It's a book. It's a tradition. It's a new Christmas Classic. Bring Mr. Dog home this Christmas!
We're independent family publishers—That's So Enterprises—and we're proud to announce our first publication: Mr. Dog's Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn. We've revived a timeless tale by Albert Bigelow Paine with new illustrations by award-winning artist Adam McCauley and design by Cynthia Wigginton. And you can be a part of the magic! We hope you'll grab a copy and start your own Mr. Dog tradition this Christmas.
Meet the mischievous but kind-hearted Mr. Dog: a worldly raconteur who delights in telling tales of Santa Claus's visits to Mr. Man's house. His friends at the Hollow Tree Inn—Mr. Crow, Mr. 'Coon, and Mr. Possum—have never heard of Santa Claus.
They are mesmerized by Mr. Dog's descriptions of the jolly old man and the gifts he brings to those who hang a stocking by the fire on Christmas Eve. Naturally, they'd like to entice Santa to the Hollow Tree. So Mr. Dog decides to play along, posing as Santa and secretly delivering a trove of gifts to his Hollow Tree companions. His generosity, creativity and careful planning result in a joyous celebration for all, capturing the essence of Christmas as a time for love and giving.
The story behind the story
Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn was written by Albert Bigelow Paine in 1898 and its reading has been a beloved Christmas Eve tradition in our family (where it's fondly known as "Mr. Dog's Christmas") for almost that long. Over three generations and going strong. It's just that good!
And yet the story has been out of print for decades, and we seemed to be among the very few who knew of it. Quite recently, it dawned on us that we could publish a new edition ourselves and, with any luck, inspire a Christmas Eve tradition for many more families.
We felt that Paine's original text was perfect, but that the story would have much more appeal to modern sensibilities if we could find just the right artist to bring it to life with full color illustrations. And we found him! Adam McCauley immediately appreciated the slightly subversive appeal of Mr. Dog and knew he was a character that contemporary families would love. He chose to render the Hollow Tree folks and their setting in crow quill pen and ink—a demanding technique that, in Adam's masterful hand, produces a richly detailed image. The technique itself is perfectly suited to the Victorian era of the story, but Adam's images sit satisfyingly somewhere in between then and now. What he's done is magical. It feels like his images have always been part of this story.
Albert Bigelow Paine (1861-1937) was a prolific and broadly talented American writer, perhaps most famous for his three-volume biography of Mark Twain, with whom he lived and traveled for four years.
illustration © Adam McCauley
In France, where he lived for several years, he remains well-known for his biography of Joan of Arc, which earned him the distinction of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor. His other writings include several popular travel books, two novels, and four story-books for children about the Deep Woods people, who dwell in the Hollow Tree.
Artist Adam McCauley was weened as a young lad on Angela Banner’s Ant and Bee books. Soon after, along came Dr. Seuss, then Maurice Sendak. By second grade he was getting into arguments with his teacher about The Wizard of Oz books because the teacher didn’t believe there were more books than the original one.
photo © Bart Nagel
Next came a deep obsession with Tolkien’s The Hobbit and its richly author-illustrated pages. A parallel obsession happened with Tintin and the masterful art and story of Hergé.
Eventually, Adam went to art school in New York, followed by real-world schooling as an assistant illustrator, learning all along the way from artists he greatly admired. Settled now in San Francisco, he’s been illustrating all sorts of things for years, including a variety of books for children of all ages. His lovely and wonderful wife, Cynthia Wigginton, lends her amazing design wizardry to many of his book projects—including Mr. Dog’s Christmas.
Mr. Dog on Kickstarter
On August 15, 2014, That's So Enterprises concluded a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund printing and promotion for the first edition of Mr. Dog's Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn. Our campaign video, below, is a great introduction to our story.