Cover image for The nine lives of Aristotle
The nine lives of Aristotle
King-Smith, Dick.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
75 pages : color illustrations ; 20 cm
Aristotle, a little white kitten, goes to live with a witch in an old cottage, where he finds so many opportunities for risky adventures that he soon has only one life left.
Reading Level:
AD 1160 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.9 1.0 72217.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.9 4 Quiz: 36098 Guided reading level: U.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Easy Fiction
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Dick King-Smith's mischievous narrative and Bob Graham's sweet, humorous watercolors capture the first eight lives of a kitten who's ready to scamper his way into hearts everywhere.

Aristotle the kitten is so adventurous that it's a good thing cats have nine lives. What's even better is that Aristotle has found the kind witch Bella Donna to be his owner. Somehow she is always there when he gets into trouble, whether tumbling down the chimney, tipping over a giant milk jug, or tearing away from a snarling watchdog - just as a truck comes areening by. Is it luck? Or maybe a little bit of magic?

Author Notes

Dick King-Smith was born on March 27, 1922 in Bitten, Gloucestershire, England. Before becoming a full-time author, he was a farmer and a schoolteacher. He served in the Grenadier Guards during World War II and attended Marlborough College in Wiltshire.

He has written over 100 children's books including The Fox Busters, The Hodgeheg, and The Sheep Pig (aka Babe-The Gallant Pig), which was adapted as the 1995 film Babe. The 1995 TV miniseries The Queen's Nose was also based in one of his books. He was voted Children's Author of the Year at the 1991 British Book Awards. He died on January 4, 2011 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1-4. In King-Smith's latest, Aristotle, an adventurous white kitten, is adopted by Bella Donna, an old lady who wears black clothes, a pointy black hat, and mixes potions in her cauldron. Within days of his arrival, the mischievous feline falls through the chimney, nearly drowns in a jug of milk, plunges out of a tree into a swiftly flowing stream, narrowly escapes being flattened by a freight train, is mauled and chased by a vicious dog, and, finally, is nearly crushed by a delivery truck. In each case, his kindly owner rescues him, lovingly admonishing him to be more careful in the future. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations adorn nearly every page, adding humorous details to the droll text. Bella Donna's hearth, for example, is decorated with an eclectic mix of items, ranging from herbs and bats to an ironing board. Aristotle's adventures may be harrowing, but it's always clear from Graham's gentle artwork and King-Smith's understated text that this pet is in safe hands. A good bet for reading aloud or alone, this will be popular with cat lovers everywhere. --Kay Weisman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

King-Smith (Lady Lollipop) serves up an engaging, light-as-meringue tale of a kitten who goes to live with a kindly witch. "I ought to have a black cat, but it'll be a nice change to have a white one," muses the pointy-hatted, broom-riding Bella Donna, who names her little charge Aristotle and brings him to her thatched cottage in the wood. The curious cat promptly climbs up on the roof and tumbles down the chimney, losing the first of his nine lives. The countdown continues as he traps himself in a milk pitcher, falls from a tree and has run-ins with a train, a neighbor's dog, etc. Readers will intuit, from the capacious, old-fashioned tone of the storytelling, that Aristotle will somehow reach contented old age; the charms here have little to do with suspense and everything to do with the confident prose ("When Aristotle was a kitten, he did not know that cats have nine lives. His mother knew, of course. But I'm not going to tell him, she thought. He's already a rascal... and if he knows that he has nine lives to play with, he'll take all sorts of risks"). Graham (Max; Benny) contributes puckish ink-and-watercolor illustrations in a muted palette; these rhythmically break up the text and add to the appeal created by the trim size, which is just slightly wider than a standard novel or chapter book. Ages 6-9. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-Life in a witch's cottage can be dangerous, especially for an adventurous and accident-prone kitten. On his very first day in residence, Aristotle climbs to the roof and falls down the chimney. Bella Donna cautions him that he has just used up the first of his allotted nine lives, but the warning has little effect. That afternoon, he overturns a full milk jug and is trapped beneath it, squandering his second life. The incorrigible cat encounters one dire peril after another-rushing water, racing trains, angry dogs-until a terrifying near collision with a speeding truck leaves him with only a single life remaining. The repentant and reformed feline decides to settle down and keep that one as long as possible. The book ends with a gentle, almost meditative account of the death of Aristotle's canine nemesis and the cat's long, productive, and peaceful ninth life as a proper witch's familiar. This tone shift is a bit abrupt after the earlier nonstop action, but readers will be satisfied and relieved by Aristotle's success. With winsome watercolor-and-ink illustrations, this short, lighthearted fantasy will appeal to beginning chapter-book readers.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.