Video

Happy Birthday Maurice Sendak :)

This morning when I first googled something at work I noticed that there was a new Google Doodle. The doodles seem to get better and better each time (the one honoring Douglas Adams was amazing!) so I clicked onto it to have a play and saw that it was celebrating the 85th birthday of Maurice Sendak. Sendak, as most of you would know was the author and illustrator of the popular children’s book Where the Wild Things Are and another of my favourites as a child, In The Night Kitchen, as well as many others which he created from 1956 until his death in May of last year.

Maurice Sendak was an imaginative author that created unique, playful, and slightly creepy characters which have delighted generations of children, and hopefully will continue to delight generations to come. Good on Google for honoring him with this lovely doodle 🙂

If you’re seeing this after the fact here’s a video made of the Doodle in action:

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Adventures in Etymology: Chimerical

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Chimerical

Chimera by *TsaoShin (DeviantART) used with artist's permission

Chimera by *TsaoShin (DeviantART) used with artist’s permission

Reason for Adventure

I discovered this charming word in Blameless by Gail Carriger I believe.

Dictionary.com Definitions/Origins

Form:
adjective
Definition:
1. unreal; imaginary; visionary: a chimerical terrestrial paradise.
2.wildly fanciful; highly unrealistic: a chimerical plan
Origin: 1630–40; chimer(a) + -ical
Related forms:
chi·mer·ic, adjective
chi·mer·i·cal·ly, adverb
non·chi·mer·ic, adjective
non·chi·mer·i·cal, adjective
non·chi·mer·i·cal·ly, adverb
Synonyms
1. illusory, fantastic.
Antonyms
1. real.

Source:
chimerical. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved April 09, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chimerical

Online Etymology Dictionary Information

chimerical (adj.) 1630s, from chimera + -ical. Related: Chimeric (1650s).
chimera (n.) fabulous monster, late 14c., from Old French chimere or directly from Medieval Latin chimera, from Latin Chimaera, from Greekkhimaira, name of a mythical creature, slain by Bellerophon, with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail (supposedly personification of snow or winter); literally “year-old she-goat” (masc. khimaros), from kheima “winter season” (see hibernation). Figurative meaning “wild fantasy” first recorded 1580s in English (attested 13c. in French).
“Beestis clepid chymeres, that han a part of ech beest, and suche ben not, no but oonly in opynyoun”. [Wyclif, “Prologue”]
Sources:
Harper, D. (2012). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved April 9, 2013 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=chimeric&searchmode=none
Harper, D. (2012). Online etymology dictionary. Retrieved April 9, 2013 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=chimera&allowed_in_frame=0

Michael Leunig : The King of Whimsy

I read my new Leunig book Short Notes from the Long History of Happiness – last night while snuggled in bed and thought It was the perfect time to wax lyrical about how fab he is and maybe introduce some people to his wonderful poems/cartoons 🙂

A very nice winter bedtime story 🙂

Hmm I only just noticed that he looks a bit like my dad....

I have loved Michael Leunig’s work since I could understand it, which for the more simple cartoons was probably about 12 and a few years older than that for his more political ones. Growing up in the late ’80s – ’90s it seemed that a home was not complete unless there was a Leunig on the fridge – every adult I knew seemed to have a cartoon clipped from the paper holding pride of place beneath a magnet beside the take-away menus and kids drawings. I didn’t really know what they were as a kid, but I liked the funny little men and women with big noses, the whimsical doodles of birds and flowers and Leunig’s trademark crescent moon.

 

My copy is much more battered!

I followed my nose to the library or to books or clippings owned by adults and I loved everything I read even ‘tho a lot of it was over my head. Finally, I asked for one of Leunig’s books for Christmas, when I was around 15, and Santa (or Mum, Nana or my Auntie Di) delivered. The book was The Stick and Other Tales of our Times and it provided constant entertainment for me and my friends at the next school camp. I loved some of the cartoons so much that I photocopied them to give to people and wrote short rhymes in friends Christmas cards the next year.

