In 2011, the first book in “The Christmas Cats” series of stories for young readers (ages 3 to 10) was released. It contained artwork by Andrew Weinert and Emily Marquez and conveyed the message, through the antics of “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” that children should learn to get along in life.

The journey of the first book was rocky. It was begun when young Andy Weinert was in high school. I promised him that, if he drew me some cats in silly hats, this book WOULD see the light of day. And then AuthorHouse lost his original drawings. I was so upset that I tracked the President of AuthorHouse down and received the promise of a “free” make good book. But, really, who wants more of a bad deal? I put the book in a drawer and there it moldered for 7 or 8 years.

While working on my movie book (“It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now”) I mentioned the cat book project to layout man Donnie Light. Donnie thought he might be able to make the pixels in the scans of the cats suitable, as computers had progressed quite a bit since Andy drew the originals. However, I also wanted to turn the book into a Christmas present, so I needed an artist to make that happen, and Andy was not available.

The girls’ nanny, Emily Marquez of Venezuela stepped in and helped out. Emily is not a professional artist, but she loves to draw and she did a credible job of both finishing the drawings and helping promote the book.

I did not publish a book in 2012, as Andy was unavailable to help with illustrations, but, as the twins for whom I wrote the first book are now 4, I looked long and hard for just the right artist to assist me with this project and found Gary McCluskey of Rhode Island.

Four-year-old twin granddaughters Elise (left) and Ava (right) Wilson, to whom the book is dedicated. (They'll be helping me write them, from now on.)

Four-year-old twin granddaughters Elise (left) and Ava (right) Wilson, to whom the book is dedicated. (They’ll be helping me write them, from now on.)

Gary’s drawings were (and are) so good and clever and colorful that Donnie said, “This guy ought to be working for Disney!” I suggested drawings for the short rhyming tale of the Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, who are called in by scientists and asked to help round up escaped white lab rats. The drawings were (and are) darling, and the books are on their way to me now (expedited shipping) so that I can have them by November 2nd at the book signing at SouthPark Mall’s Book World. (At least, they are supposed to be here.)

The basic message of this book is that we should not be prejudiced, but should learn to judge individuals on their own merits. The Christmas Cats are still in evidence (and wearing their characteristic silly hats) but, this time, there are little white rats involved and the short book (32 pages) is a fun, colorful, creative read for anybody’s child or grandchild.

I will be signing copies of Book #2, “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats” at SouthPark Mall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 2nd. While supplies last, if you purchase Book #2 in paperback, you can receive a free copy of Book #1. Don’t miss this opportunity to receive 2 books for the price of one!

The book is also available in Kindle format and in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords outlets, but, if you want a signed copy, come visit me at Book World in South Park this coming Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m.