Articles by " Blair"
8 Jun
2013

KU’s Book Bites: Soon I Will Be Invincible

soon

Sweet hel­met, bro.

Soon I Will Be Invin­ci­ble by Austin Gross­man

What do you do when you find out your heart is the wrong kind?” asks the super-vil­lain of this sto­ry, Dr. Impos­si­ble. This comic book turned lit­er­ary fic­tion answers this ques­tion through the alter­nat­ing per­spec­tives of super vil­lain and super­hero.  I am so excit­ed about this book I can’t stand it, I am in full nerd mode already search­ing out the author online hop­ing he will be my friend. The devel­op­ment of each char­ac­ter is stun­ning not only in sub­stance but also tim­ing; the unbe­liev­ably rich orig­in sto­ries of each hero/villain unfold them­selves sud­den­ly and unex­pect­ed­ly-and they’re AWESOME! One min­ute you’re immersed in an epic bat­tle and the next you’re learn­ing about what Dr Impos­si­ble was like in high school, that his name was Jonathan, that you knew a guy like him, and that may­be things would have been dif­fer­ent if he got the girl.  But now, he’s fight­ing off a pot­bel­ly and liv­ing in a motel, plan­ning his next scheme to con­quer the world on his 12th attempt.  It’s got oth­er dimen­sions, time trav­el, aliens, armies of algae and fun­gus-what else could you pos­si­bly ask for?

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21 Jun
2012

Go Skateboarding Day! Or, Remember When I Was Cool?

That’s me in the mid­dle. Wear­ing one ear­ring.

Oh Josh Brolin, you will always be Corey from the best skate movie ever made. Thrash­in, 1986.

oh josh.

Robert Rusler

Douchey Weird Sci­ence Ver­sion.

Because didn’t every­one have skate gang fights with weapons?  I had a huge thing for Robert Rusler,  who was also in Weird Sci­ence as RDJ’s douchey friend. And Now he looks like Huey Lewis! It’s WEIRD! Oh aging.  And then there was Gleam­ing the Cube which was only cool because Tony Hawk was Chris­tian Slater’s stunt dou­ble. The trail­er is HILARIOUS Oh, the excite­ment of a fresh­ly paved street, the thrill of a fresh curb to wax, the smell of a new deck, the inabil­i­ty to let go of the old one, the rush of land­ing your first kick flip, the dis­ap­point­ment of nev­er get­ting bet­ter than that,  the awk­ward­ness of pre­tend­ing you can total­ly do lots of oth­er tricks.   It was my favorite thing in the world to get a new CCS cat­a­logue and see the new decks from my favorite com­pa­nies, Ele­ment, Girl, Alien Work­shop, Plan B, Black Label and cir­cle my favorites as if I could have them all. I got my favorite t-shirt from that cat­a­logue, the Girl brand logo. The logo was big­ger on the one I had, this is the clos­est image I could find:

My first wheelz

Just see­ing the­se images again makes me all aflut­ter! And no, I didn’t use that word when I was skat­ing. I can’t remem­ber what brand of deck I had because it was a hand-me-down whose art had been ground off over the years. It was given to me by a skate god, Straight Edge Scot­ty Zorn. Scott and his friend Steve (sounds like a gay porn) were leg­ends. I think I was 12 or 13 and they were 18 when I first saw them skate. When Scott saw my inter­est he gave me one of his old decks and at first I just dru­eled on it a lot.  I even­tu­al­ly got my first set of wheels from Spit­fire and some hand-me-down trucks and I was ready. The first thing I did was some­thing I would nev­er in a mil­lion years do today; I rode down the hill that I lived at the top of, going a mil­lion miles an hour, hit grav­el, got thrown straight into the pave­ment, loved it, got up and did it again. I had stones in my knees for weeks. Remem­ber when injuries were a badge of hon­or? And now I whine end­less­ly when I get a splin­ter.  I’m pret­ty annoy­ing.  Scott also gave me my first few skate tapes that I still have on VHS. My broth­er and I would watch them and then go skate in the dri­ve­way. We found what­ev­er we could to jump over, but I think a laun­dry bas­ket was what we most­ly used. And by we I mean my broth­er, because I could nev­er make it. I became so obsessed with learn­ing how to do a kick flip but nev­er learned how to do one while mov­ing, which, you know, is kind of the point. My calves would be so sore from hours of try­ing them in my garage at night.