 

The next year for Christmas I got Strange Creature, a darker more politically driven book which I also read it over and over and since I was a angst-ridden teenager that hated politicians and the government and the book was very current It fit my mood (swings) perfectly 🙂

Dark but still hilarious

 

 

 

 

Since then friends and family have gotten me two other Leunig books for presents – When I Talk to You: a Cartoonist Talks to God, which is a book of short “prayers”; and The Bedtime Leunig, which is a cracker of a book containing some of Leunig’s best purely visual cartoons. I also own a DVD of the animated shorts based  on 50 of his best cartoons – Leunig Animated.

I should watch this again

 

The sweetest, quirkiest prayerbook 🙂

A great little read

 

Leunig is one of Australia’s best storytellers (in my opinion) and it doesn’t matter that he tells his stories through funny little cartoons and rhymes.

If you haven’t read anything by Michael Leunig before and you like any of the following – politics, tea, ducks, goats, gardens, love, sex, fear, whimsy, humor, joy, prayers, wit, the world – then find one of his books now. If you have discovered his wonderfullness before then why not rediscover him?

🙂 Spread the Leunig love.

Top 10 Authors

Last month I noticed that I had written exactly 10 posts in April and 10 posts in March. which I thought was pretty neat 🙂 and then the other day I noticed that it’s coming up to the end of May and I have only written 7! This can not do! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m just a tad obsessed with order (cue for all my friends to say “just a tad?”) so, to rectify this situation I will be writing a special “Top 10” post each day on the three last days of May. The first post will be my Top 10 Authors.

In no particular order (besides the order in which they came to me :P) here are my Top 10:

1. Craig Silvey

If you read my post from a few days ago you’ll know that Craig Silvey is my favourite author, mainly because his two novels – Rhubarb and Jasper Jones – are two of my fave books. He’s a wonderful local author and I can’t wait til he writes another book :).

Remember this guy? 🙂

2. Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak is the author of another couple of my fave books – The Book Thief and The Messenger – as well as a bunch of YA books (The Underdog; Fighting Ruben Wolfe; Getting the Girl) and an upcoming novel The Bridge of Clay, which I’m really looking forward to :). He’s another wonderful Australian author and I would recommend The Book Thief and The Messenger to anyone who wants to read a very inspirational and insightful book with a clear, simple premise.

Another handsome devil 🙂

3. Joanne Harris

I have read all of Joanne Harris’ books, from the famous Chocolat; it’s sequel, The Lollipop Shoes; and others in the same vein of food and magic (Blackberry Wine; Five Quarters of the Orange) ; to her darker early work (The Evil Seed; Sleep, Pale Sister) ; to her YA fantasy (and first in a series) Runemarks. Her other works are: The Coastliners; Holy Fools; Gentlemen and Players; a collection of short stories called Jigs and Reels; and her newest triumph blueeyedboy. She also has released two cooking books (which I haven’t read) with Fran Warde called The French Kitchen : a Cook Book and The French Market.

A delicious author

4. Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is another author whose work I devour. There is only one novel I have yet to read, Remarkable Creatures, and that is on my “to read” pile, so hopefully I’ll get to it soon :). Her work is mostly historical fiction and based around a famous artist or art in general. Her most famous work, The Girl with the Pearl Earring is about the Dutch painter Vermeer and his painting of the same name; her first book The Virgin Blue references many paintings of the Virgin Mary; The Lady and the Unicorn is about the creation of medieval tapestries with the same name; and Burning Bright is about a couple of children that befriend their neighbour, writer and poet, William Blake. Tracy Chevalier has also written Falling Angels, a beautiful little book set right afer the death of Queen Victoria. She has also written several non-fiction books: Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers; Contemporary Poets; Contemporary World Writers; Encyclopedia of the Essay and Concise Encyclopedia of the Essay.

Lady Historical of Fiction

5. Terry Pratchett

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett is a fairly recent favourite author of mine. I loved the Discworld cartoons, Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music when I was a kid, and later on the movie Hogfather, but it was only a couple of years ago that I got around to reading the books, and I have since read the first 6 Discworld novels. He has written far too much to list here, but if you want to know all the titles follow the link (click on Terry Pratchett) and see them all on his Fantasticfiction page. The books are fab – very good for random bouts of giggling on the bus – and If you’re a fan of fantasy, but think sometimes it’s a genre that takes it’s self too seriously, then the Discworld books are for you.

