Emilie Buchwald, scholar, editor and author, has always been passionate about books.
A co-founder of Milkweed Editions, she worked there for 24 years, publishing the likes of Carol Bly, Paul Gruchow, Bill Holm, Faith Sullivan and Susan Straight.
She spent years as a board member and chairwoman of the Loft Literary Center. She’s been lauded all over the place, from the Kay Sexton Award and the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award to the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle.
Lifetime achievement? Piffle, says Buchwald. There’s so much more to do. For instance, she has a collection of poetry coming out in September from Nodin Press. (Book launch Sept. 16 at the Loft.)
In August 2006, two years after leaving Milkweed, she founded Gryphon Press, which feeds her passion for books, as well as her other passion: dogs. (And all animals.)
For 10 years, Gryphon Press has been publishing lovely picture books that explore the bond between humans and animals. It all started with “Buddy Unchained” (written by Buchwald herself, under the name Daisy Bix), which is about a winsome mutt whose life began sadly, with an uncaring family who left him outside night and day, winter and summer. (It’s a kid book. It has a happy ending.)
The book has been successful, its jacket dotted with gold medals from the Humane Society and the ASPCA, the words recently translated into Spanish.
Subsequent books have highlighted horses, birds, chickens, rabbits and cats.
Daughter Claire Buchwald’s “Friends in Fur Coats,” published this year, is about a child who wonders why he doesn’t have a fur coat like the wild animals do. (And who decides that fur should always belong to animals.) Karen Dugan’s “Always Blue for Chicu” is about a parrot caught by smugglers.
Entertainment aside — and they are entertaining — the point of Gryphon Press books is to highlight the connection between humans and animals and to teach children the proper way to behave around pets and wild creatures. (This would be what I would call the Third Passion of Emilie.)
In honor of the 10th anniversary of Gryphon Press, Buchwald has given us a list of animal books she recommends for children. “These books are delightful, moving, and, like Gryphon Press books, have something to contribute about the human-animal bond,” she said.
Happy anniversary, Gryphon. And happy reading, everyone.
Picture books (ages 3 and up)
• “Before You Were Mine,” by Maribeth Boelts
• “ ‘Let’s Get a Pup!’ Said Kate,” by Bob Graham
• “Ginger Finds a Home,” by Charlotte Voake
• “Each Living Thing,” by Joanne Ryder
• “So, What’s It Like to Be a Cat?”
by Karla Kuskin
• “Not Afraid of Dogs,” by Susanna Pitzer
• “Two Bobbies: The True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival,” by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
Books for young readers (ages 9 and up)
• “Watership Down,” by Richard Adams
• “The One and Only Ivan,” by Katherine Applegate
• “Stealing Thunder,” by Mary Casanova
• “A Dog’s Life: Autobiography of a Stray,” by Ann M. Martin
• “The Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
• “Black Beauty,” by Anna Sewell
• “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White
Now go pet your dog. Feed your cat. Take your gerbil for a spin.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. www.facebook.com/startribunebooks