The Tale of Tom Kitten

Illustration for Beatrix Potter kids story Tom Kitten
Some naughty kittens mess up their clothes when they promise to keep clean for visitors!
The Tale of Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of mother and baby cats on garden path for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of cats playing for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of mother cat and baby for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

 

Beatrix Potter illustration of mummy cat washing baby face for bedtime story Tom Kitten

 

Then she brushed their fur, (this one is Mittens).Beatrix Potter illustration of mother brushing baby cat for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

Beatrix Potter illustration of cat house indoors for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of mother and baby cats at home for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of mother and baby cat for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

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.”

Beatrix Potter illustration of kittens at front door for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of kittens in garden with butterfly for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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!

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of kittens frolicking for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of cat for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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.

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

Beatrix Potter illustration of cheeky kittens for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of geese and kittens on garden path for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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!

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

Beatrix Potter illustration of geese walking on road for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of geese with hat for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

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!”

Beatrix Potter illustration of kittens and geese for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of goose and blue clothes for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of goose in clothes for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of geese and hens on road for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

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

Beatrix Potter illustration of kittens playing in garden for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of mother and baby cat for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

“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.

Beatrix Potter illustration of mother cats talking for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of messy bedroom for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

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

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

Beatrix Potter illustration of messy bedroom for bedtime story Tom Kitten

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

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

Beatrix Potter illustration of swimming geese for bedtime story Tom Kitten

Beatrix Potter illustration of geese in pond for bedtime story Tom Kitten 

Children’s Short Story by Beatrix Potter

 
Original illustrations by Beatrix Potter 

Header illustration adapted from illustration by Beatrix Potter 

Let’s Chat About The Stories ~ Ideas for Talking With Kids

 
Responsibility 

1. Tabitha Twitchit took a great deal of care in cleaning and dressing her kittens for their visitors. Was it their fault that the clothes got dirty? Why or why not? 

2. What might have been a better thing for Tabitha Twitchit to do, than smacking the kittens and putting them into bed? 

3. What might the kittens have done to help fix the situation? 

Empathy 

4. How do you think Tabitha Twitchit felt when she saw the kitten’s clothes all dirty and gone, after she had asked them to take care? Why would she have felt like this? 

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