A wizard of humourous fantasy

6. Jeanette Winterson

I’ve had an interesting reader/author relationship with Jeanette Winterson. When I was younger I loved her early works: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; Sexing the Cherry; and most of all The Passion. I also enjoyed some of her later books, like Lighthousekeeping and her sort-of YA fantasy novel, Tanglewreck. However, I had mixed emotions about her sci-fi love story The Stone Gods , which had great elements but was confusing and not as….engaging as the other books I had read. And Gut Symmetries really wasn’t my cup of tea. Because of this somewhat mixed experience I am nervous about reading the remaining novels: Written on the Body; Art and Lies; The Powerbook; and The Battle of the Sun, but I will carry on because when she writes a good one, it’s amazing.

No ordinary fruit

7. Isobelle Carmody

I have loved Isobelle Carmody’s fantasy books since a friend of the family gave me Scatterlings. I am a fan of the Obernewtyn Cronicles ( Obernewtyn; The Farseekers; Ashling; The Keeping Place; The Stone Key) and have been hanging out for the next book, The Sending to come out. Besides the Obernewtyn series she has written the Ledgendsong Saga, the Gateway Trilogy and The Legend of Little Fur series. She has also written 7 stand-alone novels, a collection of short stories called Green Monkey Dreams, and a few picture books: Wildheart; The Wrong Thing ( or Magic Night), Night School and Journey From the Centre of the Earth. I still have to read the Ledgendsong series, and 3 of her stand-alones: The Landlord, Dreamwalker, and  Firecat’s Dream.

Queen of trilogies (and beyond)

8. Charlaine Harris

My love for Charlaine Harris is a new one, and thanks mainly to a Southern belle with an unique ability: Sookie Stackhouse. Since I saw True Blood early last year I have been reading the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries series and now I’m 8 books in and completly addicted :). Besides the Sookie series, Charlaine Harris has written the Aurora Teagarden mystery series (which has 8 books), the Lily Bard mystery series (which has 5) and the Harper Connelly series (which has 4), as well as two stand-alones, Sweet and Deadly, and A Secret Rage, so she’s quite an ambitious lady. I own the first Harper Connelly: Grave Sight, and a Lily Bard omnibus and they’re on my “to read” pile, so hopefully they’re just as fun as the Sookie books :).

An author with bite

9. Kerry Greenwood

Ahhhh Kerry Greenwood, the author behind two of my favourite female characters from the last two years – the hon. Phryne Fisher, and baker turned detective, Corinna Chapman. Thanks go to my friend Sarah for lending me the first Phryne book (or the first 3) in the form of an omnibus containing: Cocaine Blues (aka Death by Misadventure), Flying Too High, and Murder on a Ballarat Train. Since then I’ve read 5 more Phryne books and the first two Corinna Chapman books: Earthly Delights and Heavenly Pleasures. And, lucky me, I still have 10 Phryne books; 3 Corinna books, plus two other series’: the Delphic Women series and the Stormbringer series to read (plus if I’m really keen she’s written 13 stand-alones!).

A book writing machine

10. Clive Barker

If you’re keeping up-to-date with what I’m currently reading you wouldn’t be surprised that Clive Barker is one of my fave authors – since I’m reading two of his books at the mo’. I’ve loved his work since my friend (Sarah again) lent me a great fantasy epic of his, Abarat which is filled with Clive Barker’s colourful and twisted paintings. She then gave me Sacrament for a christmas present, and I’ve been into his bizarre, often fucked-up style of writing ever since :P. Beside Abarat (and the second Abarat book, Days of Magic, Nights of War) and Sacrament I have read (and own) The Great and Secret Show and Imajica.

Master of Mindfuck

So there you have it, my first top 10 :). We have a good mix of male and female authors, and authors from Australia (Craig Silvey, Markus Zusak, Isobelle Carmody, Kerry Greenwood) the UK (Joanne Harris, Terry Pratchett, Jeanette Winterson, Clive Barker) and the US of A (Tracy Chevalier, Charlaine Harris), plus a mix of genres (Literary, Historical, Fantasy, YA, Mystery, Horror) which gives you all an insight into my reading patterns :).