The City Kids

I became friends with some skate kids called the bor­ough boys and they would pick me up to go skate at the Plaza. The­se are some of my fondest mem­o­ries.  Some­times we would go down­town to skate with the “city kids”, they were oh so cool…it seemed like that was the only world they lived in, like they didn’t go to school or have par­ents. They just skat­ed. We would con­gre­gate at the gaze­bo and they would jump off of it mid trick. Some of my favorite down­town mem­o­ries are dur­ing win­ter; we would go to the park­ing garages and spend hours and hours there until we lost track of time, lost track of day or night. Oh to be young! Ran­dom side sto­ry but not actu­al­ly that random…the shirt I’m wear­ing in the pic to the right-the Bor­ough
Boys pic–here’s the sto­ry behind it. Gath­er round chill­ins. In 8th grade on a “Jeans Day ” Fri­day ay my Catholic school, I cried and cried because I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to go  because I got made fun of for the clothes I wore–I was basi­cal­ly a tomboy and wore skater clothes. So, my mom drove me to my favorite skate shop and we bought that shirt because it said ” You Can’t Bring Me Down” and I went to school feel­ing so good, and have forever thanked my moth­er for it.

Ok. Sap time over. Go skat­ing. Watch some Rod­ney Mul­len and get your mind blown. Don’t be afraid to break a cou­ple bones. (Unless you don’t have health insur­ance. Then may­be just cruise a lil bit down a nice­ly paved road.) Here’s to youth, and to Scott Ker­sh­n­er, the hub­by of the own­er here at KU, who is the coolest 42 yr old I know. Not only does he have great war sto­ries of his wilder days on wheels, AND the coolest col­lec­tion of shoes, but he built a RAMP in his back yard. Scott, I need a dad, you need a daugh­ter. Let’s do this.

Down­town Gaze­bo

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8 May
2012

In Memory of Maurice Sendak

We are sad to hear of the pass­ing of one of our favorite humans. We look back on an ode we wrote for him in 2011:

Ok before I get start­ed, we need to get some­thing adorable out of the way. Some­thing that will bias you into lov­ing this man like I do.

This is Sendak’s dog Her­man. NAMED AFTER HERMAN MELVILLE. SITTING ON A WILD THINGS RUG. I KNOW. IT’S AMAZING. It’s true. It’s all true. The dog. The Melville. The rug. It’s all true.
He was once quot­ed in an inter­view on PBS about Melville, “My gods are Her­man Melville, Emi­ly Dick­en­son, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart.” IKNOWRITE. Swoon. For being a children’s book author, he’s not really…child-like…so to speak. He attrib­ut­es this dif­fer­ence between him­self and oth­er typ­i­cal children’s book authors–especially when he start­ed out–to his Jew­ish Euro­pean back­ground. In an inter­view with Npr’s Jen­nifer Lud­den, he remem­bers the many bed­time sto­ries about Jew­ish friends and rel­a­tives dying hor­ri­ble deaths and how it gave him insom­nia, as well as a sense that he could nev­er real­ly be joy­ful in the pres­ence of his par­ents with­out feel­ing guilty. WOMPWOMP. When Wild Things came out, par­ents and librar­i­ans freaked out because they thought it was too scary, lit­tle did they know Sendak’s favorite thing to do is scare chil­dren. True sto­ry. Same inter­view.
Ok so are you ready to hear the most beau­ti­ful thing ever? I can’t wait. I’m doing it now. I’m play­ing my trump card.

I picked a mod­est form…I didn’t have a lot of con­fi­dence, I hid inside this mod­est form called the children’s book and expressed myself entire­ly. I wasn’t going to paint, I wasn’t going to do osten­ta­tious draw­ings, I wasn’t going to have gallery pic­tures, I was going to hide some­where where nobody could find me.”

CCCCCCCCCRRRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG.

