alice in wonderland

Critters in Literature: Cats

One of my latest obsessions has been the viral app, Neko Atsume, where you leave out trinkets in a virtual yard in the hopes that little cartoon cats will come and visit you. Like the rest of the world, I too am captivated by the cuteness of cats.

Not a cat person? That’s okay (Just kidding, it’s kinda not). Check out our posts on literary fishbears, turtles, rabbits, and elephants.

I’m pretty sure future historians will look back on our current society and think we’re like the ancient Egyptians, obsessed with cats. Well, if so, maybe our famous felines of literature will show them just how cats are meant to be worshipped.

cheshire cat

Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Cheshire Cat is a morally ambiguous character, like most cats tend to be. He seems more interested in watching Alice bumble around Wonderland than actually helping her. He’s known for his distinctive leering grin that is the last thing to fade away when he vanishes. 

“We’re all mad here.” – Cheshire Cat

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Another mischievous cat, the Cat in the Hat comes to call when two children are left at home on a dreary, boring day. Seeking to make their day fun, the Cat’s antics instead unleash chaos and destruction. …Also sounds like cats.

breakfast at tiffany's cat

Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Though not a substantial figure in the book, the nameless cat of Breakfast at Tiffany’s represents Holly Golightly’s transient nature and aversion to anything permanent, even a name.

“She was still hugging the cat. “Poor slob,” she said, tickling his head, “poor slob without a name. It’s a little inconvenient, his not having a name. But I haven’t any right to give him one: he’ll have to wait until he belongs to somebody.”

crookshanks hermione

Crookshanks from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Crookshanks is an enormous, lion-like cat. He’s ginger-colored with yellow eyes, and his face looks like he’s “run headlong into a brick wall.”. Very intelligent, Crookshanks helped Sirius Black sneak into Hogwarts, and he figured out Peter Pettigrew’s disguise before any of the Golden Trio did.

Ron Weasley: “What was that?”
Harry Potter: “It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger.” 

Pluto from The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
This cat drives the narrator to madness. After the cat is a beloved pet for years, the narrator gouges out the cat’s eye in a drunken rage. He eventually hangs the cat with a noose, angry that the cat was frightened of him. From here on, the cat haunts the narrator, leading to terrible tragedies in his life.

puss in boots shrek

Puss in Boots by Giovanni Francesco Straparola
Originally Il Gatto Con Gli Stivali, Puss in Boots is a fairytale about a cat who is clever, and use tricks to gain riches and even the hand of a princess in marriage. Puss in Boots has been adapted to other works, like Shrek and even an appearance in Pokemon, portrayed by a Meowth.

Bast from The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
Not quite a cat… but a cat goddess. Bast is the Egyptian goddess of felines  and in Rick Riordan’s series about modern Egyptian demigods, she protects the Kane duo, Carter and Sadie. Even if she does it while wearing questionable fashion and hissing at others. She’s a tremendous help to them, and her powers demonstrate why the Egyptians held cats in such high regard.

“My dear, I’m a cat. Everything I see is mine.” – Bast

Did I miss one of your favorites? With how beloved cats are, I’m sure I did! A special honorary mention to Garfield, of course, Bill the Cat, and Grumpy Cat, no less iconic or worthy than our other literary felines. One of my personal favorites is Angus from the Georgia Nicholson series, probably a close cousin to Crookshanks.

I’m fairly certain cats will become our supreme overlords one day, so we should be churning out praise to them in all forms. Til next time, in critters of literature! For now I’m off to read up on more cats.

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at her website.

Litographs & The World’s Longest Tattoo Chain

Here on BiblioSmiles, it’s no secret we love literary tattoos. In fact, one of our most popular posts is Gabriele’s post on literary tattoos! We love dedicated bookworms.

For those of you who want to show your love of literature without dealing with ink and needles, there’s a pretty cool solution for you.

Litographs, a company that became popular thanks to its incredibly-designed tshirts, posters, and totes (utilizing the text of the book to make an awesome image), has now expanded its inventory to include temporary tattoos.

IMG_6754I was excited to contribute to their Kickstarter, and received a tattoo from one of my favorite books: James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Can Litographs get any cooler? Yes. As part of their Kickstarter campaign, they aimed to create the world’s longest tattoo chain by offering 2,500 people the chance to tell the story of Alice in Wonderland… on their bodies. Here’s what the Kickstarter page had to say:

To follow us down the rabbit hole and be a part of the World’s Longest Tattoo Chain, pledge at least $1 to this project. The first 2,500 backers will each be sent one unique, randomly-selected Alice tattoo phrase.

