Friday, January 25, 2008

Stanley at Sea by Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin

I love Stanley, and if you knew him, you would too. For those of you who aren't in the know, Stanley is a dog, a fictional one. Linda Bailey is his creator and she is about to launch her latest in a perfect trio of picture books about doggie adventures or misadventures to be more accurate; Stanley at Sea. Stanley is a dog who isn't content to sit around waiting for his master. He's thrown a party, gone for a wild ride, and now he and his friends are off to test their sea legs, although not intentionally. A nose for food lures the errant dogs into a boat which drifts out to sea. The pooches are faced with wide open spaces, wild waves and no land in sight. But as all dogs know, no matter where you go, "Outside" has one thing in common, a fence, or does it...?

Bill Slavin's depictions are as full of humour as Bailey's quirky text. You won't want to miss this rollicking new adventure by an unbeatable team. And while you're at it, reacquaint yourself with Stanley's Party and Stanley's Wild Ride. You might find yourself looking at your pets with entirely new eyes.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Golden Compass; the book versus the movie

I'm such a slacker. Yes, I've been reading, but over Xmas I read a few adult mysteries and now I'm in the middle of reading hundreds of kid's stories for the National writing contest sponsored by The Canadian Children's Book Centre. The winners won't be announced until April 1, but I have to read the stories and choose a winner well before then.

In the meantime, I reread Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass and went to the movie. Both are awesome in my opinion, although I would recommend them only for more mature readers and viewers. Pullman's writing can never be matched in film, but Chris Weitz did a fine job bring the book to the big screen; minus a few quibbles of course. I was, for example, disappointed with the oversimplification of Iorek Byrnison's (the armored bear) situation, and the set up at the end of the movie implied a change in who might accompany Lyra in her quest to find dust. On the other hand, Kidman's portrayal of Mrs. Coulter is chillingly real. The controversy seems to be more about Pullman's views than his writing as far as I can see, and the whole idea of the daemons as soul is a most interesting and provocative one. I love that the movie has sparked so much discussion, and renewed interest in what is a very fine book. I do find it strange though, that so many feel qualified to discuss both without having either read the book nor seen the film. Hmmm...