Welcome to the home page of Nestlings Press, a small Toronto-based publishing house specializing in humour.
PLEASE NOTE that we mail only to Canadian addresses.
Nestlings Press has now reached 37 titles (and counting). All are available from this website through the use of PayPal. You don’t need to join PayPal; you can simply use your credit card. We will mail out the books promptly on receiving your order. As stated above, for copyright reasons we cannot mail these books outside Canada – but if you have a friend with a Canadian address, we will be delighted to brighten his or her day.
All the books are beautifully printed by Coach House Press in Toronto, with colour covers and black-and-white interiors, and are written and/or edited by Warren Clements.
TO ORDER A BOOK, PLEASE CLICK ON THE COVER OF THAT BOOK BELOW.
A Nestlings Press Miscellany (2023, 192 pages, $24.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches high)
After issuing thirty-six books since 2012, the overworked gnomes at Nestlings Press decided it was a good time to rest and take stock. This book looks back at every title issued, with a few behind-the-scenes glimpses, but the chapters mainly include new material that was unavailable at the time or, while it may have only a tangential relationship to each book, is too good to leave out. For instance, Thirty Thousand Pigs was about confusing one word with another, so here you'll find artist Rockwell Kent writing about always being confused with artist Norman Rockwell. Treasures in the Antic had a few snippets from humorist Will Cuppy, so here are Cuppy's U.S. footnotes for Sellar & Yeatman's British book Garden Rubbish - footnotes that have absolutely nothing to do with the book. There's a Don Camillo story by Giovanni Guareschi, illustrations by Walter Trier for Kipling's Just So Stories and by Mervyn Peake for a limerick-satire by Quentin Crisp, a long verse retelling of the fairy tale The Frog Prince, and the first three cantos of A Child's Guide to Dante's Inferno. Yes, it's a true miscellany.
The book is limited to two hundred numbered copies (each copy hand-numbered on Page 2), with ten lettered copies not for sale. There are nineteen pages in glorious colour (Peter Newell illustrations from Mr. Munchausen,
a few paintings by L. Leslie Brooke, etc.). And the volume is printed on creamy laid paper.
The Nestlings Press Devil's Dictionary (2023, 128 pages, $19.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
This is the classic Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, with the best entries mined from that wonderful, cynical, witty and frequently misanthropic catalogue of beastly definitions. "Adherent (n.) A follower who has not yet obtained all that he expects to get." "Positive (adj.) Mistaken at the top of one's voice." Bierce wrote his entries in newspaper columns for three decades or so, before telling everyone he was off to visit war-torn Mexico, at which point he vanished from the face of the Earth.
What makes this edition special - which is why "Nestlings Press" was smuggled into the title to set it apart from other editions - is that the work has been matched with drawings by Art Young, a left-leaning illustrator-writer who, in addition to his magazine work, issued three books imagining a visit to Hell and an interview with Satan. The drawings here are taken from the best one, his 1934 book Art Young's Inferno (misidentified as 1933 on the back cover - sorry), and they fit Bierce's tone to a T. Printed on creamy laid paper.
The Caption and Tenniel (2023, 208 pages, $23.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
Most readers will know Victorian artist John Tenniel (1820-1914) for illustrating Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. But his fame at the time came from the full-page weekly political cartoons he drew for Britain's Punch magazine, for which he received a knighthood. His book illustrations encompassed such classics as Aesop's Fables, The Ingoldsby Legends and Lalla Rookh. The Caption and Tenniel - please pardon the horrible pun, or revel in it - mines his non-Alice work for examples of his lively imagination, his fine draughtsmanship and his memorable images. Some of his Punch cartoons could be faulted as stiff (he took his marching orders from the Punch editorial table), but left to his own devices he boasted fantastic ideas and a lively wit. That's the side of Tenniel this book chooses to showcase - not least in a series of punning cartoons based on lines from Shakespeare, a Tenniel favourite. "The Sheriff, with a most monstrous watch, is at the door" - and there's the Sheriff, carrying a monstrous pocket-watch.
