More Alice

I checked on the release date for Alice Through the Looking Glass (Simply Read Books) and it is April. That seems like too long to wait, but I'm pretty sure it will be worth it.
Meanwhile, there's this:

UPDATE: Yes, there will be a poster to tie-in with Alice Through the Looking Glass (Simply Read Books). Huzzah! Of course, if you're waiting on the new book, you'll want to be sure you've got a copy of Simply Read's beautiful Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, also illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev.

How can you resist?


Paper Cuts

Young son and I are going to a paper cut-out animation workshop at the NFB this weekend. Kind of exciting.

I couldn't quite picture what paper cut-out animation could mean. Think Terry Gilliam, said young son.

And then I stumbled on this trailer for There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Chronicle Books) illustrated by Jeremy Holmes.

And here's the very cool looking book.


Passing the Torch

When We Were Small
By Euan O’Leary

Henry is a boy who is always curious about his mother and father's past. One day Henry asked, “tell me what life was like when YOU were small.”

“Well,” said his father, “when we were small, everything was in black and white, including Dalmatians, which never got rid of the power so they could be red and green.”

“Oh, yes!” said his mother, “Now I remember! When we were small, we had to play dodge-chicken at school, for balls hadn’t been invented.”

“Right,” said his father, “NOW I remember! When we were small we couldn’t watch television. Instead we had to watch paintings. I must admit, the programs got a bit boring now and then.”

“AH!” said his mother, “How did I forget? When we were small we spent every night dreaming of something we never knew would be so good. And now we have it.” Said his mother looking down at Henry.

“When we were small,” said his father, “We lived in a county that was missing from the world. We still live there, but it's not missing since we had you.”

“And when we got big,” added his mother, “we were still small enough to make our parents happy as a fish in water.”


Beautiful Things (Alice)

Was talking to a student today about the Alice Through The Looking Glass coming soon from Simply Read Books and now see Steph Aulenback talking about beautiful Alice images over at Crooked House.

So, I ask you. Is this not the most beautiful thing? 

Through The Looking Glass as imagined by the brilliant Iassen Ghiuselev.

I really, really need a poster of this!


O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!

Robert Louis Stevenson is 159 years old. Or he would be, were he still with us.

Here he is, about 154 years ago:

And there is now a fabulous online archive of his work (ta to Maud for the link). You can read any number of things here including Child's Garden of Verse right here. You can actually flip the lovely, lovely pages one by one. There must be more beautiful editions of this book out there than practically any other.

My son used to go to sleep at night to this CD in which Ted Jacobs set some of the poems from Child's Garden of Verse to music. (In our house "The Lamplighter" always ran "O'Leary light the lamps again.") You can listen to the songs by scrolling down the Amazon page. I dare you to find a better bedtime album.


Henry on Facebook

I'd kind of forgotten that I'd made a facebook page for Henry awhile back. Just had a little look at it and see that he has friends that I don't even know. There's something rather touching about this.

Younger son and I had a long discussion the other day about whether he would ever sell the rights to Henry to the Disney Corp. (not that they've been banging the door down). We agreed that it really wouldn't be worth it ... particularly if they painted him orange and made him wear a shirt with his name on it.


Roald Dahl to Philip Ardagh

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize has gone to Philip Ardagh for his book Grubtown Tales. That was for the category of books for children ages seven to fourteen, while in the category of books for children six and under went to Sam Lloyd for his Mr Pusskins Best in Show.

My older son reviewed one of Ardagh's books for the Vancouver Sun a few years back (or at least helped me to review it) and we were both chuffed to meet Ardagh at a reading at the fabulous Kidsbooks ... I think he's one of the funnier people I've ever met and it's nice to see that publicly recognised and rewarded.


Gumby Does Dickens

Lately, my son and I have been very interested in the subject of adaptation.
Here is one of the odder Christmas Carols we have stumbled across:


What the Dickens

We want one of these:

And we are considering whether to go see the new film of The Christmas Carol and watching the Alastair Sim version while we consider.

We found the figure on the Archie McPhee site which boasts the slogan: "Slightly less disappointing than other companies." The Dickens figure comes with a quill pen and removable hat. He is also exactly the right size to go with the Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who figure and recreate "The Unquiet Dead" episode.

Update: We are now watching the episode of Doctor Who (favourite line by Dickens: "What the Shakespeare!") and bemoaning the fact that we can't get these figures shipped to Canada!


Of course it's scary

A very good piece about how scary children's books should be by Sam Leith in the Guardian:

Fear in children's books is more open, more ambient. Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is a good example. It's unsettling rather than scary: it exists in its own world. The sound of it is spooky – those pregnant breaks that give its opening sentence the strangeness and gravity of poetry: "The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind . . . and another . . . " And that's even before Max sails off to where the wild things are, to join their savage carnival. "We'll eat you up, we love you so . . . "

Like Sendak's even stranger In the Night Kitchen, which has a naked toddler flying an aeroplane made of cake-mix through a kitchen filled with demented Oliver Hardy lookalikes, the story is unsettling – but it's better described by the German word unheimlich, meaning unhomely. That makes a sort of sense. These stories are a way of leaving the safety of home for a world created by someone else's imagination, where you are under their control. Suddenly, your bedroom is a forest. Suddenly, you are in a savage carnival. Of course it's scary.