Oodlies of fun.

Despite it being a little on the wet side, and the plumbing in my house sounding like Linda Blair, I managed to run a few errands yesterday. The most exciting of these errands was a quick stop at the picture-framing place to pick up my newly framed print.

The print, Josie and the Electric Cats, was a gift from my friend Fiona. It’s part of the Electric Orange Series by Joi Murugavell and it’s going to look great above my desk.

It is whimsical and it’s enticing in its repetitions and controlled use of colour.

As a gift, it’s intended to inspire, and I’ll remember that when I look at it. It’ll be a bit of a touchstone, and perhaps at times a little pictorial kick in the bum to just get on with it.

If you like the look of this work, I’d suggest checking out the rest of the collection. I particularly like Duchamp’s Hole Boy.

An update on my homework…

The other errand that I ticked off yesterday was a quick trip to the library and I got my hands on a couple more books that I want to have a look at before next week. I must say, before I go on, that I am usually very much a one-book-at-a-time kinda girl.  I take my time getting through a book, and I usually try and finish one before moving on to another. In saying this, I am at the moment trying to mix it up a bit (in a bookish kind of way) plus I’m keen to have had a look at some titles by Hartnett, Birmingham and Mem Fox.

So, I spent the evening reading He Died with a Falafel in His Hand, by John Birmingham.  Laughing out loud, and feeling just a little bit old as Birmingham so roughly and poignantly describes student life in the 1990s.  I’ve got a copy of After America, also by Birmingham to take a look at today.

Got a way into Hartnett’s Of a Boy on Friday.  Interesting story, not quite so sold on the writing itself…but I’ll come back to that when I’ve finished the book. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Lastly, selected three Mem Fox books for Oscar and I and the one I chose to read tonight was quite a hit, Hello Baby went down a treat.

So, busy busy, better not forget to use my reading glasses or my head’ll be sore…

You just don’t get it Mum!

Last day of school holidays, and Evan (my ten year old) is a little on the sad side. And who can blame him…late nights, Playstation, sleep-overs and plenty of time lounging around reading.  So, to ease the pain, we made a little stop at Kidna Books to buy a couple of new books for the last week of the break.

Now, these titles have most certainly not been written for my demographic – these are definitely pre-teen reading, and I think I can be forgiven for not quite getting what Captain Underpants is really all about.  So, I’ll let Evan describe them himself…

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilet, by Dav Pilkey

“This is the second book in a series of stories about two boys who create a comic book about a hero called ‘Captain Underpants’ and accidentally hypnotise their Principal into thinking he is Captain Underpants.

In this book, George and Harold get detention for mucking up the entries in the the all important Inventions Contest. During detention they make a new Captain Underpants comic, put it in one of the new inventions (a new type of scanner-copier type thing) and from there the story takes off.

I think this book is very funny and creative.  It is a story like no other, as Captain Underpants is one of a kind!”

And from undies to zombies…

Zombieson’s Time Machine, by Knife and Packer

“This story is about a very freaky street, with four crazy families…the Humansons, the Wizardsons, the Aliensons, and of course the Zombiesons.

The Zombiesons are looking after King Tut’s treasured cat.  Trouble starts when the Zombiesons’ pet Zobbla (their three-headed dog) bites the sacred cats’ tale and gets zapped a thousand years into the past, to ancient Egypt.  The Zombiesons need to try and get their pet dog back from the evil Pharaoh Gruesomekamun.

I think this book is a great read and it’s very colourful and the pictures are really funny.”

It would seem that they’re a pretty quick read, but suitable for re-reading.  I tend to judge how good a book is based on how hard it is to get Evan’s attention while he’s got his head in it – these are both a ‘three repeat’ title (i.e. Evan, hey Evan, EVAN!)

Seems like a pretty good way to finish off the break.  Thanks for the reviews Ev.

Grown-up reading…

As well as continuing to read Murakami, I’ve set myself a little homework before next week’s Gala.  I’m hoping tonight to take a look at Sonya Hartnett’s Of A Boy before I hear her speak next week. I heard her talk about this book at the Popular Penguins Launch a couple of years ago and have been meaning to get to it ever since – I think now’s the time to at least have a quick look-see.

Has anyone read any of Sonya’s stuff?  Which titles would you recommend?

Finally sharpened

Much to Evan’s dismay, I was sorting through stationary yesterday, getting things ready for him to start another year at school.  While I was scratching around in the desk draw, I came across my Penguin pencils, a gift from my sister Karen. Bizarrely, I’d not sharpened any of them – they just looked so nice in their orange and beige packet. I couldn’t bring myself to damage them, I suppose it’s the same logic that has people deciding to leave the plastic on ‘the good couch’ so that it doesn’t loose it’s newness.  Uncomfortable, by forever young.

But, a bit like a story, a pencil is hardly a pencil if it doesn’t have a point – so I bit the bullet and started off Great Expectations

They fitted so nicely with my gorgeous 2011 diary, a gift from my friend Tatiana.  Given my ramblings yesterday, I though I might just share…

The diary is by O-Check and it’s wonderful.  It’s lovely to use, earthy to touch and easy to use with it’s spiral binding.

It’s a funny thing too, the front cover is perplexing…making the diary much more interesting than it being just a series of appointments and to-do-lists.

Another Day - Cloudy Memory; at this moment am I drawing to remember or to erase

I’ve done the Kikki.K diary for the past few years, but I’ve got to say I’m very much enjoying a change of scenery.  Just lovely…

Just one more reason

Not that I needed another reason for wanting to be in New York City, but here’s one anyway.

