Fairy Houses

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Fairy Houses
How to Create Whimsical Homes for Fairy Folk

Sally J. Smith
Cool Springs Press, 2017

From the back of the book, “It is a rare hobby wherein the world of fantasy and imagination merges so seamlessly with the practicalities of fabrication. If you add a touch of spirituality and a distinct love of nature to the mix, you can only be talking about one pursuit: building fairy houses.

“In her new book, Fairy Houses, Sally J. Smith reveals the secrets behind her amazing fairy house creations. The founder of Greenspirit Arts, Smith has captured the fancy of thousands with the unrivaled beauty and breathtaking design that are the hallmarks of her fantasy creations. Crafted exclusively from natural elements gleaned from the forests near her studio in the Adirondack Mountains, these miniature fairy homes will delight anyone with even a passing interest in mythical creatures or gardening and crafting in miniature. Inside you will not only see inspiring photos of the dozens of houses Smith has created, but you will also find out exactly—in full step-by-step detail—how she did it and how you can do it too.”

This book is filled with beautiful and small fairy houses (after all, fairies are small, tiny in fact) and I loved them. It would be so cool if my human dad would build a few for my backyard; then I could go out and catch some fairies and bring them home to live! The houses are built from bark or rock or sticks or flowers and even from icicles! As beautiful as they are, the houses’ construction is not for the remedial crafter. In order to be successful, the builder should ideally be familiar with measuring and cutting, different types of eco-friendly glue, hammer and nails, dry construction with rocks, basic construction techniques, and most important of all, an eye for design and beauty. In other words, if I would try to build a fairy house with my four left paws, it would be a hot mess!! But don’t let that dissuade you from at least enjoying the beauty of someone else’s art work. The pictures are amazing!!

Rating 3 out of 5 paws, only because the techniques presented in the book are not for the faint of heart!




The Card Catalog

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The Card Catalog
Books, Cards and Literary Treasures

The Library of Congress
Peter Devereaux, Writer-Editor
Foreword by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Chronicle Books LLC, 2017

Excerpts from the Foreword, “For the better part of the twentieth century, the card catalog stood as the gateway to the wonders of a library’s collection. Now it is celebrated in this new book from the Library of Congress. The Card Catalog reflects an important, if unheralded, aspect of our national library—the profound impact of the catalog in organizing the Library’s vast holdings and the role of cooperative cataloging in helping isolated rural libraries serve their communities and larger libraries refine their collections.”

“Since the Library’s establishment in 1800, with a collection of 740 volumes [many from Thomas Jefferson] and only three maps, it has grown into a diverse collection of more than 162 million items, including more than 38 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages. The public is welcome to visit … as we strive to ensure that all citizens can fully and freely access information, and make use of our shared cultural heritage.”

This is a fascinating look at the history of cataloging library collections. Starting with clay tablets written in Sumerian cuneiform, 2200-1900 B.C., to the computer system, MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloging) in 1966 the book covers all forms of cataloging books – both pluses and minuses of each type. Interspersed with the many vintage photographs and tons of information are pictures of books from the Library’s Rare Book Collection, including the original catalog card. Seeing all the different books in their first edition form was fun – I found a number of my favorite ones!

The only thing I wished was included was card catalog art projects. When MARC came into the systems, many libraries dumped their old card catalog system – literally dumped the cards into the bin. However, a few artists spoke up and requested the cards as raw materials for their art. The book mentions this, but offers no examples of the transformed cards. But other than that, this is an excellent book if you are remotely interested in the history of libraries, or even if you’re not, it’s still a good informational and historical reference book to enjoy.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – where’s the art?

Reviewer: jack-loc Jack

Tiny Hats on Cats

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Tiny Hats on Cat


Adam Ellis

Grand Central Publishing, 2015

From the back of the book: “Blogger and illustrator Adam Ellis’s amazing paper hats became an instant internet sensation when he posted photographs of his cat Maxwell wearing his creations. In Tiny Hats on Cats, Adam has fashioned the only book dedicated to taking your cat millinery hobby to the next level. Inside you’ll find pictures of his headgear being rocked by feline models. And once you’re feeling inspired, you can follow step-by-step instructions on how to create thirty-six different hats—one for every occasion—from party hats and fedoras to hats fit for safaris and for solving crimes. All you need are a few basic crafting materials and a healthy level of interest in your cat’s wardrobe, and you’re all set to begin! Tiny Hats on Cats will ensure your feline has the purrfect accessory to don at any soiree!”

