Ellwand, David and Ruth. 2008. The Mystery of the Fool & The Vanisher.
At just a little over a hundred pages, The Mystery of the Fool & The Vanisher is a perfect way to begin Carl's R.I.P. Challenge. The book evokes all these deliciously dark and creepy vibes. It's a mood piece, really, when I come to think of it. First, it's a work of fiction. I state this clearly because it is one of those works that presents itself like a journal. In this case, it would be a journal within a journal. On the one hand, it is the story of a man, a photographer, who happens to discover a mystery chest one day. On the other hand, it is the story of a man--a photographer--who is exploring and documenting these same woods, this same locale. Did I mention that this inner story is set within the 1880s? Both narrators--present and past--have a curiosity, a fascination, with all things faery, with these "superstitions" found in folklore. Both love cameras and photographs. Second, the book is illustrated. I would say the photographs do most of the work actually. And if the book succeeds in evoking the look and feel intended, it will be because the reader has a deep appreciation for the artistic merit of the illustrations, of the photographs.
I read this book and immediately thought of Carl. Not that I know him extremely well. But I just have this gut feeling that he'd really like this one. Maybe Chris as well. But definitely Carl.
Here's the book trailer:
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Edwards, Julie. 1971. Mandy.
Mandy, I admit, was a childhood favorite of mine. There was just something so heartfelt, so vital, about this young orphan girl who was searching for something to make her feel complete and found it in having her own little secret garden and cottage. Her dreams, her determination, her stubbornness made Mandy work for me. It's not that you can't find those characteristics in other orphans--I can think of plenty and I'm sure you can as well. But I think the fact is that I personally "met" Mandy first. (I read it before Anne of Green Gables or The Secret Garden.) Mandy is very simply the story of a young girl, Mandy, growing up in an orphanage. A girl who is as happy as she can be--most of the time at least--but not as happy as she wants to be, needs to be in order to feel truly, deeply loved. She's a girl that longs for more, wants more. She discovers in part what she's looking for when she ventures over the wall surrounding the orphanage. She finds a forgotten little place--perhaps this place represents herself in her mind, I haven't really thought of it like that--that is crying out for love and attention. It's in sad shape. But Mandy is determined to "play" house quite properly. She wants to fix up the garden, fix up the yard, and fix up the house. And she'll stop at NOTHING to do it.
Mandy, unlike Anne in many ways, is a sad and lonely little girl. It's not that she couldn't make friends her own age at the orphanage, that she couldn't connect with others, it's that she doesn't want to. She's introspective, I suppose. Would prefer to be my herself in some ways, yet feels a terrible loneliness. A garden--of flowers and such--isn't going to take the place of a family, a friend no matter how much Mandy wishes it to.
I loved Mandy then, and I love Mandy now.
For those that aren't aware, Julie Edwards = Julie Andrews.
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It's not a secret that I like science fiction, or speculative fiction, as some prefer to call it. I posted a picture of me at a college SF party, I blogged about Connie Willis for Tell An Author You Care Day, and I titled a post using a Star Trek/Shakespeare reference. (Shakespeare was the greatest SF writer of his time, by the way.)
So I'm thrilled that Sam Riddleburger has declared John Christopher Week at his blog. And John Christopher (aka Sam Youd) himself has made an appearance in the comments! If you devoured The Tripods trilogy as a kid, like I did, you know that the imagery of his books haunts you, years later. Honestly, I want to re-read these books so badly now that Sam has reminded me of them, but I'm a tiny bit scared of the nightmares. Maybe I'll start with The Sword of the Spirits trilogy instead, since I haven't read them. At least they'll be new nightmares.
Here are some other SF books that I loved as a kid:
The Enchantress From the Stars, The Far Side of Evil, and This Star Shall Abide, all by Sylvia Louise Engdahl. I've been meaning to blog about these books forever, but I need a kick in the pants. First of all, I need to re-read them to see if my memories are correct. Second, I need to find someone else who read them as a kid, someone who will get all excited with me and remember what it was like to read a story of a GIRL who was a space explorer.
The Day of the Drones by Mary Alice Lightner. The hype on the 1969 cover reads "an incredible adventure in the radioactive ruins of the world where whites live like insects and blacks are the elite." I'm sure I had no idea at the time that I was reading something that radical. I just remember it as a great adventure story. And again, there's a GIRL on the front.
I wish I could remember more, beyond the obvious like A Wrinkle in Time or anything by Ray Bradbury, but most of the rest that I loved were fantasy, like The Borrowers or Half Magic or the Earthsea books, rather than science fiction.
I did run across this fabulous site where an expert will help you with a faulty memory: It's called All Experts, and in the category of Science Fiction books, there are some great questions (and answers.) I love this one:
"I was wondering if you could tell me the various methods used in Science Fiction to raise the dead..."
and this one:
"Many years ago I read a (juvenile) science fiction book about two educated parents who taught their infant son to travel through an alternate universe."
And then there's the really weird:
"Do you know anything on how bananas brown so fast?"
I'm sure if someone had written a SF book about that last one, AND it had a girl on the cover, I would have read it too. Display Comments Add a Comment