Jack McLaren in Black and White (2023, 160 pages, $23.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
J.W. (Jack) McLaren (1895-1988) was a man of many talents. He was a Canadian graphic designer and adman with his own Toronto-based firm (often confused with Jack MacLaren's larger firm), an illustrator of books and magazines, a cartoonist, a friend of the Group of Seven and other artists of the day, and - after going to war in Europe with the Princess Pats in the First World War - a member of a comedy troupe assigned to entertain the troops, which was later folded into the Dumbells.
Shawn Henshall, who married into the McLaren family, spent years researching the artist for his 2020 illustrated biography The Forgotten Legend. For Jack McLaren in Black and White, he has restricted the biography to a short introduction and devoted the rest of the book to McLaren's black-and-white art - his amazing linocuts, his pen and ink work, his scratchboard drawings, and much else, annotated where necessary. McLaren delighted in creating caricatures of important Canadian political, cultural and business figures, but he also drew elaborate scenes of the country's railway history, put together ads in silhouette, illustrated a series of short stories reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe, and - well, the range of styles is impressive. Dive in anywhere and come away pleased.
Heresy at Lear's End (2022, 64 pages, $12.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
Edward Lear is generally considered the father of the limerick, although he didn't use that word. He created the verses to amuse the children of the thirteenth Earl of Derby, who had commissioned him to paint the creatures in the earl's menagerie. Although Lear's imagination was fertile, he limited the rhymes in his verses. The word at the end of the fifth line was always the same as the one at the end of the first line. For instance: There was an Old Person of Dundalk/ Who tried to teach fishes to walk;/ When they tumbled down dead,/ He grew weary and said,/ "I had better go back to Dundalk."
Suppose that, as he did in a few rare cases, he found a new rhyming word for the final line. In the case above, he might have written, "Perhaps I should teach them to talk." This book imagines new endings for more than 200 Lear limericks, and includes Lear's own endings. The illustrations are by the great French illustrator J.J. Grandville, but they weren't written to go with the limericks; they just fit perfectly. So relax, read these limericks with two endings, and dream up your own fifth lines.
The Sambourne Touch (2022, 192 pages, $23.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
Linley Sambourne (1844-1910) could draw anything, and draw it well. He was the first major illustrator of Charles Kingsley’s children’s book The Water-Babies, and drew political and social cartoons for Britain’s Punch magazine for more than forty years. He worked alongside Alice in Wonderland illustrator John Tenniel, who said Sambourne’s work was “of absolutely inexhaustible ingenuity and firmness of touch.” This book collects many of his best editorial cartoons, a number of his illustrations for The Water-Babies, the sketches he made for F.C. Burnand’s parody of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden, and the dazzling drawings of imaginary worlds he made for several annual issues of Mr. Punch’s Almanack. Prepare to be impressed, and amazed, by an artist who has been unfairly forgotten.
Humans and Other Animals (2022, 208 pages, $19.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
Anyone who loves humorous verse will know the name Ogden Nash. He wrote thousands of poems for The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post and other publications from 1930 to 1971. His memorable lines are legion – “candy is dandy, liquor is quicker,” “if called by a panther, don't anther.” – and his knack in writing lines that amuse even as they deliver a shock of recognition remains a marvel. This book brings together hundreds of his verses and matches them with witty illustrations by Brian Gable. As a bonus, it’s a two-sided book: Read the verses about humans by starting from the Humans... cover, and then flip the book over and read the verses about animals by starting from the ...And Other Animals cover. Printed on creamy Zephyr Antique Laid paper, Humans and Other Animals is a treat for anyone who likes clever humour and ingenious word play.