This is from an inter­view with Bill Moy­ers, YOU NEED to watch it. It’s only 17 mins. Here, DO IT. And if you want to hear him call Mick­ey Mouse a whore, lis­ten to this inter­view. He used to be obsessed with Mick­ey, in fact was inspired to draw because of Fan­tasia, and has an incred­i­ble col­lec­tion of Mick­ey shiz.

He even wrote Walt Dis­ney a let­ter ask­ing him to adopt him, but nev­er heard back. He has since become dis­il­lu­sioned with Dis­ney, hence the whore com­ment.

Ok here’s the next super awe­some hilar­i­ous thing. After years and years of appren­tic­ing and illus­trat­ing oth­er people’s books (there’s like a bil­lion) he final­ly gets his chance. So he goes to his edi­tor, Ursu­la, whom he describes as “tor­ren­tial” (anoth­er rea­son i love this man) and pitch­es her the title for his yet unwrit­ten book,

 WHERE THE WILD HORSES ARE

I’m sor­ry. I’m not sure you heard me. Let’s try that again. The orig­i­nal title of Where the Wild Things Are was

WHERE THE WILD HORSES ARE

But here’s the best part. He then real­ized he COULDN’T DRAW HORSES. I’m sor­ry. I’m not sure you heard me.

 HE REALIZED HE COULDN’T DRAW HORSES

That’s pret­ty much adorable.

Oh and get this. This is messed up. His book, ‘Out­side, Over There’ pub­lished in 1981, is a sto­ry about a girl who resents her baby sis­ter and then the baby gets stolen by gob­lins and she has to go into the gob­lin world to res­cue her. Now let me tell you about a movie called Labyrinth from 1988. It’s a sto­ry about a girl who resents her baby broth­er and the the baby gets stolen by gob­lins and she has to go into the gob­lin world to res­cue him. I don’t think you heard me. A sto­ry about a girl.…ok i won’t.

Oh and also get this. He illus­trat­ed an unpub­lished edi­tion of the Hob­bit. It’s part of the Rosen­bach Muse­aum and Library in Philly along with thou­sands of pieces of Sendak mem­o­ra­bil­ia. Oh and get this. Spike Jonze made a doc­u­men­tary about him called ‘Tell Them Any­thing You Want’ which fol­lows Sendak dur­ing the mak­ing of Where the Wild Things Are–a movie that I want tat­tooed all over my body, all the images in it, on my body, for always.

 

 

Thanks Mau­rice, for hid­ing in the­se books, for express­ing your­self entire­ly, and for bring­ing out the beasts.
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7 May
2012

We LIVE for Children’s Book Week!

Lim­it­ed Edi­tion KU Book­marks!

Ok, so children’s books usu­al­ly make me do one of two things: cry or laugh, much like my two reac­tions to wasabi. So I’m going to tell you about my new favorite cry and laugh tales in hon­or of Children’s Book Week, which is weird, because we real­ly like to talk about the clas­sics. A lot. But the new kids on the block are pret­ty cool too and we thought we’d intro­duce you in case you hadn’t met, so that at the next par­ty you go to you can impress peo­ple. You should make sure to have one of the­se AMAZINGLY AWESOME FREE BOOKMARKS YOU SEE ABOVE because we are also amaz­ing and awe­some. It’s how we roll. Start your child off on the right path by teach­ing them NOT TO DOG EAR PAGES! Now there are staff who vehe­ment­ly dis­agree with me and think it’s ok to deface the writ­ten word with a painful and cru­el crease, BUT THIS IS MY BLOG AND I DO WHAT I WANT. Ok now that you know where I stand on book­marks, (I know it was keep­ing you up at night) let’s get down to gold safe­ty pins. I mean brass tacks. WORD PLAY! GOTCHA! That’s the kind of fun you can have read­ing kids books, because children’s book authors are the wis­est, clev­er-est, best-est thinkers in the whole wide world and although you think their gram­mar is sim­ple and some­times non­sen­si­cal, their words are some of the truest ever writ­ten. Despite my abil­i­ty to run-on, I think brevi­ty is beau­ti­ful. I like to pack in in. (Ew.) Children’s book author’s are the best at this; they man­age to take all the big heavy mean­ing­ful stuff and put it through the sieve that is the heart of a child. As we grow up, we just com­pli­cate things with lan­guage. So with­out fur­ther ado…

