Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Willows & Pan, plus SPLASH! and Marmosets

Last year I saw that Vintage Classics in the UK was running a competition for children to design a cover for their new edition of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. The winner was decided a while ago, but it was only the other day that I first saw the winning design in the flesh. I really like it:

Says the designer, Harry Jones, who is 12: "When I painted it I was in a production of the play. A lot of it is about Mole and Rat rowing on the river and messing about in boats so I thought that portrayed the book quite well... It took me about an hour and a half to paint, quite a long time. I did it one Saturday afternoon in the summer. I drew the characters first and then began adding the banks. I've used watercolour a few times before."

Vintage are running another competition now for children to design the cover for a new edition of Barrie's Peter Pan. You have to be between 7 and 12, so I'm not sure how many readers of this blog would qualify (and if you do, sorry about all the swearing). However, some of you may have small readers in the household who can get themselves an early start in the field of book design.

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To other matters: Natasha Rosen of the rather groovy Lotus Notebooks has been kind enough to present me with a Splash award.

The Splash award is given to alluring, amusing, bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs. When you receive this award, you must:
1. Put the logo on your blog/post.
2. Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash award.

In a previous post I Premios Dardo-d a bunch of my favourite blogs, so if you haven't read that then you should. But this gives me a chance to highlight some of my other favourites...

Besides the Lotus Notebooks itself (I'm not sure if you can reflect these awards back, but if you could I would: Ms Rosen writes very entertainingly and wisely on art, literature, happiness and the difficulties of teaching Kerouac to recalcitrant students, plus she introduced me to this amazing photo by Mary Ellen Mark...

..), I nominate these other blogs as being Splash-worthy and well worth your investigating:

ZOO IN THE HEAD: He's only been blogging since February, but Robert Hanks has already got one of my favourite blogs going: old Penguin covers, wise words, great literature, funny jokes and actual zoo coverage. How can you go wrong?

WEEKEND STUBBLE: Paul Collins is a great and entertaining writer (see Banvard's Folly and Sixpence House, among others), and his blog is a great guide to misguided genius, forgotten literature, mad science and Japanese rock music. Plus, he's the man who brought English As She is Spoke back into print (see below).

THE FATE OF THE ARTIST: Scottish (but now Brisbane-based) comics artist and writer Eddie Campbell is one of the giants of his field. His "daily blogospherical publication" is a fascinating soup of comics observations and memoirs, strange news stories, extremely personal but extremely well-considered theories on art, jokes and music. if you haven't read any of his Alec books (soon to be reprinted in one massive compendium), you should seek them out.

MIMI SMARTYPANTS: Very funny observations on life, parenthood, editing, riding public transport in Chicago and dealing with fuckwits (the last two not always being seperate things).

NOT ALWAYS RIGHT: Not exactly a blog, but I'm giving these awards and I'm making the rules. A compendium of appalling retail experiences, from the point of view of the suckers behind the counter. If you've ever worked in a bookshop, welcome to hell.

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Now, about English As She is Spoke: this unintentionally hilarious and deeply mad little book from the mid-1800s (a condensed version of The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English) is by José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino, though exactly which did what to whom is a bit of a mystery. It's a Portuguese-English dictionary and phrasebook, written with the massive problem that neither author actually knew any English.

Unwilling to let this deficit stop them the authors ploughed ahead using Portuguese-French and a French-English dictionaries to produce their own work. The resulting sample English conversations and 'Idiotisms & Proverbs' are surreal and wonderful.

Some samples: first, a "Familiar Dialogue" - With a hair dresser.

A: Your razors, are them well?
B: Yes, Sir.
A: Comb-me quickly; don't put me so much pomatum. What news tell me? all hairs dresser are newsmonger.
B: Sir, I have no heared any thing.

A "Familiar Anecdote":

'At the middle of a night very dark, a blind was walk in the streets with a light on the hand and a full jar upon his back. Some one which ran do meet him, and surprised at that light: "Simple that you are," told him, "what serve you this light? The night and the day are not them the same thing by you!"--"It is not for me," was answering the blind, "that I bring this light, it is to the and that the giddie swhich seem to you do not come to run against me, and make to break my jar."'

And some of those "Idiotisms":

* Nothing some money, nothing of Swiss.
* He sin in trouble water.
* A bad arrangement is better than a process.
* He has a good beak.
* After the paunch comes the dance.
* Of the hand to mouth, one lose often the soup.
* To craunch the marmoset.
* To make paps for the cats.
* To come back at their muttons.

Mark Twain said of this book: "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect."


Natasha Rosen said...

Thanks for the plug, JRSM. :) Also, I have put "The Fate of the Artist" in my "blogs I follow" queue. Good call.:)

Natasha Rosen said...

Also, Zoo in the Head: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombees" hee-hee.

And The "Blog" of "Unnecessary Quotation Marks
(Today's post: I'm "working")

Ok, so now I too will get back to "working."

JRSM said...

Just as long as you're not craunching any marmosets!