Red Fox Picture Books is to publish a prequel to A Street Cat Named Bob for the under-fives market.
My Name is Bob will tell the life story of Bob the Cat before he found a home with homeless busker James Bowen. The original book, A Street Cat Named Bob (Hodder Paperbacks), was inspired by the friendship between Bob the Cat and Bowen.
After discovering the story, literary agent Mary Pachnos of Aitken Alexander Associates secured the pair a book deal with Hodder & Stoughton and A Street Cat Named Bob, authored by Bowen, soon became a bestseller.
For My Name is Bob, Random House Children’s deputy publisher Sue Buswell acquired world rights from Pachnos and will publish in May 2014.
“We took the simple elements of the story: a lonely man and a lonely cat who find each other,” Buswell told The Bookseller.
Rights director Bronwen Bennie said the book received an overwhelming response at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
“Without a doubt My Name is Bob was our book of the fair, securing a pre-emptive US offer, with German, Dutch and Brazilian offers to come shortly, plus much more interest from across the globe,” she said.
The book was penned by Bowen and Jenkins and illustrated by Gerald Kelley, who has worked with publishers including Oxford University Press, Random House and Scholastic.
Buswell said it was Bob himself who chose the artwork. “When we spread out the six colour samples and pencil roughs from our six selected illustrators, it was Gerald’s artwork that Bob walked onto the table to look at, then he sat down in front of it and placed his paw on the picture,” she said.
The story of Bob and James has led to several literary offerings that have proved hugely popular with readers of all ages—sales of their titles across both hardback and paperback recently passed the £4m mark.