Monday, September 26, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: Raggedy Ann & Andy: An Adaptation [Book Review]

"Raggedy Ann & Andy: An Adaptation" is a book written by Kathleen N. Daly. It was published in 1977. The book was an adaptation of the animated motion picture "Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure." The illustrations in the book are actual screenshots from the movie and actually work really well in the book. Usually when adaptation books do this, it's just terrible.

This book is much more appropriate for a fairy tale blog. It is a living toy story where the toys come to life outside the view of the child who owns them. There are a lot of books in the Raggedy Ann series, but this one is far more interesting and entirely appropriate for both children and adults, boys and girls. A lot of what the toys encounter on their adventure outside of the house is very trippy in the extreme while still being meaningful.

The world inside this little girl's room is quite normal, but everything outside of it is bizarre and dreamlike. Not a bad thing! It forces you to question what is really going on. Is this real, or is this apart of some external imagination? Either way, the dolls don't question it at all. They simply deal with each and every thing, one after another. And really, who cares?! It ends up being a great adventure!

Some parts of the story are scary. There is a creature called "The Greedy," that is a sloppy creature made of candy. Although he seems to have everything, he won't be satisfied until he has a sweetheart. Unfortunately, that's what Raggedy Ann has as a heart, so he intends to cut out her heart and eat it. Very scary! I like the severity though, even for a children's book.

I don't want to spoil everything about this book, but I do want to warn you about something I found out after finishing it. The blurb on the back of the book completely spoils the entire book, 100%. It eloquently goes over every single thing that happens in the entire story to the point where you don't really have to read it. My friend told me it was probably indented to inform the parents, so that they could decide whether or not the book was appropriate for their child. Fair enough.

I don't think the book is really all that inappropriate though. Even for boys, the story kind of works because of Raggedy Andy. He is not a girly doll, but a tough guy who wants to fight, despite being a raggedy doll. He adds a much needed masculine aspect to the story.

The book I got was in good condition. It said it originally sold for $2.95 back in 1977. I got it for a little over $5.00. That means that this book is not, in any way, considered a collectable. So paying for it won't be a problem. Finding it though may be a challenge. I feel like I kind of got lucky.

Either way, I do recommend the book "Raggedy Ann & Andy: An Adaptation" in and of itself. The movie is better, and you should see it, but the book was fun to read outside of the movie. They are both really good, and I am glad that they exist in this world. Slight warning about the movie though: it's only available on YouTube. Do yourself a service and give it a watch.

This blog was written on August 18, 2022.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Black Cat [Short Story Review]

"The Black Cat" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in 1843. It is, for all intense and purposes, a alternative take on "The Tell-Tale Heart" but with some characters and motives switched around... and the inclusion of a cat.

It's okay. It's not the best thing I've read from this author, but I could not resist the urge to write about it because of my friend Chris. Every Halloween, Chris makes these little picture movies about a black cat named Vincent. Although heavily leaning into comedy, there are actually some very serious topics that are dealt with in them.

In these little movies, Vincent is an evil cat who is manipulating the humans around him. In the case of "The Black Cat," the main feline of the book, named Pluto, could have just as easily been Vincent. For one, the human's evil actions seemed to come out of nowhere. The whole thing sounds like manipulation from an outside source, namely the black cat.

I know this is kind of a silly thing to say, but I actually wouldn't mind seeing a "Vincent interpretation" of this particular story of Poe in one of those movies. I think they would work together. But maybe that's too much to ask for.

I still recommend "The Black Cat" if anything for its brevity. Just keep in mind that it is not quite as good as some of his other works. And maybe someday, I'll see the Vincent version. It would be a major improvement.

This blog was written on August 7, 2022.

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow [Book Review]

Many, many years ago while I worked in retail, there was a mysterious, smiling man that would come in as a customer. His name was and probably still is Walter. This guy was kind of creepy at first, and it was probably due to the smiling and his sort of weird way he stared at me. There was also these strange pauses that he would make before he would respond to me. The man looked like he was in his own world, but there was a special attention being paid to me... and I was never sure why.

