Looking for quiet companionship over the holidays? Books might fit the bill. Here are a few to consider:
- “Rehoming Love: Tail Thumping Adventures of Happily Adopted Canines” by Kate J. Kuligowski. (Who Chains You Publishing) Follow the Albuquerque author as she takes you into 37 true stories from more than a century. They’re all about the joy of rescues and the wonder of finding new homes for dogs. In one story set in 1920, the author’s mom, Eileen – she’s 10 years old at the time – wants to take in a neighbor’s unloved dog for one night, because of an approaching storm. The neighbor agrees, then sells the “useless cur, good for nuthin'” to Eileen’s family. She’s thrilled. Skip ahead to a story in 1982 when friends of the author come to visit her in Albuquerque. They stop at a store in Zuzax. The wife opens the door to the women’s restroom to discover a dog bleeding profusely from its head. The couple drive the dog to Animal Humane where a vet said someone had crudely lopped off its ears, probably with scissors. The dog, believed a Labrador-pointer mix about 2-years-old, was named Blade by the staff and was taken in by a woman named Rhea who became a foster. It was a relationship that was meant to be, Rhea is quoted as saying. She eventually adopted Blade. You’ll find many more stories with sorrowful and uplifting moments. Kuligowski, the author, said “Rehoming Love” was a finalist for the Dog Writers Association of America Maxwell Medallion award.
• “Hiking Trails in Valles Caldera National Preserve” by Coco Rae. Want to take a few day hikes this winter? There are so many choices all over the Land of Enchantment. A new book – billed as the first comprehensive trail guide to the Valles Caldera – gives you opportunities you may not have known about. It’s brimming with relevant information for hikers and for mountain bikers, i.e. trail descriptions, maps, coordinates, elevation range, distance, difficulty, trail conditions, wilderness safety tips.
And there’s a brief history of the preserve. Located in the heart of the Jemez Mountains, it is managed by the National Park Service. For up-to-date information on NPS regulations and fees, go to nps.gov/vall or call the Valle Grande Entrance Station at 505-670-1612. This compact book will easily fit in a backpack. Rae, the author and a volunteer at the preserve, lives in Los Alamos. Tom Ribe’s foreword calls the preserve a “healing” volcanic landscape with chances for the public to drive, hike, bicycle, ski, snowshoe, horseback ride, fish and hunt. Or simply to revel in the natural beauty.
- “Jack and Santa” by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli (Viking). This children’s book is a read-out-loud and laugh-out-loud adventure. Meaning there’s tons of fun and humor for all ages. Santa is just trying to do his job. But he’s up against a kid named Jack who’s an imp, a Dennis the Menace for the 21st century. In this story, Santa actually keeps two lists. If you’re on his GOOD list, you’ll get gifts like toys. If you on his BAD list, you’ll get a lump of coal. Jack is on the BAD list. We soon learn why. Santa is caught in a trap Jack sets for him when he lands on Jack’s roof. Jack also has his own wish list. On it are “Toys, More Toys. All the toys at the Store. Cash. More Cash. All the cash in the bank.” A bit greedy, aren’t you, Jack? Jack uses his lump of coal to start a fire to cook grilled cheese sandwiches for friends. How generous. Wait. There’s one sandwich left. Who will get it – Jack or Santa? Who do you think? This is the latest in the entertaining series starring Jack.
- “Talking Dogs, Singing Mice and Other Shaggy Dog Stories” by Stan Rhine (Waggin’ Train Press) Albuquerque writer Rhine has happily revived a faded literary tradition – the shaggy dog story – with this collection of cleverly fashioned short tales. These mostly canine-less stories meander and end with the reader grinning in reaction to the sometimes irrelevant, though always inventive, wordplay. Example is the story “The Loose Plate.” The basis for its conclusion is the Christmas song “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays.” Rhine takes you through a two-page story to his catchy conclusion: “Oh, there’s no plate like chrome for the hollandaise.” Another Rhine story is “The Chief of Many Thrones.” It concludes with the line “People who live in grass houses should not stow thrones.” That, of course, is a spinoff of the saying “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” You get the idea.