Book: The Owl and the Pussycat

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The Owl and the Pussycat

Author: Edward Lear, James Marshall
Publisher: HarperCollins

The Owl and the Pussycat of Lear’s ballad are truly made for each other, as depicted by James Marshall in these poignant, slaphappy illustrations. Only Marshall could have shown us the Owl serenading the pampered Pussycat on the deck of the S.S. Dorabella, or the Pussycat posing for travel photographs, or the happy couple’s goofy wedding dance “by the light of the moon.”

Here is a final gift from this greatly beloved creator of children’s books.


“The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea / In a beautiful pea-green boat. / They took some honey, and plenty of money, / Wrapped up in a five-pound note.” The Owl and the Pussycat make quite a couple. On the decks of the pea-green S.S. Dorabella, the lovesick, bulgy-eyed Owl serenades his jowly feline sweetheart, inspiring her to grab him, dip him, and propose (demand?) marriage. They sail to an island, where they persuade the Piggywig to sell them the ring at the end of his nose to use as a wedding ring, are married by a turkey who lives on a hill, and then dance by the light of the moon. James Marshall—beloved creator of the unforgettable hippos George and Martha—graces Edward Lear’s classic nonsense poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” with his winsome, goofy watercolor sketches in the final work before his death in 1992. As his dear friend Maurice Sendak writes in the afterword of this historic book, “There was never such an Owl and Pussycat, certainly not since Edward Lear, and for my money James surpasses Lear’s original pictures in sheer giddy humor and heartfeltness.” This is the kind of book that adults wish they had grown up with, and that children will remember their whole lives. (All ages) —Karin Snelson

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