Monday, 21 August 2017

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of Roald Dahl's most famous and beloved stories. There have been two wonderful film versions made, and many people rate it as their favourite Dahl story. I've seen both the movies (quite a few times) and read the book twice, and while I liked the story well enough I didn't love reading the book that much. So recently (well actually last year - as I just found this post written languishing unpublished) when it came time to re-read the final of the six Dahl titles for my 1001 quest I was a bit hesitant, and not all that keen. But then I had the rather brilliant idea to listen to it instead. My Roald Dahl Audio Collection has James Bolam reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he does a fine job of it, although I was secretly disappointed not to have the Eric Idle version.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is of course the story of Little Charlie Bucket, who lives with his parents and four grandparents in a two room house. The family are terribly poor, all trying to survive on the meagre wage that Charlie's father earns putting the tops on toothpaste tubes at the toothpaste factory. The family subsist on bread and margarine for breakfast, boiled potatoes and cabbage for lunch and watery cabbage soup for dinner. "Sundays were a bit better..... everyone could have a second helping." The Buckets saved up each year and Charlie is able to have a single chocolate bar on his birthday which he nibbles at and makes last for a few weeks.

The family follow the big news when Willy Wonka starts his competition to find five golden tickets that will allow each of the winners entry to his usually out of bounds factory on one special day only. Four impossibly named children win tickets - Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard and Mike Teavee. There is only one ticket left to win. It's no secret I suspect that Charlie finds that very last golden ticket. More than half the story is the action and delights when the five children and their parents, or grandfather Joe in Charlie's case, tour the factory.

And what a factory it is- the factory itself is a masterpiece of Dahl's imagination. That chocolate mixed by waterfall is the best chocolate in the world. The various rooms. The buttons on the Great Glass Elevator. Sugar-Coated Pencils for Sucking. Luminous Lollies for Eating in Bed at Night. Rainbow Drops -Suck Them and You can Spit in Six Different Colours. The Oompa-Loompas, how Willy Wonka rescued them from all the dangers of Oompa-Loompa Land- the snozzwangers and hornswogglers.

I was glad that I took the time to listen to the audio, it was a lovely experience. I then rematched the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Master Wicker. We should rewatch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sometime soon.

RN did a great story about the Roald Dahl Museum to coincide with Roald Dahl Day last month (2016). Naturally it's rather high on my travel wish list.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

50 Children's Books to Save My Life

Tygertale is a great blog about brilliant children's books that I came across recently while I was scouring the internet after reading Elidor (for which I hope to do a review soonish). Tygertale's Elidor post is especially interesting and graphically beautiful  and soon of course I was peering about Tygertale site and found this list. I knew it had to become a Listmania list. 

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith

The Earthsea Cycle - Ursula Le Guin (I've read the first one, and don't have the will to carry on)

Blackhearts over Battersea - Joan Aiken

Gormenghast Trilogy - Melvyn Peake

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (see my review)

The Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Alice Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stephenson

The Railway Children - E. Nesbit

Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie 

The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley

Watership Down - Richard Adams (see my review)

Charlotte Sometimes - Penelope Farmer

The Changes Trilogy - Peter Dickinson

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum (well most of it, I think I ran out of steam)

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

Journey to the River Sea - Eva Ibbotson

Kensuke's Kingdom - Michael Morpurgo (see my review)

Ballet Shoes - Noel Streatfeild (see my review)

A Traveller in Time - Alison Uttley

Life: An Exploded Diagram - Mal Peet

The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton

Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh (see my review)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Ian Fleming (see my review)

The Dark is Rising Sequence - Susan Cooper

Bog Child - Siobhan Dowd

Ink heart - Cornelia Funke

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge 

The Family from One End Street - Eve Garnett

Are you there God, It's Me Margaret? - Judy Blume (see my review)

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier (see my review)

The Letter for the King - Tonke Dragt

The Mouse and his Child - Russell Hoban (see my review)

Smith - Leon Garfield 

Grasshopper Jungle - Andrew Smith

The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald (see my review)

Gullivers Travels - Jonathan Swift (well most of it, I think I ran out of steam)

Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner (see my review)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne (see my review)

The Otterbury Incident - Cecil Day-Lewis

Uncle - J.P. Martin

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Warrior Scarlet - Rosemary Sutcliffe

Mary Poppins - P.L. Travers

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle - Hugh Lofting

The Fantastic Four Vol 1. - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

25/50 (ish, there's a few sneaky series in there)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

I've been intrigued by this book for a while now. Seems like everyone has read it, and everyone has an opinion on her Methods. Some of it sounds rather far fetched, so (this time last year!) it was time to check it out for myself. I bought the book at the start of last year- even though it seems counterintuitive to buy a decluttering book, I feel like I should be borrowing it from the library instead of adding to the (largely book) clutter that needs to be tidied.

