Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days of Gift Ideas: Day 1

For People: Books

When I was a little girl, every Christmas my mother always made sure to give me at least one or two books to add to my library. It was in reading Black Beauty that my empathy for animals evolved from its bare beginnings, and in Stormy I imagined the horses running wild on Chincoteague Island, knowing that there really were wild horses there. I still have most of those books. Every year when I'm buying gifts for the Caring Tree kids whose ornaments I picked at church, I always include a little book in the package for them. They usually didn't ask for a book, but it's always a good addition.

Writers tend to collect books, but I think they make great gifts for anyone. The sheer diversity in book titles provides something for every taste. Even on OldMaidCatLady.com, where we only carry books related to cats, there are over 500 book titles available! Here are some of the ways those cater to diverse types of cat lovers:

Children's books are grouped in the category by age group/reading level. For toddlers, a board book like Big Cat by Mark Shulman has fun sliding panels the little ones can pull to choose whether the animal in the book gets something large or small. It's great for teaching them about different sizes of things. Or jump on their interest in the new animated movie with a Puss In Boots interactive book for kindergartners.

First and second graders will love the many books we have about specific cat breeds that teach them the difference between Abyssinians, Birmans and Burmese, or all about American Curls, Himalayans, Somali, Sphynx, Maine Coons, Siamese, and many more. There are even books on big cats like cheetahs, lions, and tigers, or about famous cats like Christian the Lion and Dewey, the Library Cat. There are actually books about these famous cats for several reading levels.

For ages 8-9, I'd suggest books that appeal to their sense of silliness. Kids that age still love to play, and they learn a lot through guided fun in books targeted to their age group. Getting children interested in a book series is a great way to entice them to read more. Choices include the Boing-Boing the Bionic Cat series by Larry Hench, or Norman E. Stephenson's Paw Prints in the Wind series, which begins at this reading level and has more advanced installments.

Ages 10-12 are the "tween" years, when kids begin to explore the wider world and their role in it. Daniel Manus Pinkwater tapped into their budding sense of self in his Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl. Adventure plays a part in many books for this age group, with detective books like The Big Catnap: A Sam the Cat Mystery, The Adventures of Sir Goblin, the Feline Knight and the ever-popular (and quite extensive) Warriors series about colonies of feral cats. And they're discovering fine literature in books like The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which we have in editions for this level that are illustrated by the delightfully gothic Edward Gorey or the more traditional Nicolas Bentley.

Teenagers...ah, teenagers. Surly and reclusive as they may seem, their interest can be piqued by good books like 2000 Newberry Honor winner One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox. Younger teens will enjoy Jennifer Charron Ward's Black of Night, about a cat facing despicable danger, while older ones may prefer the first books of the Curse Workers series that details the lives of a family that can turn humans into animals with a mere touch.

If you're shopping for crafty adults, rejoice! We have several books to spark their creativity, from the hilarious sing-along book with music CD Cat Hymns to the quirky Crafting With Cat Hair. Yes, it's a book about making things out of your cat's shed hair...now that's really turning a messy situation into something positive, isn't it?

If your giftee prefers to read a craftily spun yarn instead, there are bunches of mystery series involving cats, of which we carry several volumes: Shirley Rousseau Murphy's Joe Grey mysteries, Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie mysteries, Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy mysteries, Blaize Clement's Dixie Hemingway mysteries, Clea Simon's Theda Krakow series and new Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mysteries, Rebecca M. Hale's Cats and Curios mysteries, Leann Sweeney's Cats In Trouble Mysteries, and many more. You'll also find several delightful fiction books that aren't mysteries in our Fiction section.

Got a gift recipient who likes to laugh? They'll delight in the books in Old Maid Cat Lady's Humor section, which include several favorites like Garfield, Simon's Cat, I Can Has Cheezburger, the Bloom County books with the ever-quirky Bill the Cat, and books tailor-made for old maid cat ladies, such as A Woman Needs a Man Like a Cat Needs a Bicycle, Outing the Cat Lady: Embracing Your Feline Addiction With Style, and You Know You're a Cat Lover When.... You'll be reading them before you give them to enjoy a chuckle yourself!

If you're shopping for someone who's mired in reality, or who needs some good reference books about cats, try our Nonfiction section. A-Z of Cat Health and First Aid is a holistic guide to cat care that really covers it all, but there are also several other comprehensive cat care and health guides in that category. Behavioral problems? Try Outwitting Cats, The Cat Whisperer, or Petiquette for multi-pet households.  You'll also find charming true stories of real cats like artist Charles Wysocki's Cat Tales and Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul. There's even the seasonal Celebration: the Christmas Cat Book.

And for the true artist at heart, you'll find several good choices in Old Maid Cat Lady's Poetry, Art & Picture Books section. From beautifully illustrated books like The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes to art books like The Cat: 3500 Years of the Cat in Art and photography books like Rachael Hale's The French Cat, the visual arts are well covered. There's poetry by T.S. Eliot, Chas McDougall, and Dexter Weeks, in addition to several anthologies of poetry and short stories honoring everything feline. This is the place to find a great coffee table book for a cat lover.

Even veterinarians on your shopping list don't have to be left out! We have an entire selection of veterinary medical cat books to complete the professional's library. They cover everything from feline anatomy to acupuncture, cardiology, genetics, geriatric oncology, infectious diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, ophthalmology, parasitology, and clinical cat-specialty veterinary practice management.

With such an array of options, is there really anybody on your list whose gift shopping can't be handled with a book? And that's one of the main reasons I love to give books as gifts. Doesn't fit you? Don't worry; we have 11 more shopping days of ideas to come in this series!

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