TNB Night Owl – Mog, The Forgetful Cat

Cat sleeping on keyboard. Photo by Remedios44.

Children’s book characters are some of the most fondly remembered of all fictional beings. Long before they had their animation or big screen debuts, Stuart Little, Paddington Bear, and the Cat in the Hat were familiar to people throughout the world. Beverly Cleary’s Ralph (of The Mouse and the Motorcycle) and Bunnicula continue the zoo of creatures who appeared in book after book, leaving children eager for more of their anthropomorphic adventures.

Mog the Forgetful Cat is part of that literary array. She has appeared in seventeen books by Judith Tarr and is one of many beloved icons of British children’s stories. She is a cat of nonspecific breed who is not especially bright but is friendly. Through fortunate accident, she saves her family from a burglary and is subsequently hailed as a hero.

Mog’s success in 1970 led to alternate titles in which she dealt with interacting with other cats, an annoying dog which wants to play with her, a beloved toy bunny being lost, and even a visit to the vet. Fairly standard fare, useful for teaching children about basic conflicts they were likely to encounter in their own lives.

Then, in 2002, the author decided to do something very different. Goodbye, Mog killed the character that multiple generations of British children had grown up with.

While death had been addressed in children’s books before – Charlotte the Spider and Old Yeller are obvious examples – rarely had it been approached in books designed for the kids who are just learning to read, and never before had a popular series character for that age group been laid to rest.

In an interview with the Guardian, Kerr explained her reasoning. “I’m coming up to 80, and you begin to think about those who are going to be left – the children, the grandchildren. I just wanted to say: Remember. Remember me. But do get on with your lives.”

But, lest anyone think that killing an iconic kitty is terrible… keep in mind, this is an owl about books for very young children, and there’s almost always a happy ending. Despite being killed off in 2002, Mog returned, as healthy and young as ever, in 2015’s Mog’s Christmas Calamity.

Question of the night: What is a book series you’d recommend to people?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.