I took some writing workshops led by Thaisa back around the turn of the century, in San Francisco,* and I agree with Yuvi, she is insightful and riveting. I think Yuvi's mind got a bit blown. (He also has a toddler.) I miss Thaisa and her workshops so much!
* Don't I sound all fancy, also ancient? Excuse me now, while I go sort the laundry, clean out the kitty litter box, and shout at my children for shouting.
Oliver Jeffers talks about himself.
I've been feeling very busy and distracted lately and Not Now, Bernard has been on my mind a lot, sort of playing in the background as a warning. It's one of those children's books that seems to be more for the parents than the children, although both my kids get a kick out of this one. (Sylvie is definitely a bit concerned about the monster no one seems to notice, however.)
That's a whole subcategory of children's books, isn't it? Books that pretend they're for children but really they're for the parents. A teacher friend of mine always gets annoyed whenever Love You Forever is mentioned. She insists that it is only of mild interest to children, yet their parents are weeping and swooning away as it's read. I have to agree with her about the effect it has on parents -- it affects me that way -- and she's probably right about its general lack of appeal for kids. I don't think a child would ever pick it as a favourite. Guess How Much I Love You is a bit like that, too. Not that it's always a bad thing, for a picture book to appeal to the parents as much or more than the kids. It's just a bit of a trick. (A trick that often leads to enormous sales, as in the case of both Love You Forever and Guess How Much.) Can you think of any more?
I've been meaning to tell you -- all three of you faithful readers of this blog -- about Blackout and All Clear, sci-fi author Connie Willis's two novels about Oxford history students from the near future who time travel to the London Blitz during WWII. I'm a bit of WWII history buff, particularly when it comes to the lives of civilians and ordinary people during that time. So I found these books riveting, unlike this reviewer for the Guardian, who found the books dull, meandering, and bloated with "great jellied quantities of historical research," and thought the time travel conceit "egregiously handled." (Willis doesn't really need the help of reviewers like that guy, anyway, as she is apparently a huge favourite among the sci-fi crowd.)
I found the books meandering and long, yes, but in that satisfactory way books are long when you are being immersed in a world and you don't want the experience to end. Think the Harry Potter series or some other favourite series from childhood. I had borrowed both books from the library at the same time and I'd recommend doing that, or purchasing them both at the same time, as the first one definitely had an unfinished feel on its own. I do agree with that reviewer on that one point -- they are actually one long book. Contrary to him, though, I found all the research fascinating and enjoyed Willis's devotion to describing details of life during the Blitz . The time travel story raised some questions of logic, as those sorts of stories can't help but do, but overall it was well-done. I highly recommend these books -- they certainly aren't literary fiction but they are smart and absorbing.