Christmas Animal Books Plus One

Queenie was a shepherd mix, the collie portion contributing long black fur that set off the ambitious red bow we always attached to her collar on Christmas Day. She enjoyed her big bow, but only until it slid beneath her chin. People don’t like things poking into their chins, and dogs don’t either. She showed her unhappiness in the doggy way:  head tipped down, eyes tilted up. It’s a look we humans can’t ignore, and so we removed her décor. However, she got a new red bow the following year and with the same result.

Queenie loved the Christmas folderol, not asking to go outside until it was almost too late, preferring to race up and down the stairs after my brother or me. And she’d greet all visitors with doggy vocalizations: “Hi, hi, hi! Happy, happy, happy to see you!” Then there were drool-inducing aromas from the kitchen. Turkey and rolls and butter cookies and pumpkin pie, oh my! Right, but no salad, please.

She wasn’t allowed in the living room except for her once-a-year gift when she was invited to step inside forbidden territory. She’d cower and creep in with much coaxing, knowing this was wrong. The first chance she got, she was out of there and back to her spot in the doorway, one paw stretched out to touch the carpet. Dogs have rules. Rules give them comfort.

I also remember Ahlmund, the cat, who aided my mother’s gift-wrapping efforts, helpfully unrolling the ribbon for her all the way into the next room where the Christmas tree stood, the tree that had been brought in, he was sure, for his personal pleasure. I mean, it was obviously his, so why did my mother yell at him when he made it all the way to the top? Some years later, I had cats of my own who attacked only the glass tree ornaments. Plastic was beneath their Siamese sensibilities.

Animal memories like these are as strong as the new bike I got one Christmas morning. Happiness is good.

Animals bring happiness, and so do books about them. Below is a list chosen from my favorites along with a few I recently discovered. At the end is the “Plus One” book mentioned in the title of this post. It’s not focused on the season but is, instead, a perfect Christmas gift for the cat person in your life.

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Christmas Animal Books for Adults

“A Dog Named Christmas” by Greg Kincaid
When developmentally challenged Todd who lives on a farm with his parents discovers a local animal shelter needs temporary homes for its dogs before Christmas, he knows the gift he wants. In spite of objections, Todd gets his wish, and the family fosters a lovable dog that Todd names Christmas. Concerned for the dogs still in cages, Todd manages to convince the town to join in the “Adopt a Dog for Christmas Program.” It’s a beautiful tale of peace on earth and good will toward both people and animals.

“The Cat Who Came for Christmas” by Cleveland Amory
“I could hardly see him at all. It was snowing, and he was standing some distance from me in a New York City alley… He was thin and he was dirty and he was hurt.” It was Christmas Eve when Amory glimpsed a doomed little cat, but it wasn’t doomed at all because Cleveland Amory was a well-known animal rights activist. The cat, dubbed Polar Bear, soon became Amory’s official owner. When published, this book was a bestseller because of both its humor and poignancy. If someone you care about is a cat person, this is a perfect book for them. (Sequels: “The Cat and the Curmudgeon” and “The Best Cat Ever.” Or go for broke and pick up “The Compleat Cat,” which is all three books in one volume.

“A Dog’s Perfect Christmas” by W. Bruce Cameron
Christmas in the Goss family doesn’t include a reprieve from daily problems, but then a stray puppy shows up. As Cameron does so well (author of “A Dog’s Purpose”), writing from a dog’s point of view brings clarity to the story, getting us to see things from a different perspective, and in this case, the troubles within the family. The book’s humor and insight will make it a pleasure to read this Christmas.

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“The Spider Who Saved Christmas” by Raymond Arroyo
Arroyo tells a nearly forgotten legend of when the Holy Family flees Herod’s soldiers, and when the cave spider, Nephila, spins a web that saves them from capture. The sparkling web is actually the origin of the tinsel hung on Christmas trees, and it represents, in the way this story does, that hope can be found even in the darkness. (ages 5 – 8)


“The Christmas Cat” by Efner Tudor Holmes
On a stormy Christmas Eve while a boy is worried that Santa might not be able to make it, a gray cat tries to find shelter, safety, and warmth in the cold and snow of the forest. However, the sound of sleigh bells portend the arrival of a Christmas miracle for both the boy and the cat. (ages 4 – 8)


“The Wild Christmas Reindeer” by Jan Brett
Teeka believes she must be firm with the reindeer when getting them ready to pull Santa’s sleigh, but her loud bossiness results in something close to disaster, leading her to realize she’d better try another method. Brett’s well-written, humorous tale plus her gorgeous illustrations will make this a child’s favorite, be it at Christmas or any other time of year. (ages 4 to 8)

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Plus One: Perfect Gift Book for Cat Lovers

“I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats” by Francesco Marciuliano
This may not have a Christmas theme, but it’s a perfect Christmas gift for cat people. Poems purportedly written by felines give insight to what a cat is really thinking, poems such “This Is My Chair,” “Who Is That on Your Lap?” and, of course, “I Could Pee on This.” Chapter 1, which is devoted to family,  starts off with a funny epigram:

Sometimes when I lie on your warm chest
        And hear your every happy sigh
         I gaze into your two kind eyes
           And wonder, “Who is that?”

Don’t care for poetry? It doesn’t matter. These aren’t sonnets, and they definitely aren’t Shakespeare. Cats write free verse with feline grace along with a very dry sense of humor, and the kitties sign their work with proud photos of themselves. For more books plus an “I Could Pee on That” calendar, go to Francesco Marciuliano’s author page.  Make sure to read his bio. The man is funny. So are his books.

I’ll leave you with this:






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