By JOHN E. SCHLIMM II
When it comes to collecting autographs, we often forget the four-legged celebrities. This month, I pay homage to a few furry superstars who, along with their handlers and surrogate scribes, are often more generous through-the-mail book signers than their two-legged counterparts. They also remind us that at its core, collecting signed books is supposed to be fun!
Dewey Readmore Books
In 1988, a cat named Dewey Readmore Books was abandoned in the after-hours drop-off box at the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. Discovered and nursed back to health by the library’s staff, Dewey soon captured the imaginations and hearts of not only Spencer’s residents, but of the entire world.
Last year, Dewey’s superstar status parlayed itself into the bestselling Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron, director of the Spencer Public Library. It’s no surprise then that Dewey has become highly sought after by autograph and book collectors. Myron, who so kindly shared Dewey with all of us, is also a terrific through-the-mail surrogate signer for the famed feline. After sending a letter to Myron, I received an inscribed bookplate, which Myron had signed on behalf of both of them.
Although Dewey passed away in 2006, he continues to leave his paw prints on hearts and in books around the globe. (www.spencerlibrary.com)
Celebrity canine Trixie Koontz comes from a very distinguished line of scribes, starting with her best friend, the legendary suspense author Dean Koontz. Even though she is now deceased, the spirit of Trixie is keeping pace with the elder Koontz, having just released her third book, Bliss to You. Her two previous books were Life is Good! and Christmas is Good! In addition to currently having her own newsletter, Trixie News, a memoir and series of children’s books by Trixie are also in the works.
When I wrote to Dean Koontz to see if he could pull any strings in snagging me an autograph from Trixie, he came through with an inscribed bookplate boasting both his autograph as well as his authorized rendering of Trixie’s name and paw print. (www.deankoontz.com)
While I was crisscrossing the country last year on book tour for The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook, one of the most frequently asked questions I got had nothing to do with beer but rather the dedication page of my book. I had dedicated my cookbook in-part to my dog, Little Coyote. While I was chatting about beer with the thousands of people I had the pleasure of meeting, many wanted to know, “Who is Little Coyote?”
A few years ago, in a nearby town, some children had discovered Little Coyote under an old rusted-out car, nearly starved, emaciated and completely bald from having been abandoned for so long. In fact, when they first saw him under the car, they didn’t even know what kind of animal he was. However, shortly after having been rescued and well taken care of by the local Humane Society, Little Coyote came to live with me. Now, he often sits under my desk as I write. His story of survival in the face of horrendous circumstances and his innate sense of knowing goodness does exist in this world serves as a constant source of inspiration to me and to all those who have gotten to know him across the country.
In addition to gaining a celebrity status on my book tour, Little Coyote, an advocate for art and literature among other causes, recently took another step into the spotlight by allowing his photograph to be used along with those of some of his other barking buddies in the humorous new book of canine poetry titled Dog-Ku: Very Clever Haikus Cleverly Written by Very Clever Dogs by Steve D. Marsh.
Naturally, as an autograph collector, I couldn’t pass up the furry little celeb-pup under my desk. Little Coyote has graciously paw-graphed my copy of Dog-Ku in his favorite color, red, as well as several copies for many of my friends and many of his fans in general.
Little Coyote suggested I tell you, all my autograph and book collecting friends, that whether your dog appeared in Dog-Ku or not, the book would make a fantastic gift with the addition of your dog’s paw print.
He’s the world’s most famous forecaster, boasting his own holiday every February 2, the iconic movie, Groundhog Day, and a series of popular children’s books written by Julia Spencer Moutran. Phil is also a friend to autograph collectors. With the help of his handlers from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and an official paw print stamp, Phil signs up a storm everywhere he goes. I met Phil a few years ago when he contributed a recipe to my charity cookbook, The Pennsylvania Celebrities Cookbook. While he was doing a book signing for the cookbook, he also signed my copy of Moutran’s The Story of Punxsutawney Phil.
Moutran’s other groundhog-inspired books that Phil can sign include Will Spring Ever Come to Gobbler’s Knob? and Punxsutawney Phil and His Weather Wisdom. (www.groundhog.org)