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  • "Three Little Kittens" is an English language nursery rhyme, probably with roots in the British folk tradition. The rhyme as published today however is a sophisticated piece usually attributed to American poet Eliza Lee Cabot Follen. With the passage of time, the poem has been absorbed into the Mother Goose collection. The rhyme tells of three kittens who first lose, then find and soil, their mittens. When all is finally set to rights, the kittens receive their mother's approval and some pie. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 16150. The poem was first published in Britain in 1833 as an anonymous addition to a volume of Follen's verse and in the United States in 1843. Follen may have developed and refined an existing, rude version of the poem, and, in the process, made it her own. The poem is a sophisticated production that avoids the typical moralization of 19th century children's literature in favour of anthropomorphic fantasy, satirical nonsense, and word play. It is one of the first pieces of children's romantic literature produced for amusement and entertainment, and may be the source of the idiom "to smell a rat".

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