Custard and Company by Ogden Nash

Title:  Custard and Company

Author:  Ogden Nash

Illustrator:  Quentin Blake

Hardback:  128 pages

Publish Date:  1980

Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company

ISBN:  0316598348

The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus

In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn’t anybody’s joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn’t any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying ‘Boo’ at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.

Yet people pardoned every sin,
And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
‘There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Deploring how he did behave,
His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.

Like whooping cough, from child to child,
He sped to spread the rumor wild:
‘Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes
There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Slunk like a weasel of a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
‘There isn’t any, no there’s not!’

The children wept all Christmas eve
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed,
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp-a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees
With cries of ‘Don’t,’ and ‘Pretty Please.’
He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it!’

‘Jabez’ replied the angry saint,
‘It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!’

Said Jabez then with impudent vim,
‘Oh, yes there is, and I am him!
Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t’
And suddenly he found he wasn’t!

From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;
They searched for him, but not with zeal.

No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

Custard and Company by Ogden Nash, pages 50-54

Ogden Nash, a popular American poet, was known for his droll humor and unconventional rhymes.  Most of us have heard his poetry, through we may not know him as the author, as he’s often used in everyday conversations.  A great example of this is Nash’s quick verse, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,” from his book Reflections on Ice-Breaking.

Custard and Company by Ogden Nash is a collection of Nash’s poems and include “The Tale of Custard the Dragon” and “Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight,” two of Nash’s most beloved works.  The book is also illustrated by Quentin Blake, who is best known for his collaboration with writer Roald Dahl.

Most of the poems in this book have a quality that appeals to children, both young and old, many of them mythical characters and animals as their focus.  A few of the poems have children as the main characters, such as Jabez Dawes in the one quoted above, Belinda in the Custard poems and Isabel, an adventurous young girl who never screams or scurries, instead standing in the face of danger and winning.

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.

-from “The Adventures of Isabel,” Custard and Company by Ogden Nash, page 88

Something surprising I found with many of these poems is that they are often clunky and terrible when read silently to yourself, but become playfully fun when read out loud, and even more so when read out loud to a child.  I read a number of these to my oldest daughter, Sammi, age 16, who is a big Shel Silverstein fan.  She was actually the one who picked up the similarity of the illustrations to those in Roald Dahl’s books.  She will be very excited to find out she was right 😉

Wonderfully fun and a book for the whole family, Custard and Company by Ogden Nash is a treasure of American Literary history.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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The video I’ve selected to accompany Custard and Company is a bit longer than usual. It is a 10 minute, mini-movie of “The Tale of Custard the Dragon” and makes use of HALO characters. It’s quite funny, but is a little slow to get started. It started out as a school project, for which I hope the creator received an A+ 😀 Enjoy!

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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 😀

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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!! 😀

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

easy, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Title:  The Last Battle

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  2001

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  The copy I have read is in a complete book.  There aren’t 767 pages in The Last Battle alone.

 

 

 

“Look!  What’s that?”

 “What’s what?” said Puzzle.

 “That yellow thing that’s just come down the waterfall.  Look!  There it is again, it’s floating.  We must find out what it is.”

 “Must we?” said Puzzle.

 “Of course we must,” said Shift.  “It may be something useful.  Just hop into the Pool like a good fellow and fish it out.  Then we can have a proper look at it.”

 … He flung it down in front of Shift and stood dripping and shivering and trying to get his breath back.  But the Ape never looked at him or asked him how he felt.  The Ape was too busy going round and round the thing and spreading it out and patting it and smelling it.  Then a wicked gleam came into his eye and he said:  “It is a lion’s skin…. We’ll make this skin into a fine warm winter coat for you.”

 …As soon as he was alone Shift went… into his little house.  He found needle and thread and a big pair of scissors… Then he came down the tree and shambled across to the lion-skin.  He squatted down and got to work…

 Late in the afternoon Puzzle came back.  He was not trotting but only plodding patiently along, the way donkeys do…  “Come and try on your beautiful new lion-skin coat,” said Shift.

 … The skin was very heavy for him to lift, but in the end… he got it on to the donkey… No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment.  But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he just might mistake him for a lion…  “If anyone saw you now, they’d think you were Aslan, the Great Lion, himself.”

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, pages 671-673

 

Thus begins the great deception and the beginning of the end of Narnia.  Shift the Ape manipulates and bullies Puzzle the Donkey into believing that Aslan himself wants them to go to the people of Narnia and claim Puzzle is really the Great Lion, and to rule the land through this pretense.  Puzzle has been used by Shift for so long (under the guise of “friendship,” though “servitude” might better describe the Donkey’s side of the relationship), that he is unable to stand up to the damn, dirty Ape (nod to Heston and “Planet of the Apes” hehe).

