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


The first book that Arthur (my infant son) loved and continues to love. We started reading this when he was 4 months old and now I have to hide it from him. If he sees it, we must sit down and read it at least one time through. Jan Brett's drawings of the Owl and his Pussycat love are fabulous. They sail through the Caribbean replete with coconut drinks, colorful plants and fish, and of course the Piggy-Wig who lives where the Bong Trees grow. . .words fail to describe. Oh, and speaking of fish, look closely along the bottom of each page to watch a second romance unfold.


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.


A lovely story for early year children which uses a combination of rhyme and repetition to tell the story of the adventures of, and eventual marriage of the owl and the pussy cat.

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!


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.

Kristina Silverbears

I couldn't like this story, and something about its illustrations was off putting.


Jan Brett's Caribbean-inspired illustrations for the classic Edward Lear poem are teeming with life, and the effect is stunning. The colors, textures, and shapes are a visual treat. Each page also has a different pattern of "straw" border, adorned with a different tropical flower.The pictures overflow with detail, to the point where there's even a sub-story (pardon the pun) involving two yellow fish.I didn't give it the full 5 stars because the way the text is broken up across spreads makes it difficult to read the poem with any kind of flow, and because some of Brett's admittedly gorgeous illustrations could (and perhaps should) have had more of a connection to the text. For one notable example -- there's no pot of honey on the boat, and we never get a look at the money wrapped up in the five-pound note!But there's no denying the beauty of the illustrations, and the Caribbean theme works surprisingly well. This is a great book for anyone -- for newcomers to the splendid silliness of the poem as well as for old fans of the poem who are looking for an edition with fabulous illustrations.


Birds and cats are natural enemies. What happens when they get together against all odds?Stephane Jorisch once more lends his vision to this well-known poem about an ill-matched pair. Shifting the poem’s emphasis to the outlook of those around them and making the owl a bird of high social standing and the cat from the wrong side of the tracks, Jorisch raises Lear’s nonsense poetry to a kind of sublime grandeur. The voyage in a pea-green boat becomes not so much a romantic cruise as a desperate escape from those who censor the improbable love between fowl and feline. Yet the spare but lovely illustrations make the lovers and their surroundings ethereal and whimsical, reminding us of the poem’s original child-like appeal.

Esther Barajikian

"The Owl and the Pussycat" is a classic poem written by Edward Leer that was first published in the 19th century. This book, illustrated by Anne Wilson presents the love story of two unlikely lovers in a charming and whimsical way. Combining several different techniques, her use of brilliant colors, creative lines and surrealistic images carries the reader into a wonderful make-believe world by means of a beautiful pea-green boat. The author use of rhyming couplets, simple rhythm, and patterned language helps young readers anticipate what will happen next and predict the word that will follow. This is especially fun for primary readers, who are sure to love the sweet and funny story line. I gave this book a 4-star rating because it was fun and easy to read. It would be wonderful to use in the classroom to teach the various elements of poetry.

Shanna Gonzalez

Edward Lear's classic rhyme comes to sparking life in Jan Brett's lively and original interpretation. It opens with a charming scene with Pussycat's parents looking on fondly, while Owl kneels before her, she regarding him with an enigmatic look. The courtship proceeds over glassy seas with idyllic views above and below water, and even children who are romantic nature of the story will wish they could visit "the place where the bong-tree grows."Brett's illustrations are lush, vibrant, and rich in detail, and in keeping with her style, there is a visual sub-plot in the budding romance between the fish held in the bowl between Pussy's paws, and another swimming below the boat. Young children may not ordinarily sit still for this poem, with its archaic language and grown-up theme; but this version makes it easily accessible and eminently enjoyable.


‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ is the much loved children’s classic written by Edward Lear and the version I found in my library contains updated illustrations by Louise Voce. It follows the whimsical journey of the eponymous duo as they set to sea, get engaged and search for a ring.The nonsense poetry has some lovely lines although some of the language has certainly dated and could be considered a tad risqué these days (“Oh lovely pussy” etc) however its main audience is unlikely to be aware of any such double entendtres at their age. The book could be used as an example of rhyming poetry although I do find the rhythm structure of some of the verses to be a little awkward.This version is very well illustrated with the kind of pictures that will draw early years children into the story. There may be an underlying theme of acceptance of differences or it may just be a nonsense story, however I feel it has a lot to offer and I’m sure children will enjoy coming up with their own nonsense stories featuring animals that that would make unlikely friends.


The was one of my favourite stories as a child, as it evokes beautiful images of sailing on the sea in a little boat. The rhythm and metre of the poem is notable, and can be tapped out by the reader. Considered a ‘nonsense poem, some words are inventions of Lear such the adjective ‘runcible’. The illustrations are really lovely, and the title characters are complimenting each other and so devoted that they sail for ‘a year and a day’ to find a ring to get married. They find a ‘piggy wig’ who has a nose ring he will sell, they then find a turkey who will marry them. The characters all wear human clothing and it is very much an anthropomorphic idea. The particularly striking thing about the pictures in the book is how they give the reader a view as a cross-section through the scene (like an aquarium effect) which includes underwater and above-water scenery, giving a view of all the sealife that is rarely seen by us. (1871, 1991)


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!


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;


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!

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