Cut and Paste (Old School)

John McCrae

Linda Granfield will be in Montreal this week, launching her new book Remembering John McCrae, Soldier Doctor Poet.

And for those of you not sure of who John McCrae is, here's a gentle reminder:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday October 27th at 4 pm
Babar en ville, 1235 Greene Avenue, 514-931-0606.
This event is suitable for ages 8 and up.


Scrambled Humpty Dumpty

Oh, for the love of Old Mother Goose, do we really need such happily-ever-after endings for everything that it becomes necessary to have Humpty Dumpty end with all the King's men making "Humpty happy again?" Apparently somebody at the BBC thought so.

Here's a completely unreconstructed Humpty, courtesy of illustrator Rene Milot.

And here's a short story called "The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds," by Neil Gaiman in which Humpty Dumpty is portrayed as a murder victim in sort of noir nursery fable.

Zombies 'r' Us

Zombies are for boys and vampires are for girls. So says writer Charlie Higson in a recent Guardian piece. He writes:

Vampires are the undead of choice for girls, and zombies for boys. Vampires are cool, aloof, beautiful, brooding creatures of the night. Typical moody teenage boys, basically. Zombies are dumb, brutal, ugly and mindlessly violent. Which makes them also like typical teenage boys, I suppose.

Charlie Higson's new book The Enemy is out this month and has a very spiffy website where you can read an extract or even zombify yourself.

The book is just out and the press release makes me wish we were going to be in Toronto this coming weekend:

In Canada, Puffin Books will be celebrating the release of The Enemy at the Toronto Zombie Walk on October 24th in full zombie attire, with wound tattoo giveaways for the walkers. Be sure to visit us at 3:00 pm at Trinity Bellwoods Park bordered by Dundas St. and Gore Vale Ave.

Of course, here in Montreal we can see zombies walking the street any night of the week.

And in Victoria, my brother Graham McDonald is directing a zombie-ful version of Mary Shelley's novel: Frankenstein in Oblivion (adapted by Graham McDonald & Kirsti Mikoda) which opens next weekend. So we also wish we were going to be in Victoria.

In one of my favourite family photos, our older son is dressed as a zombie (as he was every Hallowe'en over a span of years), and is standing next to his great-grandmother who has her arm around him and is beaming like she couldn't possibly have been prouder of this horrible-looking creature. Such is love.


From Time to Time

Looking forward to the new Julian Fellowes film From Time to Time, which stars young Alex Etel, a remarkable young actor who was shockingly good in the Cranford adapation.

The film is based on the novel The Chimneys of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston and was filmed in Dorset in a house that was once used to film a Tom Baker episode of Doctor Who. (Lately, all roads seem to lead to Doctor Who around here. That's what happens when you live with a little Whoovian.)

I wrote about Green Knowe here some time ago but forgot all about it until now. Must go and find the books as I do love a good ghost story. I'm also particularly interested in the process of adaptation right now as it is something I'm working on with my screenwriting students, and also has to do with a particular project I have in mind. There is an interesting article about the recent spate of adaptations of children's books here (with thanks to the ever informative Betsy Bird for the link.)


Meg Rosoff on Procrastination and Inspiration

Quote of the day from Meg Rosoff:

I procrastinated about writing a book for about 35 years, always sure I’d never write one good enough. When I finally tried to write a novel, I was inspired by some really bad books I’d read, thinking, ‘at least I can do better than that’.

~From a piece on how children's writers got their start in the Times Online.

Can't wait to read the new book.


Max at Sea

Missed this at the time, but the New Yorker has a short selection from the Dave Eggers novelisation of Where the Wild Things (written after his work on the screenplay). The story, "Max at Sea," is online here and you can also read an interview with Eggers here. Required reading for both my Children's Writing and my Screenwriting students.

Here's a sampling of what he has to say:

The weird thing is that working within an established story was actually kind of liberating. You know the beginning and middle and end, more or less, so there’s less pressure to figure all that out. So it was a matter of probing deeper into who Max is, what he wants, what his life is like at home and at school. And on the island, looking deeper into who the Wild Things are and what they want from Max, his life as their king, and why he leaves. From the beginning, though, Maurice was clear that he didn’t want the movie or the book to be timid adaptations. He wanted us to feel free to push and pull the original story in new directions.

And, oh my sweet heaven, take a look at this:

Eggers came up with the idea for this special edition, which unlike Margaret Wise Brown's original edition of The Fur Family uses artificial fur.


Typing Manually

The youngest and most productive member of our writing family has just started using a manual typewriter, purchased at a church sale for the sum of five dollars. It is small and green and has the charming moniker of Hermes Baby.

Browsing around online for info on securing a new ribbon, I have learned that the typewriter used by Douglas Adams was an Hermes 8. We've just received a copy of the Eoin Colfer sequel to the Hitchhiker series: And Another Thing (Penguin Canada) which is amusingly subtitled Part Six of Three of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and are looking forward to reading it. We are also not impervious to the Doctor Who connection, given that Adams wrote for the series and that young son has aspirations in that direction. So it seems to have been an auspicious purchase. It's also funny to hear the sound of keys clacking in the house.


The Next Chapter

Wearing one of my other hats, I was over chatting with Shelagh Rogers at CBC about biographies the other week. You can listen to the podcast version here.

Boy Meets Penguin

This is just so lovely. Euan found it online this morning and showed it to me. He also pointed out that there is one Oliver Jeffers title which we don't have, and so obviously I have been delinquent in my duties as a parent.