Over the course of perhaps a month or so, he would occasionally walk into the store to buy something or other, but mostly to visit me and just have a little chat. He talked about a lot of fascinating subjects, usually having to do with far off places. He fiddled around with the idea of living in my town, but he never really seemed like he could settle anywhere. Walter was a man of the wanderlust.

After learning that I wrote and read books, he brought in one particular book that he wanted me to read. He gave it a good review himself, and he seemed like he really wanted me to read it. He was more than happy to part with this beloved book with the hopes that I would eventually get around to it. I was a tad nervous about this. I almost never read recommended books from people because I have my own queue of books I want to tackle. But I accepted it. I don't know why really. Walter just... has this lovely way about him. He's charming. He's ridiculously charming, and so I took it... and didn't read it for literal years.

Soon after, Walter drifted out of my life. I moved on to a new job. I always wondered if I'd see him again, but the man just poofed out of existence like a fairy. I'll never forget him. As brief as our time together was, he reminded me that there was more to life than just jobs and survival. There is a beauty to life that people often forsake, which brings me to that book.

"The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow" is a long, non-fiction novel written by Alexander James Mackinnon. It was published in 2002. Its subtitle is listed as "A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea."

The "Mirror" listed there refers to a Mirror Dinghy, which is a type of small sailing vessel. The whole book is about one man's very long journey on a tiny boat for no other reason but to do it. Perhaps it was a little foolhardy, but he just wanted to do it, and so he did.

The voyage lasted just under a year, and he had to pass through over 200 locks which are these special man-maid structures that allow boats to travel up river. It's kind of a pain though. It's a big deal in the book and something he had to suffer through quite often.

The thing that makes the book amazing though is that this author is just such a nice guy. He's friendly, jolly, and his happiness seems to rub off on random strangers. So many times in the story does random people go out of their way to give him a bed and a dinner. It happened all over the place, even in countries where he did not know the language. Yes, there were some bad people too, but they were in the minority.

The thing that really just blows my mind about the whole thing is just how wonderful this man was. He would happily sing a song as the wind guided him down the water. He often describes the nature that he sees, and would even occasionally just spend some time laying out in a field here and there until the dew settled on him overnight... along with the slugs. (He didn't like the slugs.)

Another thing that really made me happy was that, for the most part, he read most of the same books I did, and he constantly made references to them as the voyage went on. I always knew what he was getting at. It was also nice to see a lot of casual references to Christianity without really being preachy about it. His constant sense of humor was like a fresh breeze, and I really wish I could have met him in person to talk about his adventure.

I don't normally like non-fiction, but this is a non-fiction that reads like fiction. You have this eccentric, pith helmet, wearing man just striking out into an adventure and seeing some of the most amazing fairy tale-like things. It's really just great. I can't recommend this book enough. It's honestly made me want to go sailing myself.

Before I end this blog, I do want to say a few things. The last bunch of blogs entitled "My Reading Habits" were painstakingly written in AJ Mackinnon's humorous style. It was just a little exercise I wanted to give myself before I finished his book. I'm pretty happy with them.

And lastly, I also want to give a profound thanks to Walter for gifting me this book. I think it is only fair I do the same to someone else to keep the "tradition" going. Thank you, Walter. I hope you are having a good life wherever you might be. I'll be praying for you.

This blog was written on August 5, 2022.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: My Reading Habits, Part 6 (Final)

With few exceptions, the last chapter of a book tends to feel long to me. It's not because I am reading it slowly. It's more so that I am rather eager for the blasted thing to end. Even so, I am taking every iota of information in, especially here. This is the place where everything counts. Sure, it's just the resolution, but it's good to see everything play out smoothly.

