Millions of Cats

Millions of Cats

by Wanda Gág

New York: Coward-McCann, 1928

30 pp.

Age: 3+

Interests: folktales, cats

An old man and woman decide they’d like a cat for a pet, so the man sets out to find one. After walking many miles he comes across a hill covered in cats.

Cats here, cats there,

Cats and kittens everywhere,

Hundreds of cats,

Thousands of cats,

Millions and billions and trillions of cats.

He decides to pick the prettiest one, but each one is so nice in its own way, that in the end he takes them all home. His wife objects, naturally. All those cats will eat them out of house and home! They decide to let the cats decide which one is the prettiest. Every cat believes itself to be the most beautiful. They begin to quarrel.

They bit and scratched and clawed each other and made such a great noise that the very old man and the very old woman ran into the house as fast as they could.

When the noise dies down they look out to see – no cats at all. They decide the cats must have eaten each other up, but they find one thin and scraggly kitten. When the cats fought over who was the most beautiful, the kitten just stayed out of it and that’s how she survived. After a bath and a comb, however, and after being fed and fattened up a bit, the old man and woman decide she truly is the most beautiful cat of all.

(In case you’re wondering, there is no evidence on the page of feline carnage – they have all simply disappeared when the old man and woman exit the house.)

The oldest American picture book still in print, this truly is a classic, carefully hand-lettered, with charming black and white drawings. The illustrations were ground-breaking as Gág pioneered the use of the double page spread, thus avoiding the usual ‘boxy’ look of picture books. Illustrations and text work smoothly together to move the story forward – this is a true pleasure to read aloud. The words have a repetitive, rolling rhythm, just as the pictures roll across the pages and the old man walks over hill and dale.

An extremely well-crafted, well-designed, funny, and tremendously satisfying tale.

(This title on amazon.)

 

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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