I could do with some Life Changing, I imagine we all could. Marie Kondo (who uses her nickname KonMari) promises great things.

The KonMari Method is a simple, smart and effective way to banish clutter forever. Start by discarding. Then organise your space, thoroughly, completely in one go. If you adopt this strategy, you'll never revert to clutter again. 

But it's not just a tidier house she's promising. It's self help, self-actualisation through tidying.

when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don't, what you should and shouldn't do. 

Tidying must start with discarding. It all needs to happen in one mammoth one time effort which Marie suggests will take about six months.

The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart.

Sort by category, not by location. And you must, must, must tidy in the right order- clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items and then sentimental items and keepsakes. Naturally, there are then subcategories within these categories.

All you need to do is look at each item, one at a time, and decide whether or not to keep it and where to put it.

It's rather pivotal that she has turned the decision "Should I throw this dress out?" around to become "Should I keep this ornament?" which is where the much derided "Does this jumper/book/pillow spark joy?" comes from.

Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.

KonMari doesn't encourage her clients to listen to music while they work, and listening to the TV is "out of the question". Oh and you'll need a bright early start.

When I've been considering her method in any of the dozens of articles I've read I have wondered about being wasteful, but KonMari tells us that we can't "be distracted by thoughts of being wasteful". Yes, I see why she would say that, and I have seen some of those hoarders on tv saying that they are keeping things for recycling or environmental reasons, but I think it is a consideration. I think we do need to be mindful about what we do with waste. Clothes are fairly easy - we can all donate them to charities, but what about things that are valuable, just not to you? Should these things just be tossed in landfill? It seems ridiculous to do so as polar bears are dying out and the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching.

KonMari is ruthless here.

To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To throw away what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. 
And I think she does just throw things out. There was a lot of measuring of progress in garbage bags.

Let them go, with gratitude.

She's very big on folding. "By nearly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage." But then she goes way beyond natty Japanese space saving methods.

The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies. 
There is then a written folding tutorial which gets rather complex. Thankfully for the more visual processors amongst us Gwyneth Paltrow is all over this at her GOOP site and has an illustrated video guide to folding.

I hadn't been aware that my socks needed to rest when they were not helping me walk in my shoes!

I've actually made quite a bit of progress in my War on Clutter in the past year. Most of it wasn't due to the KonMari method, but reading this book really did help me in the pre-contemplation stage.

And now by the Life Changing Magic of not tidying this post and posting it in the last year I can manage to actually post something for Women in Translation Month 2017 without really trying. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Book Launch - The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear

Last week I was very lucky and got to attend the regional launch of The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear. 

This was a very special event. The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear is the first book published by Dirt Lane Press, a new publisher based in Orange, NSW. Naturally I became a friend of Dirt Lane Press as soon as I heard about it last year. 

There was lots of delicious, organic local wine. I believe that there was white wine as well, but I didn't notice. 

I don't believe I'd had this before,
but took quite a liking to it 
Special guest Freya Blackwood
was there to launch the book

Mark MacLeod, Margrete Lamond and Heather Vallance
 The launch was held at the new Botanica Flora, and was also the opening of an exhibition of the gorgeous art work Heather Vallance made for The Sorry Tale of Fox & Bear.

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly memenow hosted by WestMetroMommy

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Better Reading Australia's Top 50 Kids Books 2017

Better Reading is a great Australian website promote books and reading to everyone. This list is the results of their poll for the Top 50 Kids Books of 2017.

