The Ceeb

UPDATE: You can listen to the archived CBC Montreal Radio Noon show from today here - click on Wednesday, December 16th and then the book chat starts at about 29:30. Not nearly enough time to talk about all the things I wanted to talk about.

I mentioned the Dame Edna reading of Ian Falconer's Olivia stories. Here's a little teaser....

Thanks to Betsy at Fuse #8 and the lovely ladies of We Heart Books for the heads-up on this one.


Shopping List

Will be on CBC Montreal's Radio Noon program tomorrow (Wednesday) to talk about children's books and recommendations for holiday shopping. I'm making a list and checking it twice.

Picture Book
Perfect Snow
by Barbara Reid

The Olivia Audio Collection
by Ian Falconer, read by Dame Edna Everage
Simon & Schuster

Pop-up Book
The Incredible Book Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers
Harper Collins

Graphic novel
The Chronicles of Arthur: Sword of Fire and Ice
by John Matthews, illustrated by Mike Collins

Steampunk novel
The Hunchback Assignments
by Arthur Slade
Harper Trophy

Fantasy novel

Smudge's Mark
by Claudia Osmond
Simply Read Books

Young adult novel suitable for adults of all ages
The Bride's Farewell
by Meg Rosoff
Random House



We have been reading Grimble and Grimble at Christmas, Clement Freud's outrageously funny stories about a boy named Grimble (just Grimble as his parents didn't think to give him another name), who is "about ten," (his age is not quite certain as his parents can't remember when his birthday might be.) In the first story his parents have gone off to Peru and left him to fend for himself with an oven full of sandwiches and a fridge full of tea. Not only is this great fun to read aloud to one's young offspring, it also creates the illusion that by comparison you are remarkably competent in the parenting department.

In Grimble at Christmas, the poor boy takes on the responsibility for Christmas when he fears his parents will prove inadequate to the task:

That night when Grimble was in bed he started to think about Christmas very seriously. Christmas was a holiday and a time for eating interesting food and giving presents and receiving presents--someone had told him it was more blessed to do one than the other, but he kept forgetting which. Now the reason why children expected their parents to do things for them at Christmas was because parents are better organized than children and parents have more money than children.

In Grimble's case this was only partly true. His parents were not nearly as well organized as he; they kept forgetting to get up in the morning and sometimes forgot to go to bed for days on end and they never knew what time it was.

We were very sorry to read of the death of Clement Freud and realize there will never be any more Grimble.

The original Grimble is very difficult to come by, so may I humbly suggest that you hasten over to McSweeney's where you can purchase a copy of Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things...That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn't Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out which includes the original story.

You can read Neil Gaiman on Clement Freud and Grimble here.



Julie Morstad and her brother, Paul Morstad, teamed up for the fantastic animation on this video for Neko Case's "People Got a Lotta Nerve."

I especially love the elephants, maybe because I've just finished reading Kate Di Camillo's The Magician's Elephant which was almost inexpressibly lovely.

And if you don't believe me, you can go and read an excerpt here. I used the opening of this novel as an example for my YA students the other day because it so beautifully and economically does exactly what it needs to do. Illustrations for the book are courtesy of Yoko Tanaka and are very lovely, but I would really like to see Julie and Kate Di Camillo work together one of these days.

You can read Adam Gopnik's fine appraisal of the novel here.



We're going to see A Christmas Carol this weekend. The play this time ... a mercifully Jim-Carey-free zone.

I've just come across this article in the NY Times where you can peruse the actual Dickens manuscript.

There's something weirdly fascinating about seeing the handwriting and the amendations - like seeing a mind at work. And speaking of Dickens, this looks promising, and the first part includes that Micawberism well worth keeping in mind this time of year: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."