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The Tale of Samuel Whiskers

Beatrix Potter

Book Overview: 

Tom Kitten is a young cat who lives with his mother, Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit, and sisters, Moppet and Mittens, in a house overrun with rats. Her children being an unruly bunch, Mrs. Twitchit puts Moppet and Mittens in a cupboard in order to keep them under control, but Tom Kitten escapes up the chimney. As he makes his way to the top of the house, he comes across a crack in the wall and, squeezing through it, finds himself under the attic's floorboards. There he meets the rats, Mr. Samuel Whiskers and his wife Anna Maria. They catch him and proceed to cover him with butter and dough they have stolen in order to eat him as a pudding. They are seen by the two other Kittens who are hiding from their mother as they steal the dough, butter, and rolling-pin. However, when they proceed to settle the dough with a rolling-pin, the noise gets through the floorboards and attracts the attention of Tabitha Twitchit and her friend Ribby who has been helping search for Tom. They quickly call for John Joiner, the carpenter, who saws open the floor and rescues Tom. He has the dough removed, is washed, and the remains of the dumpling are eaten by the family. Whiskers and his wife escape to the barn of Farmer Potatoes, spreading their chaos to another location, though leaving the cat family residence in peace.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .elf where the milk pans stand.

The visitor was a neighbour, Mrs. Ribby; she had called to borrow some yeast.

Mrs. Tabitha came downstairs mewing dreadfully—"Come in, Cousin Ribby, come in, and sit ye down! I'm in sad trouble, Cousin Ribby," said Tabitha, shedding tears. "I've lost my dear son Thomas; I'm afraid the rats have got him." She wiped her eyes with her apron.

"He's a bad kitten, Cousin Tabitha; he made a cat's cradle of my best bonnet last time I came to tea. Where have you looked for him?"

"All over the house! The rats are too many for me. What a thing it is to have an unruly family!" said Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit.

"I'm not afraid of rats; I will help you to find him; and whip him too! What is all that soot in the fender?"

"The chimney wants sweeping—Oh, dear me, Cousin R. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Ultimate noir, from the original Mistress of Menace (cf The Tale of Mr Tod), and with illustrations.

This story is somewhat of a children’s thriller. Tom kitten runs away from his mother so he doesn’t have to be locked away while she is baking. He comes across his worst fear; two merciless rats who wrap him up in dough and prepare for him to be baked. Unsure of what will become of Tom kitten, ch...more

Sweetest Beatrix Potter that I have read to date.

A house of cats with mischievous kittens who all are afraid and pestered by the huge number of rats in the house. Samuel Whiskers is the father rat who lives along with his wife in the same house.

Tom Kitten gets into trouble while trying to hide...more

Beatrix's longer tales are so much better than her short forays in to the little worlds of animals. They have a darker side that the first book never seemed to have, though since it was her first we can allow her that.

At first, I wasn't keen on the black-and-white illsutrations that have...more

This has been my favorite of the series so far! It was super, super entertaining.

Am I the only one who was really creeped out by this book as a kid? I had the animated TV adaptation on VHS that my grandmother sent from Ireland and I had the book as well. Both were very disturbing - if in this fantasy realm where animals are all like a variety of people, does that make these t...more

My sister and I both had our Beatrix Potter favourites when we were kids. She loved Squirrel Nutkin, but all my devotion was reserved for The Tale of Samuel Whiskers. No surprise that I grew up to write horror stories of my own, then - for this is a horror story and no mistake. The image of that monstrous rat an...more

I’m probably too old nowadays to reread beatrix Potter, but I treasured her work as a child. The illustrations here are so charming, and the storyline amusing. It is absolutely lovely. I have no regrets about picking this up again as an adult.

Oh my god, I remember reading this when I was a little kid. My mom bought the VHS for me that had all the stories animated. I can honestly say this one traumatized me. I know it's a book, but it gave me nightmares when I was younger. I seriously thought Tom Kitten was going to meet his death and...more

It's crying out to be filmed by David Cronenberg. Here's how I imagine his treatment of the pivotal scene:

[Interior. The home of SAMUEL WHISKERS and ANNA MARIA. The two mice, who have tied up TOM KITTEN and covered him in pastry, are about to bake him alive]

SAMUEL WHISKERS: His tail is stickin.../>[Interior.

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