The Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edward Lear and The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Charlotte Voake


Julia Donaldson is a brilliant British children's book author who has made her mark in the US with books like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. Donaldson writes with a sense of humor and creativity that pairs perfectly with her masterful gift for telling a story in rhyme, making her the ideal choice for carrying on the further adventures of Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussy-cat with the marvelous Charlotte Voake illustrating.


Edward Lear's story, first published in 1871, reads a bit like an acid trip, what with the bong trees, the mince and the quince and the turkey wedding officiant. Voake plays with these oddities, inhabiting the island that the Owl and the Pussycat sail to with little green and brown folk and a distinct colonial air.  Her style is loose and and fluid, much like Lear's rhymes. The Owl and the Pussy-cat with illustrations by Charlotte Voake is a wonderful way to introduce children to this very famous, very fun lyrical rhyme about a two animals in love.


In an interview Julia Donaldson spoke of the sweet childhood connection between her grandmother, her namesake, and the poetry of Edward Lear. Donaldson was inspired to write The Further Adventures of The Owl and the Pussy-cat when a, 

mysterious parcel in the post [arrived] one day, and on opening it discovered a box labelled from the land of the bong-tree. Inside were a jar of honey, a jar of quince, a runcible spoon (it was more like a fork, actually), a fake £5 note, a brass ring and the complete works of Edward Lear - a modern edition of the same book my grandmother had read to me as a child.

Right away, she began imagining what happened next to the Owl and the Pussy-cat. And, with her childhood experience with the works of Edward Lear, Donaldson decided to incorporate characters and creations from his other works into this new tale.

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat begins with the pair in a tree, sleeping and dreaming of mice. A crow steals the beautiful ring (bought from a wild pig in the original poem) that is tied to the Pussy-cat's tail and flies off. The pair are heartbroken upon discovering this and they decide to go off in search of the thief. Donaldson matches Lear's rhyme scheme and style and somehow, her story feels a bit richer and more complete. They land at the Chankly Bore where they find the crow-thief who tells them he sold their ring to the, "Pobble who has no toes." The pair figure out a way to get their ring back from the Pobble and they return to the land where the Bong-tree grows where a celebratory feast is enjoyed by all. Donaldson and Voake present a charming, slightly silly story that is fantastically fun to read out loud and the ideal continuation of Edward Lear's famous poem. Children love rhymes and stories, and Lear and Donaldson's books are both and equally unforgettable.

Source: Review Copies

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