The Heart and Bot­tle by Oliv­er Jef­fers

The AWESEOME SECRET COVER of The Heart and Bot­tle

The cov­er of this book is enough rea­son to crack it open.  BUT HERE’S THE THING. THIS IS A SECRET SO COME CLOSER.…so this isn’t the ACTUAL cov­er. The actu­al cov­ers we had were torn so we undressed them and THIS was under­neath! Why you would cov­er up this cov­er with a cov­er is just crazy talk. So, we’ve decid­ed to dis­play it as such. It’s like you’re on drugs. fun for you AND the kids! But seri­ous­ly the cov­er rules. It’s got space, whales, squir­rels, ele­phants, Buck­ing­ham Palace Guards, bees on fire, yes i said bees on fire, and yel­low duck­ies. Ya that’s just the cov­er. It begins with illus­tra­tions of the many curiosi­ties in a lit­tle girl’s head; in one of my favorite images she is under the water pass­ing by a whale and the lit­tle speech bub­ble says, “oh, hel­lo” and anoth­er favorite is a ship falling off the edge of the world. BUT I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE BEES ON FIRE. BUT WAIT I HAVEN’T EVEN TALKED ABOUT THE BEST PARTTHE WWUUURRDDDSSS! And the point they make in sen­tence form. Some like to call it the lesson, the moral of the sto­ry, the point, if you will. You might cry. I may have cried. If we’re being hon­est here. And I think we are. I’ll just say this; any sto­ry that reminds adults to be child-like is.….wait hold on…crying again…ok …any sto­ry that reminds us what our hearts were like when we were small is my kind of sto­ry. This is one of those books ; that tran­scends age; it’s for all of us. YAY!

 

Leon and the Place Between by Gra­hame Bak­er-Smith

Cov­er of Leon & The Place Between. I KNOWRITE!

With a rip­ple of gold braid, the cur­tains slow­ly part­ed… Leon could smell the mag­ic”
“Where am i? asked Leon.
“This is the place between,” said the boy.
“Between what?”
“Between there and back again. This is the place where mag­ic sends you.”

Hold on i’m cry­ing, I just fin­ished this.
Ok. I’m ok. Let’s talk.  This is a book that has that Peter Pan-esque “if you believe” vibe AND it has absurd­ly gorge illus­tra­tions so it’s a win win. The cov­er is what first drew me in, (because you know, that’s how that works) but the sto­ry kept me there. My favorite part about this sto­ry is that instead of a spe­cial girl or boy expe­ri­enc­ing an adven­ture (whoch does hap­pen) Leon assures his friends that any­one can go where he went, as long as they believe. SOBBBBB.

 

 

 

Then there is the stun­ning “Snow Rab­bit, Spring Rab­bit” by Il Sung Na:

This makes me want bun­nies and sheep bad­ly!

A page from Snow Rab­bit, Spring Rab­bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a sim­ple yet love­ly tale about the chang­ing of the sea­sons. A cute bun­ny peeks in on var­i­ous ani­mals as they hiber­nate or migrate and its ter­ri­bly sweet and beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed.

Don’t like cry­ing or being swept off your feet by the won­der of a beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten children’s book but do enjoy laugh­ing at some­times cold and harsh real­i­ty of kar­ma? Then check out the adorable, no gim­micks tale “I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klas­son.

I Want My Hat Back

 

This was a won­der­ful sur­prise for us when we read it; word spread through the unbreak­able KU grape-vine to check it out and check it out we did. Now we are spread­ing the word to you! Vot­ed one of the 10 Best Illus­trat­ed Books of 2011 by the NyTimes, its illus­tra­tions are clean and sim­ple. If you want some­thing dif­fer­ent, check this AHT.  See also: “Wal­ter the Fart­ing Dog”, and “Poop”.

Tell us your favorites!

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