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November 17, 2014

Guest Post by Daniel Wallace, Author of THE CAT’S PAJAMAS

Louis Fellini, the feline star of Daniel Wallace's new picture book THE CAT'S PAJAMAS, wears clothes, works in a city, goes on picnics...and is based on a real cat --- Mister, the Abyssinian Daniel owned when he was 24 years old. Mister didn't necessarily wear shoes himself, but he still was pretty special. Read more about him in Daniel's guest blog post for National Picture Book Month.



Louis Fellini, the cat who stars in my new children’s book, THE CAT’S PAJAMAS, was inspired by the first cat I ever had. His name was Mister, and he was an Abyssinian, the kind of cat you see pictured in Egyptian art, carved out of obsidian, drawn on pyramids --- the cat of the gods. The honey-yellow color of melted gold, green-eyed, sleek, lissome, elegant. Like Louis, a different sort of cat. My sister Holly bought him for me. I was 24, unpublished, and lived alone in a small attic room, learning how to write. Earlier that fall I’d gone to New York, where, cat-sitting in a loft on the Bowery, I met an Abyssinian and fell in love. I told Holly about it, and three weeks later I had Mister. (You had to be careful about telling Holly things that you liked. She was liable to run out and get it for you the next day.)

Truly: I have met a lot of cats in my life and I have never met a cat that was anything like Mister. Mister was a different sort of cat, original, inventive. He opened boxes --- to get into them and to get out. He slept on my shoulder while I wrote. I took him, unleashed, on walks. My room was in an old Chapel Hill neighborhood where the streets were as wide as avenues, and Mister walked down them with me. Not beside me, like a dog, but parallel, through the hedges and lawns, disappearing sometimes and reappearing minutes later after having done something private and cat-like. He was a private cat, and kept so much, too much, to himself. Smart, too. On an episode of “The Simpsons,” Abyssinians are described as having the ability to change channels on a TV. I would not have been surprised by that at all. Mister may have been lonely, though: one day he brought home a baby possum, unscathed. I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep the possum around so I set it free, but now I wonder if I made the right decision. This was such a long time ago, before there were whole YouTube channels devoted to unlikely animal friendships. Mister was ahead of that curve, too.