Monday, April 30, 2007
I realize that one should never claim to have found the "best" book, but for years now, I've come back again and again to The Thirteen Clocks, by James Thurber. I read it at least every six months (no kidding), and find something new each time I pick it up. I owe a great debt to Steve Gettinger, who bought me my copy long ago...
This is a book of poetry, of wordplay, of silly songs and fairy-tale cadences. It is pretty pure imagination, fantasy at its best. But it's also a cynical book, wry and funny and clever. The story of a prince who follows an impossible journey for the love of a fair maiden, The Thirteen Clocks is also the story of his sidekick, the Golux, who is flawed, mistaken... and yet we trust him.
There are children long gone who never resurface. There is a terrible villain who learns nothing. There is a terrifying beast, the Todal, an agent of the devil whom we never come to understand. Heros are deceitful and the princess is bland. Spies switch sides and are killed for the slightest infractions. This book breaks all the rules beautifully. As good books should.
But here, I have been wasting words. I can't do it justice. Let me show you:
”I am the Golux,” said the Golux proudly, “the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device.”
“You resemble one,” the minstrel said, “as Saralinda resembles the rose.”
“I resemble only half the things I say I don’t,” the Golux said. “The other half resemble me.”
Oh, if only they did...
Nothing resembles the Golux, or the Thirteen Clocks.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
It goes without saying that when it comes to old-fashioned prose for the kiddles (and kiddle-like adults), Kate Dicamillo leads the pack...
But while everything she has written is good, Edward Tulane is a new kind of good (by which I mean an old kind of good).
It's a quiet kind of book, a paddle down a slow-moving stream. Not recommended for anyone who requires constant adventure, not EXTREME in the least. But that's why I like it.
Just a story about a toy, a china bunny, who learns some things about himself, and wanders through the world, pushed hither and yon by forces beyond his control. A distant cousin to the Velveteen Rabbit.
Candlewick makes beeeyoooteeeful books, and this one in particular is astounding. For production value it reminds me of my childhood copy of The Cuckoo Clock, by Mrs. Molesworth.
Which you should also read (if you haven't already)...
Let me tell you a little story...
Last week at the library, I asked the librarian to help me find a good book for a young reader.
"Please, I need a good book for a young reader..." I said.
The librarian blinked. "What kind of book."
"Well," I said, "This young reader (yeah, the young reader *is* me, and it's a stretch to call myself young I suppose, but I'm not OLD exactly)" enjoys fantasy..."
The librarian pointed to an island of short fat paperbacks with pictures of shiny dragons on them. Shiny dragons with digestive problems.
I contined "... but she likes old-fashioned fantasy, this young reader. She loves Edward Eager and E. Nesbit. Baum and Juster and Lewis and ... well, you know, the GREATS!"
The librarian blinked again. "Has she read Harry Potter?"
I responded in the affirmative. "Yes, she has."
The librarian scratched her head. "Lemony Snicket?"
"Yep!" I chirped.
"Well then," said the librian, I don't know what to tell you." And she wandered away... to kick someone off a computer.
Which leaves me without a clue for what to read. Again!
You might ask why a 32 year old (young) woman is reading children's books. And I could tell you that it's because I'm a children's author (which I am) but that would only be a partial truth. Because I've been reading (and re-reading) the same books for 25 years, and I've only been a children's author for two of those years...
But now I want NEW books, books that will live up to the standards of the books I love.
And so, henceforth and post haste... this site will become a little blog-roster, of the authors (for children) that I love best, and occasional rants on things that particularly touch, confuse, befuddle, or impress me in the touching, confusing, befuddling, impressive world of children's publishing.
This site will be irregular, as all fun things must be... updated whenever I feel moved to update. This site may be "cheeky".
But most of all, I hope this site will become a place where people who like to read VERY good books, (and perhaps have a penchant for the past) can find something new to read (whether or not it's newly written).
Finally, I reserve the right to post the occasional rant about nothing or everything, the occasional baby-picture (I have a baby!), and the occasional bit of personal news... because this is, after all, a blog.
For goodness sake.