A lovely hardbound book that is mostly art and a bit of written poetic philosophizing. It’s a rendition ofOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A lovely hardbound book that is mostly art and a bit of written poetic philosophizing. It’s a rendition of a twelfth-century Sufi poem and is done in predominantly fall colors with a mix of ancient and modern styles.
About: A conference of birds is led on a quest by a poet who has turned into a hoopoe bird after a disturbing dream. Gathering them together, he wishes to know the reason for all the wrongs in the world and a way to change them. But to do so they must find the king – Simorgh.
As they travel a long and arduous distance, the birds come to realize that each of them is but a tiny piece of an immense and larger whole. Flying through the daunting terrain (valleys of tribulations and mazes) to reach their goal, most will not survive the trip. But those that do will receive a gift - a realization that what they are seeking from their quest can be found inside each of them.
Thoughts: Read several times over, allowing the art and poetry to settle, this book gets better with each subsequent read. It’s deep message is told metaphorically, visually, and simply, with a spiritual twist that transcends religion. A tale which moves us to know we are all on a journey to one place, a trip which many may not entirely understand.
It has only a small amount of writing but mostly images that appear to be tempera paint and carved block print on beautiful thick colored paper (I would love to see the author’s originals). The images are done in warm earth tones except for the culmination of the story where Peter Sis uses cool and vivid colors to give the crescendo a significant visual meaning. Importantly the art work feels both ancient and modern giving the impression that it is an old story told in a new way.
A relevant rendition that is just as meaningful today as it was a thousand years ago. I can see this book sitting on an office or home table, or in front of a comfortable chair or sofa, since it is a relaxing read. This is a terrific holiday gift for a special person, professional, or family. I give this book a 4 star rating. I loved it and will read it again....more
An adorable mystery for middle grade readers – especially boys! It h3.5 stars actually Original review with links and more posted at Layers of Thought.
An adorable mystery for middle grade readers – especially boys! It has incredible black and white line drawn illustrations. It can be seen as a book for literary minded and reluctant readers and as an introduction to this fine American author.
About: Eddie is the nick name for Edgar Allen Poe and the story is based upon the author’s humble beginnings, as we find out more about how he was born, raised, and lived.
Young Eddie attempts to get himself out of trouble when a powerful next door neighbor’s prized rooster and the local tom cat are hung on a weather vein in a bag during the middle of the night. Eddie is blamed for creating the ruckus by the entire neighborhood and especially by his father.
Thoughts: I just loved this cute short story, the drawings are lovely black lined and delicately done and will break up the reading for younger or reluctant readers. The story is cute and has a deeper appropriate age level message – which states “if you know who you are and are honest and truthful that is what matters most - even if others do not believe you”.
The story has a touch of the speculative. Our young hero has his own personal imp - which is based upon one of Poe’s stories “The Imp of the Perverse” (actual story is linked on the blog). Eddie experiences the human conundrum where one often chooses to follow an internal voice (called by Poe the “imp”) rather than a better and more reasonable form of logic, therefore creating many human problems. Poe believed that it is human nature to follow this “imp” which persuades us to wait until the last minute to accomplish important responsibilities.
This book can be seen as a roll model for children, as well as for youngsters whose interest are literary rather than athletic or social. An important story about one of my favorite classic authors. 3.5 stars for this perfect Halloween “treat” rather than a bag full of candy – or in addition too! ...more
An awarding winning novella, that has a dark and lovely rendition of a numbOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought in a graphic novel trio review.
An awarding winning novella, that has a dark and lovely rendition of a number of combined ancient fables. It’s gorgeously illustrated and celebrates Japanese mythology.
About: A young Buddhist monk who is at peace with his life is in charge of a small temple set in some beautiful mountains in Japan. While attending to his his daily rituals and household maintenance he is emotionally accosted by two animals/spirits who want to live in his place. In their attempt to finagle the little church from the Zen priest, the fox falls in love with him. Later when his life is in danger from another selfish faction who would like to live his life, the fox spirit has no choice but to attempt to save him.the dream hunter
Thoughts: This is a stand alone story from the Sandman series which I am only just learning about, it was apparently written after the series had been “retired”. Technically not a graphic novel, this is really a story with a lot of illustrations. Happily they are gorgeous – I love Japanese art. The text is incredible too – complex and yet very easy to read, which is a big favorite style for me.
It won several awards in 2000 including a Bram Stoker and a Hugo. In my research I also became aware that several other versions of the book have been printed and are using other artists in a more traditional comic book format, including a very recent version. A warning for parents is that it is adult in nature with some very dark themes, so I would not give this book to children or immature teens. The story contains “dream hunters” which are particularly menacing – very cool but scary. I am thinking nightmares.