It is through this false-Aslan that Shift enslaves the land of Narnia, using the Animals as slaves and threatening anyone who dares to question his authority with the Wrath of Aslan.  “He is not a tame lion” is repeated over and over to fill their minds with terror, and, even when they know this new “Aslan” is the opposite of everything they’ve always been taught is the nature of the true Aslan, the Narnians are unable to throw off the Ape’s bonds and fight back.

Even when Shift brings in Calormene soldiers and announces that the Narnian Animals are to be sent to work, and all their wages are to be paid to “Aslan’s” treasury, for only “Aslan” can care for their true needs.  Compounding a lie with a lie, the Calormene Captain and Shift tell the Animals that Tash, the Calormene god to whom men are sacrificed, and Aslan are one in the same; two different names for the same person.  This new god is called “Tashlan,” the meshing of the two names.

When Tirian, the last King of Narnia, calls on Aslan to rescue his country, the Great Lion is silent, so Tirian, remembering how children from another world had saved Narnia in it’s darkest periods of history, calls on the friends of Narnia to come and save his land.  And, after a vision-dream of the seven legendary Friends sitting down to dinner and seeing the phantom of Tirian among them, he is surprised by the appearance of Jill and Eustace.  Along with Jewel the Unicorn, who is Tirian’s best friend, the two children and a Dwarf named Poggin, the stage is set for the last battle of Narnia.

 

In the shadow of the trees on the far side of the clearing something was moving.  It was gliding very slowly Northward.  At a first glance you might have mistaken it for smoke, for it was grey and you could see things through it.  But the deathly smell was not the smell of smoke.  Also, this thing kept its shape instead of billowing and curling as smoke would have done.  It was roughly the shape of a man but it had the head of a bird; some bird of prey with a cruel, curved beak.  It had four arms which it held high above its head, stretching them out Northward as if it wanted to snatch all Narnia in its grip; and its fingers – all twenty of them – were curved like its beak and had long, pointed, bird-like claws instead of nails.  It floated on the grass instead of walking, and the grass seemed to wither beneath it…. [They] watched it… until it streamed away… and disappeared.  Then the sun came out again, and the birds once more began to sing….

“I have seen it once before,” said Tirian. “But that time it was carved in stone and overlaid with gold and had solid diamonds for eyes…. [It was in] the great temple of Tash… carved above the altar.”

“What was it?” said Eustace in a whisper.

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 712

 

 The entrance of the Calormene god Tash takes this final fight into the realm of the supernatural, as it becomes the epic battle of the ultimate good, Aslan, and his antithesis Tash:  Life versus Death.

 The message of The Last Battle, I believe, is this:  We are not always meant to win the good fight, only to FIGHT the good fight.  Early on in the book we know this is a lost cause, the side of evil will prevail, and the heroes’ lives  will be forfeit.  But, even then, Aslan will have the final say.

 In The Last Battle, Lewis also addresses two major questions of Christianity.  First, how can a person who has known the goodness and greatness of Christ turn his or her back on Him, choosing, instead, their own will.  Second, what of those people who have never heard the Gospel and therefore had no chance to believe?  Will He condemn them to Hell?

 Missing for the Friends of Narnia is Susan, and somehow I knew this immediate when I counted eight helpers of Narnia, but only seven Friends of Narnia.  Somehow I knew the missing person was Susan.

 

“Sire,” said Tirian… “there should be another… Where is Queen Susan?”

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”

“Yes,” said Eustace, “and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says ‘What wonderful memories you have!  Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.”

“Oh, Susan!”  said Jill.  “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations.  She always was a jolly sight to keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up indeed,” said the Lady Polly.  “I wish she would grow up.  She wasted all her shool time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age.  Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 741

 

Susan turned away from Narnia and Aslan and, instead, made vanity and things of the world her focus.  BUT, Lewis did not say she could not become a Friend of Narnia again.  Further, someone had to survive to tell The Chronicles of Narnia.

 As the Seven plus Tirian go “further up, further in,” they meet a Calormene who tells them of his meeting Aslan:

 

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him.  Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.  Both the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my fourehead with his tongue and said, ‘Son, thou art welcome.’  But I said, ‘Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’  He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service to me.’ Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, ‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’  The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, “It is false.  Not because4 he and I are one, but because we are opposites – I take to me the service which thou hast done to him.  For I and he are such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.  Dost thou understand, Child?’  I said, ‘Lord, thou knowest how much I understand.’   But I said also (for the truth constrained me), ‘Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’  ‘Beloved,’ said the Glorious One, ‘unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly.  For all find what they truly seek.’

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 757

 

 Honestly, it was impossible to review this book without incorporating the religious aspects of it.  That is not to say it can’t be enjoyed without being religious.  It stands alone as the heart-wrenching finale of a much loved and favorite literary classic series.  I couldn’t help but cry at the end; for the beauty, for the Friends, for all who had been were together again… and for Susan, who, by her folly, missed the train (if you’ve read this, or when you do read this, book you’ll get that reference).

