The Icy Hand by Chris Mould

Title: Something Wickedly Weird, Vol. 2: The Icy Hand

Author: Chris Mould

Illustrator: Chris Mould

Unjacketed Trade Hardcover: 176 pages

Publish Date: September 2008

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (div of Macmillan)

ISBN: 9781596433854

The yellowy-white translucent light of a long-dead and well respected scoundrel began to form by the side of Stanley’s bed until it was the fully formed (but headless) figure of a man. Of course, Stanley was blissfully unaware of this. It was three in the morning and he was wrapped in his bedclothes preserving warmth and dreaming furiously.

…The spirit felt for Stanley’s sheets, and when he was sure he held them in his hand, he unrolled the tight chrysalis with a prompt jerk. Thrashing wildly, Stanley rolled on to the floor.

… His dead uncle lifted the forefinger of his right hand and drew four words, on inside each small square pane that ran along the bottom of the window. I need my head.

-The Icy Hand by Chris Mould, pp 33-39

When I first came across a banner for The Icy Hand by Chris Mould, I thought it would be an incredibly fun book. With a werewolf, a headless ghost, angry pirates back from the dead and a talking fish, how could it possibly go wrong?

*sigh* Let me tell you how…

Within the first 30 pages, this book was off to a bad start. Part of its problems are poor transitioning. There are times when it goes from one event to another, hours later, without any break. The pacing and tempo is either all over the place or completely M. I. A. from this book. My thoughts on this issue were that, given it’s listed for ages 9-12, maybe it’s a style that works for the younger, less patient audiences?

So I grabbed my 9-12 year old (Maggie, age 10), and read her the books description. Like me, she thought werewolves, headless ghosts and pirates sounded promising. However, after only a few pages, she brought the book back to me saying, “It’s not my thing. I like stories with main characters in them.”

Which brings us to another problem with this book. The characters are poorly developed and rather two-dimensional. It is possible that they were developed in book one, which I have not read, but I’m disinclined to believe that. Again, with the characters, this book is all over the place. They do this then that… sometimes seemingly without purpose.

There is a bright spot with this book. The illustrations are fantastic. They’re dark and creepy, but still maintain a safeness that keeps them from being terrifying to small children. In some ways, the illustrations remind me of the Lemony Snicket series (though I don’t know exactly why), but they are uniquely Mould’s creations.

While The Icy Hand by Chris Mould has a few problems, it’s not entirely unlikeable or readable. I’d be willing to bet, though, this is one of those books that would make a much better movie. I definitely think it’d be a really cool movie, but it’d probably be better to make one of the whole series instead of just one book. I give The Icy Hand 3 out of 5 stars.

I found an interesting video to go with this post, but the embedding is disabled. Watch as Chris Mould creates the cover art for The Darkling Curse, another book in the Something Wickedly Weird series.

The Stettheimer Dollhouse by Sheila W. Clark

Title: The Stettheimer Dollhouse

Author: Sheila W. Clark

Photography: Ali Elai of Camerarts, Inc.

Hardback: 64 pages

Publish Date: April 2009

Publisher: Pomegranate Communications, Inc.

ISBN: 9780764948022

One of the most celebrated and distinctive objects in the Museum of the City of New York’s Toy Collection is the Stettheimer Dollhouse, made between the world wars by Carrie Walter Stettheimer (1869 – 1944).  The dollhouse reflects a remarkable life lived during a remarkable time in the city’s history.  Along with her mother Rosetta and two of her sisters – Florine (1871 – 1944), an artist, and Ettie (1875 – 1955), a scholar and writer – Carrie hosted one of the most notable literary and artistic salons of early twentieth century New York society.  The Stettheimers’ sophisticated gatherings brought together a vibrant group of modernist intellectuals and artists of widely varying backgrounds, among whom were leading avant-garde painters, writers, and musicians, both Americans and European émigrés.

…Over the course of almost two decades, Carrie devoted what spare time she had to decorating the dollhouse’s interior, transforming it into a three-dimensional work of art.  Ettie later said she believed the dollhouse served as the outlet for Carrie’s artistic expression, a substitute of sorts for the career she aspired to in set design… Etti’s conjecture proves exceptionally revealing, and in this light the house may be seen as a series of fully conceived and executed stage sets, each awaiting the entrance of the players.

