Thursday, 22 October 2009

Oops I Did It Again.

Sequels (again)

I did it again. I read an 'official' sequel to a childhood favourite. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I've loved the stories and characters from Winnie the Pooh for years. Tigger is my favourite, and I did queue for an hour at Disney for the chance to meet him. I'm not even that bothered by the Disney version of the characters although I do prefer the original illustrations by E H Shepard.

I knew that there was an authorised sequel to the original books coming but having been disappointed by sequels already this year I hadn't pre-ordered the book anywhere except the library.

Wise move. I won't be buying it.

Again I'm not sure if it is because I am reading it as an adult but there was something missing. Magic I think. The stories were too knowing, the wonder, and the imagination, was missing. Milne would never have had Rabbit talking about the Romans or Christopher Robin referring to the Trojan Horse. The character would have made up far better references in the original, the biggest 'enemy' in this book is the thesaurus - it doesn't quite measure up to the Heffalump does it?

The illustrations are also just a touch too modern, I can't quite put my finger on it but they are just not quite *it*.

The best chapter was the one where the characters learn to play cricket and Tigger scores 27 runs. Two of my favourite things mixing - hurrah.

In summary I suppose that there is nothing wrong with the book, the stories read pretty well and the illustrations capture the words pretty well, it is just when the introduction, sorry Exposition, is the best bit you know the book isn't quite as magical as you'd hoped.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Dangerous Places

Airports are dangerous places, not because they involve huge security and airplanes but because of the bookshops.

If you are addicted to reading you stand no chance of escaping without buying something. Even if you know that you have a book, a spare book and a just-in-case book in your hand luggage there is always that underlying fear that if there is a delay you'll run out of reading material.

Then in the UK there is the added attraction of the airport edition. Who can resist a paperback version of the brand new hardback you've been coveting on high street?

Well I certainly can't and on a recent trip I indulged in new books on both legs of the journey, and unlike on so many previous occasions I actually regret neither book.

Leaving the UK I treated myself to Sadie Jones' Small Wars an it kept me engrossed throughout the 8 hour flight, although a book that has a tendency to make you weepy is probably best not read in public.

However it was the book I chose on impulse in Canada that was the real treat - Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe. I was drawn mostly by the appearance of this book and then the back cover blurb but it really didn't disappoint.
I'll use the description from the website to explain more fully the attraction:

The Vinyl Cafe stories are about Dave, owner of the second hand record store, and they are collected in books and on CD. The stories also feature Dave's wife, Morley, their two children, Sam and Stephanie, and assorted friends and neighbours.

The motto of Dave's store - and of the radio show - is "We May Not Be Big, But We're Small".

The books contain lots of short vignettes about Dave and his friends and family, they are gentle, heart warming stories which I am not surprised to find started life as radio broadcasts. This is in fact the Canadian version of Garrison Keillor's tales about Lake Wobegone and in my opinion is far superior to the American version.

Books in Canada are not that cheap but I do feel that this was certainly money well spent and I am now hooked on the series, the podcast and the website. Luckily there are a few volumes in circulation in the Norfolk library service but I can see that these books will be featuring highly on my Christmas list this year.