Lunar New Year falls on Friday, February 16, 2018 this year. Being Chinese-American, I’ve always had a fondness for the holiday, especially since every year brings us a different zodiac animal to celebrate. The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle, and those born during 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are considered to have the dog as their zodiac animal. To ring in the Year of the Dog, I’ve found a few books in our vast collection featuring the ever loyal, adorable animal.
The First Book of Dogs, published in 1949, was written by Gladys Taber who briefly taught creative writing at Columbia University during the late 1920s.
Illustrator Bob Kuhn, known for his wildlife and animal illustrations during his era, said, “I don’t know why I paint animals. All I know is when I was a very little boy, there was something about animals that grabbed hold of me. To me, the fun of painting animals is to be the stage manager, the arranger, the fellow who selects out the stuff that doesn’t abet the subject and the mood, and to bring in the things that would enhance the mood. Having the temerity or courage, having figured things out, to bend them or change them when the painting calls for it, is the final test of whether you’re functioning as a naturalist or a painter.”
Taber’s book can be found in our Historical Children’s book collection.
Published in 1957, it only cost 50 cents to purchase a copy at that time, specifically designed to fit into the hands of young readers. Books back then were not designed with young readers in mind and often were large, expensive and heavy tomes (in fact, you can read more about the history of Little Golden Books here). The Giant Little Golden Book of Dogs features full-color illustrators done by Tibor Gergely, a self-taught Hungarian-American artist who worked on many projects in the Little Golden Book series, including The Little Red Caboose.
Moving on from the Historical Children’s Book collection (though I could probably talk about this collection forever), I stumbled upon a few old books featuring various etchings of dogs. “The Variety of Dogs” published in 1863 by Philibert Charles Berjeau, who was a 17 year old engraver following in his father’s footsteps at the time of its publication. Charming in both its content and its design, this book features illustrations of dogs that are found in old sculptures, pictures, engravings, and other books. If you can’t make it to the library in person to look at this, select pages are also online via Google Books.
Lastly, we have Diana Thorne’s “dog-basket,” a limited edition (only 1500 copies were printed) book featuring a series of etchings of puppies, accompanied by a adorably written anecdote for each image.
So, there you have it. May the Year of the Dog bring you health, good fortune, and lastly, many more encounters with super cute, fluffy, woofing doggos.