Quirky and unusual
'Crafting with Cat Hair'
Mike Bender and Doug Chernack
Three Rivers Press, $15, paper
The guys who brought us "Awkward Family Photos" are back with an edition devoted to cruel and unusual punishment to animals. Sort of. It's not that we don't love our pets; it's that we love them too much. That's why we make them sit in the lap of a gigantic Easter bunny (one unfortunate cat is about to have cardiac arrest), wear them on our sleeves (like a pair of sugar gliders in a young couple's photo) and give them very uncomfortable-looking, pseudo-Heimlich maneuver hugs (see the guy and dog on the book's cover). And yet, they quietly endure it all … which makes us love them even more.
Crafting With Cat Hair
Cute Handicrafts to Make With Your Cat
Kaori Tsutaya, translated from the Japanese by Amy Hirschman
Quirk, $14.95, paper
"Crafting With Cat Hair" shows you how to take all of the hair your cat sheds and turn it into finger puppets, coin purses and more. "A lot of soft felt handicrafts are made out of sheep's wool," explains Kaori Tsutaya. "So why not make super-soft felt handicrafts out of cat hair in much the same way?" Who could have imagined that cat hair could be recycled? There's no other word for this book except: purrfect.
The Brick Bible
A New Spin on the Old Testament
Brendan Powell Smith
Skyhorse, $19.95, paper
It had to happen. Lego blocks are everywhere, so why not illustrate books from the Bible with them? Here you'll find God creating Adam out of brown bricks; Pharaoh's army chasing the Israelites down a blue wall of rising water; Goliath getting hit in the noggin by a gray, single-stud piece representing one of the stones in David's sling … you get the idea. It's an entertaining book, but Brendan Powell Smith's motive is far more serious. He explains, in a brief preface, how he wanted to retell biblical stories in an interesting way that would engage readers. Don't visit your local toy store to order the "Genesis play set," though: There's no such thing. All of the pieces used, we're told on the author's website, come from Lego sets dating to the 1960s.
The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions
Perigee, $15.95, paper
Fraternal groups and lodges were important social organizations in late-19th century America, and pulling pranks on new members was a big part of the experience. Enter the Demoulin Brothers, who invented a fantastic assortment of "prank machines" — like a set of steps that collapses into a slide or a three-wheeled mechanical goat — for the initiation rites of the Modern Woodmen of America, the Shriners, the Elks, the Sons of Malta and more. Later pranks included electrified carpets and teeter-totters (ouch!). The author, a New Yorker cartoonist, gives a tutorial on fraternalism before showcasing these wacky devices. Readers will certainly be amused by other eras' forms of entertainment — and probably relieved that they're not experiencing it.