I loved this book at 4 stars and I am now a fan of Neil Gaiman. Believe it or not this is the first of his books that I’ve read. So what’s next? Perhaps American Gods before the movie comes out? I better get cracking!
Please note according to my searches the version I read is not available in the US. It is however available in the UK and Canada. ...more
Original review with more stuff (interesting links, movie and book tie ins) at Layers of Thought.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on…..
About: ThisOriginal review with more stuff (interesting links, movie and book tie ins) at Layers of Thought.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on…..
About: This is a child’s picture book and is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play. It is about Prospero, the Duke of Milan, and his small daughter who are set adrift on the sea by the king of Naples and Prospero's evil brother. They are conspiring to acquire his land and holdings, but do not murder Prospero and Miranda since the evil doers do not want to be blamed for their deaths.
However, Prospero is a magician of great talent and he and Miranda survive the incident. They are washed up on an enchanted island inhabited by a variety of magical beings – both good and bad. Taking refuge in a cave, they try to live a peaceful and happy life. As Miranda comes of age Prospero knows she will need the companionship of others, so he conjures up a storm which blows his brother’s traveling ship onto the rocks around the island. He and the remaining crew are brought on shore, but because this includes the conspiring king as well as the king’s son, the story has just begun.
Thoughts: Ah Shakespeare, the incredible and articulate bard from days of yore. What I would not give to understand his wonderful and archaic language. Difficult as the verbiage it is for adults, it is much more so for children. With consideration to the many wonderful tie-ins around this fantastical story, it’s a shame not to have a simpler basis on which to build an understanding. That’s where a book like this can come in, as a way for adults to help children understand and to introduce them into the language of old England, and the wonders of ~ The Tempest.
With lacey and old fashioned illustrations from Gennaday Spririn, the co-author has included current language which is understandable for children (and for adults like me). Yet for authenticity she has included some brief and easy to understand quotes from Shakespeare’s actual work – like the one prefacing this review. (I have always wondered where that familiar line had originated). Helped by the illustrations, it is a way for children and adults to further understand the basis for Shakespeare’s complex story lines and language. I liked this book a lot and give it 3.5 stars.
I am actually surprised there are not more picture books as well as a graphic novel for the tale published. If there are I could not find one (hint to artists and publishers)....more
With realistic and lovely pictures, done in shades of sepia and greys, this graphic novel - without wordsOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
With realistic and lovely pictures, done in shades of sepia and greys, this graphic novel - without words – is a speculative representation of the immigrant experience.
About: This is a graphic novel told only in shaded colorless pictures, with contrasting elements colored in cool for darker aspects of the journey and warm for happier. It is a book for everyone but especially children; it tells of the many difficulties, complications, and of course the joys of the universal experience when immigrating from one country to another. With realistic pictures contrasted with fantastical images it mixes the familiar with the alien, which is a metaphor for the immigrant experience. It is realistic yet speculative in nature.
Thoughts: This book has gorgeous drawings showing the main characters experiencing a range of emotions when arriving in a place completely different from their known home. It shows the difficulties of trying to communicate without knowledge of the new language, the sorrow felt when separated from family members, and of course the inevitable fear of the unknown. With images which are fantastical it is easy for a young person to relate to the “alien” feel when arriving in a different country.
Apparently, the author spent 5 years researching the book in his attempt to show the “universality of the immigrant experience”. With its pictures it “translates” for the reader in a way that is understood without language; It’s the first book I can remember “reading” that does not have words. With its talented artist/author, I recommend it highly for use in classrooms as well as homes, where an explanation is needed for around experiencing different cultures. This is a lovely and important book which I liked a lot; I’d give it 3.5 stars....more
A stylized yet simple graphic novel which questions life and its inevitable uncertainties, where the authoOriginal review posted on Layers of Thought.
A stylized yet simple graphic novel which questions life and its inevitable uncertainties, where the author asks about the meaning of life and death within a one-year segment of her life.
Thoughts: Author Maira Kalman is the illustrator for The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, as well as the author and artist for a number of children’s books. As a collector of many curious things, she has compiled her thoughts, drawings, and photographs in this book which reflect her feeling on some of the oddities within life. All compiled here in an adult’s picture book of sorts. It’s a philosophical, sad, yet mildly funny trip where the examples of human experience she shares also have a very universal feel. As the reader follows her path and the author questions life and the inevitable ups and downs of it all, we are left with more questions than are answered.
She has included her lovely drawings and photos she has taken, with her simple yet dryly lyrical thoughts around a year in her life. A lovely books which is easily read in one sitting but is one I would like to pick up again and again – it’s a meditation on life, art, human nature, all of its disappointments and within them, hidden joys. Asking the quintessential human questions in a slightly different and adult way: what is life about? Why do I feel sad? What happens after we die?