…Unlike most dollhouses, which are played with by children, this one was intended to be appreciated by adults, even by connoisseurs of art.  It’s decor reveals the sophisticated sensibility of its creator, combining different styles in the eclectic taste that was the epitome of New York fashion in the 1920s.

-The Stettheimer Dollhouse by Sheila W. Clark, pages 7-8

The Stettheimer Dollhouse by Sheila W. Clark is a darling little informative book about one of miniaturists favorite buildings.  Complete with near-impossible photography, this book brings the dollhouse’s minute details into focus, from the weave of the needlepoint rugs to the optical illusions of the foyer wall decor.  I was continually delighted and impressed by the room by room descriptions and pictures.

My first reaction when I pulled this sealed book from the mailing envelope was childlike wonder.  I quickly tore the plastic wrap off of it and began to flip through, examining each beautiful image after the next.  Maggie peeked and peeped with excitement over my shoulder and is now intent on buying her own dollhouse from a soon-to-open pawn shop here in town.  The Rose Bedroom is one particularly adorable room we’ve both decided to live in.  If the impressive photos weren’t enough, the story behind the house is a rather interesting one, too.

The second thing I did after flipping through the book was to stick my nose into the middle of the book and breathe in deeply.  Silly as this may be, the scent of the book brought back memories of my mom’s craft room where she built several dollhouses, as well… two of which were my Christmas presents (she made a Barbie house for me out of a metal workshop shelf when I was 5 or 6, then a miniature dollhouse when I was 10 or 11).  The smells of wood glue and balsam, fabric, lacquer and turpentine, all brought back memories of shopping at hobby and craft stores, making trips to Indianapolis to buy special order dolls and hard to find pieces because I had to have a redheaded family or a bow window.  Not only was this book a treat intellectually, but it provided me that proverbial “walk down memory lane.”

The only complaint I could possibly have about it is that the writing is a bit dry. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t expect anything could change that.  I’d expect it’s rather difficult to describe chintz, chiffon and taffeta an keep your readers riveted, so I won’t hold that against the book.  Quite a joy of a book, and Maggie won’t let me mooch it away ;-) I give The Stettheimer Dollhouse by Sheila W. Clark 4 out of 5 stars.

The Stettheimer Dollhouse is on exhibit in the Museum of the City of New York.  The following is a promotional video for the museum:

Emoti-CATZ and Other Silly Pet Pics

First off, I want to thank everyone for their well-wishing and concern for me while I battled the belly bugs. I am much recovered and am almost back to 100% normal again… though, still a little nervous over any bubbles or sounds my stomach makes for fear of a recurrance. I walked to the grocery store yesterday and had steak, brussel sprouts, baked potato, garlic dinner rolls and yogurt for my first real meal in nearly five days… it was delicious! :-p Invigorated by the great dinner, I went exploring for some funny pics to use on my LibraryThing Profile, and had to share some of them!

First off, the whole emoticons thing can be confusing for me. Smiley :-), Big Grin :-D, Surprise 8-O, Angry D-:, Frustrated :-S, tongue (or tasty) :-p, sick :-x, and frowny :-( are the ones I use most often. I also have a page bookmarked with an expanded list. (Oh, I also use :-/ for meh).

As actual face-to-face conversations have been replaced or exceeded by electronic communications, we’ve lost the facial expressions and body language received from conversations in person, and even the tone of voice clues from phone chats. If I were to say, “Wow, I just love my job” you wouldn’t know if I were being genuine or sarcastic, and thus emoticons were born.

Behold! My new emoticon reference chart!

emoticatz

Lol…. I forgot, I ;-) a lot, too…

Some other funny pics I came across….

catz in cagez catz bunz
catz halp, not camzcatz and mowzcatz poutzcatz in accidentzcatz kill

And since I’m The Kool-Aid Mom, a couple Kool-Aid pics…

Whacha flava?
Spart-Aid

How do you feel about emoticons? Which do you use most often?

The Sunday Salon ~ Survey SAYS!