 The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis is beyond words, and I sigh with a bittersweet happiness, as I have come to the end of my journey through Narnia.  I leave you with the last paragraph of the last book of Narnia:

 

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page:  now at last they were beginning Chaper One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on for ever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

 

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 767

 

5 out of 5 stars.

hated it!didn't like itit was okayliked itLoved it!

Mishka Book Giveaway!

An Adoption Tale

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista is a beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written book about Mo the bear’s journey finding a family and home. It’s a great story for all children and perfect for opening the discussion of adoption. In the tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit, this emotionally touching story is written from the point of view of a stuffed bear.

I am giving away a beautiful, brand-new! copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale. It has been signed by Bashista. Maggie and I reviewed Mishka (click here for the review), and I interviewed Mishka‘s author Adrienne Ehlert Bashista.

So here are the rules:
1. Post a comment here for your entry. (I will save comment information from this post for contact info, if you’re not entered here, then you’re not entered.)
2. Post this giveaway on your blog, then let me know, for two extra entries.
3. Post a comment on the review for another entry.
4. Post a comment on my interviewwith Bashista for another entry.
5. Doing all four will get you two more entries, for a total of seven chances to win.

This contest is open until Saturday, August 9th.  I will announce the winner in my Sunday Salon post on the 10th.   So get busy and enter already!

Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

Title: Gooney Bird Greene
Author: Lois Lowry
Pages: 88
Publisher: Yearling (Random House Children’s Books)
Publish Date: 2002
ISBN: 0440419603

Gooney Bird Greene -that’s Greene with a silent ‘e’ at the end- arrived at Watertower Elementary and in Mrs. Pidgeon’s second grade class in October… the class would never be the same. She shows up wearing pajamas and cowboy boots, her red hair in pigtails, a lunch box and dictionary in her hands. She asks for a desk in the middle of the room because she likes to be in the middle of all the action. As the class begins studying how to write a story, the whole class decides they want to hear Gooney Bird’s story.

Gooney Bird adjusted the pink ballet tutu she was wearing over a pair of green stretch pants. Her T-shirt was decorated with polka dots. Her red hair was pulled into two pigtails and held there with blue scrunchies… She felt her earlobes, which were small and pink and empty.

“I should have worn the dangling diamond earrings that I got from the prince,” she told the class. “Maybe I’ll wear them next week.”

“Diamond earrings? Prince?” Mrs. Pidgeon asked.

“Well, actually, the prince didn’t give me the earrings. I got them at the palace,” Gooney Bird explained.

“Why were you at the palace?”

“Well, first I was in jail, and then -” Gooney Bird interrupted herself. “It’s a long story.”

Gooney Bird entrances the whole class, including their teacher, with her stories about how she came from China on a flying carpet, or how her beloved cat, Catman, was consumed by a cow, or why she was late to school because she was directing an orchestra. With every story, Gooney Bird reminds her audience that she only tells absolutely true stories.  And she does.

What brought me to Gooney Bird Greene is the fact Maggie and I have read the entire Junie B. series, and we’ve been looking for a replacement series. Gooney Bird does work great for that, and she’s quite creative, as well. Both characters are funny, extroverts who are often the center of attention. Both characters are rather unique individuals, and express themselves very well. The differences, though, are that Parks has developed Junie B’s character a lot more, as she has written over 30 Junie B books to Lowry’s three Gooney Bird books.

Maggie’s review is: Gooney Bird Greene is a good, funny and cute book. Her favorite things about it is Gooney Bird is funny and she likes it when Gooney Bird bosses the teacher around. The thing she didn’t like about it is when Gooney Bird lost her cat… that was sad… but it was funny that Catman’s tail got cut off by the lawn mower.

Back to me, now… to clarify the “bossing the teacher”, Gooney Bird isn’t mean and hateful with it, she says things like “look up China on the map”, or when the class erupts in questions saying, “Mrs. Pidgeon, do you want to deal with this?”. Even Mrs. Pidgeon gets so caught up in the stories that she interrupts, then apologizes. It’s this kind of polite role-reversal that is often what makes a favorite children’s book. Not only is there the “bossing” the teacher, but also directing the adults of the orchestra, and helping a neighbor find his dog. Gooney Bird takes the role of rescuer for the grown-ups.

Honestly, I can’t really find any negatives about this book, other than there are only three books, which means it’s not long before we’re hunting a new series very soon. We’ve read a couple Lucy Rose books, but she’s just not quite the same. We’ve just started Amber Brown Goes Fourth, and it’s promising, but I don’t know how many there are. I’ve also got an Anastasia Krupnik book, and a couple Molly Moons. SO, if you have any suggestions for Maggie’s dilemma, let us know!