The exception I mentioned earlier has to do with books that make incredibly short final chapters. I'm not talking about epilogues here. I mean final chapters that can barely be bothered to have more than seven paragraphs. It's almost as if the author was about as eager to wrap up the book as I was reading it. If that's the reason, then I think I appreciate the fellow. He understood the massive disservice he was committing to his loving readers. He knew his book was so incredibly well-written that it would trap them for months in the act of simply trying to finish his book. It's all about closure, you see.

But, whether it be for the author or for the reader, the book does need to come to an end. It needs to end. I'm so freaking tired of reading this wonderful thing, and not to mention that next book in line is all set up to take its place. I got places to be and things to do. I have a blog to write as well. You know... for the review.

Funny thing about those reviews: I don't think I've ever enjoyed writing even one of them. It's not that I am unhappy with how they are written, but the very act of writing them is rather aggravating. I also have a rule that I cannot begin the next book until I write that review. So it just ends up being a bother, one that I thoroughly intend to get over with as soon as I possibly can.

But here we are. The final page. It all ends here. All the closure. All the... You know... ending stuff. And... Um... Peace of... mind about... It's just that... Uh. Wait... Where's the ending? Is this book a part of a series? Am I not finished with the story yet? Let me check online.

...

Twelve books?! I have to read twelve books in order to learn everything?! Who does that?! I already had my next book set up! This is just... WRONG! It's immoral! It's inhuman! Isn't there some rule that says you have to tell people that?! Aren't you supposed to put "Book One" on the cover or something?! Why wouldn't they... Oh, wait. Here it is. I guess I didn't see it. Right there at the top too.

Well, it's no matter. I don't have time for such things. Maybe I will return to it later, but for now, I have another book to read! It's time to let the past go and move forward into the future! There's no looking back! It's now or never!

Actually, it might not hurt to keep reading this series for a bit longer. That first book was pretty good. I'll just read this silly old thing later.

...

I don't have a problem.

This blog was written on August 1, 2022.

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Monday, September 12, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: My Reading Habits, Part 5

So I'm about three quarters of the way through. There really isn't much left. I am now officially excited. Incredibly excited. I'm so excited that... to be honest... it's kind of ruining it for me. On the one hand, I am extremely excited that I am about to finish the book, but on the other hand, my excitement is somehow making it go slower. This makes me sad.

Nevertheless, I know the end is near, and I need to begin planning things out. It's like when you know a trip is coming. You have to plan for it before the day gets here. Nobody plans things exactly on the day of travel. That would be a silly thing to do.

When one slot in my book-reading agenda is about to go vacant, I do like to figure out what the next book is going to be. Not that I am not already enjoying the book I am currently close to finishing. I don't mean it as a slight. After all, I've been with this book for a very long time. We've been through a lot together. But I'm a fickle sort of person who tends to run away the moment I'm finished having my fun. "It's not you; it's me," and all that.

Sometimes the choosing phase that I go through here works out, and sometimes it is a very difficult thing. Do I replace it with another book, or slip in a few short stories? What if I can only read one short story? That feels wrong. I mean... it's like going from one big story to a teeny one. I should have at least several of them to make up the space. But there's only one. That won't do. Maybe I can mix a short story with a medium-long large story. Honestly, this sort of decision sometimes takes me weeks to deal with.

The good news is that I still have a couple chapters left, and I think I have enough time to make the call. I can sit back, relax, read at a pace that pleases me, and when I have a little free time, I can peruse over the synopses of potential mates. Let's see here:

"A paraplegic squirrel learns the meaning of love and happiness through his newfound love of nut-shaped origami."

No.

"A trio of chocolate makers accidently turn their entire town into chocolate, but, as it is later revealed, it is only a little girl who dreamed it."

Pass.

"An amazing thing happens that nobody expects, and everyone has to deal with it before its too late. There's also a talking donkey."

Perfect.