I recently noticed an article about an exhibition currently on at The Morgan Library and Museum,  and it caught my eye as a most fascinating collection of insights.  On now, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives” is a showing of the private diaries of an amazing range of people, John Steinbeck, Bob Dylan, and Queen Victoria to name but a few.  There is even the diary of a true-life pirate; I don’t know why, but I’d love to get my hands on that one.

The thing that really got me thinking was the question of the degree to which these journals were written for general consumption.  I’m not a big fan of the autobiography, so it would be the secrets, the private, the unscripted revelations of these books of all shapes and sizes that would appeal to me.  Do you think anyone really writes a diary thinking that it will never be discovered, never read by anyone?  Beyond secret encryptions and codes (which some of the diary writers in the exhibition did in fact use), surely a diary-keeper must assume that even the most private of diaries might one day be read, especially if written by someone of public interest.  How does this influence what they include and how engineered the entries are?

It’s been many years since I’ve kept a diary, and I’ve lost count of the number of notebooks entitled ‘My Journal’ that have the first couple of  pages completed, have then been put on a shelf or in a cupboard only to be later discovered and greeted with a rye little giggle at myself for trying yet again to document my day-to-days.

But, alas, of late my days have indeed been documented.  Although it lacks the secrecy and the careful consideration that sometimes comes with diary-keeping, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have quite nicely recorded (and reported) the dot-points of my days over the last couple of years.  Although I have to say that it lacks the intimacy of a lock-and-key journal, and the therapeutic value of hand-writing thoughts on hard, white paper under hand, it has nonetheless been of great value to myself and to those interested in my comings and goings.  And as with flipping back through the pages of a paper diary, it is extremely interesting to press the ‘Older Post’ button at the bottom of the page, and go back through the days, months and years to track your own path.

I guess at the end of the day, whether it be for our own sake, or for the interest of others, self-documentation must hold a great appeal.  Although the vehicle seems to have changed somewhat, the compulsion remains the same…

Do you keep a diary?  Do you think Facebook, Twitter etc., are the same as diary-keeping?

Who’s diary would you most like to read?

Reading about bears

I spent some time today reading with Oscar, my 3 year old son.  Being a child who knows his own mind, he chose the books from his very eclectic collection of books. We started off by reading one of those movie picture books, horribly abridged and terribly written.  It struck me how hard it was to read out loud, it had no rhythm. It also had horrible big gaps in storyline, particularly obvious if you’ve seen the film a few times (which as it happens, I have…more than a few, try hundreds).  The illustrations grabbed Oscar’s attention, because they’re so familiar, but that was pretty much the extent of its appeal.

What it did do though, was illustrate really well how delightful a well written kids book can be.  The second book chosen for story-time was The Bear’s Lunch, by Pamela Allen.  I love Allen’s work, and both the kids have always been pretty keen on them, and now I understand better why.

It was easy to read, a lot like a poem.  I’d even go so far as to say it was a pleasure to read out loud, almost soothing.  Oscar stopped wiggling (which is rare), and he stopped trying to turn the pages more quickly than I could read – because he was interested, but also because there was just enough going on on each page to hold his attention.

The story itself is really short, very few words and at times quite reliant on illustrations.  I particularly liked the fact that a couple of pages in when the kids get settled for their lunch, you can just see a small black bear in the background – nice tension builder, great for playing ‘spot the bear’ and a lovely little detail.  I’ve often heard children’s book authors talk about how hard it is to tell a whole story in such a small amount of words, and I can see the art in it in this case.

In short, I might be digging around the book bin tonight to find the other Pamela Allen books, and they might get put on high rotation for a few weeks.  Might even have to get a few more…www.pamelaallenbooks.com

Do you guys have a favourite Pamela Allen book?  Any other kids books that are particularly lovely or well received by the kiddlies?

Telling stories

I’m feeling quite pleased with myself, as I’ve just booked my tickets to get along to A Gala Night of Storytelling 2011:Voices, at the Wheeler Centre…


They had an amazing program last year of presentations by local and international writers, and other generally interesting people.  To my disappointment, I didn’t manage to get to any of them – I just looked longingly at the Facebook posts as they came through.

Not so this year, as my schedule is now a little less medical and a little more literary.  Ticket is purchased so I can go and join in on 11 Feb for the centre’s first event of the year.  I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from John Birmingham, Mem Fox and Sonya Hartnett, but the international guests look amazing too – an absolute treat!

A quick reading update…

I’m report writing right now, but I can’t wait to finish up so I can get back to reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.  It’s been a while since I’ve been quite so intrigued…I really don’t know where it’s going to end up, wonderful!

If you’re into a bit of fancy, a touch of the surreal, and want to share in a quiet, calm tale of a painful journey, give this book a look I’d say.

I’m half-way through, and as as I said before I really can’t pick how it’s going to resolve, so stay tuned.

But for now, back to the grindstone to get this report finished off and then for a little weekend reading time.

Cheers, Mandi J

I’m a little bit bookish…

What’s it all about?

It’s about that book you like, that thing you’re into, that film you saw…

It’s my intention to go on a bit, putting mildly interesting words out there, and hopefully more often than not sharing beautiful items, clever little readings and general comments on all things a little bit bookish.

I also have a few nerdy tendencies, so I might well stray from time to time into geek territory – please feel free to pull me up if  I go off on too much of a tangent.

Go ahead and share your thoughts on my thoughts, and on the bits and pieces I come across.  Feel free to let us know if you come across anything delightful.

I am very much looking forward to sharing and reading.  I think I’m gonna love my brand new blog and I hope you do too.

Cheers to you, chat soon…Mandi J