We library workers have a LOT of pets. A very kind and persuasive staff member fostered kittens for a local rescue for years: we have many, many cats among us. And dogs.
People who share their lives with animals know that they have a lot to say—with a woof, a mew, a reach of a paw (or claw!), a twitch of the tail, a plaintive sigh when a walk is not forthcoming. And could human eyes ever be so expressive?
So this January…we checked in with our favorite furballs and imagined all they might say (or choose from the library for themselves): here are their pet picks.
“My love for Kitten’s First Full Moon can be traced to my early upbringing in rural Connecticut and my experience as a young cat in the out-of-doors.
I, too, used to spring, bump, and bang. I chased through gardens and ran by the pond. Climbed to the top of the tallest tree, scared though I may have been. And upon my return there was always a little bowl, waiting just for me. I was a ‘Lucky Kitten!’
Ha, of course I do not think the moon is a giant bowl of milk! I may have been born in a barn, but I am now a well-heeled city cat of seven years, thank you very much. Not that I get outside anymore to investigate such things…these days I greet the moon through the window and only venture as far as a visit with my friend Zach, the cat down the hall: the life of an apartment cat.
Thank you for letting me share my favorite picture book with you this month.”
-Very Truly Yours, Minna (& Carrie)
What Pete Ate from A-Z: where we explore the English Alphabet (in its entirety) In Which a certain DOG DEVOURS a MYRIAD of ITEMS which he should NOT by Maira Kalman
“I was looking for a self-help book about how to positively cope with my boredom and borderline separation anxiety. My human adores Maira Kalman and I like to eat so I figured I’d check this out. What I found was validation!
‘Egads! Doesn’t Pete Know the difference between edible and inedible?’ I like this quote because my humans shake their heads and sigh after I eat certain things. I’m still working on the concept of edible/inedible, having eaten avocados, a bed (mine), a cell phone, furniture, gloves, lettuce seedlings, masking tape, paper towels, pillows, remote controls, shoes, sponges, stuffed animals, ukulele music, a watering can, and a zipper. Looks like I still have some more of the English alphabet to explore. I totally relate to Pete, except I eat my kibble too!”
–Respectfully submitted by: Bruno Blatt (aka B-Boy & Boo), Age 16 months, Peaks Island, ME (& Jerri)
“Just like Chet the Wise in Dog On It, in my doggy ways I’m full of heart and occasionally (almost always) prone to mischief. I’m loyal to my parents, and love to cuddle very much. I enjoyed this read because it’s about investigation, as I enjoy being curious and finding things to sniff throughout my daily walks with Daddy. And hey! I have an annoying cat brother called Ron.”
-Odo (& Will)
“Hi, my name is Ron (and yes! your guess is right: I’m named after Ron Weasley). Born a Canadian, I lived for eight years in Falmouth in the States, and about a year ago I traveled to Westbrook. In Westbrook I have been to every house in my neighborhood which I kinda like a lot. I share with you my Travel Book as I wonder where fate will take me in the next chapter of travels…maybe Ghana? Who knows! Worry not, I will send a post card your way.”
-Ron (& Will)
“Night Boat to Tangier is about gangsters. I would have made a great gangster. Just last night–between the fence and the blackberry bushes–I had to whack an opossum. He showed me no respect. As great as this book is, it actually does not contain enough whacking. Mostly just allusions to wrongdoing. The book is actually a heartbreaking tale of friendship, which, for me, is nearly as good as an invigorating whack. The two gangsters in this book are constantly talking and they don’t express their emotions directly. That was another way for me to empathize with these people. I was plucked from Georgia at 8 weeks old, so the storyline in this book about the missing daughter hit me right in the solar plexis. The daughter is what her father and his friend call a “crusty.” I like crusties. Crusties are often accompanied by dogs like me. I’m a cross between a pitbull and a catahoula leopard hound. Crusties don’t bathe much, just like me, and they don’t have much regard for societal norms, also like me.
Perhaps the best part of this book, though, is the writing. The kind of writing I like is visceral and concrete. In just a few words Kevin Barry is able to remind me what it feels like to be alive on this earth. When I’m on the couch I like feeling like I’m not on the couch, so if that’s something you like, too, read this book.”
-George (& Lewis)
Finlay is our sweet beagle who we first met way up in Newfoundland. His favorite things are to snooze in the sun on the couch with his favorite people, to eat as much food as possible, and to try as hard as he can to get close to a cat. Why? He can’t quite say (and we’ve never really given him a chance to show us). But whether it’s out on a walk or in our back yard, if there’s a cat around, he lets us all know with a classic beagle howl!
So, we combined some of Finlay’s favorite things by all reading Bodega Cat on the couch in the sun. My kids thought that Chip, the “boss” of this story’s bodega, was the funniest cat around. Chip runs the NYC store with his family from the Dominican Republic, and shows how they all play a role in making the bodega a spot essential for the whole neighborhood. Finlay snoozed away as we read about this cat and the tasty bodega specials, and I’m pretty sure he was one happy guy.
