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


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.


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.

Amethyst Travis

A childhood classic

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!


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!


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.

Sarah Sophia

Not enough can be said about this book. I know I asked my mother and father to read it to me a hundred times as a child, and read it that many more. A timeless poem of nonesense verse set to beautiful pictures.A lulling and sweet tale of love rolls off the tongue with ease - no trips or stumbles so you and your little one can relax into the evening.Boys and girls will love the story, moms and dads will appreciate it's brevity and the easy cadence.


Cole brought this book home to show me. This version has the most amazing illustrations. I forgot how thought provoking a children's book can be. We were trying to figure out why the owl and the pussycat wear masks when they are in public and why the other animals in the book wear masks when they are around others of their species. Alone, the owl and the pussycat remove their masks. I want to know if there's a deeper meaning beyond the obvious.You also have to love the fact that when the owl and the pussycat get married in this book, the officiant is holding a big edition of Darwin's The Origin of Species.

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.


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.


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.

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.


I had never read this book before we read it to my son. It is an odd book.Owls and pussycats together, in love and taking to water in a boat. Then there is this stanza:"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,What a beautiful Pussy you are,You are,You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!"And then,"They sailed away, for a year and a day,To the land where the bong-tree grows..."where one expects they may meet Cheech and Chong, but no,"...there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,With a ring at the end of his nose..."whatever a Piggy-wig is.Edward Lear makes Lewis Carroll look straight edge. I'm not sure this should be read to 16 month olds.


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.


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.

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