The World of Nestlings Press (so far)

It may seem folly to start a publishing house that specializes in print books at a time when the world is moving toward e-books and just-in-time publishing. Nestlings Press has done so in the belief that there are still people who like the tactile sensation of reading a real book, and will enjoy pulling such books off the shelves to read them over again.

The common thread of these books so far is humour, although we have one film-related book planned for the spring. There’s a book of comic strips: When Tom Met Alison, a collection of Philip Street’s Fisher, from the first half of the strip’s twenty-year run in The Globe and Mail. (We hope to issue a sequel.) There’s A Fine Line, a book of caricatures by Anthony Jenkins, one of the world’s best caricaturists. His work has graced The Globe and Mail for many years.

There are books of witty entries mined from The Challenge, which ran for a couple of decades in, yes, The Globe and Mail. People from across Canada would rise to the challenge when asked to erase a letter from a famous phrase and redefine the results, or to devise a happier ending for a classic novel. The results are in Gulliver’s Day Trip, a laugh-out-loud collection of literary humour. A related book, If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes, imagines how Ernest Hemingway, Leonard Cohen, Jane Austen and others would have written Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill and other classic rhymes. Anthony Jenkins provided the illustrations, both for the parodies and for the original rhymes, which appear at the back of the book with occasional learned footnotes.

The press has published three other books, written by Warren Clements. The first, Bird Doggerel, is a painstakingly accurate (well, mostly) collection of light verse about different species of birds. It is illustrated with examples of Nestlings, a comic strip Clements wrote and drew for The Globe and Mail. The author will be reading from the book at the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront in Toronto on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 2013.

The second book, The Charles Arthur Stories, is a “delightful” (says an astute reader unrelated to the author) collection of tales of an unprepossessing man “to whom things happen.” It is copiously illustrated by the author. Whether it is competently illustrated is for the reader to determine. (An astute reader who is related to the author says the drawings are fine.)

The third book, Meet the Shakespeares, collects the lyrics from twenty years of musical skits based on the plays of William Shakespeare. The songs are sometimes faithful, and sometimes amusingly heretical, but whatever the narrator says may be taken as gospel. It’s a fun and easy way to slide into the Bard’s masterpieces. Even better, the book is illustrated by Brian Gable, The Globe and Mail’s editorial cartoonist and a master of his craft.

We are working on a way to accept credit cards on the website, www.nestlingspress.com. For the moment, business is by cheque only. But if you’re near Ben McNally Books in Toronto, which is worth visiting anyway (on Bay Street below Queen) because it’s an engaging and beautiful store, you will find all of Nestlings Press’s books in stock. Other stores are mentioned on the main page of the nestlingspress.com website.

And don’t forget to click on the cartoon on the website. It’s a 1 minute 16 second animated cartoon of one of the songs from Meet the Shakespeares. Hope you enjoy it!

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