Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds


Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds, written by Anthony Hill illustrated by Jane Tanner. Published by Penguin/Viking, Melbourne 2007, 32 pages. Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book.  Paperback edition 


How Lucy's Cat all began...     Q&A with Jane Tanner  

'An inspiring story ... highly recommended' ... Sydney's Child

Lucy had a garden with a lovely tree, where the rainbow birds came down to feed. She also had a tabby cat called Artemis – the Hunter ...slinking softly, stealthily, silently through the grass...

Then one day POUNCE! Artemis tried to catch a rainbow bird to feed herself.

So begins Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds, Anthony Hill's first picture book for very young readers, illustrated by the much-loved artist for children, Jane Tanner. How can Lucy let the garden, the cat and the rainbow birds be at peace?

Lucy bought a little bell which she hung on the collar around her cat's neck, to give the birds fair warning...

But Artemis learned how to keep her head very still. Softly, silently she crawled through the grass without one tinkle! from her bell.

The story presents a genuine problem and works through to a solution. Hill uses language patterning with carefully chosen sounds, and this combines effectively with the dramatic, expressive illustrations. Children's Book Council of Australia

For more info about the story, go to How Lucy's Cat began... For more info about the pictures, go to Q&A with Jane Tanner.

To celebrate New Year, the  paperback edition of Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds will be published by Puffin Books in February 2009.

It features a different picture on the cover (it's the last illustration in the book – reversed!) And the background colour has changed from pink to cream.

Priced at $14.95, contact Anthony to place advance orders for personally signed books with a free Lucy's Cat bookmark.


Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds Q&A

Where did you get the idea for Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds?

The story is based on a real cat we used to have called Toby, to whom I dedicate the book. Toby tried to catch the parrots in our Canberra garden. So we put a bell around his neck ... then a second, third and fourth bell.

In real life, Toby had FIVE bells on his collar, but in the book we only made it four. It's a more satisfying number for storytelling.


Ha! Ha! By Jane Tanner


Was Toby a tabby cat like Artemis?

 No. Toby was a ginger cat. When I first wrote the story I made Artemis a ginger cat too.

But as Jane began to work on her wonderful pastel illustrations, she realised that a tabby cat would give much better contrast to the brightly-coloured parrots, lorikeets and cockatoos.

So we changed Artemis.

Books often have their beginnings in real events, but the needs of art sometimes require them to change a bit.


Artemis, by Jane Tanner



When did you write the story?

The story of Toby and the five bells first appeared as a paragraph in The Shadow Dog, my book about our dog Sebastian.

My friend Verona used to tell it to her daughter, Lucy. Lucy told it to her friends. And they so enjoyed the story, that Verona said I'd better write it down.

So I did. And I put in Lucy's name as well. Actually, we have a step-granddaughter who is also called Lucy. So they both have a place in the story.


The real Toby sitting on our old dog Sandy

Why is the cover of the paperback edition different?

The covers of hardback and paperback editions of books often change to broaden their appeal to different markets.

For Lucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds I tried an experiment with Years 1 and 2 at a primary school.  I asked the boys whether they preferred the pink or cream covers? Only one boy preferred the pink. The others all liked the cream! The girls, though, were quite evenly divided between the pink and cream covers.

The Q&A section of my page on The Burnt Stick shows another instance where the colours – though not the picture – changed between the hardback and paperback editions.