A very kind correspondent by the name of Yukiko has told me about an upcoming Studio Ghibli production of The Borrowers.  

There is more information at the Ghibli blog, but it is to be called 'Karigurashi No Arrietty' (Arrietty the Borrower) and will be directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi.  Instead of being set in 1950s-era England it will be set in the present-day Tokyo neighborhood of Koganei.

We have been watching the BBC adaptations from the early 1990s - so much better than that American version - and are now looking forward to seeing the Ghibli version.  I also need to buy a new copy of the Mary Norton novels as it is years (and years) since I've read them.  Recently I read Bed-Knob and Broomsticks for the first time and it was so much better than I was expecting after having seen the Disneyfied version as a child.  I wouldn't mind seeing a Studio Ghibli version of that one too.


AS on Alice

AS Byatt writes about Alice in Wonderland in today's Guardian.

Another thing which is odd about reading Alice is that the reader – even a reader aged seven or eight – can never stop thinking about the language. The texture of reading Alice is a series of linguistic puzzles, contradictions and jokes, of which Humpty Dumpty's assertions of his own arbitrary power over words (a word "means what I choose it to mean") are only the most striking. Alice is as much part of this linguistic tissue as the creatures she meets. As she falls through the earth she doesn't feel terror, she thinks, she talks to herself and analyses what is happening and may happen. She is prepared to give as good as she gets in arguments with pigeons, caterpillars, frog footmen, smiling cats and red and white queens. Her main emotion is trying to make sense against increasing odds.
Also, a nice slideshow of Alice images over at the Globe and Mail.


March Break Books

Will be on CBC Radio Noon here in Montreal today to talk with Sue Smith about recommendations for children's books.  Here's the list I'm taking in with me:

Beautiful Little Books for Little People  This is the fourth book in the series which features Windy and his friends in a series of adventures.  The illustrations are done with photo tableaux and there is always great supplemental material like crafts & recipes included.
The Windy Series
By Robin Mitchell-Cranfield & Judith Steedman 
Simply Read Books

Something Comic  Montreal's own Drawn & Quarterly has undertaken to publish all of the cult classic Moomin strips.  The fifth volume will appear this summer.
Moomin Book Four: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip
By Tove Jannson
Drawn & Quarterly 

Clever and Crafty Girls  This is terribly well-written coming of age with crafts and I'm sure you know a girl this would appeal to.  There is also a blog by the main character 
Coach House Books

For Those Who Like to Listen   The Gideon Trilogy is a wonderful time travel trilogy with equal appeal for male and female readers.  You can listen to a sample by clicking the link below.
The Gideon Trilogy
Audio Collection
By Linda Buckley-Archer
Simon & Schuster

The Original Story  There are so many editions of Alice - here is a nice, cheap edition for teen readers.  Even has a cool cover.  With the new movie hitting screens this week, it's good to go back to the original story.

By Lewis Carroll
Random House


Oliver Jeffers


Spotted over at We Heart Books
this Oliver Jeffers video relates to the release of 
The Heart and the Bottle later this month.

More info (in an irresistible format) here.


Mr. Men

There is to be a new title in the Mr. Men series, originated by Roger Hargreaves and continued by his son, Adam Hargreaves.  It is to be called  Mr. Nobody and will be published March 1st.

According to the Bookseller:

In the story Mr. Happy meets a strange character who “was somebody who sort of was, but wasn't!.. a person you can see right through, and who can't remember where he is from, who he is, or what he should be doing."

My son went through a brief obsession with the Mr. Men books.  He couldn't buy them fast enough and between times took to writing his own.  If Egmont is really looking for new titles they may want to get in touch with us.  

Good blogger/bad blogger

I am a bad blogger.  Or what could be more kindly termed an indifferent blogger.  I only turn up when the fancy takes me and if I were being paid by the hour for this, then my family would be living on jam sandwiches.

But I do enjoy feeling like I am part of the kidlit blogosphere and I do have scads of admiration for bloggers who show up day in and day out.  Two that I feel worthy of particular mention are Ann Giles, who specializes in top-flight author interviews over at Bookwitch and Betsy Bird, Manhattan librarian and blogger extraordinaire at Fuse #8.  Bird is one of the more thorough and thoughtful reviewers out there - and I don't feel bound to limit that assessment to the field of children's writing that she specializes in.

It's been really interesting to watch the development of both these blogs over the past few years, and I was surprised to read in a recent Forbes article that Bird says that she only has time to blog four or five hours a night.

Four or five hours a night!  It's dedication like that that really puts me in my place.


