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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Love can be painful. For example, remember your favorite childhood companions? The ones you dragged through the mud, carried around by their ears, drooled on, dropped; the ones now missing eyes or hair? Although much abused and maligned, these transitional love objects - the blankets, teddy bears, stuffed bunnies or dolls - stuck by you day and night.

Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz celebrate the lives of 50 threadbare friends in their book, "Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories." Cheryl Katz is in the studios of member station WBUR in Boston. Welcome to the program, Cheryl.

Ms. CHERYL KATZ (Co-author, "Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories"): Thank you. Thank you for having me.

HANSEN: Who is Dirty Wow Wow, and how did he inspire this book?

Ms. KATZ: Well, Dirty Wow Wow is the threadbare dog of a very dear friend of ours, a 50-something-year-old man, kind of a burly, macho, fun-loving guy who you might not expect would keep his childhood love object; but at dinner at his house, when we told him about this book, he said: wait a minute. And within five seconds, he was back with his beloved Dirty Wow Wow.

HANSEN: That's sweet. There are a lot of teddy bears in here, dolls, blankets that - they're more like a collection of strings. People have all kinds of stories about their love objects when they were kids. How did you decide which ones would make the cut for the book?

Ms. KATZ: Well, it was interesting. We first sent out an e-mail to friends to see if this idea had any legs. And I got back, more quickly, more responses than to any other e-mail I've ever sent. And so we asked if we could borrow, and we picked up all kinds of blankets and bears and brought them to the photography studio so that they could have their portraits made. And the ones with real personalities just spoke to us. And the funniest thing, though, was that when I did have them all at the photographer's studio, if there was a germaphobe in the room, they would have had to leave immediately.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KATZ: Because there's a lot of history in the stuffed things.

HANSEN: Do you have your book with you?

Ms. KATZ: I do.

HANSEN: Open to a page, one that may be one of your favorites, and read its story for us.

Ms. KATZ: Well, I'm looking at a photograph of a very loved panda bear. It's kind of fuzzy. What I'm sure was once white is now gray, and it's wearing a little red bowtie. Shall I read it?

HANSEN: Please.

MS. KATZ: (Reading) A good rule of thumb when giving a gift is to choose something that you would want to receive. Even at three years old, Rebecca and her twin sister, Elyssa, had a sophisticated understanding of this principle. When their mother took them to the mall to choose a gift for their father's birthday, the girls chose Panda.

Naturally, their father was thrilled with Rebecca and Elyssa's thoughtfulness, but admittedly uneasy with their request that he play with Panda and sleep with Panda. Every night. Not wanting to disappoint the girls or belittle their generosity, Dad honored their demands until he developed a mysterious allergy to the bear. The girls, gracious as ever, offered to take care of Panda Brand(ph) for their father. And 20 years later, they still do.

HANSEN: Aw. Cheryl Katz is co-author along with her husband, Jeffrey, of "Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories." The book is published by Ten Speed Press. She joined us from the studios of member station WBUR in Boston. Thank you, Cheryl.

Ms. KATZ: Thank you so much.

HANSEN: And if you'd like to share a story of your favorite childhood toy with us, go to our Web Site, npr.org, and click on the Contact Us link.

(Soundbite of "Teddy Bear Picnic")

Unidentified Man: If you go down in the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise. If you go down in the woods today, you'd better go in disguise. For every bear that ever there was will gather there for certain, because today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

HANSEN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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