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John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
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John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,028 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Rose's dog feels he can look after her without any help from a cat, but Rose has different ideas.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published July 31st 1980 by Puffin Books (first published January 1st 1977)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  1,028 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Feb 07, 2015 rated it did not like it

Note: I didn't read this; I saw it on "Sammy's Story Shop."

This story is appalling! Rose, an old woman, and John Brown, her dog, live together happily, until one day the Midnight Cat begins lurking around the house. Rose likes the cat and makes overtures towards it, but John Brown feels threatened and is afraid that (a) Rose might not have enough love for both him and the cat, and (b) the balance of their happy relationship will be changed if the cat moves in, and maybe not for the better. Unde
Rose, an elderly lady and John Brown, her dog are content living together until a cat appears in the yard. For some reason, Rose wants to bring the cat indoors. John Brown, who's either jealous, OR protective, wants the cat to remain outside. The old lady plays sick until John Brown bows to her wishes.

Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have actually seen this book on a video which was apart of “Weston Woods” and I enjoyed it then and I enjoy it now! “John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat” is a children’s book by Jenny Wagner along with illustrations by Ron Brooks and it is about how an old woman named Rose wanted to have the midnight cat over for company, but her dog, John Brown, will not allow it. “John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat” is a great tale of true friendship that children everyone will enjoy for many years!

Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book when I was little, but had I known what it was really about I’d have been seriously freaked out. To five-year-old me, it was a nice story about a gorgeous Old English Sheepdog, a sleek black cat, and an old lady who reminded me of my grandmother. A couple of outdoor scenes in the dark of night were a bit spooky, but everything was all right because the story had a happy ending.

Or so I thought.

Little did I know that the old widow, Rose, was tired of life. Little did I know that
u1124876 UEL
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The opening line of this story is 'Rose's husband died a long time ago. Now she lived with her dog. His name was John Brown.'

John Brown is a very sweet sheepdog who is perfectly content with his and Rose's life together and Rose feels the same way. That is until one night Rose spots the midnight cat pottering around in the garden.

I wonder what the midnight cat represents? I think sharing this book with upper KS2 pupils would give rise to some very interesting theories. This book could be seen a
Aug 25, 2016 added it
Subject to interpretation depending on your pov, and your interpretation will color your appreciation.

For example, I couldn't disagree more with the reviewer who says this a horrible book because Rose, the 'adult,' is being manipulative, pretending to be sick when all she really wants is for John Brown to let the cat into their family. Otoh, since she and the dog can use words to talk to each other, they should do so, and Rose should encourage the loyal JB to open his heart. And besides,
Oct 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture
I wish the dog were a normal, non-talking dog. I wish the dog learned to like the cat in a normal, animal way. The sort-of-equal relationship between the old lady and the dog made the story weird. If they are equals, why does she not respect the dog's preference to not let the cat in? If they're not equals, why does she have to trick the dog into accepting the cat? The way Rose pretended to be ill to guilt John Brown into doing what she wanted bothered me. I'm sure it was supposed to be funny or ...more
When this was read to me a child, I was enchanted by the subtle cross-hatch illustrations and the mysterious cat outside the window. Rereading it as an adult, I found myself feeling cynical about the characters. The dog was possessive, the old woman was manipulative and the cat was just plain sinister. Innocence lost.
Maxwell Rae
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got my very own library card! I borrowed this book because mummy recognised the cover. She’s not sure if it’s from when she was a librarian or from when she was a bubba like me. It is first published in 1977, so possibly is both. It got a bit sad when Rose fell ill :-( John Brown is a good doggie, I love him.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is a classic Australian picture book, that every school library has tattered copies of. It has been around since the 70s and is still very much in print. It definitely has the feel of an older style of picture book, as the illustrations - pen cross-hatchings and water colour - as well as the story itself have a more mature feel, not at all feel-good or cartoony.

This is the story of Rose, a widow, who lives with her dog, John Brown. They have a quiet but lovely life together, one of routine
Lily Zheng
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
When first read, it was a really plain book that was about a a possessive dog, the old lady he lives with and a cat that seems to want to join the family. Eventually the cat does, but the book ends with the cat that 'purred'. And that was it. However, talking through it with some colleagues I realized just how sad the story was. Kids may not have picked up that the black cat symbolized death, and that the old woman was always trying to welcome it but the dog tried to push away the inevitable.
Jennifer B.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thought-provoking. I interpreted the midnight cat as a representation of death, but the ending was quite ambiguous.
John Yelverton
Jun 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I found this to be a horrible children's story about a woman who manipulates and starves her dog into accepting a cat in the house.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
I love the name of the dog and the relationship he has to Rose. But, I must admit, I didn't like the ending. I felt it was deceptive for Rose to go to bed and claim she was sick. I would have preferred that she explain to the dog more about how she felt - and acknowledge how he felt. It seems she didn't really see his point of view very well. I think I would have felt better if she had said that she was very sad about the cat, rather than sick. I guess that word choice slightly spoiled the book ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-this
A big fan of this book! A perfect representation of jealousy. And the fact that is older than I am & yet still in print is testament to its appeal. I'm not sure that it would be an entirely accurate portrayal to describe Rose as 'manipulative' as has been suggested by several reviewers. My interpretation of her statement that she was 'sick' perhaps relates to feeling heartsick about blocking others (in this case, the Midnight Cat) from entering their lives. But as with all great stories, I guess ...more
Alexandra Hunter
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I only came across this book today and I think it's wonderful. It could be used across a number of school years with different levels/issues being discussed and discovered by different age ranges. The dog doesn't want to let the cat into his life, Rose does and eventually all live happily ever after. Inclusion and exclusion, predudice, ignorance and acceptance are the key themes.
Rory Wise
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a big fan of symbolism and metaphors, I was fascinated by the underlying themes and representations within this book. An excellent story to tell on surface level for the younger years, or to explore a bit more deeply with the older pupils.
Tara Calaby
I can't remember a lot about reading this as a child, but there's something about it that makes me feel a little uneasy now. I probably just identified too much with the dog ;P
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
It was a sweet tale about a dog, and old lady and a cat. Not brilliant, but kind of soothing. Hope the cat takes care of the mice I saw in one picture.
Sarah Bennett
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
All these children’s books are thawing my ice cold heart.