The Sunday Salon.com

As I’ve been struggling for the bulk of this past week with a stomach bug, I didn’t get much reading accomplished. However, I did pick up my emails and blogged a bit… very little bit, lol… and in Friday’s Shelf Awareness newsletter, there was a bookie-survey given to Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife. I love those kinds of things, so I snatched it, filled in my own answers, and made it my Sunday Salon post :-)

BTW… those of you who’ve asked where us bloggers get out hands on ARCs, Shelf Awareness is one of my favorite sources :-D

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1. What book is on your nightstand now?

lol… I don’t actually have a night stand.  I have one of those high-class, bedside-furnishings found in college dorm rooms everywhere.

The Ubiquitous Milk Crate
The Ubiquitous Milk Crate

But… at any rate… upon said “nightstand” is a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that Maggie borrowed from the library and has YET to read, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, and Great Jewish Short Stories.  They’re not there because I’m working on reading them, however.  Rather, they are there because I was sick and didn’t carry them the three feet around the corner to Mt. TBR shelving unit 2 (as, the original book shelf filled up long ago).

I think the meaning of this question is more, “What are you reading now?” And the answer to that is:   I am currently almost halfway through Brisingr by Christopher Paolini, Custard and Company by Ogden Nash, Neil Zawacki’s How to Be a Villain, and From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz.

From the ARC-alanche on deck pile, I’m also reading Something Wickedly Wierd: The Icy Hand by Chris Mould… OH! and, as I glance over my shoulder, I see this one is actually ON the milk crate, too.  I’m a little over 1/4 the way through it.

2. Favorite book when you were a child?

I was not a very prodigious reader as a child… I didn’t really start becoming a reader until I was about 15… but there are a couple books I read until they fell apart.

One was called Nothing At All by Wanda Fag
nothing-at-all

another was How Fletcher Was Hatched by Wende and Harry Devlin

fletcher

and Never Tease a Weasel by Jean Conder Soule

Never Tease a Weasel

There’s another that I read religiously, but I can’t find the name of it.  It had a girl chipmunk, I think her name was Suzy, and a toy soldier in it, but I can’t find it on the net.  It’s particularly enmeshed with Never Tease a Weasel, and I can only guess I read over and over together.

To this day, I unconsciously quote from Nothing At All when I feel like I’m running around in circles, “I’m busy getting dizzy!” is what Nothing At All, the main character of the book, says.

3. Who’s on your “top five authors” list?

Do I hafta limit it to five?!?! Waaaah! ‘kay, I’ll try:   Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, John Steinbeck, C. S. Lewis and…. Dr. Seuss.

4. What book have you faked reading?

LOL… I’m guessing this means What book did I pretend to read for a grade or book club?  Well, I didn’t exactly “fake” reading it because I admitted to my professor that I didn’t read it but it always sticks out there in my mind as a great “fake”.  In our 20th century American History class we were assigned Eleanor Roosevelt: A Personal and Public Life by J. William T. Youngs.  Try as I might, I was never able to get into the book… I’ve always hated biographies, like I want to know a person’s personal life! blech.

5. What book are you an evangelist for?

okay… those of you who’ve been to Mt. TBR before, say it with me:  The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

6. What book have you bought for the cover?

Erm… None that I can think of, not for the cover art.  I have grabbed a few for the titles, though.  It’s fun to tell people, “What am I reading? Talk to the Hand!”  Actual book title by Lynn Truss, and very funny in that dry brit-wit kind of way.

7. What book has changed your life?

Any book worth the paper it’s printed on cannot fail to leave its mark on the reader’s life, however I’d have to say the book that has had the most effect on who I am would have to be The Bible.  Second to that… I read a book that greatly helped me to stop cutting called Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation by Steven Levenkron.

8. What’s a favorite line from a book?

I just came across a line from Brisingr that every book lover will agree with:

Books should go where they will be most appreciated, and not sit unread, gathering dust on a forgotten shelf, don’t you agree?

erm… *glances at her shelves full of hoarded books and gulps* yeah… sure! I swear I’m gonna get to them all!! :-D

9. What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

easy, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Friday Fill-Ins ~ The Cheeky Dark Hand of the Spanish Galleon

This week, Friday Fill-ins took the first sentence in 6 of Janet’s favorite books…you fill them in…with the right words or even better, ones of your own.

