I admit that I did not know too much about this fairy tale and did not see the film either. Therefore, I had a to a little research on it. I found some information on Wikipedia: “Master Cat, or Puss in Boots” (early French: Le Maistre Chat, ou Le Chat Botté, literally “The Booted Cat”), commonly known as “Puss in Boots”, is a French literary fairy tale about a cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master. The tale was written at the close of the seventeenth century by Charles Perrault (1628–1703), a retired civil servant and member of the Académie française.”
In the beginning of Puss in Boots, readers are introduced to a miller who had three sons. The miller was unable to work due to his age and left his son with three gifts. He gave his oldest son a mill, his second son received a donkey and his youngest son received a cat. When the youngest son discovered that he would be in charge of the cat, he was upset because he believed that the cat would be useless to him. However, Puss was no ordinary cat. He was a clever cat and was able to understand people’s emotions. Therefore, Puss told the youngest boy that he would help him out, and that would start by creating a pair of boots. The young man did so and as a result, Puss in Boots said he would help by making him wealthy, proud, and strong. Puss was a skillful and wise cat that he used trickery to get his way. Eventually, the cat was able to catch a wild rabbit using one of his tricks and he had brought it to the king. He brought the king a rabbit and said that it was a gift from his master, Marquis of Carabas. The king accepted Puss’ present and kindly accepted others until one day, Puss overheard a conversation between the King and one the coachmen. He heard that he will be taking a ride over a river today with his daughter. Puss went back to his master and told him to get in the river and take off his clothes. As a result, the wise cat hid his clothes. When Puss saw the King’s carriage nearby, he told the king that his master, Marquis of Carabba was robbed. The king stopped to help the young man as he joined them in the carriage and the princess was smitten with him even if she didn’t know much about him. The wise cat did not stop there and he sought out a castle for his master, so the king would even like his future son in law more. However, the castle was owned by a wicked giant. Puss did a few of his tricks and was able to get rid of the giant. Eventually, the king was fond of the young man and Puss that he asked the young man to marry his daughter, and the miller’s son was happy for the rest of his life. His master even made him a special chair in honor of everything he did.
Indeed, there are the same repetitive features that we have seen in the previous fairy tales. Unlike the other fairy tales, this story centers around an animal who at first does not receive any credit. The young miller’s son doubts the cat and finds that he will not be of any help. However, by the end of the story, we see that Puss was not only brave but determined to prove to the young man that he would be able to make his life better. I feel that saying, “Do not judge a book by its cover” can apply here. The illustrations in the text were lovely as it matched the story and children are able to obtain an understanding of what is happening in the story and would also be able to make predictions as well. I liked how Puss invented a name and the King fell for it, perhaps he was intrigued when he saw a cat speak. Therefore, a King who should be viewed as wise, strong, and resilient was viewed as weak, gullible, and senseless in a way because he believed the cat’s words without seeking the truth. Therefore, it was interesting to see the roles of characters reversed in this fairy tale. When Puss was able to obtain a castle for his master, the king asks, “Does this beautiful castle belong to you, too, my lord Marquis?” asked the king.” This just goes to show that the King was not as wise as the cat and that trickery and bribery played a significant role in this story.
I enjoyed reading this story as I found it different from the other fairy tales especially when the protagonist is an animal who seems like he is selfish at first. However, readers later discover that he is selfless and just wants to help his master be happy. Therefore, a friendship forms between Puss and his master as they start to trust and care for one another. It’s like that saying, “putting someone else’s needs before your own.” I believe this book is suitable for children starting in the third grade and various reading strategies could be used in this book including deconstructing the hidden messages, sketch to stretch ideas, and even engaging in a conversation about this story and relating it to other fairy tales. I believe children would like this book because unlike a person, an animal is a hero and he stands up for himself as well as others. Some children can relate to this story especially those who struggle with self-esteem. I believe one of the underlying messages is that you must stay true to yourself because when you do, you are able to help others.
I didn’t have many questions for the author but I would have liked to have know what happened to the father, did he die? Another question I have is that Puss invented a king’s name, Marquis of Carabas. What made him choose this name? At the end of the story, I would have liked to have more dialogue between Puss and his master. I would have liked to have seen an apology or a thank you conversation. Why didn’t you have a few closing statements from Puss’ master? What made Puss come up with specific tricks? He was a very clever cat.