Highly recommended reading for adults who like stylized art and contemplating the nature of life. It’s a 4 star in my opinion and would make a lovely gift. ...more
Synopsis: Within a current day setting in Russia, with all its difficult economics and “shell shocked” population, a number of diverActually 4.5 stars
Synopsis: Within a current day setting in Russia, with all its difficult economics and “shell shocked” population, a number of diverse individuals relay their lives via an omnipresent narrator in separate yet interrelated chapters. They all live in the same dilapidated building where the plumbing has been non existent for several months. They are coping, but it seems there is nothing they can do about the situation. Most significantly the group experiences a death of one of their fellow residents via suicide. Because the “dead guy” is not buried properly in contravention of the demands of his Muslim tradition, he haunts the others with hilarious, heart wrenching, and smelly results.
Layered within this story are the difficult and sadly comical experiences of each of the individuals. Each leading lives with a shared, conflicted yet accepting, desperation. All with differing perspectives due to varying ethnicity, age, and gender. Each are both thoughtful and dark.
As the characters are developed, the story starts to revolve around several American museum facilitators of “Russian Extraction” who will visit and determine if they are to help the Russian group and their local “handmade” museum. It is a promise of a monetary donation, but as the residents try to meet the Americans’ exacting standards and try and plan out a reasonable way of showing the donators that their museum is worthy of support, that they lead normal and sane lives, havoc ensues.
My Thoughts: The above description of this book unjustly simplifies it, since there is so much more complexity within the book than can be described within three paragraphs. There were so may wonderful examples of complex and unusual word usage. I found myself laughing and amazed. The most fun aspect of the book is the way that the author seamlessly incorporates folktales, knowledge and tradition from each of the respective religious backgrounds. “Magical realism” melded with the reality of life - heartbreaking yet hopeful. The book is a linguistic mix of metaphor and imagery.
Key concepts which I found interesting within the book are the nature of truth and how cultures define what they choose to relay to the population through the media, what they hide, and who it is that decides what is shared. It is here that we see that Russians as indirect by cultural default. But we also see how frustrated and powerless they feel about their country’s conflicts. Here is a wonderful example where the main character Olga struggles with her job of translating for a local newspaper, where she is required to create euphemisms for the public to read:
Through the snow Olga trudged, dimly aware that in faraway places people spoke with purer words of unvarnished meaning. Or maybe not. Maybe at other news agencies in other countries people simply told more palatable lies. And as she rounded the corner and climbed over the remains of the broken stone archway that marked the entrance to the courtyard, she felt despair sliding down her throat, setting up quick residence in her stomach. Language was, after all, just word shaped stains, simply another way to evade and obscure the truth.
As I read, I felt the cultural angst. It was a fascinating glimpse into the Soviet psyche which I now understand is more complex than many of us realize. We find that the country has residents of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian background – all with their generalized terms and stagnant beliefs about themselves and others, not unlike the US or any other country for that matter. Here the author sums up human character via Olga:
Olga wagged her head slowly from side to side. It never ceased to amaze her what the human animal was capable of. What great great acts of generosity and cruelty. And how a human could harbor the inclination for both within the same heart! She wished she could say it was beyond her. But it wasn’t, because she felt it, too: compassion and rage, love and hate. Even good people could – and did – commit acts of cruelty. Even people like Olga. How many times had she wished Afghanistan and everyone in it would simply fall off the map?
There are many other examples in the book which exemplify its wonderful language as well as its important concepts. It is a lovely and complex book which was originally published in Great Britain in 2009. The version I read had language appropriate for the area, and will be changed for the American audience. The quotes reflect the UK version. It did feel like a translation, however I could find no evidence of it being one.
I loved this book, and recommend it for people who enjoy unusual and creative language, metaphor and imagery, slipstream/magical realism, as well as art, art history, and cultural perspectives. I rate it at 4.5 stars. I will be looking for a hard copy of this book for my personal collection and I have also included Gina Ochsner on my list of authors to watch. ...more
I found this author through a free itunes podcast. It was an easy read, and I did so in several hours. Gelb's writing and podcast are eloquent, concisI found this author through a free itunes podcast. It was an easy read, and I did so in several hours. Gelb's writing and podcast are eloquent, concise, and interesting. His message is also achievable and believable - well mostly - which unlike some of the folks whom are in the motivational/self help book/speaking business. Many are egotistical and so far out in left field that it is diffiuclt and illogical to relate to them. His message is that we can look to da Vinci and his amazing gifts for ways to increase our creativity and intelligence and he gives us some direct ways. One is a method that he uses everyday. It is - from my memory - sort of a written/drawn diagram where one uses free flowing thoughts to elaborate on a subject. It can be collective or individual, where everyone in a group or family can add thier thoughts. This is not new, however, I believe he expands on his method in another book. I recommend this to anyone whom is interested in the creative process, da Vinci, or self growth whether in business or personally. ...more