As a family we’ve recently been on a graphic novels kick.
It certainly makes for shared reading, because books can be savoured and re-read within a realistic time frame. With text intense books, what often happens is one person gets to read the book from beginning to end and then it’s due back to the library. Or by the time the second reader is well into the book the first reader has either forgotten vital details, or even worse, blurts out bits of plot and ruins the surprise. “The butler did it — oops, sorry!”
Despite what you might think, graphic novels can deal with tough, adult subjects. Art Spiegelman’s Maus springs to mind. I had read the first version when it came out ages ago, but the most recent edition has more material, and more harrowing material.
Young Sprout of course is not ready for adult narrative but has been reading the Little Prince series. These have a steampunk esthetic and a sophisticated narrative technique. In each story the Little Prince and Fox, his companion, land on a different planet and have to figure out how to help the inhabitants deal with their problems — leading to discussions about motivations and character and why he might like some stories more than others.
Snarfie and Pie Thagoras have spent the previous 350 pages having various suspenseful gothic adventures largely stemming from their need to save their ancestral home from being redeveloped into a bingo hall.
Reluctantly they agree to sell the family portraits. With heavy hearts and grubby feelers they repair to the Long Gallery and begin boxing up portraits by Van Dyk, Reynolds, and Gainsborough, ready for the monsters from Christie’s to sell them at auction.
They work their way from Elizabethan times up to the early 20th century and lift down the portrait of their great-grandparents, painted by a friend of Picasso’s. Turning over the precious artefact, what do they find but the long lost legendary Ginormous Emerald either won by Sir Jonas Sock-Creature, the 18th-century buccaneer in a game of chess with an exotic oriental despot (the family story) or perhaps “liberated” when Sir Jonas helped himself to it while a guest of the Maharajah.
Sir Jonas Sock-Creature, illustrious 18th-century buccaneer.
The family fortunes are restored in the nick of time and the cousins celebrate by snarfing coconut cream pie in the Great Hall.
I found two welcome surprises when out walking yesterday:
The neighborhood sharing bin has ebbed and flowed with assorted items but has never contained many books. But things are changing! A good selection of literature, and non fiction. interestingly the mysteries I had left are gone after sitting there for a while. Definitely a step in the right direction and more genre fiction will be added as I read through my shelf.
Dollarama finally has sketchbooks in again. These were in stock in the summer and then when I went back for more they were out of stock. But right now there is a good supply in. When I can pay $3 for a sketchbook with 80 sheets of 60-pound paper in the preferred 9 by 12 size, I’m SOOOO there.
I figure this means I can spend more money on other supplies from specialty stores.
What’s YOUR take on this debate about shopping from local stores versus discount places? Are you firmly in one camp or the other, or like me split between the two? I’d love to hear!
Who hasn’t daydreamed about living in a stately home furnished with shabby-chic antiques and the bric a brac collected by their forebears, such as the eighth duke’s collection of golf clubs and the ball gown Lady Amanda wore when dancing with the Ruritanian Ambassador?
No such dwelling would be complete without the haunted Long Gallery with the portraits of long-gone ancestors, showing the family resemblance as to chin, nose — or antenna?
And this portrait of Snarfie and Pie Thagoras has its own secret treasure, to be revealed in the last chapter of the story, saving the family seat from being redeveloped as a bingo hall … stay tuned!
Drop Everything and Read is a program that encourages everyone to commit to doing just that, for 20 minutes. As a homeschooling extended family we are pretty conscientious about reading at least 20 minutes every day. But it’s certainly easier when there’s a good supply of reading material.
Our library has an even better than free book sale. It goes on all weekend about four times a year.
They cunningly have different price points. Saturday you pay to get in and then have the best pick of all the books. Sunday morning you get in for free and buy the books (think it’s a dollar for pocket books and kids’ books and $2 or $3 for hardbacks and trade paperbacks).
Perhaps the best time to go is Sunday afternoon, when you pay $10 to get in but it’s an all you can eat buffet, so no agonizing. Yup, they ACTUALLY let you take ALL THE BOOKS YOU CARE TO READ!!!
We filled a large suitcase in minutes, and then went on to fill all our tote bags too. Eventually the volunteers started passing out boxes and in the last few minutes one of them walked around urging everyone to “Take more than you want! Please!!” At home I counted about 40 books for my shelf, then got tired of counting. See photo for a clue to why.
It was a great experience to go as a family, as the sale was in an arena so there was plenty of space and no anxieties about losing track of the little ones. Also it was heart-warming to see them finding books for themselves and ones they thought other family members would enjoy. There were even board books for the baby!
Victoria boasts one other epic used book sale every May, the famous Times-Colonist Book Sale, with proceeds going to literacy programs. This is considered better than Christmas by all local bibliophiles.
We’re blessed too by a number of street book boxes, so as I read through my pile I either pass to friends or recycle in the book box in our neighborhood. So far I’ve dropped off two books I realized I’d already read, some fiction and a book telling you how to make liquid soap which totally cured me of wanting to ever try doing it! Interestingly, that was picked up by someone else very quickly.
We still go to the library but the kids are more amenable to taking just a few books out at a time so this has cut the stress of looking for misplaced books on the day they’re due back. Or they will put holds on books by the authors they found through grabbing books at the sale.
Gabriel Tozer had apparently been determined to auction several secrets along with a lifetime’s worth of possessions. The minor mysteries wrapped round them would have intrigued Harding even without the personal interest he had in some of the questions they raised.
from Name to a Face, by Robert Goddard
Great characters and plotting with MANY twists. A third of the way through I thought I had it figured out but I was wrong!