story, told in wordless spreads, shows the wealthy owl and his high-ranking family disapproving of the middle-class cat. The solution to their dilemma? Escaping to a utopia across the sea where all strange couples are happily in love, including narwhales and unicorns and mermaids and centaurs. It is the perfect place for two creatures divided by physical and socio-economic differences to marry in peace and dance in the light of the moon. Jorisch’s vision of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat takes a charmingly absurd poem usually read to younger children and creates a thought-provoking book about acceptance that will resonate with older audiences. It is a must-have for all ages.Reviewed by Kallie George in Canadian Children's Boo NewsWinter 2008 VOL.31 NO.1


After a courtship voyage of a year and a day, Owl and Pussy finally buy a ring from Piggy and are blissfully married.Lower Grades K-3Topic - Subtopic: Animals-Cats; Animals-Owls; Award Winners-American Bookseller Pick of the List; Award Winners-Boston Globe/Horn Book Award/Honors; Award Winners-Parent's Choice Award/Honor Book; Award Winners-SLJ Best Book; Award Winners-Booklist Editors' Choice; Canadian Content-Canadian Content (All); Family Life-Marriage; Poetry/Rhymes-Poetry/Rhymes; Recommended Reading-California Recommended Lit., English, K-2; Recommended Reading-Children's Literature Choice;


I should probably start a shelf called Children's Books That Are Not Good for Children. This is one of those books I would ut on that shelf. I find Lear's rhymes to be very strange. These have a very nice sound to them but I think they are inaccessible. I remember feeling the same way about Alice In Wonderland as a child. But I suppose different children feel differently so it would be better to expose them to things and let them make their own decisions. As an adult I enjoy the oddity. Dale Maxey's pictures are psychedelic and add to the feeling that the book was created while the author's were on acid. That said, I do like the pictures. Re-reading this also gave me the chance to learn what a runcible means. Apparently it is a nonsense word that Lear made up because he liked the sound of it. I Owl and the Pussycat he uses" riuncible spoon" but apparently he uses it adjectivally for other nouns too. The wiki entry I read said that he himself did not seem to have a clear meaning for the word. That's am interesting idea to me; to invent a word for sound and not for meaning. Is Lear trying to communicate something more like music and less like an idea? Anyway, the word runcible, according to the wiki article appears to have been adopted by counter culture if not by pop culture.


In brilliant colors, we set off with the owl and the pussycat, his sweet feline love. But the illustrator has provided a Caribbean backdrop for this story, complete with vibrant sea images taking place above and below the unlikely titular couple.The eye is drawn to all the lovely details accompanying the text as the fowl and feline sail away in a pea-green boat. The images flesh out the story even before the poetry starts as we witness the eager owl hotfooting it to the door of his lady love and proposing to her. While they travel, they are accompanied by all sorts of marine life, each rendered in exquisite detail, including a bright yellow fish that seems to be searching for something.All of this made this particular rendition of Lear's nonsense poem a true treat for me and worthy of inclusion on my shelf.

Jeanne O'Hara

Genre: poetryThis book, a nonsense poem by Edward Lear, is illustrated by Jan Brett. Brett's illustrations bring this colorful poem to life. This was a favorite in our house. My husband loved this poem--his father had read it to him and his siblings when he was a child. When I found this version with the beautiful pictures, it quickly became a nightly ritual. Our children could recite the lines with him, and could recite the lines just from looking at the pictures.I would use this as a read aloud for a poetry unit, as an example of a nonsense poem. I would also include other poems by Lear, especially his limericks. It would also be a nice read aloud for younger grade children, especially at the end of the day to try to wind down to get ready to go home.


This is a newer picture book version of Edward Lear's poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat," and though I've had this poem memorized for most of my life, the illustrations here made me see it in a whole new light. It had never really occurred to me that the owl and the pussycat had to elope to another society because their society couldn't tolerate their mixed-species romance. This is a poem about marriage equality! Seriously, not many picture books have ever made me rethink a text that is so familiar. This is part of a series called "Visions in Poetry" that aims to do just that, and I aim to collect them all!

Amethyst Travis

A childhood classic


The Owl and The Pussy CatGrade K-3The illustrations done by Jan Bret are both animated and realistic in appearance. Bret uses lots of color, particularly lots of aqua blues and greens. The illustrations are large and detailed and the text is minimal. Lear’s use of rhythm and rhyme to tell this humorous romantic story between the owl and the pussycat will appeal to children’s sense of imagination. Children will like the colorful illustrations, the sound of the poem and the story because it is short, fun and easy for the younger children to understand. Language Arts/Art/ScienceGrades K-3Students can identify the rhyming words in the poem and draw a picture of what they imagine “the land where the bong-tree grows” looks like. Students can learn more about owls and cats or the sea and various aquatic animals for science.

Carrie Gelson

Just gorgeous.


My son has interesting tastes. Who introduced him to this? Yet, it is what he pulled from the bookshelf at the public library to check out.Yes, this classic is timeless and still nonsensical. Why would a cat and an owl marry? What fun it is to read! Lear delivers one of those memorable lines, "They danced by the light of the moon." Something that brings a smile to everyone.I'm not as impressed with the illustrations that accompany the poem in this edition.****Interesting. As I am going through my son's bookshelf, what did I find? Yuppers, a copy of this book. Who knew we owned our own copy?

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