Sunday, January 11, 2015

Millions of Cats (1928)

Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

Once upon a time there was a very old man and a very old woman. They lived in a nice clean house which had flowers all around it, except where the door was. But they couldn't be happy because they were so very lonely. 
"If we only had a cat!" sighed the very old woman. "A cat?" asked the very old man. "Yes, a sweet little fluffy cat," said the very old woman. "I will get you a cat, my dear," said the very old man.
And he set out over the hills to look for one. 

Millions of Cats is a Newbery Honor book from 1929.

Premise/Plot: A very old man and a very old woman long for a cat. The husband goes on a quest to bring back a "sweet little fluffy cat" to please them both. Is his quest successful? Yes. A little too successful. For in fact he finds
Cats here, cats there,
Cats and kittens everywhere,
Hundreds of cats,
Thousands of cats,
Millions and billions and trillions of cats.
How is he ever to choose just ONE cat from so many?! Especially since as he picks up or pets each one he sees, he finds it to be the prettiest cat. He can't bring himself to leave any of the cats behind. But it isn't practical to bring home hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, and trillions of cats. You can probably guess what his wife's response will be! Surely, they can't keep them all. For better or worse, he lets the cats decide amongst themselves. One scrawny cat remains, but, it may be the best one of all.

My thoughts: I loved this one growing up. I loved the repetition. I thought it was a fun story. I didn't--at the time--take the man's conclusion that the trillions of cats ate each other up literally. Is the book violent? Perhaps. Perhaps not. See for yourself.  "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. They did not like such quarreling." This one might pair well with Eugene Field's "The Duel." (The gingham dog and the calico cat).

Have you read Millions of Cats? Did you like it? love it? hate it?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

JaneGS 2:12 PM  

I read this numerous times as a child, and got a copy for my kids. I always thought it pretty weird, in a Bros Grimm sort of way, but that never diminished my pleasure in it. I see it more as allegorical than literal myself. :)

Sherry 11:32 AM  

I love Wanda Gag's cat book, and I've spent many minutes wondering just how those cats could possibly have rate each other all up, leaving only the scrawny little cat in hiding. Surely the lone survivor didn't eat up any of the others, so how could it be so? 'Tis a puzzlement.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word 9:32 PM  

Two things:
1.) I reviewed this one (long ago) but had forgotten it: http://hopeisthewordblog.com/2009/02/13/fridays-vintage-findsthe-abc-bunny-and-millions-of-cats-by-wanda-gag/
2.) my girls are currently memorizing @The Duel"

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