The Cat with the Coloured Tail (Gillian Mears, illus by Dinalie Dabarera, Walker Books)
Gillian Mears is a highly acclaimed author of novels and short stories for adults, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award-winning Foal’s Bread. This is her first book for children, written while she was camped in the South Australian Mallee in her converted camper. The eponymous cat with the coloured tail travels around the countryside with Mr Hooper in their ice-cream van. They enjoy looking for heart shapes and spreading joy and happiness with their delicious moon-creams. The cat’s tail can change colour in order to make people feel happy. One day they realise the heart of the world is in danger and they set out to save it. This gentle, lyrical fable-like tale meanders through the lives of the man and the cat. It’s a story that will appeal to all ages and especially to anyone who loves fairytales, although it might be overlooked by young readers among the flashier books in today’s market. The finely detailed coloured-pencil illustrations on each page enhance the mood of the story and, together with the elegant typesetting, give this book a timeless feel.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She now provides freelance publishing services and runs Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath