The Owl and the Pussycat and Other Nonsense

The Owl and the Pussycat and Other Nonsense

by Edward Lear, Lorinda Bryan Cauley

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Lear's nonsense classic about the unlikely romance between a pussycat and an owl. "Galdone uses his imagination to extend Lear's ideas, creating a memorable version suitable for the youngest." — Kirkus Reviews


Lear's nonsense classic about the unlikely romance between a pussycat and an owl. "Galdone uses his imagination to extend Lear's ideas, creating a memorable version suitable for the youngest." — Kirkus Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
Lear's pea-green boat sails again, this time with the inimitable James Marshall at the helm. Envisioned as the S.S. Dorabella, this cruise ship will escort the Owl and his fianc‚e, the profoundly clothes-conscious Pussycat, from Pier 23, laden with suitcases marked for ports of call around the world. On calm seas, tuxedoed Owl serenades the flapper-inspired Pussycat seated in her deck chair; in rougher waters, Owl braves the weather to photograph his windblown beloved. Owl and Pussycat join the legion of goofy original Marshall creations: in their grass skirts and leis, the exaggerated portly twosome (he with his signature wide-owl eyes; she with coy looks and rouge-dotted cheeks) highstep it by the light of the moon. At his wacky best, watercolorist Marshall limns a huge priestly turkey, all seriousness with his pince-nez glasses and preposterous wattle; outfitted with a regal purple headdress and matching scarf, the extravagant turkey marries the dapper couple. Lear's famous poem, here calligraphed in white and black crayon, receives an irreverent, gently playful rendition. In a deeply personal afterword, dear friend Maurice Sendak pays homage to Marshall, who shared with him the "sketches" that became Marshall's final largess to his devoted following. Sendak is exactly right when he pronounces that, with this last book, Marshall's "charming slap-happiness [is] now wed to an odd poignancy that conjure[s] a sweet new essence."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hague gives free rein to dark whimsy in this eclectic sampling of Lear's verse, which includes such favorites as the title poem as well as "The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo," "The Cummerbund" and a host of limericks. Lear's menagerie of odd creatures and peculiar persons (e.g., the "Young Lady whose eyes/ Were unique as to color and size") provide rich material for Hague to work with, and he exploits it with robust comic grotesqueries. Saturated earth tones mix with fiery flashes of red and orange in a combination that's instantly identifiable as pure Hague, as is the profusion of detail. Ending, tongue firmly in cheek, with the limerick "There Was an Old Man of the Hague," the artist includes what just might be a sly self-portrait. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-With this collection of 24 limericks and poems, Hague joins scores of other illustrators who have interpreted the poet's comic vision. Unfortunately, his busy and carefully autographed paintings, whose dark tones and stylized people and landscapes echo the styles of illustrators like N. C. Wyeth and Arthur Rackham, seem too ponderous for Lear's dancing rhymes. The illustration for "There Was a Young Lady whose Eyes" is more grotesque than funny; the image of a young boy wrapped in a turban that accompanies "The Cummerbund" evokes racial stereotypes. These poems and limericks cry for the light touch of someone like Fred Marcellino (The Pelican Chorus and Other Nonsense [HarperCollins, 1995]).Kathleen Whalin, Greenwich Country Day School, CT
Carolyn Phelan
Illustrated in full color, this poetry collection includes 18 examples of nonsense verse by two masters of the form, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Carroll's poems include selections from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass", such as "Jabberwocky," "The Walrus and the Carpenter," and "The Mock Turtle's Song," while Lear's famous Quangle Wangle, Jumblies, Dong, and Pobble make their expected appearances, along with the owl and the pussycat and some less familiar characters. The combination of writers works very well, though the illustrations won't please everyone. Aside from the vexing question of whether these poems should be illustrated at all--the artist's vision of the Jabberwock "will" preempt the child's imagining his or her own Jabberwock--the superreal, occasionally surrealistic, mannered style of Palin's full-color artwork, however deftly drawn, tends to overwhelm the verse. Larger libraries may want this on hand for those who like their nonsense illustrated and their illustrations polished.
Shelley Townsend-Hudson
Hague offers an assortment of selections from Edward Lear's immortal compendium of nonsense, still as absurd and extravagant as ever. Among the poems are "The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo," "Calico Pie," and "The Duck and the Kangaroo," as well as a generous sampling of limericks. The task of illustrating Lear's poems would be daunting for any artist thanks to Lear's own inimitable sketches, but Hague's quaintly antiquated style fills the bill, and his trademark use of lavishly dark and murky colors, which can easily overwhelm certain subjects, is well matched to the words here. Hague plays off the sensual and grotesque elements of the poetry and uses rich texture and imagination to extend the text's foolishness. This is a worthy collection, as zany today as it was when Victorian critic John Ruskin first included it in his list of the best hundred books ever written.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Poetry Pop-up Bk.
Product dimensions:
9.78(w) x 8.82(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range:
4 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Edward Lear, artist, illustrator, and poet, wrote nonsensical stories and popularized the limerick with works such as "The Owl and the Pussycat" and "A Book of Nonsense". His work has influenced children's poetry from Dr. Seuss to Jack Prelutsky and delighted children and adults for ages.

Michael Hague is renowned as the illustrator of many children's classics, including editions of "The Wizard Of Oz", "Peter Pan", "The Hobbit", and "The Velveteen Rabbit", as well as "The Book Of Dragons" and "The Book Of Pirates". He lives with his wife, Kathleen, a frequent collaborator, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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