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Cats, Newtown, street art … this charming book has everything.

It was my seven-year-old grandson who first spied The Stripey Street Cat with his beady eye and insisted we buy it, but it’s also a novelty book for adult eyes. Cat-lovers, Newtown-lovers and those interested in street art and urban folklore will all want to own a copy of this beautifully presented little volume.

The authors first noticed the stencilled graffiti cats on family walks around Newtown and adjoining suburbs.  It’s estimated that there are 50 or so altogether, and the Stripey Street Cat Facebook page also reports further sightings. One, in Fitzroy Lane, Newtown, has unfortunately been scrubbed off, to my grandson’s utter disgust. It’s hard enough to get him to go for long walks, but when the promised pay-off is missing, that’s another thing entirely. Luckily another one has appeared recently just up the road from Newtown Library in Brown Street and we stop to talk to it several times each weekend. Let’s hope Sydney City Council and Marrickville Council preserve the others. Newtown Library hosted a guided tour to see the cats in the school holidays – which unfortunately we missed out on.

The cats are said to be the work of a broken-hearted man, who placed them to attract his ex-girlfriend’s attention and as a way of declaring his love (we have to wonder if the girlfriend was a cat fanatic). It’s always the same cat, although it appears in different sizes and configurations and is painted in different colours. Its name is apparently Mim.

Rachel Williams began photographing the cats and the couple added their own text to the 19 pictures here to produce the book – a sweet and simple story about a brave little street cat combing the streets to find its missing friend.

Trying to identify where all the cats are would be a pleasant walk for anybody – especially if you can persuade a few kids along. In fact, I can imagine Stripey Street Cat parties … The round trip lasts about an hour, taking in King Street, Enmore Road, Stanmore Road, Addison Road and points nearby. We have persuaded the authors to give us a map (below). If you compare it with the UBD, Maps 13 and 17, you’ll get a fair idea of where to look. Might see you on the cat quest …

Rachel Williams and Peter Warrington, The Stripey Street Cat, Luxford Print, supported by Marrickville Council, 2012, PB, 40pp, $12.95

Available from Better Read Than Dead and other local bookshops.

If you would like to see if it is available through Newtown Library, click here.

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