You can be sure I snapped up this deal right away. It was later announced that any backers numbered 2,501 to 5,258 would receive a tattoo of a line of text from the sequel, Through the Looking Glass. I’m happy to say I got in the first 2,500 – at spot #1,626, to be exact. And while that line may not be the most riveting, I’m still incredibly excited to be included.

Day 062 - November 15, 2014

If you visit The World’s Longest Tattoo Chain page on the website, you’ll have the chance to click through a slideshow of all of the lines from the story. As you can see, many photos of tattoos have already been uploaded! Won’t it be incredible to see the entirety of this famous story on people?

As a bookworm and lover of words, I’ve been a huge fan of Litographs from the beginning. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

And you can feel good about your purchase on Litographs. They’ve partnered up with the International Book Bank; for every tshirt, poster, or tote, and for every five temporary tattoos sold, a book is donated to a community in need. All the more reason to fuel your literary addiction!

Which temporary tattoo would you order? Which titles would you like to see on their list?

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

Critters in Literature: Turtles


I’ve talked about spirit animals before (here), and I’m going to do it again. Everyone has a spirit animal. Okay, I know this sounds like New Age-y, whimsical Piscean nonsense. And it is total nonsense – but life needs a splash of silliness or we’ll all turn into actual grumpy grownups. Even the lovely ladies of BiblioSmiles have an animal near and dear to their heart. It might be an elephant, such as for Danielle, or a sloth for Alyson.

And while I like to maintain my spirit animal is a red panda (SO CUTE), actually owning one? Probably not in my foreseeable future unless I rob a zoo (doubtful) or move to the Himalayan mountains (also doubtful, I can’t eat bamboo and my sherpa skills leave much to be desired). I also feel pretty close to fish, as a Pisces, but I can’t quite carry a koi pond around with me.

But now… turtles. Or tortoises. There’s an animal I can get behind. Such majestic creatures. Some have called me obsessed for wishing to bequeath all my fortunes to a tortoise, in the event of my early demise.

And there are so many fictional turtles to love! Aside from the awesome sea turtles in Finding Nemo, there are plenty of turtles in the literary world that have inspired my devotion.

bartlebyBartleby of the Mighty Mississippi 
The first novel I remember with a turtle is the story of the brave little Bartleby. When Bartleby, a house pet, is accidentally left behind at a pond, he must learn to survive outside his bowl in the wild. He meets a fierce alligator from the Mississippi River and soon Bartleby, a tiny turtle, also dreams of finding his way in the world to the great Mississippi River.

The Eloise series
Skipperdee might be the best name for a turtle. He’s one of the pets of The Plaza Hotel’s most famous guest, the six-year-old Eloise. As Eloise tells us, The Plaza is the only hotel that allows turtles, for goodness sake. Skipperdee eats raisins and wears sneakers. According to Eloise, “The absolutely first thing I have to do is braid Skipperdee’s ears, or else he gets cross and develops a rash.”

The Discworld series
In Terry Prachett’s long running series, Discworld, the earth is a flat disc that is balanced on the back of four elephants, themselves standing atop a giant turtle that swims through space.

yertleYertle the Turtle
Lest I give you the impression that ALL shelled amphibians are darling, sweet creatures, let’s look at pompous Yertle. In this Dr. Seuss story, Yertle is the king of a pond and is always looking for more. He orders his turtles to stack themselves up so he can sit on the top, despite how tired the other turtles are. He demands more and more turtles to join the stack. Still unsatisfied, Yertle notices the moon above him and is enraged that something is still higher than him. But the precarious stack of turtles is displaced when one of them burps, and Yertle is sent flying into the mud. And if you want to cut Yertle a little slack, keep this in mind – Dr. Seuss actually modeled the turtle after Hitler.

The Tortoise and the Hare
Fictional amphibians have belonged in literature forever, as evidenced by this fable. Believed to be written by Aesop in Ancient Greece, this fable tells how the steady tortoise beats the overconfident hare in a race. Proving that pride comes before a fall, and turtles are just plain awesome.

Other honorable mentions go to the Mock Turtle from Alice in Wonderland, Franklin the turtle, and the favorite of any pizza and martial arts aficionado, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But with such a vast animal kingdom, the literary world is full of endless critter characters. So BiblioSmiles readers, what are your favorite animals from literature?

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at Brilliant Buckets.