But Who Will Bell the Cats? Book Poster Image

But Who Will Bell the Cats?

Fable retold with fabulous artwork and an updated twist.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This is a pleasant, entertaining introduction to one of Aesop's fables, and therefore to the rest of his work. Also,  the unique artwork will inspire readers to think creatively about illustrations and the fun of building sets. 

Positive messages

The bat and mouse work together to make, and execute, a plan to improve their plight. The princess is kind to them, which is part of the joy of the solution.

Positive role models

The mouse is very resourceful and thoughtful. The princess is kind. The cats, while not truly mean adversaries -- only mischievous -- all deserve bells around their necks.

Violence & scariness

A few actions are more mean than violent, and not really graphically portrayed. The cats catch the mouse and play ping pong with him, use him as a puck in a hockey game, and nearly bake both the mouse and the bat in birthday pies.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this story is based on one of Aesop's fables. This retelling includes princesses and castles as well as cats and mice. 

Parents say

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What's the story?

In order to improve their lives, mouse and bat are trying to outwit the cats who live upstairs with the princess in comfort and luxury. One plan after another fails until finally the princess pitches in to help, proving it sometimes takes more than bravery and wit to solve a problem.

Is it any good?


The illustrations in this book make it a real keeper. Readers of all ages will find the artwork both captivating and original. And the story is a classic.  A slightly altered version of one of Aesop's fables, it's updated by the addition of the princess, her castle, and an upstairs/downstairs scenario that includes mischievous and pampered pool-playing cats and a game of hockey. 

The artwork is intriguing, and the idea behind it is uniquely creative. Each colorfully ornate page is a photograph of an actual set built by von Buhler out of wood and plaster, and filled with miniature props. The characters are painted on paper, cut out, and placed in the scenes that she built.

Families can talk about...

  • What does it mean "to bell the cat"? Why will that solve the problem the mouse and bat are having? How did the princess help?

  • Some of the pages are split into two levels. What does that say about the way the cats lived versus how the mouse and bat lived? Do you think that was fair? How would you change it?

  • The princess was kind to the mouse and bat.  How did that help them?

Book details

Author:Cynthia von Buhler
Illustrator:Cynthia von Buhler
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:September 7, 2009
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 7

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Kid, 10 years old April 15, 2011

the mouse and bat adventures

i think that this book is good because the mouse was smart to give the bells to the girl to put on the cats
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models