Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tales From Earthsea

I have no idea if this is actually news, but the animated adaptation of Ursula LeGuin's fabulous Earthsea novels is doing rather swell over in Japan. Keep in mind that this film was made by Studio Ghibli -- the people who brought Howl's Moving Castle to the screen a few years back -- and just about anything made by Studio Ghibli is gonna be big in Japan, as far as I can tell. Anyway, I'm just itchin' to see what Les Ghiblis have in store for us when the film jumps to these merry shores.

Now, I know that some of you are raring to throw your surfiet of backyard spaghetti squash at your computer screen to hear that Les Ghiblis are making another adaptation of a beloved children's fantasy novel. Howl's Moving Castle had but a wee thread connecting the book and the film. And yet it didn't bother me all that much. (As opposed to the film adaptation of Ella Enchanted, which made me want to cry.)

Perhaps my love of Les Ghiblis overshadowed my love of Diana Wynne-Jones? Perhaps I was more willing to excuse a foriegn film?

Anyway, it looks like Tales From Earthsea bids to be another loosey-goosey adaptation. Do we dare complain about yet another poor tribute to the printed word? Or do we just realize that the film and the book are just two works of art that shouldn't be compared, and be done with it?

Click away . . .

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Forgotten Bookshelf Review: Hobberdy Dick
by Katherine M. Briggs

Oh, I can just hear you all now: "What? 'Forgotten Bookshelf'? How trite is that?!?" Well, I was going to call it "Golden Book Reviews," until I realized how misleading that would be. Not to mention some sort of invitation to a copyright lawsuit.

Anyhow: as much as I would enjoy reviewing a glittering-off-the-press new book every day, I do not necessarily have the means. I'm not connected to a review source, and I don't have the cash to fly to the American Library Association meetings each year to pick up advance reader copies. So, while some of my reviews will cover new books that I obtain through the library, many of them will be like these: sweet little gems of books that feature high-quality writing, but due to one thing or another are not quite in the spotlight anymore. You might not find them at the bookstore, but they are probably carried by your public library, and cheap used copies are frequently to be found at Amazon.com

So . . . drumroll please . . .

Ghosts in the attic causing trouble? Piskies bothering the hens? Learn to treat your resident hobgoblin right, and all will be well.

Hobberdy Dick is a hob of the finest sort, and he has resided at the old Widford mansion for "time out of mind." Set in post-Civil War England, this charming book is told from the perspective of its title character, who scampers about unseen by the new tenants of Widford -- a city merchant's family who are not only unsuited for country life, but are -- horrors! -- Puritans, and therefore know nothing of their new home's magical inhabitants or the old folk ways. However, Hob finds a friend in Joel Widdison, the merchant's eldest son, and schemes to help him find true love in Anne Sekar, the disposessed gentlewoman who comes to work at Widford. Later, he makes an attempt to help them recover a long-lost treasure, which may in turn help him win his freedom.

Add to this a chiling encounter with Willy Wisps, a Shining Boy of Widley Copse, and a ghost who counts gold coins in the master bedroom, and you have a mighty fine read-aloud for upper-elementary and middle grades.

Katherine M. Briggs is an accomplished folklorist, (she is better known for her Encyclopedia of Faries) and she infuses this book with a thorough understanding of English hobgoblin lore. The English countryside has never been so fascinating with this sweet blend of magic and romance. You can tell that Briggs feels right at home at Widford, and you will too.

Wanna buy your own copy? Click away . . .

Monday, August 07, 2006

Welcome to the Brookeshelf

Here it is: Day One of my public declaration of my undying love of children's literature. Blogging is not something that I would regularly do -- public declarations are generally Not My Thing.

And yet . . . so many people have suggested or asked me to start one, so here we are. And the best thing is -- you're reading this, so all those many people must have been on to something.

Whoa. It's nearly 11:00. The cleverness meter for this post is far, far down. I promise that future posts will have its requisite cleverness up a notch.

To wrap up for the evening, I shall just include a link to one of my favorite old Brunching Shuttlecock articles, "Why Pippi Longstocking is a Great Book."

Click away . . .