Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Three about animals

A trio of nonfiction animal books, about dogs, cats and chickens.

AlphaCat by Gabriella and Paola Gallerani

This slim and beautiful volume has a two pronged appeal, those who love cats and those who love books. The loose theme of the book is names of cats, from films, history, pop culture and especially literature. Each member of the alphabet is given four oversized pages, The first pair is a neutral colored letter next to a collage of famous cats featuring that particular letter. This can range from the names of cats belonging to eminent people such as Freddie Mercury, Florence Nightingale and Marie Curie to anecdotes similar to the one about Spithead, Isaac Newton’s cat, who inspired the invention of the cat door. The second pair of pages for each letter is a longer excerpt from literature, which includes the expected Alice in Wonderland and Dewey the library cat, but also very funny stories about Jerome K. Jerome’s swearing kitten and the White House cat, Slippers, belonging to American President Teddy Roosevelt. Facing the quotes is a large letter integrated with an illustration of a cat, which are the stars of this book.
These superb and finely detailed paintings by Gabriella Gallerani, show a familiarity with cats in all their moods and motions. They are not just sitting upon the letters, but entwined around them, sometimes grooming or playing in pairs. Often they are intent upon a bird, butterfly or gecko, making lovely vignettes. The large sized format displays an attractive cover with tiny paintings on the back and spine. And the end papers are spread with the alphabet, each letter with a line drawing of a cat. They are nice touches to a book that already feels like a wonderful treat.
Officiana Libraria 2013 128 pp. ISBN 978-88-97737-17-9

Pure Joy by Danielle Steel
pure joy cover
In a departure from her romance novels, the author reminisces about the dogs she’s known through her life, centering on her current favorite, Minnie, a cute long-haired chihuahua who routinely travels with her to Paris. Though there are a few sad stories, most of the anecdotes are filled with various canine personalities and their interaction with each other and Steel’s large family(at one point she and her husband had nine children and 11 dogs. How did she get any writing done?). This slim volume would be enjoyable for anyone who loves dogs, as well as fans of Steel’s other books.
Delacorte Press 2013 176 pp. ISBN-13:978-0345543752 available in traditional and ebook formats

The Field Guide to Chickens by Pam Percy
chicken field guide
Whenever I go to the county fair, the poultry building is my favorite to sketch in. This book hints at why, showing the myriad varieties of chickens. Modeled after traditional field guides for wildlife, this book focuses on the distinctive features that mark each breed. We learn not only about colors, sizes, feather patterns and origins of each breed, but also about odd-sounding things like rose combs and vulture hocks. There’s a nice overview of the history of keeping chickens (with antique artwork), their behavior and lots of fun facts, but the bulk of the book is given over to profiles of the more than 60 breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association. Each kind is shown with at least one illustration, sometimes more. By using a limited number of artists, this gives it a nice continuity. The best are oil paintings by William Suys, whose lighting is reminiscent of Jean-Francoise Millet. Those and the style of the author, who has a light and amusing touch, make this an entertaining and educational book on a commonplace subject.
Voyageur Press 2006 144 pp. ISBN-13:978-0-7603-2473-8

Jackie is a wildlife artist who has painted dogs, cats and chickens. You can see some of her artwork here .

2 comments on “Three about animals

  1. Sue Williams
    September 15, 2014

    Jackie, as usual you have me intrigued. I do favor cats in the home rather than dogs, mostly because they have to be taken outside and walked unless they are smaller than my cat. And I have always wanted my own chickens! When I was a child there were chickens in the big yard behind us. It was horror day when they would take one to eat. They really did run around without their heads. Thanks for bringing these books to our attention. I am not a fan of Danielle Steel, not a romance novel fan at all, but I would be interested in reading dog antecdotes.

  2. Jackie
    September 15, 2014

    Like you, I don’t don’t read Steel’s romance novels, but I really enjoyed the dog stories.

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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