Illustration from the play Snow White and the ...

Illustration from the play Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Jessie Braham White, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Edmond W Rickett, and Charles Buckles Falls. The caption read: “Here for nearly a year they have watched over and night”, this has been stripped in this derivative for transcription at another place. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Millions of Cats, Wanda Ga’g’s first children’s book, (1893 – 1946), was released in 1928.

This must be the first place we heard, “millions and billions and trillions” that now is associated with the number of stars, as popularized by Carl Sagan.

It is a black and white book about a lonely old couple, who lived in a “nice, clean house which had flowers all around it, except where the door was.”

One day, the very old woman sighed and wished for a cat.

The very old man vowed to get her one.

After walking through hills and valleys, he found a hill covered with cats, “hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats.”

How did they all eat?

What did they all drink?

How to pick just one of the beautiful cats?

The answers to these questions make up the story of Millions of Cats.

Wanda Ga’g was an American author and illustrator.

Millions of Cats, winner of the Newberry Honor Award and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, is considered the oldest American picture book still in print.

Despite the viewpoint of some educators of the day, including philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  that fairy tales were not good for children and that children’s stories should be realistic instead of fantasies, Ga’g promoted them, eventually translating and illustrating several Grimm’s fairytale books, including Tales from Grimm and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

She wanted to present an opposing view to what she considered the “sentimentalizing” of Disney’s version of Grimm’s fairy tales.

You can read her rhythmical story to your grandchildren. Just order the book from amazon by clicking on the title, Millions of Cats.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

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