Review: Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams

Yay! Holly’s back in the reviewer’s saddle with this lovely edition of Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, by Ursula Moray Williams, illustrated by Catherine Rayner.,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

Image courtesy of


What it’s about: Gobbolino lives a relatively good life in a dark witch’s cave with his mother and sister until light shines upon him and shows that one of his paws is white. Condemned as not a proper witch’s cat, his family turn their backs on him and abandon him as no witch will apprentice an impure witch’s cat. Gobbolino isn’t fussed as he’s determined to become a proper kitchen cat with a nice family, a place in the kitchen by the stove and humans to take care of. However, finding such a home proves difficult for this cat, who is neither a whole kitchen cat or a whole witch’s cat. Will he succeed in the end?

Holly’s review: Gobbolino is a witch’s cat with three black paws and one white; his coat is almost tabby and he has beautiful blue eyes. But that does not sound like a witch’s cat. All Gobbolino wants is to be a kitchen cat. I liked this because because it is adventurous and exciting. For example, I liked it when he fell into a stream trying to catch a fish and had to swim for his life because cats can’t swim, but apparently witches’ kittens can. The down side for Gobbolino is that he is a witch’s cat and so it is very difficult for him to find a home. Will he ever do so? Find out by reading this book if you are interested in it.

Sam’s review: Shockingly for a cat lover I had never heard of this story until we found this latest edition on sale at Holly’s school’s book fair. Of course we had to have it once we spotted it and we loved every minute of it. Gobbolino is a wonderful character – caring but not soppy, characterful but not devious, giving the impression that any human would be lucky to have him in their life. The story is written with gentle humour and all of the chapters, covering a different adventure in Gobbolino’s search for a home, are reminiscent of fairy tales in their structure and characters. The drawings by Catherine Rayner are, of course, stunning, in rich blacks, greys and whites as befits the tale of this witch’s cat, emphasising Gobbolino’s quirky and loveable nature instead of making him cute and cuddly but ultimately characterless.

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I was surprised to have not heard of this book before now, but perhaps that was because I grew up outside of the UK, as Holly’s teachers all remembered and the story (and were buying it up at the fair!). I did a little look-see on the internet and found out that, in her time, Ursula Moray Williams was extremely popular, as this quote from the Independent’s obituary of her shows: ‘She was one of the few children’s authors who defeated the national paper scarcity and continued to be published throughout the Second World War, and her books left an indelible mark on many young readers at the time and since.’ You can read more about her life and work here. We both highly recommend this book for all ages. It’s particularly good for children who are becoming stronger readers and moving on to short chapter books – the story will keep them reading on for more.

Have you ever read any of Ursula Moray Williams’ works? Please share with us if you have!



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