Ranger's Apprentice The Tournament at Gorlan - John Flanagan
Ranger's Apprentice The Ruins of Gorlan - John Flanagan
The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
Matilda - Roald Dahl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
The 13-Storey Treehouse - Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton (see my review)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney
The BFG - Roald Dahl
Dork Diaries - Rachel Renée Russell

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
The Bad Guys Episode 1 - Aaron Blabey
Alice-Miranda at School - Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda on Holiday - Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda Takes the Lead - Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda at Sea - Jacqueline Harvey
WeirDo - Anh Do (see my review)
WeirDo 2 Even Weirder! - Anh Do
WeirDo 3 Extra Weird! - Anh Do
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
Skyfire - Michael Adams
Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz (see my review)
The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss
The Turners - Mick Elliot
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
Wonder - R.J. Palacio (see my review)
Oh, The Places You'll Go - Dr. Seuss
Awful Auntie - David Walliams (see my review)
The World's Worst Childern - David Walliams
Once - Morris Gleitzman

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (see my review)
Charlie and the War against the Grannies - Alan Brough (see my review)
The Adventures of Captain Underpants - Dav Pilkey
Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
Unreal! - Paul Jennings
Friday Barnes Girl Detective - R.A. Spratt
Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne
Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden
Heroes of Olympus The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan
Deltora Quest Series 1 - Emily Rodda
Geronimo Stiltion Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye
The Silent Invasion - James Bradley
Tales of a Fourth Grade  Nothing - Judy Blume
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (see my review)
Holes - Louis Sachar (see my review)
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Playing Beatie Bow - Ruth Park
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates - L. Pichon (see my review)
The Witches - Roald Dahl (see my review)


Always more books you haven't heard of...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Women in Translation Month 2017

The other day I was very excited to learn about Women in Translation month from Russell over on his youtube channel Ink and Paper Blog. I really do enjoy reading books in translation, but had somehow never heard of Women in Translation month before.

Women in Translation Month was started in 2014 by Meytal Radzinski at Biblibio  to highlight the joys of reading books originally written in languages other than English.

While I really enjoy reading books In Translation (see my In Translation tag, although embarrassingly few are by female writers), I also enjoy thinking about books In Translation, and have done a few posts exploring these ideas before. It kicked off for me in December 2013 with an article about Why Don't French Books Sell Abroad? and I thought long and hard about it, and it gave me an excuse to use some more of my Paris pics. 

Books in translation are important. They give us a perspective beyond that of English language works, a small window looking outwards from our big Anglophone world. Plus they're interesting and fun.

Rather incredibly "about half of all the books available in translation around the world have been translated from English, and only 6% are translated into English"! (Found in Translation 2014), so obviously it's important to support the authors, translators and publishers that create that 6%. We don't like to open our non-English window very wide- we've just opened a crack. 

Now to find some time to read at least one book in translation this month. Some of the books that I have already  in the house that are calling to me.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Banksy Does New York

I love watching something interesting when I do the ironing. Often it's the French News, other times I watch something I've taped from the tv. Generally documentary or something light, I prefer to enjoy fiction when I have the opportunity to sit on the couch and fully enjoy it. Last night I watched Banksy Does New York. I quite like Banksy. I like his artistic style, his incorporation of the site he uses and signs or objects already present, I generally like his political messages, and I like his humour. He has a great twitter feed. I am astonished that he has maintained his anonymity in the modern world. That must be incredibly difficult to do.

I've watched other documentaries on Banksy before, but recently came across Banksy Does New York on ABC 2. In October 2013 Banksy did a month long residency in New York, and created a new art work every day. He would put clues up on his twitter account each day and New York would go out looking for it. Of course word would spread like wildfire on social media and crowds of people would go Banksy hunting.  One of the commentators called it the first hipster scavenger hunt which is possibly rather true. The response of the established art world and art journalism was especially interesting (yes they completely ignored the art taking the city by storm for a month).

Apparently you can be a Banksy hunter. I was hoping to see one when I went to London in 2013 but it wasn't to be. And if the folks in London act at all like the people in New York then I see why. Often these works were painted over within hours, or defaced by jealous and stupid "graffiti artists", or removed so that they could be sold. A Banksy art work is often a fleeting experience.

Banksy Does New York was fascinating, it made the ironing fly by. It's about art, politics, history, animal rights, philanthropy, greed, urban decay and renewal, even Nazis. Life really. In Australia it's available on ABC iView until Aug 20.