Hilary Knight's The Owl and the Pussycat

Hilary Knight's The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, based on the poem by Edward Lear.
Macmillan Publishing Company, 1983.

Last week, the Friends of the Wichita Public Library held a book sale. Crossing my fingers, I headed to the main branch downtown on Friday, hoping to find a few treasures. I was quite pleased with my little haul! And here I am, sharing a book from the sale with you today. It is still April, which means it's still National Poetry Month, and it's about time I shared a poetry book again!

"The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear is one of our favorite poems. When Big Sis was very, very small, she made me read the Jan Brett version (board book) to her over and over again. I love collecting different artists' interpretations of the classic nonsense rhyme, and while I'm sorry to see this copy was discarded by a local elementary school, I promise to give this little stray a good home!

Hilary Knight, of course, is best known as the illustrator of Eloise, but he has illustrated a number of other books, too. This one was first published in 1983, and it has that warm 1980s feel to it. Does that make sense? As someone who spent most of her young childhood in that decade, the art is very familiar, even though it's technically new to me. It was last re-issued in 2001, by the way.

It does not open with the poem. Rather, a strange old man is receiving two guests, a little boy and girl, in his wondrous house. Look at the face in the fireplace!

He tells them a story, inspired in part by the marvelous things around them.

And so, the poem begins.

"They danced by the light of the moon."

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  1. Oh my gosh - I LOVE these illustrations. You're right - so '80's! :) I would never have picked up on the Eloise connection - maybe because Hilary Knight's illustrations for that series are all black and white and pink, they look so different?

    1. His Eloise illustrations are so distinctive. His Christmas books, while much earlier than this one, look more like this, I think.

      Isn't that fireplace the greatest? It makes me grin every time I look at it.

  2. oh my golleeeeee! this is amazing! and i've never ever seen it. what a score, what a find! so lucky. i love this poem and i love hilary knight. i adore how fun and detailed the pictures are! finding book treasures is pretty much the best fun there is. :)

    1. The girls' school library has a copy, so I'd seen it before, but never took the time to look at it. :) It's a unique take on it. The way the kids morph into the title characters is pretty cool!


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