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Literature / The Tale of Tom Kitten

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The Tale of Tom Kitten is a children's book by Beatrix Potter published in 1907.

One day Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit was expecting guests, so she washed and dressed her three children and turned them out into the garden, instructing them to behave themselves and not to ruin their fancy clothes. You can probably guess what happened next.

This story provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: The female Puddle Ducks invoke this when they put the kittens' hats on, and at the end, the mostly-naked Moppet tries on a bonnet.
  • Aerith and Bob: Mittens, Moppet, and Tom.
  • An Aesop: Obey your mother, or alternatively, don't trust your rambunctious children to keep their nice clothes clean, because realistically, they're probably going to make a mess.
  • Alliterative Name: The mother cat is named Tabitha Twitchit.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: When the kittens are wearing clothes, the girls wear dresses and Tom wears a shirt and pants, but none of them wear shoes.
  • Cute Kitten: Tom Kitten, Mittens, and Moppet, our three main characters, are portrayed as cute, innocent kids.
  • Doomed New Clothes: The clothes get stained by grass, ripped apart, worn by ducks, and finally are lost at the bottom of a pond.
  • Faking Another Person's Illness: Tabitha is too embarrassed to admit she's confined her kittens to their room as punishment, so she lies that they have the measles.
  • Forced into Their Sunday Best: The Sunday best in question are stated to be quite uncomfortable and in Tom's case, too small.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Tabitha wears a dress and her lady friends are seen in dresses and headscarves.
  • Furry Reminder:
    • While Tabitha is fully anthropomorphic, the kittens seem more catlike, preferring to go naked, sometimes walking on all fours (Tabitha even has to remind them to walk on their hind legs), climb on a wall, and, in Tom's case, scratching Tabitha on the paw.
    • At the end, the Puddle Ducks swim like real ducks, and when they look for the kittens' clothes, they do so by flipping upside down in the water like a real duck would.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz":
    • Tom is a cat. Male cats are called tomcats.
    • Similarly, the lone drake (male duck) is named Mr. Drake Puddle Duck.
  • Meaningful Name: Mittens is a brown tabby with white front paws.
  • Nasal Trauma: The girl kittens trip on their dresses and land on their noses.
  • Odd Name Out: Tom is the only kitten with a human name, and without a two-syllable name or an "M" name.
  • A Simple Plan: All the kittens had to do was stay neat and clean until Mrs. Twitchit's friends arrived. Being kittens, they manage to fail at this spectacularly.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: The kittens consist of two female kittens (mollies) and one male kitten (tomcat).
  • Wound Licking: After Tom scratches Tabitha, she licks the wound.