• Posted on March 30, 2010

1 + 1 = 233

Leonardo Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician who, in 1202, became interested in the reproduction of rabbits. His question: under ideal circumstances, if you begin with one male and one female rabbit, how many rabbits will you have in a year? He was 27 at the time, which for that pestilence-ridden era was middle-aged. You’d think he would have better things to worry about than the sex life of bunnies. I’m no mathematician, but after some research I can assure you this question has implications far beyond the comprehension of my flabby and underused left brain. Suffice to say his bunny quandary inspired British author and illustrator, Emily Gravett to write and illustrate the very lovely and delightful, The Rabbit Problem. No need to dust off your calculator. Just enjoy.

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  • Posted on March 27, 2010

This is Not the Easter Bunny

The Rabbits is either a story of bunnies gone bad, or an allegory about imperialism leading to cultural and environmental decimation. As the Easter season approaches, I hesitate to say anything that might compromise the delivery of a Mr Fruit n’ Nut on Sunday morning, therefore I’m going with the allegorical angle. It’s safer that way, and let’s face it, forests…cultures…they come, they go, but chocolate is forever.

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  • Posted on March 20, 2010

Louise McKinney Park

Louise McKinney Park in better days. Donna McKinnon, 2009

“Autumn in Arkansas flaunts only its absence.”

This is a line from Knee Deep in Wonder by April Reynolds.

Locally, the line might go something like this: “Spring in Edmonton flaunts only its absence.’”

The quote from Knee Deep in Wonder promises hot, sticky diversions, necessitating a trip to the cash desk and a weekend wrapped in steamy southern prose. The second line, from Knee Deep in Snow Mold, promises nothing but gravel in my shoes and a runny nose.

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  • Posted on March 16, 2010

O Leprechaun, Where Art?

I have a bazillion children’s picture books and not one of them is about a leprechaun. Cockroaches, beetles, sheep, lovesick frogs, blue muffins and a sweet, sweet moleman, but not a single shamrock wearing, shillelagh-packing leprechaun. Therefore, I cannot review or recommend a St Patrick’s Day book. Even a green cover would have sufficed, but I seem to have few of these as well, with the exception of a book I illustrated several years ago for a local publisher. It’s about zucchini.  Not very Irish.

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  • Posted on March 13, 2010

Unwrapping the Dong

I picked up a copy of The Dong With a Luminous Nose by Edward Lear for the title.  It was wrapped in cellophane, so what lay between the covers was a mystery.  I knew the illustrations would be good, because Edward Gorey is always good, but I was dead curious about what Lear was getting at with this peculiar title.  Was it a book about Vietnamese currency?  Would the words ‘Long’ and ‘Silver’ also appear?  Nah. Too twentieth century.  Turns out, the Dong is just a dong…not a name or an appendage, just the Dong.  Like, the Dude, I suppose, or the Donald.  As for his luminous nose, well, I’ll explain later.

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  • Posted on March 09, 2010

Dear Johnny Depp

I ate Gilbert Grape

I wish to register a complaint. Five years have passed since we were subjected to that disturbing image of you as Willy Wonka in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. I had hoped that by now you would have moved beyond children’s literature in favour of something better suited to your predilections, like artistic director at Neverland Ranch.

However, with the release of Alice in Wonderland it appears that we are to be afflicted with yet another tiresome, fetishistic take on a classic literary character. I have not seen the movie, but I have seen enough to know that your visual interpretation of the Mad Hatter is creepy. Not inspired, not delightful, not even whimsical, just creepy. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is indeed, a strange book, and in the 145 years since its publication in 1865, it has proven time and again to be a deep rabbit-hole of inspiration for artists of all persuasions, including actors. And now, I suppose it’s your turn.

This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed some of your films, especially the tastier ones like Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but I have come to the conclusion that you must be bored, and for reasons better left unexplored, extreme makeup does it for you.  It amuses you, and it amuses your partner in cosmeticological crimes, Tim Burton.

But public self-gratification does not amuse me, most of the time, and I think it would be a mistake to regard your affectations as anything but self-serving.

You sir, are a creeper, as my nieces would say.

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  • Posted on March 02, 2010

Guardian of My Being

You know, I’m really having trouble with this post.  First of all, the Olympic hockey finals are on and the American team just scored a goal in the last twenty seconds of the third period, tying the game. Cheese and crackers!  Now we have to go into overtime. However, as distracted as I may be by a little rubber puck, the real reason this entry is proving so difficult is that Patrick McDonnell is my hero, and I don’t know how to write about heroes.

One could argue that all of my posts thus far have been about hero worship, but my feelings for Patrick McDonnell go beyond an admiration for his extraordinary talent as an artist and humourist. This is a man who exemplifies kindness.  It informs and connects all of his beastly projects, from his comic strip Mutts to his work on the board of the American Humane Society. And it’s kindness that permeates his latest book, Guardians of Being.

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