It’s Been All Downhill Since the Dinosaurs (2022, 192 pages, $19.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
Some books offer dry history. This one goes for the more bizarre episodes in recent and distant history, scrolling back from the 1980s to the Ancient Egyptians with much in between. You’ll learn the inside story about Popeye and spinach, the curious case of the speeder who swore it was his pigeons who registered on the radar, the fellow who was sure a Canada Post strike would end if the union leader simply touched his parrot (no, that’s not a euphemism), and what King Tut packed for his meals in the afterlife. Such momentous facts are laid out in a handy almanac form, so, if you want to know when readers were asked to decide by telephone vote whether Batman’s sidekick Robin should live or die, you just need to turn to Sept. 16. Accurate, witty, and guaranteed to help you pass any history test you might still have to write. Okay, not guaranteed exactly. Wild hope, more like.
Rhymes with Doré, Flagg and Zorn (2022, 160 pages, $19.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
If you’re going to write short, humorous poems to accompany 150 or so artworks, you should begin with the best. Gustave Doré was a popular and prolific French artist in the nineteenth century. Anders Zorn was an internationally renowned Swedish painter and etcher working in the early twentieth century. James Montgomery Flagg was a famous American painter and illustrator active in the first half of that century. Warren Clements has written verses to accompany and sometimes collide with these artists’ drawings, engravings and etchings. E.g. Joe takes credit, posing nicely/ After conquering the course./ “Um, excuse me, who precisely/ Did the running?” asks the horse. Or: If asked to sport your evening wear/ When you go out to dinner,/ A tip, if you’d look debonair:/ Pyjamas aren’t a winner.
Leslie Brooke's Animal Fair (2021, 176 pages including a 16-page colour section, $23.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
L. Leslie Brooke was a popular British creator of children’s picture-books in the early 1900s, praised by such later illustrators as Maurice Sendak and, in a foreword to this book, Wallace Edwards (“At first glance, Brooke’s work invites a second glance”). His specialty was exquisite drawings of animals with human expressions, coupled with a keen sense of humour that appealed to children and adults alike. From his own Johnny Crow series (Johnny Crow’s Garden, etc.) to his black-and-white and colour illustrations of rhymes (Ring O’ Roses, The Truth About Old King Cole) and fairy tales (The Golden Goose Book, The House in the Wood), Brooke was a master draughtsman with an eye for witty details that went far beyond the text. This book collects his best work from 1891 to 1935.
Ade Package (2021, 192 pages, $19.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall, on white paper)
Ade Package collects the best of George Ade’s fables in slang, written in the early 1900s. Mark Twain was a fan. So were P.G. Wodehouse, Ring Lardner, H.L. Mencken and S.J. Perelman. Ade was a humorist, a satirist, a keen observer of rural and urban life, and a master of the well-turned phrase. “If what Mother said was true, then Effie’s Voice was a good deal better than it sounded.” “His Brain felt as if someone had played a Mean Trick on him and substituted a Side Order of Cauliflower.” (Wodehouse even quoted that line in one of his Bertie and Jeeves stories.) Great fun.
From Ferdinand to Mr. Popper (2020, 176 pages, $22.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
Robert Lawson was a master of black-and-white illustration, with dozens of books to his credit. The most famous is The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf's tale of a bull who just wants to smell the flowers, but there are many others, all included here: Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Crock of Gold, The Prince and the Pauper, Prince Prigio, The Wee Men of Ballywooden and collections of nursery rhymes and Aesop fables. Lawson is the only author-illustrator to have won both the coveted Newbery Award (for children's literature) and the Caldecott Award (for children's illustration).
Stopping for Words on a Snowy Egret (2020, 144 pages, $19.95, 6 by 8.75 inches)
Expect the unexpected with this collection of new light verse and short, humorous skits by Warren Clements. Among the verses are odes to Alfred Hitchcock's dog and Jackson Pollock's chameleon, and a heartfelt lament by someone who can't remember the names of everyone he is introduced to at a party. Skits include the actor who turns up to play Godot in Waiting for Godot, a legal-aid lawyer whose client is Cupid, and a teacher who takes his eager pupils on a field trip to Hell. With delightful illustrations by Alan King.
