According to Minnesota Public Radio, the beloved Beatrix Potter started writing a gender-bending book about a cat—but the book was never completed (it’s now been finished and illustrated by others):
Here’s the backstory to this “new” Beatrix Potter book: Two years ago, a woman named Jo Hanks who’s an editor at Penguin Random House in the United Kingdom came upon a reference to a letter that Potter wrote in 1914. In that letter, Potter mentioned working on the manuscript of a story about “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat who leads a rather double life.”
Hanks dug into Potter’s archives at The Victoria & Albert Museum and she found the manuscript of The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. Potter had written three drafts of the story and had done one watercolor illustration of Kitty, but for various reasons, she died in 1943 without completing the book.
Skip to the present and this lavish debut edition of The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.
What is it with cats and boots? (Not that I mind!) Here’s that one illustration, and they even look like cowboy boots:
Kitty is apparently genderfluid, which will appeal to younger Snowflakes-to-Be:
[The] ominous tone is set in the very first story when Peter Rabbit’s mother gives him and his sisters — Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail — a warning: “Now, my dears,” said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, “you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.” In its own quaint way, Potter’s landscape is every bit as Gothic as the Brontes’.
And, sometimes, as in The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, Potter’s stories are nearly as surreal as Lewis Carroll’s. The “Kitty” in question here calls herself “Miss Catherine St. Quintin,” and she does, indeed, lead a double life. By day she’s the docile pet of a kind old lady; by night she’s a poacher who prowls the countryside armed with an air-gun and dressed in “a gentleman’s Norfolk jacket, and little fur-lined boots.”
Kitty is such a convincing gender nonconformist that she’s mistaken for “a sportsman” by Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, the hedge-hog from an earlier tale. Other recognizable furry faces include fellow feline Tabitha Twitchit, Mr. Tod the creepy fox and a much older Peter Rabbit, described as “stout” and “very fat.” Rest assured, this is the closest we come here to that dread Atticus Finch moment in which a beloved character is changed for the worse.
The book will be released in three days, and you can order it on Amazon, where it’s already #1 in Children’s Classics.
HiHomer tells us about a gang of farm cats (they look to be in very good shape) owned by Corey Karmann of Nebraska. Here’s a video of the herd showing up at feeding time. Listen to those yowls! The owner, who goes by the name karmanno, promised on YouTube to reply to the many critical comments (you can just imagine what was said!), but I haven’t yet seen his reply.
What better way to turn heads on the street than with a head? That’s the philosophy behind these awesome new cat masks designed by Japanese wool artist Housetsu Sato, who uses wool felt to make natural-looking cats heads that fit perfectly atop a human body. The artist has been perfecting the cat head design since April 2015, after he made a two-metre tall beckoning cat for a school festival that became incredibly popular. Sato found that the cat head on its own was a hit with students, who looked like hybrid feline-human beasts when they put it on.
. . . The heads are made of wool and look incredibly realistic if you don’t consider how big they are, and the eyes look like they’re following you wherever you go. All the heads are individually handmade, and the short-haired cat heads can be completed within a month. You can even get a head of your own cat made if you send the artist a photo.
I’ll have a Hili head, please! Ten to one you’d scare the hell out of your cat if you put one on.
. . . The heads don’t come cheap, however. They sell for 648,000 yen, which is about $6,220 US dollars. You can purchase them online from the Japanese site Dwango. The cost is pretty steep, but can you really put a price on walking around with a giant cat head and creeping out everyone around you?
For lagniappe, go read “Careless Whisker” (great title!) at the Guardian, describing an album of music for cats that will be released in late October.