The State Library of NSW — Australia’s oldest library — has teamed up with one of our most loved children’s authors, Libby Hathorn, to create the Library’s very first children’s picture book. It launched on Thursday 4 November 2021.
The Best Cat, the Est Cat stars a mysterious talking cat who takes two children and readers on a rollicking adventure through the State Library. They are chased by ghosts and spy many amazing treasures, before finally learning the Best Cat’s secret. The story will form the basis of many wonderful activities planned for children here at the Library.
Libby Hathorn has written over 80 books for children and young adults, most recently winning the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, Early Readers, 2021. “Writing a story for children to showcase the State Library’s extraordinary collection was a huge, almost frightening, task,” said Libby. “How was I to whisk kids around a place so large and so packed with weird and wonderful Australian treasures, unless I used some kind of magic?”
“Then a magic cat (one with real ties to the Library) and the EST idea came to me,” said Libby. “It really seemed to be a winner as kids love secrets, and they like the idea ‘ests’ -the biggest and the smallest, the weirdest and the funniest, even the pooiest!"
The Best Cat, the Est Cat was a ‘dream job’ for first-time book illustrator Rosie Handley, who is a graphic designer at the Library. She admits to getting lost there on more than one occasion. Her beautiful illustrations — a unique blend of collage, digital artwork and sketching — capture that sense of wonder of seeing the Library for the very first time and provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of one of the great libraries of the world.
According to State Librarian John Vallance, “The Library holds so many stories, pictures and records of historical firsts, and we are thrilled to be adding our very first children’s picture book to the collection. We hope that readers young and older enjoy this charming tale and realise that this Library is their Library with so many things to see and do.”
The Best Cat, the Est Cat (RRP $24.95) is available from October 2021.