Other Mother

You can now buy the original cast recording from the New York MCC production of Neil Gaiman's Coraline.  

Which makes me very happy.  Because after going to see the play without my nine-year-old, I was forced to try and re-enact it and discuss all the choices made in the adaptation.  Which made for a number of very interesting conversations, but it was very, very sad to hear me trying to sing the songs.

Here is David Greenspan, who not only wrote the book for the musical but was freaking brilliant as the Other Mother.   (Why does listening to him singing Falling make me so happy?  I don't know - it just does.)

Here's what it says on the Sh-K-Boom site, where you can purchase the album or link to the iTune store:

A musical like no other, Coraline sprang from the minds of three of the most wildly popular cult figures of our time. Adapted from the terrifying children’s book by Neil Gaiman (author of the international sensation Sandman), this tale of menace and mayhem is set to music and lyrics by smart-rock iconoclast Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, and boasts a book by celebrated downtown actor/playwright, David Greenspan, who serves double-duty as the villainous Other Mother. Tony nominee Jayne Houdyshell (WellThe Receptionist) stars in the title role, and bringing it all together is acclaimed director Leigh Silverman (Yellowface, From Up Here,Well).


Canadian World

I've been reading (and loving) the latest Paul Collins,  The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World, and was intrigued by his mention of a Japanese tourist attraction called Canadian World.

I immediately went to google it and found an article from Canadian Business which contains the following intelligence:

A thousand kilometres north of Tokyo, along a lonely country highway cutting through blue foothills and red pine, stands a sign that makes locals cringe: "Welcome to Canadian World." Here, in the remote heart of volcanic, sparsely populated Hokkaido island, is a perfect reproduction of Prince Edward Island's 19th-century Green Gables homestead, right down to the bedpans. It should be an idyllic place, a celebration of Japan's unlikely yet enduring love affair with Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables novels. But the paint is peeling and the house is silent, surrounded by acres of weeds. Gone are the fields of lavender and the tourists who came to live out their fantasies from the Anne stories. Canadian World is a ghost town.

You can find a picture of the Hokkaido Green Gables here.

Oh, and you can browse the pages of a first folio here.


Possibly Favourite Title Ever

The latest addition to my bookshelf is titled
How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself,
by Robert Paul Smith with illustrations by Elinor Goulding Smith.

I wanted this re-print edition (from Tin House Books) because of this piece in Papercuts which suggested it was a precursor to the Iggulden brothers' Dangerous Book for Boys, which has provided us with hours of entertainment ... hours filled with making of newspaper hats and hiding the pence and so on. (Check out their fab website by clicking on the book title).

I would recommend The Dangerous Book for Boys over The Daring Book for Girls, particularly for the sort of girl who isn't going to flinch at the "Boys" in the title. I was a girl with my own scout knife, but I do remember being told at an early age that I couldn't read Sherlock Holmes because it was a boy's book. (This bit of wisdom was passed along by a little red-headed boy and left me wary around red-headed boys right up until the day I had one of my own.)

And where can we get one of these?  Maybe in time for spring break?

But back to How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself. I confess that mostly I wanted this book because I loved the title. It makes me happy. I am filing it away with my other favourite titles: Toilet Training in Less than a Day and The Gist of Swedenborg.

Then, on receiving the book, I was pleased to see that it boasted that rarest of creatures--a blurb that might actually make me want to buy the book:

Every great book reminds us that we're all alone in the world. At least this one provides us with the means to entertain ourselves while we're here. ~ Lemony Snicket

And there's an introduction by Paul Collins, which is funny because the book I'm carrying around with me (for something to do when I'm all alone by myself, not that there's much chance of that very often after the advent of parenthood), is The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World by Paul Collins.

Which reminds me of one of one of my other favourite titles,
published by the Collins Library: English as She is Spoke.

Okay, but back to How to do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself. It also has a really good opening line, and I am nothing if not a sucker for an opening line:

I don't know about you, but I wasted all but about fifteen minutes of my childhood.

I said above that I consider The Dangerous Book for Boys to be a good choice for children of either gender, but I'm not yet sure I would recommend How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself for younger children because opening it at random the first line I read was "... if it's knife with a sharp blade, watch what you're doing ...."

This may, in fact, be the dangerous book for grown-up boys.


Mister Gaiman Meets Doctor Who

Well this is nice news. Neil Gaiman is penning an episode of the new Doctor Who series.

Seems almost inevitable now that it's happened, but what we want to know is will Coraline be the next companion?

Also, when oh when will the Doctor get to be a ginger?