This summer, Faber & Faber is putting a new spin on T.S. Eliot’s old “cats,” by transforming the author’s stories from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats into picture books with original illustrations. Originally published by Faber in 1939, T.S. Eliot’s book has stayed in print continuously since then, and inspired the long-running Broadway musical Cats (which returns to the Great White Way this month).
Macavity: The Mystery Cat, pairs Eliot’s text with illustrations by Arthur Robins. The book, which follows the trickster cat Macavity, who eludes capture from a police dog on every page, will be released in the U.S. this month, following its U.K. publication last year. The title met with acclaim across the pond, selling 20,000 copies to date, and was the only picture book on The Bookseller’s inaugural Book of the Year list for 2015. The committee said of Macavity: “At a time when publishing’s ‘legacy’ is up for debate, Faber has shown one way in which it can be reimagined for a new generation.”
The origin of the books starts with Faber’s children’s publisher, Leah Thaxton. “I joined Faber four years ago,” she told PW via email, “very aware of the company’s extraordinary publishing heritage, and [I was] fired up with the idea of publishing poetry into the picture book market.” Thaxton hopes that the stylized illustrations will draw a new generation of readers to Eliot’s characters. “I wanted [his] wonderful poems to be presented to a younger audience and we felt Arthur was the perfect illustrator to bring out the rich humor.” Robins (The Teeny Tiny Woman) will illustrate two more picture books based on Old Possum, due out this fall: Mr. Mistoffelees (October) and Skimbleshanks (November).
Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot, illus. by Arthur Robins. Faber & Faber, $9.95 July ISBN 978-0-571-30813-2