Posts Tagged ‘My Book House’

Roundup 11: Wondering Whether to Continue

I’m wondering whether to continue with this blog.  After the first couple of years, I started slowing down because of life things.  I still enjoy it when I do it, but the posts are getting farther and farther apart.  The only time I post often is during the summer.  And the blog has never really taken off.  I don’t spend much time shopping it around.  There are days, though, when it gets triple the amount of hits, but that is still under a hundred.  Imagine – less than a hundred hits a day every day.  Sometimes less than fifty.  Again – people tend to find it by accident instead of design.  I don’t know. 

It’s possible that one of the reasons there’s hardly any comments is because one must have an account with WordPress.  That’s not fair.  Most people don’t and should not be obligated to.  So that just kills the comments perk.

Perhaps I shall continue as I have done these last two years – just write when the energy’s right.  Time will tell.


Romance Reading Timeline Part 1 – Harlequin and Hysterical Historicals

Romance Reading Timeline Part 2 – Barbara Cartland

Be An ID10T – Learn by Not Reading


#1 Knight of A Trillion Stars

#3 Mine to Take

A post by my mum: How to Mark A Book

Reading READICIDE/ Living Readicide

Soccer and Books = Bliss

No snap, crackle or pop in this Rice

Follow-up to a wish list I posted in 2008.

Fun with tongues

Creepy search terms lead to this post

My Book House – fast becoming one of TFB’s most popular posts.  (#5)

Bettelheim the Buzzkiller of Fairy Tales

My Book House 4 – Some of the more familiar fairy tales and wardrobe fantasy

Lyrics to The Music of The Spheres – it’s a concept. There’s not really any lyrics.

Thinking out loud on adolescent whingers, Proust, lack of literary foundations, and mammoth Norton anthologies

Everybody should own a couple of joke books!

Burn Notice – the novel!

MY BOOK HOUSE 5: Over The Hills

mbh5 spine0001In this world of bargain-basement, budget-cudgeling, Mark Rothko-inspired non-art that you can buy at Dollar Store in a cheap-ass frame; where book covers are all visual noise or abstract to nth degree that they are useless for inducing anything about what’s inside; where no one wants to use models anymore because some union of bodice-ripper models insists on their people getting paid to stand up and “blue steel” for a few hours; where bizarre fonts are intended to make up for the lack of creativity in design; and finally-yet-nowhere-near-finished, where financially struggling publishers just don’t want to pay artists because artists are flaky and temperamental, the cover illustration on Book 5: Over The Hills  subtly asserts itself as the opposite of all that. 

It is full of archetypal symbols designed to practically make the preface unnecessary.  The old man and the little boy sitting on  hill looking out over a panoramic view of wide valley and far-off mountain  echoes the painting by Caspar David Friedrich Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog.  The fact that it’s an old man and a little boy is archetypal in the extreme: Oranos and Kronos, Kronos and Zeus, “Been-there-done-that” and “But-I-have-to-see-for-myself”.  The illustration perfectly sets the theme for this volume.  Children are of school age and getting interested in how things are made and how they work.  They are being faced with challenges in the archetypal forms of giants, impossible tasks, tricks/riddles, and nonconformism.mbh 50001

I remember feeling culture shock when I would read this volume because there was a distinct decrease in the number of European stories and a significant amount of American literature and semi-non-fiction historical works.  It felt like the European party was over.  Not that it was bad, just a different sensation and I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time to express what I felt. 

Some of my favorite stories are in this book, though.  I loved “Dick Whittington and His Cat”, “The Story of Tom Thumb”, “Why The Sea is Salt”, and “Jack and The Beanstalk.”  These stories contained characters who were born into simple pastoral lives but had to go out into the world and face danger and prejudice.  They ultimately succeeded – success being defined (rather simplistically)  as marrying above one’s class, like Dick Whittington, or achieving wealth like Jack, or …being lifted to a higher station like Tom Thumb who became a knight.  Another reason this book is special because it contained a lot of the same stories I was being exposed to at school.  We were learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  I remember reading “Why The Sea is Salt” at school and it held a special connection to me because my dad was working at a hotel on South Padre Island and my brothers and  I would swim in the ocean every day when we stayed there.  Also, it’s interesting that the brothers who are the main characters are not named.  They are simply “the poor one” and “the rich one”.  When you’re eight, that makes perfect sense.

I ran into “Jack and The Beanstalk” a lot at school, and there was a wonderful MGM cartoon about Tom Thumb. Interestingly, he came from a single-parent home – dad and no mom.    There’s an excerpt from CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E. B. White, an excerpt from HEIDI by Johanna Spyri, as well as de rigeur Christian writings – two prayer/poems on p. 117. 

