The Owl and the Pussycat

Today I’m going to put up a very short post because I’m leaving town shortly.  (I know.  We travel too much.  Believe me, I hate travelling, so I’m very much aware that we need to cut down on it.)  I’m going away for a wedding, which means I’ll be extremely busy (and probably extremely uncomfortable) and may not even be able to post on the Monday we come back, so… this will have to make do for a little while.

It’s a travelling book, but it’s my dream travelling.  The travelling I wish I were doing, not the travelling I am doing.  When we travel, we rush and bustle to the airport, stand in long lines, and finally cram into a metal tube to hurtle through the air as quickly as possible to the other side of the state, country, continent, world– someplace definite and distant.

When The Owl and the Pussycat (here illustrated by Jan Brett) travel, they swing themselves into a pea green boat and sail away for a year and a day, dawdling and dallying over blue waters with, in Jan Brett’s version, fish swirling beneath them and a warm sun above them.

Owl and the Pussycat.jpg

There’s no fear of being told that a fish in a bowl of water might be a dangerous explosive and have to be left behind, no.  There’s no worry about whether “plenty of honey” is considered more than 3 oz of liquid or gel.  All there is is time with a loved one, sailing away at leisure.

A note here about my prejudices and their defeat: I am normally a purist when it comes to illustrations.  I love Edward Lear’s, in particular, and was deeply skeptical of any other illustrator tackling his poem when I felt he’d already made his vision very clear.  (My skepticism was bolstered by having seen some painfully bad illustrations of Lear’s work by others, but we won’t go into that.)  But then my sister told me about this one, and I looked at some of the illustrations online.  I loved them.  She proposed getting it for the Changeling for her birthday.  I agreed enthusiastically.  I just got the book (yes, I looked at my daughter’s birthday present, but don’t worry, I’ll wrap it for her!), and it’s even more beautiful than I’d imagined.

The thing about Lear’s drawings is that they support the nonsense in his verse.  They’re glorious little serious caricatures, and they’re sensible nonsense, just like his verses.  Jan Brett, however, doesn’t try to do what she knows Edward Lear already did perfectly.  She tells the story, and loads it with glorious pictorial detail.  It’s lush, it’s colourful, it’s a beautiful nonsensical love story in her hands, and I’m in love.  Purist though I am, I think everyone should have this version to read with little ones who aren’t quite ready for Edward Lear’s illustrations yet.  (Because I have to admit that his illustrations are a bit sparse for toddlers.)

So, that’s my mini-post for today.  There may be another mini-post on Monday, or you may see me again on Wednesday.  Either way, I wish you a weekend of glorious nonsense!

2 thoughts on “The Owl and the Pussycat

  1. Looks gorgeous! And as it happens, tomorrow I will be a block away from Books of Wonder. Where I found Dragons Love Tacos.


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