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Children's Nonfiction General

Owl and the Pussycat, The

by (author) Edward Lear

illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2007
Recommended Age
10 to 14
Recommended Grade
5 to 9
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2007
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Visions in Poetry is an innovative and award-winning series of classic poems re-interpreted for today's readers by outstanding contemporary artists in distinctively beautiful editions.

The sixth Visions in Poetry book is The Owl and the Pussycat, a nonsense poem by Edward Lear, brilliantly illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch. The artist's vision begins in a segregated world where different species never mix and everyone hides behind a mask. Against this backdrop an aristocratic owl from Owl Heights and a bohemian pussycat from the other side of the tracks find each other.

They escape society's disapproval by sailing in their pea green boat to “the land where the bong-tree grows,” a utopia of mismatched creatures living together, their masks doffed for good. Jorisch's playful and fantastic interpretation, inspired in part by Lear's own illustrations as well as the films of Fellini, the art of Miro and The Beatles' Yellow Submarine, is a celebration of love and an exhilarating journey that takes us beyond the quirky charm of this favorite poem.

About the authors

Edward Lear (1812-1888) was an artist and poet known primarily for his nonsensical poetry and his limericks, a form he popularized. As an artist, he is known mainly for his landscapes of Italy, Greece, Egypt, the Holy Land and India, and as a watercolorist. Lear gave drawing lessons to Queen Victoria.

Edward Lear's profile page

Stéphane Jorisch is one of Canada's most celebrated illustrators. He is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Award for Children’s Illustration for Jabberwocky and The Owl and The Pussycat. He grew up in Montréal, Quebec, where he now lives with his family.


Stéphane Jorisch's profile page


  • Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award, children's illustration, Canada Council for the Arts
  • Winner, Parents' Choice Award

Librarian Reviews

The Owl and the Pussycat

Once again the Kids Can Press Visions in Poetry series offers a stunning book. First published in 1871, “The Owl and the Pussycat” is one of Edward Lear’s most famous nonsense poems. It is a charming tale of love between two anthropomorphized animals: an owl and a cat. The poem features fantastical creatures such as a “piggy wig,” and madeup objects such as the “runcible spoon.” Such creations are ripe for imaginative interpretations and the poem has indeed been illustrated, animated and set to music many different times.

No interpretation I have seen is quite as remarkable as this one, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch. Jorisch is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration and his previous books include Jabberwocky, the first book in the Visions in Poetry series. In pencil, ink and watercolor, with a fine-line style reminiscent of surrealists such as Miro, Jorisch’s illustrations for The Owl and the Pussycat tell the tale of two creatures not only divided by physical differences, but also social differences. This back-story, told in wordless spreads, shows the wealthy owl and his high-ranking family disapproving of the middle-class cat. The solution to their dilemma? Escaping to a utopia across the sea where all strange couples are happily in love, including narwhales and unicorns and mermaids and centaurs. It is the perfect place for two creatures divided by physical and socio-economic differences to marry in peace and dance in the light of the moon.

Jorisch’s vision of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat takes a charmingly absurd poem usually read to younger children and creates a thought-provoking book about acceptance that will resonate with older audiences. It is a must-have for all ages.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2008. Vol.31 No.1.

The Owl and the Pussycat (Visions in Poetry)

Edward Lear’s poem is brought to life with Stéphane Jorisch’s pencil, ink and watercolour illustrations. In a world where everyone hides behind masks, an aristocratic owl and a bohemian cat find each other. Contains bios of Lear and Jorisch.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.

Other titles by Edward Lear

Other titles by Stéphane Jorisch