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next “Top 10” – the Top 10 books from my childhood, and let me know in the comments if you think the “Top 10” should be a regular feature 🙂

Craig Silvey : Jewel of the West

May has been quite light on posts, mainly because I have been bombarded with assessments. But since a couple of these assessments were presentations that fit in quite nicely with the theme of this blog, why not mix business with pleasure? 🙂

The first presentation I did was for a training unit – we had to choose a book, book series, or author and “train” a small group on the topic. I chose my favourite author, and one who is not very well-known – Craig Silvey.

He's a handsome devil isn't he?

I discovered Craig Silvey a few years ago when his first novel, Rhubarb, was chosen as the “One Book” for the Perth Writer’s Festival and there was promotional material in my local library. I couldn’t get my hands on it for a while as all the copies were out on loan, but when I did it was well worth the wait. Rhubarb was one of the most unusual and beautiful books I had ever read, and became my new no. 1 book of all time (a position held by Watership Down by Richard Adams since I was 11).

Rhubarb

The plot was simple while also, somehow being complex – It is very character and setting focused and so the plot seems like a natural progression of little interwoven stories, taking a simple thread of plot and weaving it into an intricate tapestry. The main character is Eleanor Rigby (yes, like the Beatles song) who is young, delicate and blind. She goes through her (newly) sightless world with her faithful if somewhat incompetent guide dog Warren, as she wanders the vibrant streets and beaches of Fremantle, Western Australia. She lives with her mother who has become almost comatose on the couch, immersed in her own television world, and has only vague, lonely acquaintances. The other main character is Ewan Dempsey, a young man who is agoraphobic and spends his days smoking weed, making cellos to sell and playing his own collection of cellos. The two meet when Eleanor passes by his house and is drawn by the sound of his music, and an awkward, confused, but touching romance begins. The book is written almost like poetry – Silvey uses a lot of alliteration, repetition and strung together words, which create a wonderful sense of pace and panic, especially in parts where Eleanor is trying to negotiate the Fremantle streets. Even after all these years Rhubarb is still on my list of top 10 books I’ve read.

Jasper Jones

When the second novel of Silvey’s, Jasper Jones, came out in 2009 I was so excited because I hadn’t even heard he was writing another. I was surprised by how different Jasper Jones was to Rhubarb, but I was even more surprised when I grew to love it more than Rhubarb. The book revolves around a 13-year-old boy called Charlie Bucktin (I bet you were expecting me to say Jasper jones :P) who is a quiet, bookish boy who aspires to be a writer. it is set in rural Western Australia in the 1960’s. The book begins with Charlie reading in his sleep-out bedroom when he gets a surprise visit by Jasper Jones, a half caucasian, half aboriginal boy a few years his senior who is the troublemaker and scapegoat of the town. Charlie has never had prejudice towards Jasper, maybe because his best friend, Jeffrey Lu, is Vietnamese also is victim to the towns racism and small-mindedness, or maybe because he sees that the town is not in the right and Jasper may be a good person. So, when Jasper asks for Charlie’s help, and to follow him into the bush at night, Charlie goes with him. What Charlie discovers is a secret too big and heavy for any teenager to have to keep, but he does, for the sake of Jasper Jones. Jasper Jones has been compared to Harper Lee’s To kill a mockingbird because it has the same Southern Gothic feel to it, but in an Australian setting, as well as themes of racism, small-town-small-mindedness, and growing up. It is an amazing book, touching and disturbing then just a hop-skip-and-jump away to complete, youthful hilarity and triumph. It gets added points for making me cheer out loud at a cricket game, when I have never had the slightest interest in cricket.

I would recommend both Rhubarb and Jasper Jones to anyone, because they are amazingly written, especially for such a new, young writer.
If you would like any more info check out the slide show that I used for my presentation: Craig Silvey
and the group of bookmarks I’ve collected on del.icio.us that relate to Craig Silvey: Craig Silvey del.icio.us bundle