I must admit it, the hats in this book are really adorable – but you won’t catch me wearing one of them! Thank goodness, I don’t live with my cousins and my Auntie. She’s already snatched the book from me and is making plans to make hats!!!! Poor Toby – I know he’s going to be her preferred model! The instructions are very detailed and easy to follow, so we’ll have to see how the creations come out!

If you’re crafty – or even marginally so – this book looks easy to follow! You’ll at least enjoy looking at all the gorgeous felines stylin’ and profilin’ in their chapeaus!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for cool hats and appearing to be very easy to make (again, we’ll see!)



Parlor Cats


Parlor Cats
A Victorian Celebration

Cynthia Hart, John Grossman and Josephine Banks
Workman Publishing, 1991

From the dust jacket: “As with the Queen, so with the Empire: when Victoria revealed a love for cats, her people elevated their tabby mousers to a position unrivaled since ancient Egypt. Celebrating that great era of ailurophilia are Cynthia Hart and John Grossman, the arbiters of Victoriana whose books include A Victorian Scrapbook, Joy to the World and Forget-Me-Nots, as well as the best-selling Victoriana Calendar.
“Peeking out from lushly layered collages, here are endearing Victorian cats drawn from a museum-quality collection of antique paper ephemera and surrounded by the spirited tale of a feline renaissance that spread from Buckingham Palace to the parlors of Boston. Generously quoting poetry, nursery rhymes, Godey’s Lady’s Book, and popular authors such as Edward Lear and Rudyard Kipling, each precious page of Parlor Cats evokes in image and word an age that personified the cat as the epitome of domestic value.”

Unlike the previously reviewed book, The Photographed Cat, which covers part of the same time period (late 1800s through the first decade of the 1900s) this book is immensely more readable. Probably because it was written for the general public whereas The Photographed Cat is a more scholarly work. But even if you don’t read it, it’s still quite a book to look at. The cat collages are beautiful: a combination of paper, jewelry, flowers and much more.

Some of the Victorian items showcased include holiday cards, paper images (clip art), calling cards, postcards, jewelry, paintings, advertisements and porcelain figurines. The ads show cats and kittens hawking all kinds of products: shoe polish, cigarettes, snaps, thumbtacks, cigars and soap powder. This is the time of Beatrix Potter and Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat. If you’re looking for inspiration or if you collect cat books, this one is not to be missed.

Rating: 5 of 5 paws because it’s a gorgeous book of illustrated cats and inspired mom to go shopping for all things cat!!




If It Fits, I Sits


If It Fits, I Sits
Cats in Awkward Places

Gallery Books, 2016

From the back of the book, “Anyone who knows cats knows how much they love squeezing themselves into weird, uncomfortable-looking, and unfortunate places. And they do it with such aplomb! Will we ever know why? Probably not. With more than one hundred photos of cats caught in the act, If It Fits, I Sits celebrates the quirky, adorable, no-nonsense spirit of felines everywhere.”

It’s amazing what we felines can get up to, isn’t it? We can get ourselves in the craziest places and in the oddest positions and still be comfortable. This book is full of photos of cats doing just that and some of them are really funny.

I will admit I was worried a little when I saw some of the photos of cats and kittens in outdoor places. I hoped they weren’t strays left to fend for themselves. And that brings up the only thing I didn’t like about the book – that there is no identifiable author and maybe 98% of the photos came from various ‘stock’ sources online. That worries me because with other books, the author/compiler/photographer goes to great length to say no cats were harmed and all the cats were either rescued or adopted. The ones inside are probably fine. But it’s the outdoor kitties where I pause.

Rating 3 out 5 paws only because I worry about the fate of the outdoor kitties in these photos.

if-it-fits-i-sitsReviewer: Simon