This blog was written on August 1, 2022.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: My Reading Habits, Part 4

Reading a long book is a bit like being trapped on a deserted island. You can't get off until you have properly built and tested the damn boat you made out of coconuts and sap. Sure, you could leave before you've made sure it's seaworthy, but you'll probably just sink without knowing just how good that boat could have been.

The point is that you don't want to leave that island half way through the book. This is a very aggravating place to be. Sure, your grandpa might think he is wise when he says, "Oh, but it's all down hill from here, sonny!" What a load of crap. Being at the exact middle of a book simply means you have to do exactly the same amount of stuff that it took you to get there... one more time.

Even if the book is good, you're still bloody obligated to finish it at this point. Throwing it away now would be an absolute crime. You're here for the rest of that journey, and there's nothing you can do about it other than just die. Yeah, that's what it feels like. To a reader that has read any good book half way through, stopping feels like death. So many unanswered questions! It's horrible!

When I turn the book on its side and see the bookmark sticking right out of the middle, I cannot help but scowl. All that work, and all you did was move that far? You couldn't be a quarter ways to the finish, could you? No? Guess you didn't love me after all. Next time, I'm using a different bookmark, you traitor.

It is also about this time that I am fiddling with the idea of what book I will read next, but it's often too bothersome to out rightly decide. What if I choose one that I get really interested in? All that means is I have half a giant book just to get to the fist chapter of the new one. No. I can't bear it! It's too much! I'm trapped on this island until I can properly get this boat in proper order. Nothing else will do.

And, once again, grandpa really didn't understand anything about books. Half way doesn't mean down hill. It means you're about to make the ultimate climb. Things are about to get hard and rocky for me. This is the part of the book that separates the men from the boys. I have to do this. There's no other way off this island. I have to keep reading.

This blog was written on July 27, 2022.

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Monday, September 5, 2022

Fairy Tale Spotlight: My Reading Habits, Part 3

Ah. The completion of the first chapter. Ah. So good. Ah. And the best part of it is that it was actually quite good. The author has a very easy-to-comprehend style, he describes things very well, and the introductory characters are fascinating with an air of mystery into how they will evolve as the story progresses. Ah. I really am enjoying this.

In fact, I am rather impressed I got through the first chapter so well. It was a bit long, but it wasn't so bad. I'm sure I have already breached a good 10% of the book by now. Let me just flip to the end and calculate just how far I've gone.

Ah. Let's see. There's about 400 pages, ah... covering 29 chapters... um... an average of... 20 pages per chapter... eh... Give me a moment to check the word count here. Um. Was this book really this big when I picked it up? Um. Let me just get a calculator and...

Dear God. I've only completed 3% of the entire book. I've barely even... I thought I had... I mean... I know that I've only read the first chapter but... it just seemed like it had been a lot of work. I felt like I had accomplished something... but no. Nothing. It was just a tiny piece of a deceptively long... very long book. Oh, God, it's so long. I'm going to be another age before I finish it.

Maybe, if I redo my calculations, I'll simply realize that I made a mistake and I'll see that it's not quite as long as I thought it was. Yes. I am human. I do make mistakes from time to time. Let's just take a moment to breathe and reassess our situation.

...

What do you bloody mean 2%?! That's worse! I'll be reading this damned thing until the end of time! And what's worse: I can't just stop now! I'm invested! I already want to know what happens to Annie, Fauntleroy, and that weird tap-dancing cat named Doodlehopper! It was a trap!

Wait! Wait! Just calm yourself. Breathe. Relax. You've read long books before. Sure, you thought this one was much shorter, but that's okay. All books end. All you have to do is get there. Besides, you're reading two other books. Yes? Remember those? Yes. You've got plenty of slots to fill with great content. And when one of those books end, you can go right on to the next one.

I take solace in those words. I know that every long story must reach an ending just as easily as it has its beginning. I begin to feel silly. Just a little silly for panicking like I did. I can do this. All I need is time. Ah. Here we go... Chapter 2.

This blog was written on July 27, 2022.

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