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Mee-a-ow! Or, Good Advice to Cats and Kittens

The cover of this vintage children’s book caught my eye. You can see why:

It’s an 1860 children’s book called Mee-a-ow! Or, Good Advice to Cats and Kittens by Robert Michael (R.M.) Ballantyne. Ballantyne was a 19th-century Scotsman who lived in Canada and worked for the early Hudson’s Bay Company. He was an incredibly prolific writer, and wrote right up until his death in 1894. He wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 books, primarily children’s and juvenile fiction. The book featured here is a story about some very naughty kittens who consistently get up to mischief, and a mother’s cat attempts to set them straight. It’s lovely, full of piano music and songs for children to learn, poems, beautiful color plates, and of course the story itself.

…there is, however, a great deal more hitting by mother and crying by offspring than I am accustomed to seeing in modern-day children’s books. And I can’t help noticing that the mother cat’s beating-implement of choice is a cat-o-nine-tails.

…get it? Cat?

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