Cool stuff from the selectors. What more could you ask for? Food, Cats and Storytelling

CoverDavid Wiesner And The Art Of Wordless Storytelling
This is definitely a book for someone who has an interest in children’s illustration as it contains well-researched and far-reaching essays on the history and development of book illustration as an art form.

David Wiesner is of course the focus, and I enjoyed revisiting his wonderful illustrations. I remember sharing these books with my children, all of us having varying viewpoints about what was happening, delving deeper into each illustration with each reading. This is a beautifully produced book.

CoverFrom the sublime to the ridiculous! Crafting with Cat Hair is the sort of book you just have to have a look at because it is so unlikely. Taking itself completely seriously, this book gives you in-depth instructions on how to use your moggie’s fluff for felting crafting pleasure.  Perhaps if you are so inclined, it could be a way to immortalise your feline friend.

CoverFood Fights and Culture Wars
Chomping away on my couple of pieces of dark chocolate, it was interesting to read about the violent past of chocolate. The chocolate we eat today is barely recognisable as the cacao that was produced by the early Mayan people.

Cadbury (whose Dunedin factory is set to close next year) was founded by Quakers. Their desire to fend off slavery underpinned the chocolate trade. Filled with beautifully reproduced pictures from the British Library, this is a fascinating romp through history and food.

Author leaves legacy of laughter, memorable cats and tears

Cover of Paws in the ProceedingsI was saddened to hear recently, via the library necrology, of the death of the writer and broadcaster Deric Longden. He had a great talent for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and for bringing to life the people and cats he encountered – I have thoroughly enjoyed re-reading his complete works.

I first discovered Deric when I heard him speak in Grimsby many years ago. On that occasion he was talking about his first two books Diana’s Story and Lost for Words which respectively tell the story of his first wife’s debilitating illness, now believed to be ME, and the final few years of his mother’s life. These books are full of his characteristic warmth, humour and delight in everyday happenings but are tempered by sadness and tragedy. The portraits he creates of Diana, so courageous and determined despite constant pain from a then undiagnosed condition, and his mother, who also has a wonderful way with words but then suffers a stroke, are truly memorable and moving. These are two books which can make you laugh and cry, sometimes in the same sentence.

Cover of A Play on WordsDeric hints at an interest in cats in these two works – I particularly enjoyed the references to the tall kitten next door – but from The Cat Who Came in from the Cold to Paws in the Proceedings, his final work, the cats in his life take centre stage. The everyday adventures of Thermal, Tigger and friends (including Ralph the sultana) are interspersed with the Huddersfield-based experiences of Deric and his second wife Aileen (novelist Aileen Armitage, who is registered blind). A visit to the local shops can become an epic journey with many eccentric characters and situations to encounter.

Some cats come and go – over-excitable kitten Frink, old timer Arthur and feral Nokia – but ever-loyal Thermal and mother hen Tigger are recurring characters and it is a delight to follow them over the years, from adorable kittens to elder statescats ruling the Longden household.

Deric was remarkable for his ability to provide a warm and loving voice for the elderly, the disabled, the eccentric and the feline, and for his celebration of everyday life.

What does your cat get up to in winter?

One of the things I love about winter is the cuddliness of cats. I know they are only after the warmth, but there is something very cosy about having a purring cat on your lap on a cold winter’s day.

The search for warmth is an obvious bit of cat behaviour, but the other things they get up to can be a bit of a mystery. Why do cats seem to go a bit crazy in the evening? (probably just high spirits, unless they have a flea bite somewhere they can’t scratch).

Why do cats stare at you then look away? (It’s polite. Continued staring is domination behaviour) Why do they always want to sit on the newspaper or book you are reading? (You are staring fixedly at it. This is an invitation to sit there) and what do they get up to when they take their little outings?

To answer this last question researchers in Britain recently  put tracking devices on the cats in a village, then watched to see what they got up to. You can get a look at what they did after they left the house.

To learn more about cat behaviour try our collection of useful books on the subject.

Tell us what your cat gets up to in winter.

Cats r us

I shall say nothing on the current cat debate, though the links between cats and librarians are as mythically strong as cardigans, spectacles and shushing. But we do have a bit of a cat history here at Christchurch City Libraries and I can’t resist sharing some of our awesome cat pics:
Barbara Collie and George
Public Library Cat
More here , if you are so inclined.

Animal wisdom: Avoid biting when a simple growl will do

My two loved pooches
We have probably all seen this list of things we can learn from dogs including:
  •  Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
  •  When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  •  When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  •  Delight in the simple joys of a long walk.

Cutesy it may be, but book publishers are also seeing a market in anything to do with human/animal relationships.  In the last couple of years we have purchased at least 35 – 40 books on this topic or the Library. Dogs seem to feature mostly, and are seen as the loyal emotional bearers of happiness and self-awareness that most of these books celebrate.

CoverCats being the fickle creatures they are seem less prominent.  I am yet to find out what we can learn from rats, but maybe they are the next “big thing”?

People who do not have pets will probably find all of  this completely barmy, so I have  included a few titles that will either change your mind, or just confirm your belief in the craziness of devoted pet owners, (of which I confess am one).

Library tree cat

On Thursday 21 October 2010, customers on the 2nd floor pointed out a grey cat sitting in a tree through sun and hail, looking lost. The fire brigade came along to try and coax him down from his lofty perch.
The drama ended when he crossed to the other side of Gloucester Street, using the tree as a leafy airbridge.

Libraries and cats have a long lasting connection. Last year we hosted a lost cat called Dell and there have been other cats in our libraries as more long term guests – including George who lived in the old Canterbury Public Library from 1963 to 1976 and Pete the Shirley Library cat.

Library cats

caught 2 mices, lolcat is sleepy nowz
The Central Library currently has a furry interloper (named Dell in the interim) and here he is.

He’s not the first cat to grace one of our libraries – our 150th website has an article about some of the furry friends who have been hosted over the years, including George, Pete, Charlie Girl, Starsky, Malvina and Boysie.

See Dell in The Press on Friday morning: Famished feline finds refuge in literary liaison. Media star!

Fifi la Belle: Ship’s Cat by Lucy Davey

Margaret Kedian of Magpies describes Fifi la Belle: Ship’s Cat by Lucy Davey as an absolute delight but I wasn’t as convinced. It should be popular with little girls of about 4 to 6 years and it has all the ingredients of this genre. A spoiled cat, a doting owner, a crazy land and sea journey and lots of interesting rhyme and rhythm to stop the parent reader from dozing off on the tenth reading.

This is the third book in the series and the colourful prose is matched by equally colourful illustrations by Christine Ross.

Pet Sounds

This morning I read that Meryl Streep is to play librarian Vicki Myron in the film version of Dewey : a small-town library cat who touched the world. If you are not familiar with the story, Dewey Readmore Books was a gingernut cat found stuffed into the return slot of the Spencer Public Library in Iowa.  Luckily Dewey was found by Myron and spent the rest of his nineteen years at the library, where he charmed visitors and contributed to a healthy community spirit.

I haven’t read the book, but the story got  me thinking about animals at Christmas.  It’s well documented that the holiday season can be an especially bad time of year for pets. Abandoned pets turn up regularly at animal shelters, as that cute Christmas kitten grows into a curtain-ripping monster.

Adopting a pet can be a huge decision.  If you are thinking of adopting a pet this Christmas, or giving one as a gift, there are some good resources around for helping you make the choice. The December issue of Pet New Zealand has a guide to help you make the right pet choice for you and your family.

If you do decide to adopt, Christchurch City Libraries has plenty of books on petcare, and links to many petcare websites on our Internet Gateway.