Just kidding, I didn’t have any icy heart to begin with. But it was lovely to look at all the different illustrations and how simple, yet profound, the stories are.

John Brown, Rose’s dog, was a great character. He’s relatable whilst taking the opportunity to grow and become a better… dog.

Good on him.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A brilliant book which tells the story of a woman who loses her husband and is left with no companion except her trusted dog John Brown. The author depicts the story with a sad theme as the women has no one left to care for her except her dog who she grows extremely attached to as he accompanies her everywhere she goes. However, there is a sudden guest appearance in the book who is quite mysterious and is not favoured by John Brown as he doesn’t like the way she is entering into his and her owne ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The director of the kids daycare centre (hi Sam!) loaned this to us. Jack loved it, but Hue and I may have loved it even more. The rustic illustrations kick ass, and it's a helluva story about the jealousy about a new loved on entering a family circle causing depression. I've read some stuff suggesting that Rose manipulated John Brown with her illness, but I just figured she was really sad about the cat, and hadn't actually REALISED John Brown was being a jealous brat. To be honest, the first ti ...more
Jack Kirby and the X-man
This was the 1977 Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year.

Rose is an elderly widow, supported by John Brown her talking Old English Sheepdog. Rose sees a regular visit, the Midnight Cat, outside each night, and John Brown feels the cat is going to destroy his special relationship with Rose.

I'm not a fan.

The story is excessively sentimental - although I did like the jealousy of John Brown.

I didn't like the cross-hatched illustrations by Ron Brooks

The ending stretches the sus
May 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Have to agree with Jack and the X-man - not a fan - though I did like the illustrations and seeing Jealousy in a picture book.

But - can I smooze in bed until I get what I want? I absolutely believe that complex emotions (like jealousy) are very very difficult to convey through pictures books. "When I'm Feeling Jealous" by Tracey Maroney does a better effort - and my 5 yo at the time at last had a word for what he was feeling when he came 2nd and didn't get the much coveted 1st place medal!)

Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have a faint memory of reading this as a child but all I remembered was that it made me feel a little sad. Read it again the other night with my partner as we were putting his nephew to bed and we both looked at each other and said, is this is a poly story? It could also be interpreted as an allegory for kids of single parents dealing with their parent's new partner, but whether you read the story as standing in for something else or literally, it's a sweet and poignant tale of change in a rel ...more
This is an interesting picture book. The story explores the relationship between a widow and her dog, John Brown. The two have a very comfortable life together. But when Rose sees a Midnight Cat moving through the yard outside, John Brown doesn't like this one bit. He tells the cat to go away, he isn't needed. When Rose puts out milk in a dish, John Brown dumps it out. When Rose becomes ill, John Brown finally agrees to accept the cat into the family to make her happy. The illustrations are love ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Rose is an old widow who lives with her dog, John Brown. They were happy together. Then a cat would appear outside the house. Every night John Brown shooed the cat away but the next night the cat would return.

But that night, when Rose was safe in bed,
John Brown went outside.
He drew a line around the house
and told the midnight cat to stay away.
“We don’t need you, cat,” he said.
“We are all right, Rose and I.”
Sarah Sammis
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2004
The surprise arrived today. Thank you! My son loves cats and books about cats. The story a bittersweet one about lost loves and new loves. John Brown the dog has always been there for Rose and now with the arrival of the Midnight Cat he worries that he will be replaced and no longer needed (no longer loved). Fortunately there's a happy ending for everyone.
Colleen Stone
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
How can I not give this book five stars? My four daughters were all in its thrall as youngsters and often requested it as their bedtime story. It was a great little tale that reassured them that love multiplies exponentially when there are more people to share it. Maybe this book can take some of the credit for the fact that they are all close as adults.
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
My son read this to me as part of his goal of 100 books in a month, and you know what - I loved it. Such a gorgeous tale, well paced, and the illustrations are wonderful too.

We both enjoyed it - he's seven, and we both agree that having cats and dogs in your life bring you so much more pleasure, then an empty house!
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In 1974, Jenny Wagner's book 'The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek' won The Children's Book Council of Australia's Picture Book of the Year Award as well as a Special Award in Book of the Year for that year.

Her book, 'Aranea: a story about a spider' was commended in the 1976 Picture Book of the Year awards.

'John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat' was winner in 1978 of the Picture Book of the Year award.


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