Bookworms, and book dogs and book cats and book rabbits

Cleo Le-Tan does not have any pets. Not in the store she recently opened. Not in the house she shares with her husband, Alex Detrick, ...


Cleo Le-Tan does not have any pets. Not in the store she recently opened. Not in the house she shares with her husband, Alex Detrick, and their two children, ages 2 and 6.

Which isn’t to say that she doesn’t like pets, or all animals, for that matter. She most certainly does – enough to create a bookstore dedicated to them.

On September 15, Ms. Le-Tan opened the doors of what she calls “New York’s first animal-oriented bookstore, Pillow-Cat Books, on East 9th Street in Manhattan’s East Village.

“All my favorite characters are animals,” she explained, explaining why she had settled on the theme, pulling out a little guestbook on Little PeeWee, a circus dog, one of her favorites who grew up in France. “I have all these technical books on poodle grooming and it just makes me want a poodle,” she said. (“We’ve always had pets in the family, and now I’m waiting until my kids are old enough to pick one,” she said.)

Customers’ canine companions are greeted at the store entrance with a jar of treats, and animals of the fictitious variety are otherwise ubiquitous in the 200-square-foot store.

“Pillow-Cat is a pillow-shaped cat or a cat-shaped pillow,” Ms. Le-Tan, 36, of the mascot said. She had previously written “A Booklover’s Guide to New York” and a key novel published in France entitled “Une Famille”.

“I’ve always been surrounded by books and I’ve written an entire book about bookstores,” she said. “I thought it would be so good to have mine.”

And the grassy green color on the walls and shelves of the store is a tribute to the famous green walls in their father’s Parisian living room, the late New Yorker illustrator and regular cover artist Pierre Le-Tan. Ms. Le-Tan is still deciding if the shadow works. “Everyone hates green,” she said.

Ms Le-Tan moved to New York City from France 10 years ago and said she wanted to make Pillow-Cat “like an old French boutique where you can find something that has been on the shelves for 59 years” .

“But I also had to have neon and modern stuff for New York,” she added.

So far, Ms. Le-Tan has answered visitors’ questions about what exactly an animal-themed bookstore is. “People say, ‘Oh, is this a children’s bookstore? And I say, ‘No, there are only animals,’ ”she said. Indeed, while “Hello Kitty” and “Babar” have their spots on the shelves, so does a book of photographs of animals fornicating.

The only guiding principle of the store is that “an animal or animal character must be present” somewhere in the books for sale. Otherwise, the mix is ​​loose and deliciously open to interpretation; heavy on vintage books but not exclusively.

Sweet Mother Goose stories coexist with “The Thorn Birds” (featuring sheep, a mythical bird and a homicidal boar); “The Leopard” (“We were the Leopards, the Lions; those who will take our place will be little jackals, hyenas; and all of us, Leopards, jackals and sheep, we will all continue to believe we are the salt of the earth”) with “The wind in the willows” (mole, rat, toad, badger); “Snoopy in Fashion” (dog) with “Sinatra and His Rat Pack” (uh, rats?)

The shelves inside Pillow-Cat are organized by species (just like the store website). Dogs get the most storage space (five and a half, to be precise), including “101 Dalmatians”, “Winery Dogs of Sonoma” and “Heart of a Dog” by Mikail Bulgakov, whose blanket Ms. Le -Tan likes “because the dog is dressed.”

There are also books on extinct and imaginary animals (dinosaurs, dragons), horses, cats, bears, birds, rabbits, insects, rodents, farm animals, forest animals ( “Bambi”) and the animals of the jungle. Kangaroos, hedgehogs, giraffes and a book titled “The Adventures of the Jewish Mongoose” also line the walls.

Yet Ms. Le-Tan believes she has gaps to fill. “There might only be one book on seahorses,” Ms. Le-Tan said, with some concern. “I didn’t know what a manatee was, and then this little girl came in who wanted books on flamingos. I feel stressed now that I might be missing some animals.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Bookworms, and book dogs and book cats and book rabbits
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