Cover image for The owl and the pussycat
The owl and the pussycat
Lear, Edward, 1812-1888.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Putnam, [1991]

After a courtship voyage of a year and a day, Owl and Pussy finally buy a ring from Piggy and are blissfully married.
Reading Level:
AD 230 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.5 0.5 5531.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.5 1 Quiz: 16064 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Kenmore Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Owl sets out to woo Pussycat in a boat laden with fruit from their Caribbean island and with a guitar at his side, ready for serenading.

As they sail off across the sea, another story unfolds in the water beneath the boat. One by one, exotic sea creatures swim into the picture and a small yellow fish seems to be looking for someone.

Jan Brett brings the magic of the Caribbean to her exquisitely detailed illustrations of Edward Lear's charming poem.

From the Board edition.

Author Notes

Edward Lear was born in Holloway, England, to Jeremiah (a stockbroker) and Ann Lear, tutored at home by his sister, and briefly attended the Royal Academy schools. Both an author and an illustrator, he earned his living as an artist from the age of 15, mainly by doing landscapes. What he is remembered for is his nonsense books, especially his popularization of the limerick. Along with Lewis Carroll, he is considered to be the founder of nonsense poetry.

In addition to his limericks, he created longer nonsense poems. The best---and best known---is The Jumblies, in which the title characters go to sea in a sieve; it is a brilliant, profound, silly, and sad expression of the need to leave the security of the known world and experience the wonder and danger of the unknown. His other most notable work is The Owl and the Pussy Cat, a less complex poem whose title characters also go to sea. Lear produced humorous alphabets and botany books as well.

His wordplay, involving puns, neologisms, portmanteau words, and anticlimax, retains its vitality today and has influenced such contemporary writers of children's nonsense verse as Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, and Laura Richards

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 2-6. Brett sets Lear's beloved poem of courtly nonsense in a lush, brilliantly lit Caribbean landscape. True to the poem, her gorgeously colored double-page spreads combine deadpan realism with the wildest flights of fancy and a mocking undercurrent in setting and character. The owl is indeed "an elegant fowl," mature and dignified; the "beautiful pussy" is a demure, respectable cat costumed in a frilly white blouse and swirling skirt. But there's much more going on as they sail away while music and moonlight work their magic. Children will love the slapstick when enigmatic Pussy loses her cool, lunges toward Owl, tips the boat, and lands him in the water. The whole heaving underwater world takes up more of some pictures than the main action; and in a final satisfying parallel to the marriage, the cat's pet goldfish jumps out of its bowl and finds love and freedom in the ocean. The pig who provides the ring is a slightly sleazy beachcomber in flip-flops; and the turkey who marries the happy couple is a swollen colonial in starched whites and a monocle. The endpapers tell more, and the text is always bordered with luxuriant tropical flowers above and seashells and coral below. There have been several other interesting versions of this poem illustrated by such well-known artists as Hilary Knight, Paul Galdone, and Lorinda Bryan Cauley. Brett's interpretation most resembles Janet Steven's [BKL My 1 83], both in its tropical setting and in its romantic feeling. Brett's book, though, is far more colorful and intricately designed. Here, the land where the bong tree grows looks like the set for an operetta in paradise. ~--Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Following her recent paeans to winter ( The Mitten ; The Wild Christmas Reindeer ), Brett irradiates her interpretation of the classic Lear nonsense verse with hues of tropical intensity. As the Owl and the Pussycat, both attired in madras plaids, set out from a Caribbean locale on their romantic voyage, Brett launches a series of lush seascapes, the colors for which might well have been inspired by exotic jungle birds. The artist's celebrated borders are almost fully integrated into the illustrations--there are no vertical borders, and each spread is divided into horizontal zones. The thin uppermost layer evokes Caribbean basketry or similar elements that impart an architectural weight, as if the story were being viewed from a window; the bottom zone reveals the action below sea-level, where a golden fish, emulating the Owl, wordlessly seeks its true love. Brett's customary attention to detail results in an extravagantly gorgeous book. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-- To the words of one of Lear's favorite poems, a dapper owl clad in jeans and a matching shirt courts a demure cat in the waters off a Caribbean island. Awash with color and activity above and below the sea, Brett's illustrations show the determined efforts of the owl, the precarious nature of a courtship at sea, and the lush flora of the island paradise. Shells, sand, and love-struck fish, as well as the little boat Promise , are set against emerald greens and midnight blues to create a fresh version of an old story that's filled with intricate details and touches of humor. A hoot and a howl that's sure to make a big splash with young romantics.-- Trev Jones, School Lib. Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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