NOTE: For copyright reasons, this title may be mailed only to Canadian addresses.
Peake Performance (2020, 192 pages, $22.95, 6 x 8.75)
Many will know the great British author-illustrator Mervyn Peake for his Gormenghast trilogy, beginning with Titus Groan. Less familiar, perhaps, is his chief career as an illustrator of books and magazines, including the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, a picaresque satire by philosopher C.E.M. Joad, a children's tale about Lyonne the lion, an eloquent and despairing poem by Peake himself about bombs dropping on London, Treasure Island, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and three Lewis Carroll books - The Hunting of the Snark, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The best drawings are here, along with a foreword by Peake biographer G. Peter Winnington.
How to Get to Heaven and Back (2020, 272 pages, $23.95, 6 inches wide by 8.75 inches tall)
This one is for movie and TV buffs, revised and seriously expanded from the 2014 edition and boasting new caricatures by Anthony Jenkins. With humour and scrupulous accuracy, it looks at movies and TV series from the past 125 years imagining Heaven, Hell, ghosts, angels, reincarnation and all things afterlife, from the pre-1900 stop-motion demons of France's Georges Méliès to the TV series Lucifer
and The Good Place
, with pride of place for Here Comes Mr. Jordan
, Heaven Can Wait
and (the original) Bedazzled
Because of the weight of this book, the postage will be $15. Which is a staggering amount, but the book is heavy enough that it requires that much postage. Our regrets.
the original edition of How to Get to Heaven and Back
(2014, 144 pages, $16.95, 5 x 8)
, with illustrations by the author.
The Nestlings Press Book of Fairy Tales in Verse (2020, 128 pages, $19.95, 6 x 8.75)
Twenty well-known fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, The Pied Piper of Hamelin etc.) are faithfully retold in rhyming verse, intended to be read aloud ("Snow White kissed the prince and she hugged the wee men/ And as for strange apples, swore off there and then"). Also here are four non-fairy-tale classics (Peter and the Wolf, King Midas, Pandora's Box, Rip Van Winkle) and a twelve-page versified version of Alice in Wonderland. With ten full-page illustrations by Alan King.
The Many Worlds of Walter Trier
NOTE: For copyright reasons, this title may be mailed only to Canadian addresses.
The Many Worlds of Walter Trier (2019, 176 pages, $22.95, 6 x 8.75)
Walter Trier was a major illustrator in the first half of the twentieth century, starting off in Germany, fleeing the Nazis to spend a dozen years in Britain, and ending his all-too-brief life in Canada, where he did some of his best work. This book collects his best black-and-white work (illustrations for books such as Emil and the Detectives, work for Britain's Lilliput magazine) and has a 16-page colour section in the middle with highlights from such picture books as The Animals' Conference, Puss in Boots and Munchhausen. Excerpts from the stories accompany many of the illustrations.
The Aesop books (each $14.95, 5 x 8)
Familiar and less-familiar Aesop fables are turned into rhyming verse, keeping the stories and morals intact. ("The frogs were keen to have a king/ And prayed to Jupiter, their god,/ To send a ruler who might bring/ Some order to their fractious pod.") Each book has 50 or so fables and is profusely illustrated. In order of publication:
Aesop, ASAP (2015, 80 pages, with new illustrations by Anthony Jenkins) More Aesop, ASAP
(2018, 96 pages, with classic illustrations by Frederick Burr Opper and Sylvain Sauvage)
Still More Aesop, ASAP (2018, 80 pages, with classic illustrations by Arthur Rackham and others) A Fourth Round of Aesop, ASAP (2019, 96 pages, illustrated by Arthur Rackham and others)
Treasures in the Antic (2018, $19.95, 128 pages, 5.5 x 8)
Robert Edwin Johnston was a skilled illustrator whose witty, fluid line drawings accompanied humour columns by Peter Donovan (pseudonym P. O'D) in Saturday Night magazine in the 1910s and 20s. He was also, as it happens, the brother of Frank/Franz Johnston of the Group of Seven. His illustrations are gathered here, along with excerpts from Donovan's columns and a few compatible writings by Will Cuppy. You'll be astonished by how good this largely unknown work is.
