Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Gobbolino the Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams

I bought Gobbolino the Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams when someone I follow on Instagram gushed about it. Gobbolino the Witch's Cat is about a kitten with just a touch of magical ability, thanks to the fact that he was born to the cat of a witch who lives in a mountain cave. But, he has no interest in growing up to be a witch's cat. His heart's desire is to be a beloved house cat with a family, a nice bowl of cream, and a place to nap by the fire. 

I can't actually remember if Gobbolino sets out on his own or not. However it happens, he ends up in a creek, swimming toward a dangerous water wheel and barely saved by some children. The children take him home and it appears that he's found the place he dreamed of until sparks come from his whiskers and the adults realize he's a witch's cat. Nobody wants a witch's cat, so he's kicked out. 

This pattern repeats with Gobbolino finding a home in an orphanage, with a troupe of puppeteers, and various other places. But, each time someone figures out that he's a witch's cat and he's turned out over and over again until, finally, he ends up finding his sister — a cat who never had any doubts at all that she would find a witch of her own. The witch threatens to throw him down the mountain because he's useless as a witch's cat, but Gobbolino is able to get away. Unfortunately, he ends up right back in the creek and now, thanks to the witch, he can no longer swim. Will Gobbolino ever find a home with people who love him and a place by the fire?

Recommended but not a favorite - As evidenced by the fact that my copy is an anniversary edition, Gobbolino the Witch's Cat, published in 1942, is apparently a classic . . . presumably in the UK. I'm pretty sure I bought it from Book Depository, although it was last year so I'm not positive about that. And, I can see why it's a classic. I would have loved it as a child. As an adult, though, it fell a little flat for me. I found the "found a home, kicked out, found a home, kicked out" repetition a bit exhausting. As a youngster, though, I probably would have enjoyed it for the way Gobbolino's story comes full circle and he does, indeed, find a happy home. It's a lovely story and one I'll save for my grandchildren to read. It's just a little too simplistic, even for this middle grade-book-loving reader. 

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  1. Sounds a tad disappointing. I still have this one on my TBR wishlist- but I won't be expecting quite as much out of it now!

    1. A little. It's just a bit old-fashioned, really. The same book written today would have more complexity and less repetition. Chapter books for middle grade kids have improved, in my opinion!


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