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1001 Stories Collection

The Mousehole Cat

1001 The Mousehole Cat
Added on 08th August 2020

Author Antonia Barber
Illustrator Nicola Bayley
First published 1990
Publisher Walker Books

A beautifully illustrated picture book telling the story of a storm at sea and a very special cat.

Story

Mowzer the cat lives with his owner, Tom the fisherman, in a beautiful seaside village in Cornwall called Mousehole. One day, a huge storm begins to batter the harbour walls, and no-one can leave to fish anymore. With Christmas around the corner, there is no food to be found in the village. So Mowzer and Tom decide to set out to sea and bravely face the Great Storm-Cat together…

Why we chose it

A beautifully illustrated book, which mingles history and legend to tell a stirring story of heroism and storms at sea and a very special cat.

Where it came from

Antonia Barber (1932 – present) is an English author. She comes from a theatrical family, and from a young age she invented her own stories and plays. Nicola Bayley (1949 – present) is an illustrator best known for her loving drawings of cats. She was born in Singapore, and has a degree in illustration from the Royal College of Art. The story of The Mousehole Cat comes from Cornish folklore, and Bayley did a lot of local research and drawing in Cornwall. Barber based the story on the tale of Tom Bowcock, a real fisherman who saved Mousehole from a Christmas famine caused by a storm. He returned from his journey with a huge catch of fish, which the whole town baked into Stargazy Pie, just like in the book. Ever since, on the 23rd December each year Mousehole celebrates Tom Bowcock’s Eve, when everyone dances, sings, and eats Stargazy Pie.

Where it went next

The Mousehole Cat has become a modern classic. It was a finalist for the Smarties Prize, the winner of Illustrated Book of the Year at the 1990 British Book Awards and commended for the Kate Greenaway medal. In 1994, the book was made into an animated short, and a stage adaptation in 2007 used puppets.

Associated stories

Antonia Barber has written many other books for children, including the picture books The Enchanter’s Daughter (1987) and Catkin (1994), and novels for older children, such as The Ghosts (1969) and The Ring in the Rough Stuff (1983). Nicola Bayley has illustrated several other books, including Katje the Windmill Cat (2002), and is both the author and the illustrator of The Necessary Cat (1998) and The Curious Cat (2002).

Added on 08th August 2020

Author Antonia Barber
Illustrator Nicola Bayley
First published 1990
Publisher Walker Books