"But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular, A name that's peculiar, and more dignified, Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, Or sp"But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular, A name that's peculiar, and more dignified, Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular, Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?"
I have to admit that it was an embarrassingly short time ago when I realised that the poems written by T.S Eliot provided the lyrics for the musical Cats. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that the musical was based on these poems (I’m not completely culturally challenged, I’ll have you know), but I had no idea that the poems were the exact words to the songs. It was when I was in the first year at university and I had taken a module called “The Literature of Laughter” (fyi… that was a misleading title. I think I laughed once. And that was out of nervousness because the lecturer frightened me). We had read all the set texts and we were nearing our exam and the lecturer had no idea what to do with us. So she brought in a boxful of the BBC’s The Nation’s Favourite Comic Poems edited by Griff Rhys Jones (A wonderful collection and I’d definitely recommend it, by the way) and we were told to find our favourite. So I was skimming through and found a copy of “Macavity: The Mystery Cat.” Now I love Cats, I’ve seen it about three times on the stage and I’d go and see it a million times more. My Cats claim-to-fame (because, like, everyone has one, right?) was that I once saw Mister Mistoffelees having a pint in the theatre bar after the show! So back in the seminar room, I turned to my equally Cats-loving friend and we had a bit of a giddy five minutes. Here is where I would love to tell you that my friend and I broke out into a full-on dance routine to Macavity but alas I can’t. We did however go home and watch the DVD and recruit my other house mate to join us in our leaping. And, guys, it was spectacular. Although we did have to judge our high kicks so we didn’t knock over the precariously balanced tower of electrical goods that we kept in an alcove.
Um…. I have no idea what I was originally talking about and I just remembered I’m supposed to be writing a review here. Summing up: I didn’t know that the lyrics were taken word-for-word from T.S Eliot’s poems. I love musicals. I can do a mean high-kick. In private. When no one is watching. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
Then I bought a copy of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and it fast became one of my favourite collections.
What I love most about these poems is how much effort Mr Eliot put in thinking about the placing of the words. A lot of people say that it’s easy to write poetry, but I think what they actually mean is that it’s easy to write bad poetry. Eliot knew how to write brilliant poetry and he truly was a master of words. I would eat my reviewer’s bonnet if you could find someone else who could use words such as “perpendicular”, “physiognomy”, “terpsichorean”, “prestidigitation” and “legerdemain” in a poem and make them as brilliant as these. They are the perfect poems to read out loud and/or to warble tunelessly.
My joint favourites characters/poems have always been and always will be Mr Mistoffelees…
“There’s no such Cat in the metropolis; He holds all the patent monopolies For performing surprising illusions And creating eccentric confusions.”
and Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat.
“Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly ‘Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?’ But Skimble’s just behind him and was ready to remind him, For Skimble won’t let anything go wrong.”
LOVE. I would book Mr Mistoffelees for every party I went to and I would never be late to them because Skimbleshanks would not allow it. Perfect.
Theme Tune. You get two because I feel like treating you.... also because I wanted an excuse to listen to them again. Like I need one.
"Do you want to sleep? Find another story teller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way? Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in y"Do you want to sleep? Find another story teller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way? Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear."
Initial Final Page Thoughts. Eh..
High Points Interesting new perspectives on fairy re-tellings . Great selection of fairy tales- some that I’ve only heard of in passing. Creepy. Illustrations. The macabre. Who said Ever After has to be happy? Imaginative. Princess in a coma. “Solar panel poetry machine with biceps”. Men in tights.
Low Points. I think the difficulty with reading and reviewing anthologies of poetry (or short stories, for that matter) is that there will always be a few of them that you don’t really like. The main problem I had with this was that all the poems got a bit similar. The fairy tales were inverted- the princes weren’t perfect and neither were the princesses. The beast was an alright guy. Hansel and Gretl were ruthless killers. I just sometimes felt like I was reading the same story over and over again. I mean, I love Diet Coke but would I want to drink it every day of the year? Um… actually, that’s a horrible example because yes, yes of course I would.
A lot of the stories/poems had some absolutely great ideas but they didn’t go into the depth that I wanted. I kind of felt that his ideas were bogged down the verse (and made them just OK) and the verse watered down his ideas (and made them just Ok). If that makes sense? With that in mind, I’m not sure whether this would be a good place to start your journey in the land of verse… but I’d still recommend it to people who had already moved in and settled.
Sadness Scale Grimmness Scale. 7/10. Eeeeh some of these poems/stories were grimm . There are countless mentions of sex and drugs and murder and themaleanatomy so if that’s not really your kind of thing then I’d be hesitant to recommend this to you. The imagery is pretty stark and, on occasion, it didn’t really feel like it was necessary to the stories/poems. That might just be me… sensitive soul, y’know. But, of course, the joyful thing about short stories and poems is that you can just skip or skim the ones you don’t like or aren’t interested in. There’s also blood and guts (hurraaaah) and these are perfectly accompanied by the dark and twisty illustrations by Andrea Dezso. Sometimes you just need the visual of someone slicing and dicing, don’t you?
