Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats by Barbara Joosse and Illustrated by Jan Jutte


Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats by Barbara Joosse; 
illus. by Jan Jutte
All ages.  Philomel Books. April 2012.  40 pages. Fiction.  ISBN:  978-0399254307   $16.99

The Short:  This picture book is a new and lasting favorite.  Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats reads like Goodnight Moon and its illustrations remind me of Tin Tin.  My husband, my son, and I all love this book.  We all highly, highly recommend it. 

The Long:  Have you read A Sick Day for Amos McGee?  It was one of the first picture books I read with my son.  I remember feeling awed by how wonderful and beautiful it is.  I remember thinking, “I will never, ever forget this book.”  It became a part of me that day.

I haven’t had that overwhelming sense of awe after reading a picture book until Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats.  My husband was in the living room reading this book to my son and I was in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner.  I was so drawn in hearing my husband read this book that I put the dishes down and went into the living room.  Then I saw the illustrations and was truly blown away.

This book is about Old Robert who lives by himself on a boat and does not sail at night.  His life is fairly predictable and orderly.

Old Robert counted the regular things in their regular place:  Clean socks, a clock, my ship in the slip at the dock.  One dish, one spoon, a chunk of the silver moon… and two cats in wee little hammocks.

One night he hears something and discovers a cat.  The cat asks if he can come in and,

Old Robert thought not!  There was no room in the trim little boat for a cat to live- and that’s that!  And yet… and yet… Old Robert said yes…

Other cats find their way to Old Robert and he takes them in.  Old Robert finds belonging and love and the story ends with him sailing away with the cats at night because the time seems right.

This is a wonderful bedtime book or naptime book or anytime-you-need-serenity book.  It has such a wonderful and tranquil rhythm to it.  My son has asked for me to read this book to him again and again and again and again and I only too willingly oblige.  The illustrations are elegant and timeless.

This picture book is appropriate for all ages.

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Theme/Topics for this book: Friendship, Life Changing, Sailing, Cats, Companionship

Opening: “Once there was a shipshape man who had everything he needed — nothing more, nothing less.”  Old Robert lives a simple life on a boat.  Over the course of several evenings cats join him on his boat. Old Robert finds joy in having these cats as his companions.

Available Resources:

Perfect-Pic-Book-BadgeI am linking this post to Picture Perfect Book Friday hosted at Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.  Please go check out her site and her impressive list of picture book reviews and consider contributing a picture book review.


  1. The author and illustrator are Dutch and that may be why they chose a boat to be the scene of the book. I can’t wait to find it in my library and check it out. Thanks for adding this selection to Susanna’s PPBF. 🙂


  2. Oh, this sounds lovely! From the lines you quoted I can see why it reminds you of Goodnight Moon – what rhythm! I’m going to have to find this one for my granddaughter! Plus, I love Barbara Joose 🙂 Thanks for adding this to our list!!


  3. Carrie Finison

    Wow, this sounds GREAT! The tiny snippets of text you’ve included really give me a flavor of the voice. I will definitely look for this one.


  4. Pingback: Top Ten Favorite Picture Books I Read in 2012 | The Picture Book Review

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