PPBF: Millions of Cats and some awards


English: Wanda Gág (1893-1946), American autho...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. 

My selection today is another classic picture book…this one from 1928…the author/illustrator, Wanda Gag, won the 1929 Newbery Honor Book Award.  According to Wikipedia, Ms. Gag pioneered the double page spread in this book.  “She used both pages to move the story forward, putting them together with art that sweeps across the entire page spread.”

Millions of Cats is the oldest American picture book still in print!


 Millions of Cats

Written and illustrated by Wanda Gag

Publishers: Coward McCann (1928 original edition), Penguin (more recent editions)

Ages: 2 – 8

Themes: Celebrating the uniqueness of each individual, caring for pets, companionship

Opening: “Once upon a time there was a very old man and a very old woman.  They lived in a nice clean house which had flowers all around it, except where the door was.  But they couldn’t be happy because they were so very lonely.”

Synopsis:  A lonely old couple want a pretty little cat to keep them company.  When the husband finds a hillside FILLED with cats, he has trouble picking the prettiest…and all of the cats follow him home.  “Cats here, cats there, cats and kittens everywhere.  Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.”

When the man and his wife leave it up to the cats to determine who is the prettiest, mayhem breaks out and the couple run into their house!  Will the cats be able to choose who is the prettiest?  Will the old couple get the cat that they want?

Why do I like this book

The Rhyme!

The Rhythm!

The Illustrations!

The fact that this book is over EIGHTY years old and adults and children still love it and it is still in print!  Kudos to Ms. Gag!

The Story!  The results of the catfight are somewhat grisly…but the underdog (or should I say, undercat) wins out…through modesty and non-violence…definitely an important message for today’s world!


Related Activities:

New Hampshire Public TV has a kid-lit site where Caldecott Award winning books are read.  You can hear Millions of Cats here: http://video.nhptv.org/video/1688016012/

Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-of-Days Almanac has a wonderful review of the book and additional information about Wanda Gag and her groundbreaking picture book work here: http://childrensbookalmanac.com/2010/12/millions-of-cats/

Scholastic has a page that provides some guidance for parents and teachers on how to use the book to encourage discussions about caring for others here: http://westonwoods.scholastic.com/products/westonwoods/study_guides/millions_of_cats.pdf

Last week I shared the Valentine Boat made from a shoebox.   Plain brown paper bags also make very versatile (and inexpensive) craft projects for kids.  I found this awesome cat made from a paper bag here: http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mbagcat.htm  Dltk-kids.com a wonderful resource for craft ideas.


You will need: Plain brown (or white) paper lunch-size bag, 2 pieces of construction paper (one should probably be black for the eyes and whiskers and the other can be pink…or any other color your child would prefer), glue, scissors, crayons or markers.

1.      Cut from the black paper: 2 pupils for the eyes and 6 whiskers.

2.      Cut from the other color paper: 2 eyes, oval stomach, nose, 2 triangles for ears, several small circles for the paws and a small triangle for the mouth.

3.      Place the closed bag with the open end down and attach the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, paw pads and whiskers with glue.

4.      Use marker or crayons to draw the line from the nose to the mouth and add other lines to make the bag more cat-like.

When dry, this cat-bag can be used as a puppet for role-playing or as a snack bag for a special book-reading picnic where Millions of Cats is read aloud!

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I also wanted to thank Catherine Johnson, one of my new kid-lit picture book writing blogging friends for giving me the Liebster Blog Award and the Kreativ Blogger Award…you can see what she’s up to at: http://catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/campaign-trails-and-blog-awards/



This award comes with instructions to pass it along to others:

Bern at Momto2Postlildivas: http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/ for her Sunday Showcase link-up that provides parents and teachers with an unbelievable array of crafts for kids.

Barbara at Spanish for Kiddos: http://www.spanish4kiddos.com/

D at Spanish Pinay: http://spanishpinaynanay.blogspot.com

Danae Farias at Believing Unbeliever: http://www.danaefarias.com/

Heather at Saved by Love: http://www.heather-riggleman.com/

PiP at Piglet in Portugal: http://pigletinportugal.com/

I hope you will take a few minutes and visit these great bloggers…they all have important things to say…and they say them very well!

50 thoughts on “PPBF: Millions of Cats and some awards

  1. wow that book is 80yrs old already, still in print? Talk about classic! Makes me want to get one for our little one’s book collection.

    And that cat is very crafty and cute! Can’t wait to make crafts for our little one too when she’s older 🙂

    and what can I say about these awards… thank you sooooo much for thinking of me! I am definitely, definitely honored! I will start to make my own entry so I can pass it along as soon as I can 🙂


    Spanish Pinay


    • So glad you liked the book and craft activity. Maybe you could print out the posts (of mine and the other Perfect Picture Book Friday contributors) that you really love and put them together in a looseleaf notebook for when LSP is ready to do the arts and crafts. 🙂

      Enjoy the awards…you deserve them!


  2. Wow, she looks innovative just looking at her. She must have been well ahead of the game in her day, it sounds brilliant. I used to live in a house with too many cats I can relate lol. And that cat is a great idea, thanks!