And…here we go!

1. “In a hole in the ground there lived one of the wickedest and cowardly men (if you could even call him that) that ever lived.”

2. “I think the swirling mist in the cemetary might mean there are ghosts  but that ain’t no matter.”

3. “After dark the rain began to fall again, just like the Universal Weather Program Department programmed it to do.”

4. “Look!  I found a pinata from the hold of the Spanish galleon.”

5. “There was a hand in the darkness, and I slapped it for being cheeky.”

6. “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, but the men in white coats ambush those always suspecting.”

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to hopefully finally kicking this stomach flu so I can read some, tomorrow my plans include going to the grocery store and doing some housework and Sunday, I want to watch a movie together with all my girls!

BTT- A Sick Little Gargoyle

Suggested by Janet:

The opposite of last week’s question: “What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?”

I’ve been sick with a stomach flu, so this will be short and sweet. Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle did not fare well when it went on sale. Some have suggested this is because it may be too far fetched, too out there, for the average person. It could also be that it is rather graphic in describing the burning flesh and the whole experience of skin grafts, healing process, etc.

However, I think it was one of the best books I read last year, best first author book last year, and is on Mt. TBR Hall of Fame list in the sidebar. I’ve been thinking about re-reading it, even!

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

Title: Doctor Faustus

Author: Christopher Marlowe

Paperback: 56 pages

Publisher: Dover Publications, Inc.

Publish Date: 1994

ISBN: 9780486282084

Miscellaneous: Dr. Faustus takes its protagonist from the German Faustbuch (1587), which was based on the life of an actual German astronomer and necromancer named Johann Georg Faustwho died about 1540. Rumored to have exchanged his soul for supernatural powers, he entered German folklore as the consummate naughty trickster, usually indulging in callow mischief. In Marlowe’s play, however he is transformed somewhat, and possesses a certain tragic distinction, though in no way is he exculpated from his crimes. Marlowe is also credited with transforming the English blank verse line, giving it a vigor and range of expression that was to prove a strong influence on his contemporaries, including William Shakespeare.

FAUSTUS:The reward of sin is death?” That’s hard.
Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas.
“If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and there’s no truth in us.”
Why then belike we must sin
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this,
Che sera sera,
“What will be shall be?”  Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians
And necromantic books are heavenly;
Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters,
Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.
O what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honour, of omnipotence
Is promis’d to the studious artisan!

A sound magician is a mighty god…

-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Scene 1, lines 40-53, 60

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe is an age-old tale about a man who makes a deal with the devil, swapping his soul for knowledge and power. Initially, Faustus imagines all the things he will do with the powers he will be given, reroute the Rhine and maybe even give himself a kingdom for example, but in the end he is little more than a conjurer performing parlor tricks for people’s amusement.

Right from the start of the play we see Faustus, a man of incredible intelligence… too smart for his own good, debating the merits of various disciplines from medicine to philosophy and ultimately divinity. Having received his doctorate in divinity from a world-renown school, Faustus should have a better understanding of God’s mercy and the nature of Grace, but he seems to lack a grasp of the basic elementary concepts of Salvation, Redemption and God’s limitless, unconditional Love. Dr. Faustus’ arrogance and pride in regards to his own geniusness shines through and we get a picture of a man jaded by religion and desiring forbidden knowledge for his own personal gain.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?   -Matthew 16:26

For all Faustus’ plans, dreams and schemes of political influence and power, to be “a mighty god,” as the play progresses he becomes baser and more ridiculous until he is on the level of a clown and a jester, performing parlor tricks for the scholars and locals and using his unfathomable powers to play pranks on the unsuspecting.

Marlowe wrote Doctor Faustus toward the end of the Renaissance, a period of time that valued the pursuits of knowledge and self over relationship with God, and meant for the play to be both cautionary and commentary. Through Faustus’ questions put to Mephistophilis (his personal assistant from Hell… literally), Marlowe shows that all things have their origins in God. As the kingdom of Hell is set against Heaven, it because an exercise in futility and vanity for Faustus to pursue all the hidden knowledges because he can not follow them to their ultimate ends, God Himself.