How You Can Tell You’ve Moved Next Door to Satan (2018, $20.00, 176 pages, 5.5 x 8)
looks at ways you can tell you have a bad lawyer, a romantic partner isn't right for you, someone is too much of a perfectionist and, of course, you've moved next door to Satan. (The lawn sign reads, "Beware of God.") With illustrations by Anne Harriet Fish and W. Heath Robinson.
Here We Come A-Wassailing (2018, $16.95, 120 pages, 5.5 x 8)
On Dec. 24 for the past three decades, the editorial page of The Globe and Mail had made way for a series of Christmas carols rewritten to reflect the big news stories of the past year. This book collects all the carols from 2008 to 2017 inclusive, with a few other carols from the years before and several others that couldn't squeeze onto the page, all annotated to help readers remember what each story was about. Donald Trump figured largely near the end. "Crass T., the showman,/ Spent a busy year in power./ He would send a tweet,/ Then he'd pause, repeat,/ Trolling critics by the hour..." Each chapter has a decorated initial letter by John (Alice in Wonderland) Tenniel.
Other Men's Business
NOTE: For copyright reasons, this title may be mailed only to Canadian addresses.
Other Men's Business (2017, $14.95, 70 pages, 6 x 8.5)
This was a bit of a stunt book. We asked illustrators to pick a story that was out of copyright in Canada but not elsewhere, and to illustrate it. So, George A. Walker chose two cautionary verses by Hilaire Belloc, Julian Mulock provided two illustrations for T.S. Eliot's book of cats, Philip Street chose Thurber's Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Alan Stein chose a Dylan Thomas poem, Anthony Jenkins chose the first Babar book and Winnie-the-Pooh, and so forth. Excerpts run with the drawings. The title refers to Punch magazine's affronted 1907 review of Arthur Rackham's illustrations for Alice in Wonderland - that they were okay, but that John Tenniel's originals were matchless, and that Rackham should "employ his imagination upon his own rather than other men's business."
Thirty Thousand Pigs: And Decades of Other Hilarious Errors That Slipped Into Print (2017, $19.95, 152 pages, 5.5 x 8)
Warren Clements wrote the Word Play column for The Globe and Mail for a couple of decades, and regularly came across typographical errors and blithe misstatements that were, in addition to being wrong, howlingly funny. Readers would send in examples, and this book collects them all, in context and with commentary. A treat for word lovers. The title refers to an Australian newspaper's 2011 report of a farmer's comment after a horrendous flood. The flooding was so bad, he said, that "thirty thousand pigs" were floating down the river behind his home. The paper ran a correction the next day. What the farmer actually said was "thirty sows and pigs."
Eight Ways to Kill Off Classic Literature: And Other Unexpected Light Verse (2017, 1995, 88 pages, 5 x 8)
A book of light verse, some of it previously published in The Globe and Mail, The Spectator, The New Statesman and The Washington Post. From The Day Noel Coward Dropped By: "Welcome to the manor house,/ Where manners are hard to discern./ For you see, we haven't got any,/ But we have bad manners to burn." And, from the title poem: "Big Brother has been overthrown/ By democratic vote./ So, Winston Smith, you're on your own./ Feel free to rock the boat."
News of the Day, Lustily Shouted (2015, $16.95, 80 pages, 7 x 5 horizontal)
This book is gorgeous, from its maroon cover to its three dozen detailed pen-and-ink illustrations by Julian Mulock and its wickedly witty verses written in Mulock's calligraphy, about the mean streets of late Victorian London. "A bank was robbed in heavy fog./ The witness was a wary dog./ It recognized the robbers' scent/ But wouldn't show which way they went."