    Thanks a lot for the shout out 🙂


    • Hi Catherine,
      Yes, I didn’t know about Ms. Gage until I checked her out before doing the review. She must have been a very courageous young woman…quite an inspiration for us all!
      Glad you like the book and craft…I LOVED your choice…such a great message for young children…how what they do can affect how others feel. 🙂


      • Thank you! I wanted to tell you that I was sorting through my book case and found “The Funny Thing” by Wanda Gag! It was also published in the 1920s 🙂 It has the same great artwork and a great story! I am going to check out some more of her books 🙂


    • Hi Penny,
      Thank you for the kind words. I LOVED your entry…and I’m so glad you won!!!! I reread it so many times because it just made me smile and I loved the clever wordplay. 🙂

      Glad you liked the book review today…it’s a really special story with a great message.


  3. My aunt who never married had a boatload of cats in her house. We have cats on our farm. Always have. Our inside cats have died. Which broke my heart in two. But this book sounds wonderful. You know I have to get it. So thankful it is still in print. Excellent activities too.

    Congrads on your award. You deserve it! *waving*


    • Hi Robyn,
      Thanks for the congrats…the contest was the first writing one I had every entered (except for 5th grade when I won a school writing competition for an essay about a fire).

      So sorry to hear about your cats. 😦 But I’m glad you liked the story I picked…I’m actually so happy I’ve been concentrating on the older classics because it seems as if most everyone else does the newer books. At first, I thought it would be boring for everyone else…I assumed everyone would have read all of these…but that doesn’t seem to be the case. 🙂


  4. I was immediately drawn in by the title — and was astounded to learn that the book has been around for so many years, and I’ve never encountered it before! I must rectify that. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!


    • Hi Beth,
      Glad I uncovered a classic picture book treasure…as I mentioned to Penny, I’m glad my choices seem fresh to most of you…even though most of them have been around 30, 40, or many more years.

      Millions of Cats is definitely still in print…there are lots of copies avallable (especially the newer paperback editions) for very reasonable prices.


    • Thank you, Joanna. Glad you liked the activities (was so happy to discover the Public Broadcasting link where you can hear…and see…the story).

      The old classic picture books are true treasures in kidlit…I’ll try to keep uncovering them for everyone…most of the picture books I recommend in my book are like this one…so I have lots to choose from without searching too far. 🙂


    • Thank you, Julie!
      Until I did some research, I hadn’t known it was the oldest PB in America…but I had always loved Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag was definitely a courageous woman, quite ahead of her time…when most women were in the shadows, she stepped up into the light and made groundbreaking changes in an industry that was not female-friendly.
      Glad you liked the resources and activities.:)
      BTW, what an awesome contest on your site…I’m super excited!!!


    • Hahaha…time…if you see any for sale at a good price, please let me know…I need some more also. 🙂
      I really love your blog…if I can’t go to France and Portugal and the UK, at least I can get a beautiful flavor of them on your site!


  5. Oh, I LOVE this book, Vivian!!! One of my all-time favorites! Thank you for posting it. I love getting some of these oldies but goodies on our list. It’s unbelievable to me, but some people don’t know Millions Of Cats, or Mike Mulligan, or Caps For Sale! And they are all such treasures. And as always, I love your activity 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!


    • So glad you liked it, Susanna. BTW, thank you so much for the wonderful Unlikely Valentine Contest…it was a blast to write the entry and even more fun to read everyone else’s. You are a special person to organize all of these contests and other “stuff” for writers, illustrators, parents and teachers! Kudos to you!

      I’m also surprised that so many people haven’t heard of many of these older classics…as long as they are well-received, I will keep on doing them.:) And continue to enjoy the newer great books that everyone else reviews. 🙂


    • Thanks Nancy! Glad you liked it…I can’t take credit for the cat craft…but when I saw it, I knew that i would be using it in a future school program…so easy and fun to do…with inexpensive simple materials…that’s what I love!


    • Now I’m blushing. 🙂
      Thank you, Pat…I love the old classics…although the new books are great as well. But there is something magical for me when I hold a children’s picture book in my hands that was written 30 or 40 or 80 years ago…I feel it is a chance to connect with that author and/or illustrator that I will never be able to meet. 🙂
      And the crafting…well, I know kids love arts and crafts…what a wonderful opportunity for their creativity to shine!


    • Renee…I guess we are on the same page. 🙂
      When I walk into a second-hand bookstore and approach the children’s picture book area, my heart actually does beat faster…it’s a love affair that started over 60 years ago and is still going strong!
      Glad you liked the selection. 🙂


    • Hi Kirsten,
      Thanks…glad you liked the review!
      My first book was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton…I was 3 years old…I still remember sitting on my mom’s lap, turning the pages…it made a lasting impression on me and I have loved picture books ever since.
      That’s why I am so passionate about encouraging parents to read to their kids every day…it really does make a difference!!!!


    • Stacy…glad you weren’t turned off by the book since you are not a cat fan. 🙂 It does get rather grisly when you think that the millions of cats fought and destroyed each other 😦 all except for the little scrawny white cat who didin’t boast about being the prettiest.
      It is a wonderful classic…and well worth the reading…great message about companionship and what can happen when we don’t get along. 😉


    • So glad you liked it, Margaret. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
      Millions of Cats is a wonderful classic…I’m sure the libraries have copies…but you can get inexpensive copies online…unbelievable that it is the oldest picture book in America still in print.


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