The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Puss in Boots and Other Cat Tales - July 2013

Selected and annotated by Anna Holland

Aesop. The Lion & the Mouse; illus. by Jerry Pinkney. Little, 2009. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
In this award-winning wordless version of a familiar Aesop fable, a small mouse accidentally disturbs a lion’s slumber, and in a rare act of kindness the lion releases his prey. The mouse does not soon forget the big cat’s generosity, so when poachers lay a trap for the lion, the mouse scurries to free the mighty king from the snare.

Heins, Ethel, ad. The Cat and the Cook and Other Fables of Krylov; illus. by Anita Lobel. Greenwillow, 1995. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
Twelve short fables starring several cat characters can be found in this collection of Ivan Krylov’s Russian tales. In “The Kitten and the Starling,” a kitten is taught a lesson she takes to heart, while the cat in “The Cat and the Cook” attempts to teach a furious cook a lesson about words, and the wise cat calls it how he sees it in “The Wolf and the Cat.”

Hodges, Margaret, ad. Dick Whittington and His Cat; illus. by Mélisande Potter. Holiday House, 2006. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
In this rags-to-riches story adapted from a chapbook, Dick Whittington is a lowly commoner with hopes of finding his fortune in London. Set to work in the kitchens of a kindly merchant, Dick suffers an onslaught of abuses ranging from a nasty cook who mistreats him to rats attacking his slumber in the night. Eager to improve his situation, Dick sets out to find himself a cat. The devoted tabby quickly becomes dear to him, but when his employer urges his servants to send something to be traded on a ship sailing to foreign parts, Dick has no more than his beloved cat to offer. 

Huling, Jan. Puss in Cowboy Boots; illus. by Phil Huling. Simon, 2002. 32p. 7-10 yrs.
Charles Perrault’s Puss is transported deep into the wilds of contemporary Texas in this humorous retelling of folklore’s favorite feline. Complete with red snakeskin boots, an oil tycoon, and a darling daughter named Rosie May, Huling doesn’t digress much from the basic structure of the original tale but piles the Texan twang on thick.

Light, Steve, ad. Puss in Boots. Abrams, 2002. 24p. 5-8 yrs.
Perrault’s traditional folktale now comes with a twist: the exceedingly clever feline, Puss, is not a he but a she. This confident heroine dashes to the rescue of her good master, whom she reinvents as the Marquis of Carabas, using her cunning and charm to win the king’s favor, defeat an ogre, and earn herself a pair of boots. A mix of accessible language, humor, and colorful collage illustrations does well to introduce young readers to folklore while simultaneously begging to be used in an art lesson on collage construction.

MacDonald, Margaret Read, ad. Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale; illus. by Julie Paschkis. August House, 2001. 32p. 3-6 yrs.
In this delightfully silly retelling of a Danish folktale by renowned folklorist Margaret Read MacDonald, a large and insatiably hungry cat swallows more than is good for him, including: a washerwoman and her wash basin; a king riding an elephant; and his dear friend Mouse. Luckily, Mouse is a sensible little gal and comes to the rescue with her austere practicality, scissors, and thread.

Mother Goose. Three Little Kittens; illus. by Paul Galdone. Houghton/Clarion, 1986. 31p. 2-4 yrs.
Galdone’s colorful and expressive illustrations add fresh life to an old nursery rhyme in this retelling of three careless kittens. After earning their mother’s disproval for losing their mittens, the three kittens quickly recover their mittens, only to dirty them from eating their pie. Thus begins a successive chorus of mournful and joyous “meow, meow, meows.” Perfect for a group read-aloud.

Perrault, Charles. Puss in Boots; trans. by Malcolm Arthur; illus. by Fred Marcellino. Di Capua/Farrar,1990. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
This Caldecott honor picture book offers a rich delight for the eyes, visually spanning the elaborate French court andpicturesque countryside, and capturing all the drama of the hero, Puss, as he seeks to reverse the fortune of his master the miller’s son. A beautiful edition—from illustrations to typography—of a 300-year fairy tale favorite.

Perrault, Charles. Puss in Boots; illus. and trans. By Marcia Brown. Scribner, 1952. 32p. Gr. 3-5
Brown’s mixed media illustrations make a winsome edition of this fairy tale faithful in its retelling of a classic. In addition to a being a Caldecott honor book, this version sports a highly dashing Puss with red boots, saber, and feathered hat. Though no ogre is actually pictured, the plotline does not stray, and Puss saves the day by once again being a great mouser.

Perrault, Charles. Puss in Boots; ad. and illus. by Lorinda Bryan Cauley. Harcourt, 1986. 29p. K-2 yrs.
Was ever there so clever a cat as Puss in Boots? Adhering closely to the story’s traditional text, Cauley offers a slightly abbreviated telling of a cunning cat whose poverty-stricken master contemplates eating him. Knowing that survival for both rests in his claws, Puss sets out to secure a brilliant fortune for his master using nothing but his wit and a pair of boots.

Perrault, Charles. Puss in Boots; ad. by Lincoln Kirstein; illus. by Alain Vaës. Little, 1992.32p. 4-7 yrs.
This worthy adaptation of Perrault’s classic with swashbuckling glamour and magnificently detailed illustrations embellishes slightly to portray Puss and his master, Robin, as a bit nobler than the original tale. Instead of threatening to turn the farmhands into mincemeat, Puss promises a meal for the hungry workers if they tell the King their fields belong to his master. In addition to the traditionally gallant Puss, this version also includes a magic, wish-fulfilling feather.  

Pinkney, Jerry. Puss in Boots. Dial, 2012. 34 p. 6-9 yrs.
Award-winning author and illustrator Jerry Pinkney reimagines the fairy tale of Puss in Boots with a few original creations. Instead of defeating a terrible ogre, the castle that Puss claims for his master in this version belongs to a rich and evil sorcerer who changes himself into a bear, a deer, and a mouse before Puss pounces and does away with him. Numerous full-page spreads, rich detail, and vibrantly colored illustrations paired with a simplified text will charm readers. 

Pullman, Philip, ad. Puss in Boots: The Adventures of That Most Enterprising Feline; illus. by Ian Beck. Knopf, 2001. 26p. 5-9 yrs.
In this completely fresh version of Puss in Boots, Puss and his master Jacques work as a team. Puss supplies the wit, Jacques the courage. The imaginative Puss devises a plan to secure their fortune and rid the village of their terrible once-sorcerer landlord, Monsieur Ogre. The ogre meanwhile seeks to obtain a wife and has his heart set on the Princess, whom he kidnaps. Puss, seeing an opportunity, volunteers Jacques to embark on a rescue mission whereupon the two encounter a hermit, dream-deprived Ghouls, and of course the nasty ogre himself before concluding happily ever after.  

San Souci, Robert D., ad. The White Cat; illus. by Gennady Spirin. Orchard, 1990. 32p. Gr. 3-5.
This exquisite retelling—derived from an old French fairy tale originally collected by Madame d’Aulnoy—succinctly recounts the story of a young prince’s quest to fulfill the three requests of his father in order to inherit the kingdom: to find the littlest dog, the finest linen, and the most beautiful woman. While on his journey, the prince finds refuge in an enchanting palace ruled by a magnificent White Cat, who supplies the prince with what his father seeks. When an evil wizard threatens the White Cat, the brave prince defends his friend and discovers her true identity.