Bird Doggerel (2012, $12.95, 120 pages, 5 x 8)
Bird Doggerel is a collection of humorous and mostly accurate poems about birds, written by Warren Clements and illustrated with examples of the comic strip Nestlings, which ran in The Globe and Mail from 1979 to the early 1990s. Sandra Eadie, an expert birder, supplied the serious information about the birds that has been distilled into lines of witty rhyming verse.
Meet the Shakespeares (2012, $14.95, 168 pages, 6 x 6)
Fifteen of Shakespeare's plays are rewritten as six-to-ten-minute musical skits with several songs each. (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, in Hamlet: "Who must I sue to get out of this play?/ The way things are going, I won't live out the day.") Plus: a half-hour musical pilot episode based on Hamlet. The narrator keeps things scrupulously honest, but the songs frequently take humorous liberties. With several double-page illustrations by Brian Gable.
The Charles Arthur Stories (2012, $12.95, 120 pages, 5 x 8)
This loosely connected series of stories has, as their main character, Charles Arthur, "a man to whom things happen." He is dragged into surprising adventures by his friend, Mr. Finch, and always, in the back of his mind, wonders what happened to his parents, who ran off to join the circus. (He was left in the care of his aunt, who was eaten by penguins. Very rare, but apparently it happens.) Amusing, and always unexpected. Copiously illustrated by the author.
If Famous Authors Wrote Nursery Rhymes (2012, $12.95, 120 pages, 5 x 8)
contains a hundred or so nursery rhymes the way famous authors might have written them. With caricatures by Anthony Jenkins of Hemingway, P.G. Wodehouse, Leonard Cohen and others, and a glossary at the back with original versions of the rhymes.
Gulliver's Day Trip, and Other Literary Flights of Fancy (2013, $12.95, 120 pages, 5 x 8)
collects challenges with a literary theme, such as imagining how the laws of the land might have interfered with well-known tales. (From entrant Cherry Watson: "Your majesty, you are charged with trespass, property damage to multiple thorn bushes, and sexual harassment for kissing a sleeping princess.") Illustrated with episodes of the comic strip Nestlings on literary themes.
A Fine Line: The Caricatures of Anthony Jenkins (2013, $19.95, 120 pages,8 x 8)
Anthony Jenkins, for forty years an illustrator and editorial cartoonist with The Globe and Mail, is one of the world's best caricaturists. This book collects more than 100 full-page examples, from the worlds of politics, science, literature and the cinema. Jenkins provides commentary on many of the drawings, such as the one of Bob Dylan ("Sometimes I combine different feels and 'textures' for effect - or just to see what happens. Here, the hair is done in brush to contrast the fine pen lines of the features"). With an introduction by Douglas Gibson, editor of the work of many of Canada's best writers and a first-class writer himself (Stories About Storytellers).
When Tom Met Alison: A Fisher Collection (2013, $19.95, 120 pages, 8 x 8)
Philip Street's comic strip Fisher appeared in The Globe and Mail for twenty years, with Tom and Alison running interference with each other, their roommates, their business colleagues and a personal digital assistant named Bixby (long pre-dating Samsung's Bixby, it should be noted). Combining humour and social commentary, it remains a treat, not least for the cartoonist's way with a brush stroke. With a foreword by artist Barbara Klunder ("Cool lines, both drawn and spoken").
Third Time's the Charm: A Nestlings Collection (2014, $19.95, 120 pages, 8 x 8)
The comic strip Nestlings ran in The Globe and Mail from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, and again in the 1990s. The subject was simple: the interaction of three birds (Robin, Fletcher and Theodore) and the other inhabitants of the forest - the worms, the squirrel landlord of their tree, and the surly manager of the worm store. This book includes more than 300 strips, with occasional commentary by cartoonist Warren Clements.
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