Several times in the play (which covers a 24 year period as that is part of Faustus’ contract) Faustus shows signs that repentance is weighing heavy on his heart. Faustus is caught between the Good Angel’s council to repent and that God will forgive him, and the Evil Angel, who first tries to entice Faustus to follow Hell, and ultimately threatens him that if he repents devils will viciously tear him apart. All the way to the last few days, God continues to call to Faustus and tries to turn his heart to repent and return, but Faustus refuses every time. With the final call, Faustus shows how cruel and vulgar he has become by sending devils to torment and kill the old man who had tried to inspire him to turn back.

One of the fascinating things about Doctor Faustus is that it has historical origins. There really was a Dr. Faust who was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil for supernatural knowledge and abilities.

While Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe isn’t one of the best plays of the Elizabethan era, it is intellectually and morally fascinating. It is possible that Marlowe would have become Shakespeare’s equal had he not died at the age of 29. Also, as I read this play it occurred to me why this type of literature can be so difficult for readers. Unlike novels, which include every detail of the story and make it much easier for the reader to be a passenger in its telling, a play requires you to imagine the missing information and to set the timing. Plays are much more interactive than novels. For flexing my brain and using “shoulder angels,” I give Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe 4 out of 5 stars.

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The name of Faustus’ familiar spirit is Mephistophilis, which reminded me of John Lovitz’ SNL performance in the following clip. What is hilariously funny about it is, it’s actually fairly true to the play. Of course, it’s an 18-year-old hair dresser named Vonda Braithwaite instead of Faustus, but for the most part it’s all there. Lol… the ending is different, too, though you have to wonder would Mephistophilis have stood a chance had the doctor taken his case to Judge Wapner?

 
I love the line “Now you listen to me. I’m Mephistopheles, Prince of Darkness. When I start harassing you, YOU’LL KNOW IT!”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Title:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Author:  J. K. Rowling

Hardback:  352 pages

Publisher:  Scholastic Inc.

Publish Date:  2005

ISBN:  9780439784542

“Fine,” said Harry, who was concentrating on handing Ron a glass of pumpkin juice.  “There you go, Ron.  Drink up.”

Ron had just raised the glass to his lips when Hermione spoke sharply.

“Don’t drink that, Ron!”

Both Harry and Ron looked up at her.

“Why not?” said Ron.

Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not believe her eyes.

“You just put something in that drink.”

“Excuse me?” said Harry.

“You heard me.  I saw you.  You just tipped something into Ron’s drink.  You’ve got the bottle in your hand right now!”

“I don’t know what you’r talking about,” said Harry, stowing the little bottle hastily in his pocket.

“Ron, I warn you, don’t drink it!”  Hermione said again, alarmed, but Ron picked up the glass, drained it in one gulp, and said, “Stop bossing me around, Hermione.”

She looked scandalized.  Bending low so that only Harry could hear her, she hissed, “You should be expelled for that.  I’d never have believed it of you, Harry!”

-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, page 293

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  is the sixth of the seven book series chronicling the lives and exploits of the orphaned title character and his friends and classmates as they discover they are witches and wizards, go to Hogwarts school to learn to hone their skills, and learn to bond with friends and co-exist with enemies under the genially paternal headmaster, Professor Dumbledore.  In this particularly darkest book yet (I’m told book seven is even worse), Harry struggles with coming to terms (still and again) with the deaths of those close to him, while desiring to get revenge on Lord Voldermort, aka Tom Marvolo Riddle, for the deaths.

Yeah….  I remember when the first book was taking the American bookworld by storm, causing some Christian groups to suffer apoplectic fits at the thought of their sweet angelic prodgeny being infected by evil should so much as the book’s binding touch their innocent hands, and children clamoring to snatch the books off their shelves.  However, six books in and it just seems to be a repeat of each of the last five books’ plotline.  The children return to school, Harry suspects evil is afoot right away, no one believes him, everyone turns against him and treats him like a nutter, then evil pops out from behind the painting of the tutu-wearing trolls and says “Bwa-ha-ha!”  Harry saves the day, Hogwarts and the entire wizarding world, everyone apologizes for doubting him, then they all say good-bye for the summer and look forward to returning in the fall where they can go through the whole cycle all over again.  HP and the HBP has all that plus pimples, crushes and love potions.

