Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Owl and the Pussycat

Lear, Edward (Author)
Jorisch, Stéphane (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2007. 48 pages
First published: 1871
Series: Visions in Poetry
ISBN: 9781554532322 (paperback)
9781553378280 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 821
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Poetry

Text Elements:

character, figurative language, point of view, recurring patterns

Award

Governor General’s Literary Award – 2008

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Edward Lear’s beloved romantic poem describes an anthropomorphized couple who elope and escape to a seaside utopia where they “dined on mince, and slices of quince,” and find true freedom and happiness.

Whimsical, richly detailed fine-line illustrations, rendered in pencil, ink and watercolour and modified digitally, are inspired by Lear’s original drawings, as well as a variety of other artists, including Fellini, Miro and The Beatles.

Featuring fantastic creatures such as a “piggy-wig” and unusual objects such as the “runcible spoon,” there is plenty of inspiration for art activities based on imaginary worlds.

A wordless spread at the beginning cleverly indicates the different backgrounds of the characters and explains the motivation for their elopement. The illustrations, which extend the poem far beyond the nonsense text, can launch thought-provoking discussion about acceptance and differences.

First published in 1871 and now updated for the Visions in Poetry series, this poem will still resonate with a contemporary audience more than a century after the original appeared.

  •  

    Read more from Lear who was renowned for his nonsense poetry and limericks. What is it about his poems that engages you? Write your own nonsense poem or limerick and read it aloud to the class.

  •  

    Lear may have been inspired to write this poem by one of his jobs. Which topics inspire you? Write a story about two animals (predator and prey) who forge an unlikely alliance.

  •  

    Why was the cat wearing a mask? Why did they go to sea, and where did they end up? Write a brief summary of the poem.

  •  

    In the illustrations, find symbolic references to class, interracial marriage, disapproval, acceptance and freedom (to name a few). Discuss how the Owl and the Pussycat overcame some of these obstacles. How do the illustrations help you understand the poem’s message?

  •  

    Note the titles and illustrations in a picture walk. Predict what the story will be about.

  •  

    Write a love letter from one of the main characters to the other. What would the Owl or the Pussycat say? Research different types of headings and closings for a letter or a card. Choose the most appropriate ones for your letter.

  •  

    At the end of the book, there are illustrations of mermaids, unicorns, minotaurs and other mixed animals. What might the Owl and the Pussycat’s baby look like, if they were to have one? Draw its picture and include a written description, using appropriate animal-parts vocabulary.

  •  

    The Owl and the Pussycat want to take another trip. Where could they go? What might they do? Who might they meet? Discuss different possibilities. Working with a partner, create another version of the poem in the same style.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Drama
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Visual Arts