Age Range: 3 to 7
The Story: The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat… so begins one of the most treasured classic children’s poems in the English language. Their voyage on the sea continues for a year and a day and they eventually land, marry and feast in the land where the bong tree grows. The magic of this story lies in its hypnotic meter and the tender affection of the main characters.
It will come as a surprise to any Brit that I had never heard a classic like The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear until just a few years ago. I don’t think it’s really jumped the pond. But we were gifted a beautifully illustrated edition by Corgi / Random House and my son and I just fell in love with it together. You think when I say “beautifully illustrated edition” it must be an impressively large tome, gilded in gold and leather-bound. But no. It is small, paperback, and perfectly suited for a child’s hands. Ian Beck does an outstanding job at making the characters accessible to a wee person without forsaking any sense of artistry and sophistication in his images. There is simply nothing that I dislike about this book.
I feel like I’ve learned from our bedtime stories that a very important element is the singsong repetition. The music of words. Our personal ritual involves storytime in the armchair and then three songs in bed. Two of those three songs are almost invariably My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean and Row Row Row Your Boat. The atmosphere we enter before bedtime, of sea and rhythm and fantasy, has profoundly affected the current picture book I’m crafting. I value this time in my child’s life and these moments we share together immensely. I’m so glad that I’ll always be able to bring these memories back up by referencing this book or these songs.
Author: Edward Lear / Illustrator: Ian Beck
About Rachelle Meyer
Rachelle Meyer was born in the state of Texas and spent most of her childhood with her nose in a book. Reading became the wellspring for her continuing passions in life: drawing, storytelling and travelling. She graduated with a degree in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin and then spent eight years in New York City working as a graphic artist and designer. She has since moved to Europe and launched a successful career as an illustrator, working on books for children of all ages in both English and Dutch. She also writes and illustrates her own picture books and graphic novels. She now lives in Amsterdam with her English husband, her Dutch son and her cranky old New York cat.
Rachelle’s website / Rachelle on Twitter @FeathersChapman
A selection of Rachelle’s books can be found below.