The Grumblebelly Cat

Reading material

Finnish edition
English illustrated pdf

Original title: Kurnivamahainen kissa

Published: 2017

Publisher: Karisto

Class/genre: Picture Book

Pages: 46


Arvid Lydecken Prize nominee 2017
Runeberg Junior Prize nominee 2018
Torch-bearer Prize winner 2018
Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize nominee 2018

In a barren land, when a little girl meets a gigantic cat that threatens to devour her, she makes it a smart offer. The girl leads the cat across the lands, looking for something to satiate its hunger before it eats her, but they encounter draught, destruction and people who have nothing to eat except their dreams. When the cat gobbles up the girl, she finds something in its belly, something that has made it so hungry…

The Grumblebelly Cat is a classical fairytale about a contemporary subject. The detailed, monochrome illustrations by Teemu Juhani add another layer in the story.

Rights sold:
FINLAND, Karisto (Orig. publisher)
GERMANY, Dressler/Oetinger

Praise from prize juries:

“The Grumblebelly Cat is hugely exciting, especially the truly awful characters of the giant cat who eats everything and Mr. G. Reed, who gorges himself in the cat’s stomach. The protagonist, the cool and quick-witted girl, ensures that the excitement never becomes too much. The nicer side of the cat eventually appears when it gives up its gluttony in return for something much better – the girl’s friendship. – – Hai’s insightful story draws on an array of literary tradition and myth. The Grumblebelly Cat is above all an unadulterated fairytale which features typical elements of the genre, such as victory of the underdog and terrible opponents. However, Hai’s book revisits the tradition of the fairytale in a highly original fashion and adds new ingredients.” – Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2018 jury on nomination

Whole nomination motivation in English:

“In a dying land, a little girl meets a gargantuan cat. The cat is unrelievedly hungry and intends to eat the whole world, because nothing less will do. The fascinating and intense text captures the readers on the very first page and leads them safely through the exciting, densely atmospheric adventure towards the end. Hai’s story draws inspiration from fairy tales, fantasy and girlhood: little girls have power that supersedes dominion and greed.” – Arvid Lydecken Prize jury 2018 on nomination

“A classic but original, terrifying fairytale.” – Torch Bearer Prize jury 2018 on nomination

”A linguistically clever adventure story, deep down about greed that nothing can satisfy, and about the courage that can live within the smallest of us. – – Excellent potential to address to readers all around the world.” – Torch Bearer Prize jury 2018 on announcing the winner


Editorial praise:

“From the first moment I met Magdalena Hai’s wonderful girl hero, I knew that this manuscript was something incredibly rare and wonderful. Ms Hai has written a very timely, but timeless, relevant and empowering story about universally important themes without ever talking down to her readers. She’s at eye level with the children, even the very smallest of them, who will all be delighted by the story of the brave, compassionate and fierce girl defeating greed and saving the ever-hungry cat with the grumbling belly. The power of this book’s message will reach every child just as much as us adults reading it with or to them.” – Editor Anna Herberhold, Dressler/Oetinger, Germany


Praise in the press:

“A wise and fearless fairytale novel about a cat with an appetite bigger than itself. At the same time it is a story about a girl smaller in size than her soul.” – Aamulehti newspaper

“A balanced, artistic fairytale, warmly recommended for anyone up from 4 years.” – Kosmoskynä magazine

“Magdalena Hai’s strength is the assured handling of the wonky, absurd world. She carries the story through strange landscapes where everything is possible.” – Vakka newspaper


Praise in the blogs and online:

“Teemu Juhani’s detailed monochrome drawings illustrate Magdalena Hai’s fantastic tale abundantly and charmingly.” – IBBY Finland

“Magdalena Hai and Teemu Juhani have created a modern and astonishingly dense and intense fairy tale, which, like classic fairy tales, uses current issues to address to readers of many ages and different situations.” – Lastenkirjahylly blog

“A great fairytale about a big issue.” – Kujerruksia blog

“An adventurous and meaningful fairy tale complemented by fine, subtle illustrations.” – Kirjapöllön huhuiluja blog

“Hai’s narration is absolutely wonderful. It is intact and the sentences are well-thought-out, well-groomed, good. The language Hai uses makes one feel warm, cozy and safe. Teemu Juhani’s illustrations are a great match to the story, and I fell in love with his drawing style for good.” – Lukeva peikko blog

“Hai writes meticulously and the world of the book makes one think of our own world, the crises of which are reported daily. The Grumblebelly Cat does not point fingers, preach, or teach, but through narrative means shows what happens when greedy people rule their environment with fear and cruelty. A story about friendship and trust is also nicely included in the tale. The dramatic arc is finely rounded off by a happy ending. The reading experience is made particularly enjoyable by the fact that the protagonist is an active and fearless girl who starts to right the wrongs when facing them. The Grumblebelly Cat’s illustrations are by Teemu Juhani. The black-and-white, ornate artwork is well-suited for the rugged world of this fairytale.” – website


Magdalena Hai

Magdalena Hai is a lover of cross genre fiction and all things strange, and her fiction often combines elements of sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Besides writing Hai teaches writing and is an active member and editor in the publishing co-operative Osuuskumma.


Magdalena Hai

The Beggar Princess

2012, Young Adults

Magdalena Hai

The Third Sister

2018, Young Adults

Magdalena Hai

Miss Swift’s Weird and Wonderful House

2020 Summer, Middle-Grade

Related news