Recommended for. People who like their fairy tales retold. People who have ever wondered what the Beast really thought of his marriage to Belle. People who don’t trust creepy blonde children who leave trails in wooded areas.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers.
I read this book as part of my "A Week in Verse" feature... find out more.
You can read this review and lots more exciting things on my blog here....more
This is the joy of Goodreads and writing honest reviews.
They don't always have to be positive because if it wasn't for Miss Rey saying that sYou see?
This is the joy of Goodreads and writing honest reviews.
They don't always have to be positive because if it wasn't for Miss Rey saying that she wasn't too keen on novels written in verse I would never have seen this and thought "Hey! I might like this one because I am keen on novels written in verse."
This is why it's good to have diversity in our reviews. HURRAH.
In the immortal words of Hot Chocolate: I believe in miracles, you sexy thing. Everyone's a winner, baby!...more
“When I am in the water My body moves like a wave: There is a violence to it And a beauty.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. “And it Never felt so good.” YES.
H“When I am in the water My body moves like a wave: There is a violence to it And a beauty.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts. “And it Never felt so good.” YES.
High Points. Kasienka. William. The writing. Friendship. Saying goodbye. Reunions. Butterfly stroke. Kisses like Haribo. Love is a large W. Mama. Resilience. Culture. Blueberry ice cream. Girly sleepovers. Tummy tumbles.
Low Points. I would have loved to have had a few more poems set when Kasienka and her mum were in Poland. I think it would have added a great contrast between the different cultures. Also, from what was in the book… it looked really interesting. Also, blueberry ice cream sounds delicious.
Heroine. Oh Kasienka. You were so sad and you were so lonely and you were so insecure and you were OK with letting people Were. Until you realised how it’s OK to be different and how there’ll always be moments where you feel a bit odd or alone but that there is always people who are just as different as you. And they’re the kids you want to hang with because they’re the best. If we had gone to school together I bet we’d be the best of friends and we’d stay up all night, swapping stories and drinking pop and being giddy.
I love it when my heroines stand up for themselves and don’t need any body to tell them how to do it. And basically realise that they were brilliant inside and out all along.
Love Interest. And if Kasienka’s ability to conquer her fears wasn’t good enough for you, Ms Crossan gives us an incredibly adorable love interest too!
"William is in Year Nine He could save me from the pack But he does not want to: He knows I can save Myself."
Also, kissing him is like eating Haribo. Now, I’m not sure if that’s because he tastes like Haribo or because he gives you the feeling you get when you eat an entire bag of the Sour ones and then chug a bottle of Coke. You know… ridiculously giddy and a fizzy tongue? Just me? OK. Only low point with our lovely William is that he’s a smoker. I know, I know. Anyway, I loved it when he offered Kasienka one and she says no. And then they just play on the swings. *sigh*
YES. How long have I been hankering to use a song from Ceremonials? Do you remember my demand polite suggestion that all authors must should listen to it on repeat and then write a book based on it solely to keep me happy? Well Ms Crossan obviously listened to me and therefore she deserves the prize of a Flo-induced Theme Tune. A prize so coveted by authors across the land…. Um. OK, maybe not coveted but it should be.
Sadness Scale. 6/10 I always find it difficult to come up with a number for books such as this one because obviously the issues and situations that are dealt with in this book are extremely harrowing and, sadly, common in present day Britain. But I wouldn’t say that this is a particularly sad book. Yes there are a lot of moving poems, especially when Kasienka first moves to England and constantly feels “unwanted and misused”, but I also saw this book as more about finding out who you are and becoming comfortable with it. Regardless of where Kasienka is from, I feel that a lot of readers of all ages would relate to the feelings of loneliness and insecurity that Ms Crossan expertly portrays with the character. And that last poem? Beautiful and so powerful. I just wanted to pull her into the biggest cuddle ever. Or… well, wait until she’d changed out of her cozzie because I don’t want to get all chloriney but then we’d cuddle. Definitely.
Recommended For. People who have ever felt at a loss with themselves. People who like to adopt happiness as their revenge. People who thought their first kiss way awkward *cringe*. People who always leave the best stories at a sleepover for when the lights are out.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
This review is part of the "A Week in Verse" feature on my blog. Found out more here....more
2.5 stars rounded down because I'm feeling crotchety.
I picked up this book because I was told it was written in verse. Also because of the cover becau2.5 stars rounded down because I'm feeling crotchety.
I picked up this book because I was told it was written in verse. Also because of the cover because I'm a fickle, fickle reader who only likes the pretty things in life.
To me, this book wasn't written in verse.
It was basically normal prose which was actually quite lovely to read but just set out in this way so it looks like people think poetry should look like.