It’s an okay book, but nothing I’ll remember next year… I doubt I’ll remember it next month, even.  I found myself trying to remember when whatever event being referenced occured, and I realized that I’ve forgotten a lot of the content of the previous books already.  What’s more, I think up to a third of this book could have been dropped.  Some of it was a repeat of what had happened in a previous book, but some of it  just seemed superfluous.

I’m glad I read it since I’ve read the other books of the series, and I definitely wanted to get it done before the movie comes out this coming July.  Some people have said the last book, Deathly Hollows, is the best book of the series. 

From the way this book has ended, Deathly Hollowsat least seems like it will break the endless cycle.  Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he doesn’t plan to return to Hogwarts for his final year because he plans to hunt down and kill Voldemort, and his friends inform him they’ll be right beside him wherever he goes.  But… it’ll be a while before that movie comes out so I needn’t get into too much of a hurry reading the book.

While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  was an easy and comfortable read, it often fell flat and fizzled in places.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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The movie looks like it’ll be really good, I thought the others were good, too.

TSS ~ I’d Sell My Soul for a House Elf!

The Sunday Salon.com

Yay!!! Spring Break is here and two of my three lovelies have flown away to daddy’s for the week.  I still have Gwen, but without Maggie to fight with she’s rather tame.  She’s made plans to have sleep-over parties with her friends this week, too, so it’s going to quiet this week.

Our library will be having several movie events this week, including Twilight, which never did show at our theater.  I’ll have to take Gwen to it and do some other special things with her since she so rarely has me to herself.  She’s the middle child, so she’s often waiting on the side for her turn.  She always enjoys vacation times when the other two are gone.

I finished reading The Book Thief on Tuesday, but my brain has yet to put it down.  My mind wanders back to it often, even while reading one of the five books I’m currently working on. It’s now my favorite book, and I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t read it yet to do so.  It’s a beautifully written and haunting tale. :-)

I’ve finally gotten around to picking up the sixth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and am almost halfway through it.  It’s fun and okay, but somewhere along the way I’ve lost the wonder for the series I once had.  It’s the same book over and over again.  Harry knows some deep dark truth and no one believes him.   Even his best friends think he’s off his nuttter.  Then a horrible thing happens that proves Harry was right all along.  Sorries are said, forgiveness given, and everyone leaves Hogwarts with smiles and looking forward to next year…. when they’ll repeat the cycle all over again.  Add to all that pimples and crushes and love potions, and you get the gist of HP and the HBP.   Meh.   The Goblet of Fire has been my favorite so far.

I stopped into the Catholic thrift store here in town to check out their books and left with Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus.  It’s okay, and the thought occurred to me while reading it, “Would Marlowe have been more widely known if Shakespeare’s plays were never wrote down?”  It’s an interesting thought, and makes me wonder about authors today.

What modern authors would be read more but for the mega-star writers like Patterson, Clancy, Grisham, King, and more?

The Book Thief companion post

I decided to make a second post for The Book Thief, as my review was taking on an extended life of it’s own and would have eventually grown beyond 3000 words.  Since a lot of what is in this post isn’t a review of the book itself, I thought it best to put the following in a companion post.

Other thoughts about and quotes from The Book Thief:

Last week’s “Booking Through Thursday” question had to do with books made into movies, including the question “What book would you NOT want to be made into a movie?”  At the time, I really didn’t have an answer for that question, but NOW I do.

I don’t ever want to see The Book Thief made into a movie.  One of the major points of beauty with this book is the writing itself.  Zusak’s poetic and illustrative narrative cannot POSSIBLY be translated to the screen.  It is the word pictures and imaginative imagery that make The Book Thief so special, and I believe that when this book is presented in an acted-out format it will simply become just another sad, hard-knock-life, World-War-Two story like so many others that line the video store’s shelves.

Sadly, it is already optioned and in the pre-production stage with a tentative release date of 2010.  *sighs and cries*   Honestly, tell me how the following passage can be “re-formatted” for the big screen:

     …For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to.  Perhaps it’s so they can die being right.

