Thursday, March 27, 2008

Millions of Cats

Millions of Cats
Wanda Gág
Coward-McCann, 1928

Even though I would consider this a 101 no-brainer, it's been on the front burner of late in my house, so I thought I'd give it a shout out. Supposedly it is the oldest American picture book still in print, but hey, you never know... somebody might be out there who hasn't fallen in love with it yet. (Though I seriously doubt it.) A lively and evergreen tale, but cat lovers beware... the content may be too gruesome to bear for those with a feline fetish.

So there's this old couple, see, and they live alone on this isolated farm in the middle of nowheres. One day when the wife decides she might like to have a cat to keep her company, the man sets out on a quest to find the perfect one. Said quest takes him to a hillside "quite covered with cats".

Cats here, cats there,
Cats and kittens everywhere,
Hundreds of cats,
Thousands of cats,
Millions and billions and trillions of cats.

Unable to decide on which is the most beautiful, he takes the whole lot of them, and I do mean the WHOLE lot. When he returns home (with what I imagine is a toxic waste dump waiting to happen), the wife announces they can only keep one. The twist? They let the cats decide who is the most beautiful to keep. Thus erupting one enormous cat fight -- right to the bitter end when one lone cat is left standing... leaving us to wonder, where are the rest of the cats? Did that scrawny scrapper eat them all? Ah yes, one of the great mysteries of children's literature. My son, of course, loves this one because there are cats, but even better... cats fighting, the ultimate combo of awesomeness!

I just realized the cats in this book have a vague resemblance to the cats in the new book by my FAVORITE contemporary children's book author, Eric Rohmann. Honestly, I know this blog is about vintage books, but I can't say enough good stuff about this guy. My Friend Rabbit is my son's all time favorite book EVER, and the Cinder-Eyed Cats is not far behind. Both of these books are a MUST for your kid's book shelf (too Clara and Asha, Time Flies, etc.) A few years back I wrote a fan letter to Mr. Rohmann on behalf of my son and got back the sweetest package imaginable from the man... he is truly a gem and his books couldn't be more special and sweet and lovely and fun. PLEASE CHECK HIM OUT!

Also by:
The Funny Thing
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Nothing At All


LaurieA-B said...

I love this book, and I love that my daughter's grandparents read it when they were small. Another "still in print" we enjoy is Caps for Sale, which was published in 1940.

Burgin Streetman said...

i did a write up on the sequel here...

i try and stay away from books that are too famous, but obviously I will get to them sooner or later... eventually I'm sure I'll run out of books to write about!

thanks for reading.... i love your web site by the way...

Anonymous said...

just seeing the picture of the cover of this book brings me back to being a little girl in the library.. i absolutely love this book.. i can't wait to have kids just so i can read it to them :)

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of this story! I just found it as I was looking for a book for my Childrens Lit class! I just love it!

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