Gag, Wanda. Millions of Cats. New York: Coward-McCann Inc, 1928. ISBN: 0-698-20091-8
This adorable story is about a man and a woman, both of whom are old and very lonely. They weren’t happy. One day, the woman tells the man that she wants a cat. The man vows to get her a cat. Thus, he set off to get the woman a cat. He walks until he gets to a hill with “Hundreds of cats. Thousands of cats. Millions and billions and trillions of cats.” But the man couldn’t choose just one. All the cats followed him home, but they couldn’t take care of all of them. So they told the cats to choose which one was the prettiest. They all fought over who was the prettiest until only one remained, and that’s the one they kept.
This is a great book, especially for children. The one thing that really stands out is the rhythm and repetition of the book. This is seen in “Hundreds of cats. Thousands of cats. Millions and billions and trillions of cats.” which is repeated throughout the story. The story’s motif is one that we have seen over and over again. What doesn’t seem like the prettiest or the best can change and turn into something even more beautiful than you would’ve ever thought possible. Like The Ugly Duckling, Millions of Cats shows us that the ugliest cat can become the prettiest. All it needs is a little bit of love and care. This is a great message for kids to read, even if they’ve read it before. The illustrations were well done and do a good job of reinforcing the prose.
Strengths: Prose and illustration. The use of repetition is good.
Weakness: The part about the cats eating each other was a bit disturbing and the book doesn’t make it clear if that was a joke or what actually happened.
Top 100 Picture Books #21 by School Library Journal
John Newbery Medal Winner 1922
A classic, that could make anyone a cat lover. – Pat Vasilik from School Library Journal
Other books that are Newbery winners:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate ISBN: 0061992259
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ISBN: 0060530928
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz ISBN: 0763615781
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo ISBN: 0763625299
Other books by Wanda Gag:
The ABC Bunny ISBN: 0816644160
The Funny Thing ISBN: 0816642419
Snippy and Snappy ISBN: 0816642451
Cat/Pet lesson plan:
Read the book at story time. Have the kids repeat the words:
“Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats.”
Encourage kids to meow.
Talk about how to be a responsible pet owner.
Cat craft using pieces of construction paper and paper plates. Use math for the whiskers (three on one side and three on the other equal six whiskers total.)