Also, there was so much dialogue that many of the "poems" consisted of people just having a chin wag.
Setting your words out fancy does not a poem make.
This may just by my interpretation, but I feel that each poem should convey some kind of emotion. I always feel that books written in verse are much more emotional than prose because they can zoom in on a particular feeling and really scrutinize it. Maria's story had all these emotions - loss, betrayal, love, wonder, sadness, anxiety - that were practically begging for a poem to be written for each of them. But alas.
I believe that each of the poems in a verse novel should, to some extent, be able to stand on their own. Even if you had no idea what was happening in the story you'd be able to get a glimpse into the emotions of the character and you'd want to read on. I can't help but think if you read one of these poems without the others you'd just get completely confused.
I loved the setting (It made me want to go to Venice again!), loved the premise and it was refreshing to read a book set in a period of history that I've never read about before. But I'm really disappointed, I thought it was going to be amazing.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers....more
"Motion is always preferable to stagnation. When you move,things happen."
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I would say that this book wanted to make me want "Motion is always preferable to stagnation. When you move,things happen."
Initial Final Page Thoughts. I would say that this book wanted to make me want to sign up for a triathalon. But that would be a horrible lie. It did make me want to go back to the beginning and read it again though. High Points. It seemed Ms Schroeder had a checklist of everything I dislike in books and she wrote this book just to spite me and show how wrong I am and to make me look silly.
People who shouldn’t be in love, falling in love against all the odds. “I’ll meet you at the finish line.” *sobs* Boys teaching a girl how to be strong. Taken at face value, yeah. But the girl’s not a bad teacher herself. Boys buying girls red roses. I’d still prefer yellow ones, but if it was Nico then I wouldn’t mind getting a bouquet of dandelions. Boys singing to girls. Maybe it doesn’t annoy me if it’s to the tune of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’… Mini Golf. I… uh…I got nothing.
Just personal preference but I just think that this book didn’t need that.
Heroine. At the beginning of this book, when we first meet Brooklyn, I made a little note at the end of one her poems. It read: *cough* “I like that this girl isn’t really whingy.” A few poems later, when my face was permanently like so: :( , I made another little note at the end of one of Brooklyn’s poems. It read: *cough* “:( I want her to be really whingey. Surely that’s better than being numb. Let it out, Brooklyn!”
I loved Brooklyn; I thought she was such a great heroine. She’s just how I like them: smart, funny, sad, a bit messed-up, honest, vulnerable, determined, compassionate.
Hero. I’m not telling you anything about Nico because I want you to meet him for yourself. He’s quickly become one of my favourite YA heroes. He’s just how I like them: smart, funny, a bit sad, messed-up, honest, vulnerable, determined, compassionate.
See what I did there? Yup, boy helps girl but girl helps boy and they’re equal in their struggles and their strength.
OH! Also, Nico can make Italian food. That’s right. Italian food.
God knows what is hiding in this world of little consequence Behind the tears, inside the lies A thousand slowly dying sunsets God knows what is hiding in those weak and drunken hearts I guess the loneliness came knocking. No one needs to be alone, oh save me.
Sadness Scale. 9/10. I’m not a crier in real life and I don’t cry at books. Well, that’s a lie. In recent memory I’ve cried at two books. Sure I’ve felt emotional at lots of others but physical tears just two. Now three. I’m not talking about A Monster Calls stratospheres but I’d say there was a definite misty gleam. The despair, the loss, the longing, the hope, the laughter, the vulnerabilities of the characters, the reality of it all. In the ‘About the Author’ at the end of this book it states that Ms Schroeder “loves to write in verse because it allows her to really get at the emotional core of the story.” And boy, does she.
Recommended For. People who are determined to finish the race… even if they have a stitch. People who can listen to ‘Fix You’ without sobbing like a small child (Although, actually I don’t like that song. This one, however.) People who measure happiness by how far you can jump on the swings. People who like Italian food. That’s right. Italian Food.
This book is part of my "A Week in Verse" feature on my blog. Find out more here....more
"These myths going round, these legends, fairytales, I'll put them straight."
While I was clearing out my wardrobe I was attacked by a falling lever-"These myths going round, these legends, fairytales, I'll put them straight."
While I was clearing out my wardrobe I was attacked by a falling lever-arch file and, after flicking through it, I found a copy of an A-Level essay that I wrote on this collection.
I immediately went to my bookshelf and dug out my heavily annotated (Phrases such as "Satirises the traditional views of women to represent them as holders of power" and "Men's violence is faced and outdone" somehow look more intelligent when scrawled in purple, glittery gel pen, no?), ink-seeping-through-the-pages, well-thumbed copy and spent a good rainy afternoon reading through them all again.
To me anyway, it's one of the most clever and beautifully written anthologies out there :)
My favourites have to be Medusa, Mrs Midas, Mrs Darwin, Anne Hathaway, Frau Freud and, of course, Mrs Beast.