1. Croquet (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
Like regular croquet, but using flamingos for mallets.
And the gold goes to: England.
Monthly Archives: August 2008
Several decades ago I sat in Mopti, Mali while two of my friends were stuck in Timbuktu waiting out a sandstorm. I had chosen not to go, a decision I’ve since regretted. At the time it seemed too far for too little; the place itself was not suppose to be that interesting compared to Mopti and other places in Africa I’d been. The reason to go was to say one had done so, one had been to that fabled place that was as far away as could be.
Today Timbuktu is getting long overdue attention for something else, for its incredible libraries. And fortunately the owners of these libraries are getting help saving them. Africa’s Literary Treasure Trove: The Rush to Save Timbuktu’s Crumbling Manuscripts – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – New
Teaching on the part-time staff at Harvard is a little like visiting Disney World. The magic dust induces a light narcosis. The mind goes incontinent in the presence of paradox and conflict, and it is tough to tell how much fun you are having from how much you are having to pretend. The important thing is never to become the screamer who ruins the ride for everyone. The line is long.
John H. Summers at the Times on teaching at Harvard.
So I went to see Eoin Colfer’s “Fairies, Fiends and Flatulence” this past Saturday and have to say that it was great fun. It is an enormously entertaining one-man show complete with video, slides, stories, and stand-up schtick. The bus loomed outside on 112th Street (and Beth Puffer, the Bank Street Book Store manager, told me that if they hadn’t been able to find a spot there she suggested they park it in front of the nearby Cathedral of St. John the Divine). I was really impressed with Colfer’s command of the audience (mostly kids and parents), making it funny for all ages. For the Q & A Mo Willems and Jon Scieszka ran about the auditorium bringing mikes to the questioners and providing commentary. Great questions from serious fans. The kid questioner behind me had a handmade name tag identifying him as “LEP Official” with the code below. The only one I managed to write down:
Q: How do you plan out the Artemis Fowl books?
A: I go down to Philip Pullman’s house and go through his trash.
If you get a chance to see this show go! And if you can’t, do go to the website as they vlogged the whole tour. The August 1 video includes the standing ovation we were asked to give before the show started; according to Eoin the cameraman was leaving for a date so wouldn’t be there to do it at the end. Fortunately there was a more legit one at the actual end!
Howard Whitehouse‘s charming series, The Mad Misadventures of Emmaline and Rubberbones, needs more attention. The Strictest School in the World, The Faceless Fiend, and (forthcoming) The Island of Mad Scientists are terrific fun. Set in an alternate Victorian UK, the books feature the intrepid Emmaline, the daughter of two stuffy Brits in India, who loves to design flying machines. In the first book, while attending the well-called strictest school in the world, she meets Robert Burns, aka Rubberbones, a sturdy young boy who loves to fly, and the Princess Purnah, a wild young woman from a clearly intentionally stereotypic-in-the-Victorian-tradition Asian country. Dreadful dinosaurs, vile villains, and witty writing make the first book a total romp to read. The second takes our trio to London where they meet up with Sherlock Holmes and deal with a horrid fiend who is after the princess for nefarious reasons (of course). The third (my favorite) takes place in an alternate Scotland and involves a mystery Collector of (what else?) mad scientists. Tesla and Freud, among others, show up in his collection. In the witty alternate history tradition of Joan Aiken, but with a distinct feel all of their own, these books are a delight to read.
“Artifacts, Specimen, and Ephemera salvaged from the Wonderlands”
When Alice fell through the rabbit hole, she tore a rift between our two universes. Through this open rift, “nonsense” began leaking out of Wonderland. With a decreasing amount of nonsense, Wonderland became a more logical place, and since vanishing cats and singing flowers cannot exist in a logical universe, Wonderland began to die.
Professor Jonathan Lake, of Miskatonic University, traveled to Wonderland in attempt to catalog and archive the remaining flora and fauna so that Wonderland would not disappear into the forgotten depths of history. This is his collection of specimens, artifacts, and ephemera salvaged from the Wonderlands.
“I think that in some ways what L.M. Montgomery managed to do was create the most perfect type of a certain spirited girl,” says writer Gwenda Bond, who writes about children’s books and young-adult literature on her literary blog Shaken & Stirred. “It was really the first time that we encountered such a character as Anne Shirley, who was so imaginative, was always getting into trouble and really was set apart by her intelligence, more than anything else.”
… can be heard here! (Thanks to 2008 Printz chair Lynn Rutan for the link.)