• Posted on December 30, 2010

A Tin Heart

You’ve got to hand it to the old fairy tales~they always go for the gut-wrench. Or perhaps it’s a Hans Christian Andersen thing, or maybe even a Danish thing (without the delicious fruity filling.) In Andersen’s The Little Matchgirl, a poor waif freezes to death on New Year’s Eve while selling matches for her abusive father. In The Red Shoes, a haughty young girl is ‘rewarded’ with a pair of enchanted shoes that, as the Captain and Tennille song says, can’t stop dancing, even after the exhausted girl has chopped off her own feet. In 19th century children’s literature, behaviour had real consequences. No time-out chairs for that lot.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier is lighter fare, for sure, especially as depicted by the great Fred Marcellino, but nevertheless an ill-fated destiny awaits these star-crossed lovers, one made of tin and the other, a ballerina, made of paper, and the effect is, well, gut-wrenching.

Good thing the pictures are so pretty.

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  • Posted on December 24, 2010

Picks & Tweets from The Illustrated Word

Molly and bell

It’s the day before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for my cat shredding the wrapping paper and dive bombing my meticulously decorated packages. Ah well. She’s got a bad case of seasonally festive disorder, as do I, except that I have thus far refrained from destructive outbursts. I’m saving it for Boxing Day at the Mall. And now, a few last Christmassy tweets from the around the online corner~

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  • Posted on December 17, 2010

Little King December

In this strange and beautiful book, an unnamed man relates the story of December II, the little pot-bellied king who visits the man from time to time, when the mood strikes. In King December’s world, you are big, and then you become small, and most curiously, you are born knowing everything you will ever know. As one would imagine in such a relationship, there are many things to ponder, on both sides, although surprisingly the presence of the miniature royal is never really questioned. “I’m only here because you wished it.” Well, maybe.

For many reasons, Little King December defies categorization. It is not a Christmas book exactly, but it belongs to the sugar plum month of December, from which the King’s own royal name derives, as sure as the ghost stories of Charles Dickens and Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express. The melancholic aching for things lost is the stuff of adulthood, but Little King December is distinctly childlike in its wide-eyed embrace of the whimsical and the wondrous. Familiar territory, in other words, for the absurdist German painter, Michael Sowa, the not so little King of Quirk.

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  • Posted on December 08, 2010

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

Molly looks for Santa under the tree

December Will be Ma-ha-ha-gic again…to quote the great, and frequently loopy Kate Bush. Time to set aside our petty grievances and direct our slightly distracted synapses to things of a more spiritual nature, like fistfulls of shortbread and repeated viewings of Mr Bean getting a turkey stuck on his head.

To that end, here are few festively coloured sprinkles from the internet this week~

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  • Posted on December 03, 2010

To Catch a Kringle

I discovered this book, as I often do, by trolling online. Viewing the cover of The Santa Trap, my credit card was once again lured out of the fetid darkness of my purse and into the light of literary (and consumer) joy. Now that I’ve read the book several times, and poured over the luminous illustrations by Argentinian artist Poly Bernatene, I am of course, hooked. Everything about this book is a joy, and with all the Holy Seriousness found in so many of the festive selections this time of year, it’s awfully nice to find a book that is just flat out funny.

The Santa Trap is a brat story, and like all brat stories, an obnoxious kid will at some point throw a show stopper of a tantrum. Enter little Bradley Bartleby, a sociopath in short pants, who will take his hissy fit to an entirely new level of malevolence. To quote the stamp on the back cover of The Santa Trap,

“WARNING: contains no peace and goodwill.”

Ho, ho, and HO!

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