Ready for a brand-new, 100-year-old tale by Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter?

Two years ago Jo Hanks, publisher at Penguin Random House Children’s in Britain, came upon a reference to a mysterious Potter manuscript featuring “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life”. Hanks tracked down three handwritten manuscripts, a rough colour sketch of our hero, Kitty-in-Boots, and a pencil sketch of Kitty’s nemesis, Mr Tod.

The Tale Of Kitty-In-Boots will be published in Britain in September, Penguin Random House announced recently.

“The tale really is the best of Beatrix Potter. It has double identities, colourful villains and a number of favourite characters from other tales,” Hanks said in a press release. “And, most excitingly, our treasured, mischievous Peter Rabbit makes an appearance – albeit older, slower and portlier!”

Archival letters show that Potter intended to finish the tale, but life intervened in the shape of the beginning of World War I, marriage, sheep farming and colds, according to Penguin Random House.

Quentin Blake is renowned for his illustrations for Roald Dahl books.

Quentin Blake is the renowned illustrator of Roald Dahl books.

Award-winning illustrator Quentin Blake has signed on to do the illustrations.

To Hanks, Blake was the obvious choice: “It’s a challenging brief to illustrate a manuscript written over a hundred years ago by one of the world’s most beloved authors, but we knew that Quentin’s energy, rebelliousness and humour were in keeping with Beatrix’s own artistic sensibilities and therefore exactly what this fantastic book called out for,” Hanks said.

Blake described his reaction in the press release: “It seemed almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript. of a story by Beatrix Potter. I liked the story immediately – it’s full of incident and mischief and character – and I was fascinated to think that I was being asked to draw pictures for it. I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me.”

Penguin Young Readers plans to publish The Tale Of Kitty-In Boots in hardcover on Sept 6, 150 years after Potter’s birth and just over a century after she wrote the story. – Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service