Title (best version for telling):  The Cat and Mouse Set Up Housekeeping


Collector/Author:  Manheim, Ralph


Other Bibliographic Information:  The Cat and Mouse Set Up Housekeeping pp. 6-8 in Grimms’ Tales for Young and Old The Complete Stories.  Doubleday, New York 1977.



Ethnic Origin:  Germany


Running Time: 7-9 min.


Power Center:

The story has humor and suspense.  Its moral message and lesson on trusting an enemy is illustrated at the end of the story when the cat eats the mouse. 


Characters:  cat and mouse














Synopsis:  A cat enters into a deceptive relationship/living arrangement with a mouse.  They make a decision to store a can of oil in a church for harder times in the winter.  The cat periodically goes to the church, under the guise of serving as a godfather for three christenings, drinks oil from the can each time with increasing consumption, finishing it before winter arrives.  When the mouse convinces the cat they should go find the oil at a crucial time in winter, they go and the mouse discovers the can is empty, and then realizes it was the cat's doing.  When she speaks out about his behavior he threatens to eat her if she continues.  Not being able to hold in her disappointment, she continues and the cat devours her.


Rhymes/Special phrases/"Flavor:"


“What name did they give the baby?” – Asked by the mouse in slightly different ways.


“Nothing tastes so well as what one keeps to oneself.”  - Cat (Grimms)

Nothing  tastes better than what you yourself eat.”-Cat (Manheim)

“Nothing tastes better than what one eats by oneself.”-Cat (Haviland)

“Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to oneself.” – (Olcott)


“Good things always come in threes.”-Cat (Grimms)

“Good things always come in threes.”-Cat (Haviland)

“All good things come in threes.”- Cat (Manheim)

“All good things come in threes.”-Cat (Olcott)


Audience:  Elementary, K-6.


Appropriateness of story for audience:


The story’s simple scenes and repetitiveness make it easy for a school age child to follow.  Piaget mentions the importance of repetitiveness in the preoperational stage, so this story is suitable for elementary school children up to seven years of age. The names given in the story to the fictitious kittens are humorous. The children will be old enough to understand them to be ridiculous, but young enough to entertain the possibility of such names.  The story is also developmentally appropriate for elementary aged children.  According to Erikson, children at this age are gaining a sense of roles and institutions in society (relationship of cat and mouse, role of one to go out while the other keeps house).  In addition, they learn the importance of cooperation, as illustrated in the beginning of the story where the cat and mouse make a plan for food for the winter.



Bibliographic Information on other versions/variants (at least two)



     Grimm’s (No named author) (1993) The Cat and Mouse in Partnership, pp. 130-132 in Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales.  Barnes and Noble Books, New York.


     Haviland, Virginia (1959) The Cat and Mouse in Partnership, pp. 32-40 in Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Germany.  Little, Brown and Co.  Toronto


     Olcott, Frances J. (1968) Cat and Mouse in Partnership, pp.47-51.  Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  Follett Publishing Company, Chicago.




Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability,"  "flavor," content, etc.  Stress the differences in style rather than those in content.


Haviland- uses simple sentences more suited for a child to read himself.  The sentences are simple, and a bit choppy for telling.  It is also more explanatory in that no room is left for the child to infer meaning.


Grimm’s-language is ornate or somewhat formal sounding.  A child may wonder because of this, if he should laugh even though the story is humorous.  The language may also cause the child to concentrate much too intensely, and he may not enjoy the story for its worth.


Manheim’s- book is a modern translation of the Brothers Grimm collection.  The language is simplified, and a good mix of the other three versions. 

For an example in Grimms’:

“Oh yes, certainly,” answered the mouse, “pray go, by all means.”

In Manheim:

“Yes of course, said the mouse.  Go by all means”


Olcott-The story is fluid containing no filler sentences. Since each sentence contributes to the movement of the story, it is more efficient than the others.