This is Napoleon, and he loves to read The New York Times. We sit and read it together, every morning. He loves to stay on top of the latest Mews…
As a kitty who loves all things dairy (he is French after all) we love to read the Food Section on Wednesdays. We pick out what recipes we plan to try in the future and then he’ll beg me for tastes as I’m cooking. One of our favorites this year was “Vinegar Chicken with Crushed Olive Dressing” by Alison Roman of Dining In fame. Though it was chicken, not dairy, he still was a beggar for little morsels when it was done cooking.
Jack & Rose
Jack and Rose are feral rescues from Southern Maine who have been thick as thieves since I brought them into my home last year. Sometimes I hear them chatting in the basement but I can’t quite make out what they’re discussing. I’m convinced they’ve built secret passageways throughout the house as they vanish without a trace for hours but always reappear at dinner time. Funny thing about dinner time, too, is that they are able to convince me to feed them whatever they desire. Sure enough, I caught them reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu before nap time the other day. This classic book of military strategy can allegedly teach you to conquer your opponents and gain a loyal following. Sun Tzu writes “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” I think it’s working. I’d do anything for them at the slightest purr.
Mungo’s recommendation: heroes, heroines, swashbuckling men in boots and fantastic hats, sword fights, political machinations…it’s the BBC tv series The Musketeers! All three seasons are available via MaineCat. Mungo loves to settle down on a lap and escape to this world where good mostly conquers evil and where courage, love, passion, and panache prevail. (Mungo thinks he would have made a splendid Musketeer.)
Mungo’s roommate, Violet, recommends Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty. The luscious, color-drenched paintings are enchanting. They accompany nuggets of writing in which melancholy and joy rub elbows, as in this passage: “My husband died at the age of 49. I could collapse thinking about that. But I don’t want to talk about that now. I want to say that I love that George [Gershwin] is nearby under a leafy tree. And Ira Gershwin too. It’s very cozy.”
Violet suggests you find a sunny spot, snuggle up with a beloved human, and lose yourself in Kalman’s vision for an hour or so. (She would also like readers to know that the book in the photo is her own personal copy. She would never leave a library book open like that.)
This is Midna.
She advises folks to check out PPL’s growing collection of fantasy and role playing manuals and handbooks!
This is Bev. She’s basically a Beatrix Potter character come to life. She’ll occasionally wear hand knit sweaters, and she’s hoping to one day have a hand knit cat friend to play with. This book is inspiring.
And this is Sappho. She’s still a baby, and believes that books are for teething on. For small human friends who are also in the early literacy phase of life, Sappho recommends checking out PPL’s vast board book collection. Some recent favorite titles include C is for Consent and Before & After.
I used to get a lot of knitting done while watching TV or listening to audiobooks. Since adopting Luna and her brother, Neville (white paws and bib), a year ago, knitting has become much more of an active pursuit. No matter where Luna and Neville are or what they’re doing, at the first click of my needles they come running. Chaos ensues: *Neville grabs the ball of yarn and rockets around the house with his ‘prey’. Luna attacks the unspooling strand of yarn- one end attached to my project, the other end attached to the rapidly shrinking ball. After negotiations and offers of treats/toys, I retrieve the ball and rewind the yarn. Repeat from * until project (eventually) reaches desired length.
Like me, Luna and Neville are looking forward to the first official book of Harry Potter knitting patterns, set to be published at the end of January.
My greyhound, Maple, is a study in mindfulness. She is always fully present, noticing and appreciating every sound, smell, or treat. She isn’t bogged down by human mental weight; no wistful reflections on the past or anticipatory anxieties of the future. She suggests reading Now is the Way: An Unconventional Approach to Modern Mindfulness to achieve this level of zen. Cory Allan (of ‘The Astral Hustle’ podcast) combines depth and wisdom with accessible exercises to support living in the moment, as opposed to (as Allan says) getting caught up in “the spaces between the moments.” Even readers who don’t typically enjoy ‘new age’ ideas will likely find thoughts and strategies that resonate. It is always the right time to move towards peace within ourselves, and life with a pet leads us naturally in this direction.
Maple also wants everyone to check out For the Love of Greyhounds, by Alex Cearns. As greyhound racing becomes less popular and widely banned, thousands of these beautiful animals will be in need of homes. The stunning photography in this book captures retired racers in all their elegance, quirkiness, and joy. Maple hopes that learning more about rescued greyhounds will encourage readers to consider opening their homes to a special dog like her. If you’re interested in more information, the local non-profit Maine Greyhound Placement Services is a great resource.
As ever, thank you for reading! We share our staff picks of favorite library materials here at the Life of the Library blog each month. If you are looking for more reading ideas, try filling out a Your Next (Great!) Read form to get a personalized list of reading suggestions from our Reader’s Advisory Staff, or check out our booklists.