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The Tale of Tom Kitten

By

Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Tom Kitten is a children’s book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter. It tells the story of a group of mischievous kittens who get into trouble when they lose their clothes while playing.

The book was first published in 1907 and has since become a classic of children’s literature. It is a beloved addition to the collection of classic children’s stories written by Beatrix Potter.

Note to parents: this is a vintage story and contains some themes that may not be suitable for younger or more sensitive children.

The Tale of Tom Kitten book cover.

The Tale of Tom Kitten

By Beatrix Potter

Dedicated
to all pickles,
—Especially to those that

get upon my garden wall

Original artwork showing three kittens playing.

Once upon a time, there were three little kittens, and their names were Mittens, Tom Kitten, and Moppet.

They had dear little fur coats of their own; and they tumbled about the doorstep and played in the dust.

But one day their mother—Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit—expected friends to tea; so she fetched the kittens indoors, to wash and dress them, before the fine company arrived.

Original artwork of Mrs Tabitha Twitchit wearing a pink dress, with her kittens.

First she scrubbed their faces (this one is Moppet).

Original artwork of Moppet kitten having her face washed by her mother.

Then she brushed their fur, (this one is Mittens).

Kitten being brushed by mother cat.

Then she combed their tails and whiskers (this is Tom Kitten).

Tom kitten and mother cat.

Tom was very naughty, and he scratched.

Mrs. Tabitha dressed Moppet and Mittens in clean pinafores and tuckers; and then she took all sorts of elegant uncomfortable clothes out of a chest of drawers, in order to dress up her son Thomas.

Little kittens getting dressed with mother cat.

Tom Kitten was very fat, and he had grown; several buttons burst off. His mother sewed them on again.

Tom kitten bursting out of his shirt.

When the three kittens were ready, Mrs. Tabitha unwisely turned them out into the garden, to be out of the way while she made hot buttered toast.

“Now keep your frocks clean, children! You must walk on your hind legs. Keep away from the dirty ash-pit, and from Sally Henny Penny, and from the pig-stye and the Puddle-Ducks.”

Mother cat talks to the kittens from the doorway.

Moppet and Mittens walked down the garden path unsteadily. Presently they trod upon their pinafores and fell on their noses.

When they stood up there were several green smears!

The kittens fall on the path.

“Let us climb up the rockery, and sit on the garden wall,” said Moppet.

They turned their pinafores back to front, and went up with a skip and a jump; Moppet’s white tucker fell down into the road.

Kittens climbing onto the garden wall.

Tom Kitten was quite unable to jump when walking upon his hind legs in trousers. He came up the rockery by degrees, breaking the ferns, and shedding buttons right and left.

He was all in pieces when he reached the top of the wall.

Tom kitten falling onto the garden.

Moppet and Mittens tried to pull him together; his hat fell off, and the rest of his buttons burst.

Kittens helping Tom kitten with his clothes.

While they were in difficulties, there was a pit pat paddle pat! and the three Puddle-Ducks came along the hard high road, marching one behind the other and doing the goose step—pit pat paddle pat! pit pat waddle pat!

The kittens watching ducks from on top of the garden wall.

They stopped and stood in a row, and stared up at the kittens. They had very small eyes and looked surprised.

Three white ducks.

Then the two duck-birds, Rebeccah and Jemima Puddle-Duck, picked up the hat and tucker and put them on.

White ducks putting on the kittens clothes.

Mittens laughed so that she fell off the wall. Moppet and Tom descended after her; the pinafores and all the rest of Tom’s clothes came off on the way down.

“Come! Mr. Drake Puddle-Duck,” said Moppet—”Come and help us to dress him! Come and button up Tom!”

The three kittens looking at the three ducks.

Mr. Drake Puddle-Duck advanced in a slow sideways manner, and picked up the various articles.

A duck picking up a blue shirt.

But he put them on himself! They fitted him even worse than Tom Kitten.

“It’s a very fine morning!” said Mr. Drake Puddle-Duck.

Duck wearing a blue shirt.

And he and Jemima and Rebeccah Puddle-Duck set off up the road, keeping step—pit pat, paddle pat! pit pat, waddle pat!

The three ducks wearing the kittens clothes walk down the lane.

Then Tabitha Twitchit came down the garden and found her kittens on the wall with no clothes on.

Three kittens sitting on the wall, mother cat in the background.

She pulled them off the wall, smacked them, and took them back to the house.

Mother cat telling off the kittens.

“My friends will arrive in a minute, and you are not fit to be seen; I am affronted,” said Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit.

She sent them upstairs; and I am sorry to say she told her friends that they were in bed with the measles; which was not true.

Mother cat welcomes her guests.

Quite the contrary; they were not in bed: not in the least.

Kittens playing in the bedroom.

Somehow there were very extraordinary noises over-head, which disturbed the dignity and repose of the tea party.

Mother cat checks on the kittens in the bedroom.

And I think that some day I shall have to make another, larger, book, to tell you more about Tom Kitten!

As for the Puddle-Ducks—they went into a pond.

The clothes all came off directly, because there were no buttons.

The ducks in a pond, with clothes floating away.

And Mr. Drake Puddle-Duck, and Jemima and Rebeccah, have been looking for them ever since.

Ducks in the pond looking under the water.

The End

Author

  • Beatrix Potter was a British children's author, illustrator, and natural scientist who is best known for her classic picture books featuring beloved characters such as Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Born in 1866, Potter grew up in a privileged but sheltered household and began writing and illustrating stories at a young age. She was a keen observer of nature and often drew inspiration from the flora and fauna she encountered in her travels. Potter's first book, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," was published in 1902 and was an immediate success. She went on to write and illustrate more than 20 children's books, many of which have become timeless classics. In addition to her work as an author, Potter was also a passionate conservationist and played a significant role in preserving the English countryside. She died in 1943, leaving behind a rich legacy as a beloved children's author and illustrator.