Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

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Title: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot


Learn about different kinds of cats and their occupations in verse form!  This is a collection of feline-themed poems which tell readers about the exploits and foibles of Jellicle cats.  One is a magician, one a criminal mastermind, and more.  Whatever their occupation, you’re sure to find a favorite!

My thoughts:

If you are a cat-lover, then you need to read this slim book of poems!  It’s so much fun and really celebrates the quirkiness and idiosyncrasies of our feline friends.  The length is quite short as well, so you shouldn’t have any trouble polishing it off in a day.

I have difficulty choosing a favorite poem because they’re all so good, but I’d have to say that Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer is my all-time fav.  (Actually we named one of our cats Rumpelteazer.)  Rum Tum Tugger comes in a close second.  Hubby says he prefers Skimbleshanks.  My son loves Mr. Mistoffelees.  When he was younger he watched Cats all the time and when it got to the end of that song, he’d take a flying leap off the couch.  He was also scared of Macavity, but don’t tell him I told you so.

The musical Cats (which I absolutely love) is based on this book.  If you’re familiar with the songs from Cats, it will be very difficult to read the book without starting to sing the words.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.  Even if you do try to sing through the book, you’ll get muddled up because it’s not copied verbatim.

Throughout the book there are playful and whimsical drawings by Edward Gorey.  They’re somewhat simple, but very well done and really show the character of the various cats.

If it weren’t for the racial comments against the Chinese, this book would have gotten a 5-star rating.  It’s too bad that stuff has to be in there.

I recommend Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats to anybody who loves cats.  Because of the few racial comments, I don’t recommend it for young children, but it could work as a family read-aloud (with the offensive bits left out, of course).

Possible Objections:

  • A racial epithet against the Chinese & a couple of verses that talk about the “Heathen Chinese”

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…





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