Children’s books come as a surprise
Two colorful cat tales came as a Christmas surprise to Maureen McGrath.
“A Kitty and His Dream” follows a stray cat who dreams of a home of his own, then goes in search of it.
“Kitty Witty’s Big Adventure” tracks a cat that leaves the safety of his porch and gets lost in the woods.
Both children’s books were written by McGrath’s nephew, Andy Saari, under the pen name A.J. Fontaine.
“Andy’s full of surprises,” said McGrath of Lake Nebagamon. “It’s one of the last things I would expect from him.”
Saari, a mechanic for North Star Ford, is already a published author with three “Whitetails Tactics” titles about deer hunting in print.
“He has always loved to read since he was very young, and they always say good readers make good writers,” said his mother, Sue Enright. But Saari and his wife Jackie don’t have children.
The move to children’s stories may have been unexpected, but the subject matter was not.
“Andy loves cats,” McGrath said. “He’s always loved cats.” The books are inspired by real-life stories she’s heard Saari tell.
“A Kitty and His Dream,” for example, is a tale that played out at Saari’s Solon Springs home when a stray kept trying to join the family indoors.
“If he had stayed outside, it would have been fine,” Saari said. “But he wanted in so bad.”
Just as in the book, he took the cat to the Humane Society of Douglas County. The feline spent four months there before finding a forever home.
“They go out of your way to help you,” he said of the staff at the shelter.
Saari’s sister-in-law, Jen Saari, said her daughters love the books.
“They are very easy, my 8-year-old can read them,” Jen Saari said. “They’re easy to follow, but it keeps their attention.” And the story line, she said, is a meaningful one. It opens up conversations about the humane society, which the family has supported for years through the annual Paws for the Cause walk.
“If anybody’s going to get a cat, that’s where they should go,” said McGrath, whose own cat is from the shelter. “They’re doing a wonderful job.”
To increase awareness of the work the humane society does, Andy Saari started a website, www.kitty-witty.com, and added it to the back page of his children’s books. It includes links to recent articles on the proposed countywide shelter, which hit a recent roadblock when the Superior city council voted to suspend the design contract for the shelter. It also includes links to the humane society and a site where people can donate online to make the combined shelter a reality.
“Now the Humane Society needs your help more than ever,” he wrote on his website. “Let’s stop talking about building a new shelter, and get it built.”
Print and ebook versions of Saari’s cat tales are available online at amazon.com. Enright said she has copies ordered for Lake Nebagamon’s Imogene McGrath Memorial Library, which was named after Saari’s grandmother.
“My mother would have been extremely proud of him as are we all,” she said.