The voices suddenly all sounded the same.
     Robert Holtzapfel collapsed to his right, onto the cold and steamy ground.
     I’m sure he expected to meet me there and then.
He didn’t.
     Unfortunately for the young German, I did not take him that afternoon.  I stepped over him with the other poor souls in my arms and made my way back to the Russians.
     Back and forth, I travelled.
Disassembled men.
     It was no ski-trip, I can tell you.

     As Michael told his mother, it was three very long days later that I finally came for the soldier who left his feet behind in Stalingrad.  I showed up very much invited at the temporary hospital and flinched at the smell.
     A man with a bandaged hand was telling the mute, shock-faced soldier that he would survive.  “You’ll soon be going home,” he assured him.
     Yes, home, I thought.  For good.
     “I’ll wait for you,” he continued.  “I was going back at the end of the week, but I’ll wait.”
     In the middle of his brother’s next sentence, I gathered up the soul of Robert Holtzapfel.
     Usually, I need to exert myself, to look through the ceiling when I’m inside, but I was lucky in that particular building.  A small section of the roof had been destroyed and I could see straight up.  A metre away, Michael Holtzapfel was still talking.  I tried to ignore him by watching the hole above me.  The sky was white but deteriorating fast.  As always, it was becoming an enormous dust sheet.  Blood was bleeding through, and in patches, the clouds were dirty, like footprints in melting snow.
     Footprints? you ask.
Well, I wonder whose those could be.

     In Frau Holtzapfel’s kitchen, Liesel read.  The pages waded by unheard, and for me, when the Russian scenery fades in my eyes, the snow refuses to stop falling from the ceiling.  The kettle is covered, as is the table.  The humans, too, are wearing patches of snow, on their heads and shoulders.
     The brother shivers.
The woman weeps.
     And the girl goes on reading, for that’s why she’s there, and it feels good to be good for something in the aftermath of the snows of Stalingrad.

 -The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, pages 475-477

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When Nazi soldiers march some Jewish prisoners back to the work camp in Dachau, the “parade” makes its way through Molching.   The following quote describes this event:

On Munich Street, they watched.
     … They watched the Jews come down the road like a catalogue of colours.  That wasn’t how the book thief described them, but I can tell you that that’s exactly what they were, for many of them would die.  They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke, and their souls trailing behind.

     When they arrived in full, the noise of their feet throbbed amongst the road.  Their eyes were enormous in their starving skulls.  And the dirt.  The dirt was moulded to them.  Their legs staggered as they were pushed by soldiers’ hands – a few wayward steps of forced running before the slow return to a malnourished walk.
     … The suffering faces of depleted men and women reached across to them, pleading not so much for help – they were beyond that – but for an explanation.  Just something to subdue this confusion.
     Their feet could barely rise above the ground.
Stars of David were plastered to their shirts, and misery was attached to them as if assigned. “Don’t forget your misery…” In some cases, it grew on them like a vine.
     At their side, the soldiers also made their way past, ordering them to hurry up and to stop moaning.  Some of those soldiers were only boys themselves.  They had the Fuhrer in their eyes.
     … Liesel was certain that these were the poorest souls alive…  Their gaunt faces were stretched with torture.  Hunger ate them as they continued forward, some of them watching the ground to avoid the people on the side of the road.  Some looked appealingly at those who had come to observe their humiliation, this prelude to their deaths.  Others pleaded for someone, anyone, to step forward and catch them in their arms.
     No-one did.
Whether they watched this parade with pride, temerity or shame, nobody came forward to interrupt it.  Not yet.
     Once in a while, a man or woman – no, they were not men and women, they were Jews – would find Liesel’s face amongst the crowd.  They would meet her with their defeat, and the book thief could only watch them back in a long, incurable moment before they were gone again.  She could only hope they could read the depth of sorrow in her face, to recognise that it was true, and not fleeting.
     … She understood that she was utterly worthless to these people.  They could not be saved, and in a few minutes, she would see what would happen to those who might try to help them.

In a small gap in the procession, there was a man, older than the others.
     He wore a beard and torn clothes.
His eyes were the colour of agony, and weightless as he was, he was too heavy for his legs to carry.

