The Cat and the Devil

The Cat and the Devil

By Author / Illustrator

James Joyce, Lelis Leslis


Fairy Tales & Folk Tales

Age range(s)



Little Island








A delightful children's story by James Joyce in a gorgeously illustrated new edition.

This gorgeously illustrated picturebook brings back the delightful children's story written by Ireland's greatest writer, author of the Modernist masterpiece Ulysses, James Joyce.

Originally written for Joyce's grandson, Stephen, the story has long been out of print in English due to uncertainty surrounding its copyright status. A recent change in copyright law emboldens Little Island to bring out a new edition.

On 10 August 1936, James Joyce wrote a letter to his grandson Stephen. In the letter he told, in simple language, the story of how the Devil built a bridge across the river at the town of Beaugency. As usual, the Devil wanted a high price for his gift. But the clever mayor of the town outwitted the Devil by making use of the Devil's fondness for cats.

This was an old French story but Joyce gave the mayor the name of a famous mayor of his own home town of Dublin in Ireland: the popular politician and character, Alfie Byrne.



What a strange story! The Cat and the Devil is a quirky read with some very interesting pictures. The story comes from a letter than was originally written by the author to his grandson and is an old French folktale, retold with an Irish twist. The folktale tells the story of how the bridge was erected across the River Loire in Beaugency, France. It has some very dainty drawings and paintings which I think the children will enjoy although I think the story itself is quite difficult to follow.

It's all about the devil making a deal with the Lord Mayor about his reward for building a bridge for the town, however, I think the story lacks clarity and detail. It also has parts of the story written in French which are translated into English underneath but again, it's not made incredibly clear. A nice book to look at but lacking substance. A very simple story which I feel has been too overcomplicated to enjoy properly!

32 pages / Reviewed by Lucy Newton

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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