Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
James Marshall's pics, not Jan Brett's!
on September 24, 2008
First of all, Amazon.com seems to have screwed up somehow and most of the reviews here are for "The Owl and the Pussycat" illustrated by Jan Brett which transfers this classic tale into a Caribbean setting bursting with colors. I collect versions of this poem so I have that book too and it is truly beautiful. But the one on this page was illustrated by James Marshall and according to the afterword by Maurice Sendak, this was some of his last work before his death. So please don't buy this one based on the reviews, this is not the Jan Brett book.
The pictures of this book are faithful enough to the story and whimsical, done in a little more cartoonish style than Jan Brett's realistic ones. They are full of subtle deadpan humor, especially if you look close enough and read between the lines. For example, what disturbs me greatly, the Pussycat changes colors in this book!!! First she is gray with stripes, then orange with stripes, then grey again, and once the Owl sings to a small guitar she turns white and remains white throughout the rest of the book. What is this??? Is this supposed to imply that the Owl ditched the original Cat for some other kitty while on board the beautiful pea green boat (which is a ship reminiscent of the Titanic, by the way)? Also, the Pussycat looks like a Tomcat in drag. Is this a deliberate allusion to Some Like It Hot? No wonder the Owl looks a little apprehensive in most pictures, rolling his eyes and probably thinking of ways to get out of this stew.
The poem, of course, is a classic... and the reason why I collect these books.