-The book Thief by Markus Zusak, pages 398-400

I particularly love the line, “His eyes were the colour of agony,” and hate to see that lost when it’s on screen. 

One line in the previous quote that I find particularly chilling is, “Some of those soldiers were only boys themselves.  They had the Fuhrer in their eyes.” 

We often consider Hitler’s greatest evil being the systematic devastation of an entire people group.  Certainly, his “final solution” that brought about the deaths of approximately 6 million Jews, what is more commonly referred to as The Holocaust, was an unimaginably horribly wicked thing.  However, not to sound dismissive, those six million people are dead and gone.  If it had ended there, it would have been an appallingly grotesque act of a fiend.

No, the greatest evil still being perpetrated by Hitler was the indoctrination of childred.  “They had the Fuhrer in their eyes.”  Those boy soldiers grew up and taught their children the doctrines of hate.  And when those children had children of their own, they too passed on the poisonous cancer of intolerance.  As terrible as these beliefs are for those to whom they are directed, the worst pain of all is inflicted on the believers themselves.  They will never know peace and love, and they will never truly experience a sense of self-acceptance.  Hate only breeds more hate.  And in this way, Hitler still lives on and continues to enslave and destroy his followers.

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The following quote describes the residents of an undamaged Himmel Street returning home after an air raid:

The only sign of war was a cloud of dust migrating from east to west.  It looked through the windows, trying to find a way inside, and as it simultaneously thickened and spread, it turned the trail of humans into apparitions.
     There were no people on the street any more.
     They were rumours carrying bags.

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, page 390

ARGH!  I just can’t see a movie being able to give you that.  “They were rumours carrying bags.”  They can make the set smoky, and they can have people trudge in front of the camera, but how can it ever fully express them as rumors?

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One of the stresses in the Hubermann household is that Hans isn’t a card-carrying party member.  Because he gave a Jewish shop owner back a little bit of his dignity by painting over an anti-Semitic slur on his door, Hans had never been approved membership.  Without being a member, people were reluctant to hire him as a painter.

What probably saved him was that people knew he was at least waiting for his application to be approved.  For this, he was tolerated, if not endorsed as the competent painter he was.
     Then There was his other saviour.
It was the accordion that most likely spared him from total ostracism.  Painters there were, from all over Munich, but under the brief tutorage of Erik Vandenburg and nearly two decades of his own steady practice, there was no-one in Molching who could play exactly like him.  It was a style not of perfection, but of warmth.  Even mistakes had a good feeling about them.

-The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak, page 191

Hans’ accordion had belonged to Erik Vandenburg, his friend and fellow soldier in World War I and the man who saved Hans’ life.  Hans and Erik had passed the time learning and playing the accordion, and in the years that followed Hans had developed his own special style that was much loved in his community.  Ironically, Erik Vandenburg was a Jew.

And being a Jew in Nazi Germany was the least desirable position of all, as the following quote points out:

You could argue that Liesel Meminger had it easy.  She did have it easy compared to Max Vandenburg.  Certainly, her brother practically died in her arms.  Her mother abandoned her.

But anything was better than being a Jew.

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, page 168

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When Liesel first comes to live with the Hubermann’s at nine years of age, she is completely illiterate.  As Hans works with her, first teaching her the alphabet then words and sentences, she begins to understand and sense the power bound within the covers of books, and books themselves become objects of priceless worth.  So, when Liesel first steps into the personal library of Mayor’s wife, she is overcome with joy at the sight of it:

“Jesus, Mary… “

She said it out loud, the words distributed into a room that was full of cold air and books.  Books everywhere!  Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving.  It was barely possible to see the paintwork.  There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the grey, the every-coloured books.  It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.

With wonder she smiled.

That such a room existed!

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, page 141

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The last of my little post-it flags have been removed from my book, and I’m out of quotes.  I think I can finally part with my copy of The Book Thief, it’s destined for a fellow BookMoocher, though I guarantee I will grab any… and every, in all likelihood… copy I come across in the future.  I know I will re-read this book again, and probably more than once.

The final quote I’ll end this post with is the first few lines of the book:

First the colours.
     Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
     Or at least, how I try.

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, page 13

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