Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams – Review
By Victoria Holdsworth
It is hard to believe that this book was first published in 1942, but it remains an absolute true children and adult’s classic.
Gobbolino is a witch’s cat. He was born in a witch’s cave and lived there with his mother and sister, Sootica, until one day they all discover that he isn’t entirely black, he has a white paw, and bright blue eyes – and this just will not do for a Witch’s cat.
Instead of learning how to turn mice into toads for the witch’s brew, Gobbolino sets out on an adventure to find a family and a home of his own, and he dreams of being a plain old kitchen cat.
Throughout the book, Gobbolino lives in lots of different places, and never has trouble finding new owners, including on a farm, an orphanage, a ship and with a woodcutter. For him that’s the easy part. The difficult part is getting people to keep him!
Unfortunately Gobbolino always ends up being uncared for or abandoned by them because he was born a witch’s cat, so he decides he must return to his sister and the Witch. After a huge drama, that sees the little cat destroy all of the witch’s projects and spells, she finally grants him his wish, and in a hissy fit, turns him into a kitchen cat and takes away his magic. Will he eventually find the happy home he deserves and dreams of?
Sootica comes to save the day, and makes sure that he goes to one of the first farms he was accepted at. It’s a curious ending, suggesting children need to find a place to fit in rather than just being themselves – but my advice to parents reading this to a child would to use the book to open discussions about the dangers of stereotypes and prejudice.
That said, the book is magic: There’s kittens galore, excitement, adventure and Gobbolino is a cat of great integrity, with little self-pity, who shows strength in character and determination.
A must, then, for any story time.
‘Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat’ by Ursula Moray Williams is published by Puffin Books, paperback £6.99