This volume runs heavily into the legends surrounding George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Fulton, the Wright Brothers; even Scottish James Watt.  Then it continues introducing legendary characters from American folk songs and tales: Casey Jones, John Henry that steel-drivin’ man, Hiawatha.  And the deconstructionists’ favorite whipping boy – Christopher Columbus.  So there’s a strong biographical and legend-building theme to Book 5.  Does anyone read “Casey Jones” anymore? If not, it’s a shame. 

Me being me, there were some smashing frocks in the illustrations.


In the “Tom Thumb” story, I didn’t know what a “pudding” was for the longest time so thistom thumb0001 image made no sense to me!  It’s the little ball of starch the man is holding in his hand with Tom stuck in it.

jhmli co illus 10001

This one is from the John Hancock Insurance corporate art collection.  I can’t put my finger on what it is that I like so much about this style of illustration.  It makes me feel young and good – but I don’t know why.  The innocence of it, maybe?  There’s even a Wyeth illustration in HEIDI!

On the whole, #5 wasn’t my favorite volume back in the day, but it did contain some of my favorite stories and favorite illustrations.




4: Through The Gate

3: Up One Pair of Stairs

2: Story Time

1: In The Nursery

Olive Beaupre Miller @ Goodreads

MY BOOK HOUSE 4: Through The Gate

bk 4 spine0001Book 4 is a treasure of some of our most revered imaginative stories.  Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed: iconic fictional characters whose names define magic and adventure. 

Most of the stories were new to me when I was first introduced to this book when I was a yung’un.  “Doll I’the grass” – I used to read it as “Dolly in the the grass”, but now I know the contraction “I’the” for what it really is.  “Brer rabbit” and “brer tar baby” – still don’t know what “brer” means.

The stories are simplistic in philosophy. It’s a bit unsettling at this age, but it made perfect sense when I was 9.  The beautiful girl gets the prince and her sister gets his brother.  A win-win stituation.  Stepparents and stepsiblings are evil.  Real men do hard labor with giant cattle.  The youngest daughter is the most beautiful and desirable.  Sounds a bit retarded now, but when you’re 9, if your head hasn’t been filled with internet and television filth, you just kind of go with it.

Reading this book, I think it was the first time I had seen Cinderella as something other than a blonde.  She’s wearing a powdered wig and a dress circa 1770-ish.  It looks like it weighs a ton.   My fav look was “Elsa” from “Elsa and the Ten Elves”.  Now there’s a story I could relate to! Elsa was very lazy.  She hated to get up early, and she especially loathed housework. Hellooo! {pointing at myself}. And, she had an absolutely to-die-for hairdo! I can only dream of having hair like that – that long, Teutonic wheat-blond hair. (The pic is in black-and-white, but you could tell it was blonde hair.)

elsa hair0001                cinder dress0001

In the Paul Bunyan stories, there’s a bit about the mess hall that I just loved and read over and over:

so Paul hired Hot Biscuit Slim, and there was a man who could cook!  Hot Biscuit Slim fed the loggers griddlecakes with maple syrup, bacon, ham and eggs, mashed potatoes and gravy, green corn and roasted duck; and he had working under him a man named Cream Puff Fatty who made delicious cream puffs, jelly rolls, gingerbread, jam tarts, and sugared doughnuts as big as platters.

Are you drooling? I’m drooling!

This volume introduced me to the twelve dancing princesses. I’ve seen versions other books, but I think this one may be the definitive.  That whole thing about the youngest daughter being the most appealing was a bit confusing to me back then. She was very young and very beautiful.  Then, as now, that’s all it takes, apparently.  Still, it was a great story about sneaking out to party all night! If literature is dress rehearsal for real life, this story is dress rehearsal for high school.

There’s also a couple of Halloween stories, a folk tale from Russia, one from China, a lovely assortment of European and American poems, and some adaptations.  “The Blacksmith” is the story of the song by Brahms.  “The Battle of The Frogs and The Mice” is a parody of the “Iliad”, and “Hansel and Gretel” is adapted from the opera by Engelbert Humperdinck. And, of course, a story from the Bible. A universe of creativity and a whole lot of psychology.

These are not books you can teach, but the vocabulary for this edition is teachable: fairy tale, folk tale, fable, tall tale, legend, yarn, retelling, adaptation.  There is also burgeoning representation of folk literature from the Americas – Canada, the US, and Mexico, specifically.  Most of the illustrations that are not black/white/grey are black, white, blue and orange.  The exception being “Cinderella” and the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier which is in yellow and black.  I really like how the editors always make it a point to include poems and songs.  When you’re a child, they are integral for learning how to manipulate language.


Der Schmeid (The Smith) by Ludwig Uhland

Paul Bunyan stories at

Motoko – Award-winning Japanese storytelling

My recommendation for “Hansel & Gretel” – the opera

Br’er Rabbit stories at

John Greenleaf Whittier at

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