Virtual Children's Books Exhibits


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Blown Away

Beatrix Potter


7.  Robert M. Ballantyne.
The Robber Kitten.
A. Roy, illustrator
London, Edinburgh, New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1857.
Diana Tillson Collection of Children’s Music.

Ballantyne (1825-1894) wrote over eighty phenomenally popular adventure novels. He was also the author of the best known version of "The Three Little Kittens," and this tale in verse, in which the feline anti-hero leaves home to embark on a life of crime. It is not until he meets up with a cat who orders him to hand over his money or his life, then beats him to a jelly with a club, that the repentant prodigal returns home to mother.

This illustration shows the kitten blowing away a victim who had the bad luck to have had nothing valuable on its person (Victorian toy books could be filled with comically lurid violence). In spite of (or perhaps because of) the hero's wickedness, "The Robber Kitten" was a well-known rhyme interpreted by a variety of artists, including John R. Neill, the Imperial Illustrator of Oz. It was also made into the famous animated short film by Walt Disney. You can read a bowdlerized version of the poem at the Baldwin Project site.