Saturday, September 29, 2012

[BOOK REVIEW] The Little Old Woman and the Hungry Cat by Nancy Polette

Title:  The Little Old Woman and the Hungry Cat

Author:  Nancy Polette

Artist:  Frank Modell

Genre: Animal / Food / Greed / Manners

Year Published: 1989

Year Read: 2011

Publisher:  Greenwillow Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+  (Some Scary Moments)

I have read many versions of “The Greedy Cat” which was a Scandinavian adaptation that came out in 1909 and one of my favorite versions of this tale was Margaret Read MacDonald’s adaptation called “Fat Cat.”  Now, I had picked up another version of the classic folktale called “The Little Old Woman and the Hungry Cat” which was written by Nancy Polette along with illustrations by Frank Modell and in this tale, a greedy cat ends up eating everything in its path until it swallowed the old woman and mayhem ensures!  The Little Old Woman and the Hungry Cat” is a fantastic adaptation of the old folktale that fans of the “The Greedy Cat” will enjoy!

When an old woman leaves the house and tells her cat to not eat the sixteen cupcakes that she baked, the cat ended up eating the cupcakes anyway and goes out of the house.  While the cat is out of the house, he meets up with a man and his pig and a wedding procession and he ends up eating them up.  When the cat finally comes back home and the old woman realizes what the cat has done, she tells the cat to get out of the house.  But, then the cat decides that the old woman looks tasty and then eats her up!

Can the old woman and everyone that the cat ate get out of the cat’s belly?
I have always loved the folktale “The Greedy Cat,” so seeing so many different variations of this tale was a treat for my reading soul!  Nancy Polette has done an excellent job at retelling this ancient folktale as the story is much more simplistic than its earlier interpretation.  I loved that in this interpretation we have an old woman who stands up to the cat while in the other version of this folktale “Fat Cat,” there was a mouse who lived with the cat and I enjoyed seeing the different roommates that the cat lives with in each adaptation.  Also, the idea about a cat eating up everyone he meets up with was quite outrageous and interesting at the same time and it is that surreal aspect that I find in many folktales that makes me really enjoy reading various folktales, including this one!  Frank Modell’s illustrations slightly resemble James Stevenson’s illustrations as they are simplistic yet humorous at the same time.  I loved the illustrations of the cat itself as it is gray and large and the scene where the cat starts eating everyone and grows bigger was done extremely well in detail.

Parents should know that the scenes of the cat eating people who get in his way might be a bit disturbing for smaller children.  However, in this version, the illustrations are shown in a less menacing way, so small children might be able to get through this book.  But parents should still read this book before they read it to their children.

Overall, “The Little Old Woman and the Hungry Cat” is a fantastic retelling of the ancient folktale that many fans of folklore will enjoy for many years!  I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the scenes of the cat eating the people might scare smaller children.


  1. I've never heard of this book or story so I'm going to keep an eye out for it. Thanks.

    1. You're welcome! It definitely is a great book!