July 26th, 2010


Morning musings

I have eaten two of the scones I made this morning (and they are scrumptious - you are welcome to have some if you can get here today!) and am enjoying my morning tea while listening to the cicadas chittering in the trees. It is a lovely morning here in New Jersey - a quick-moving cold front came crashing through late yesterday afternoon, so this morning is clear and sunny and temperate with just a bit of a breeze.

I am not a morning person, really, by which I mean that if left to my own devices, I'd stay up until about 1 a.m. and sleep until around 9:30. But this morning, I had to take M to work. She is babysitting for Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi over at angeladegroot's house, and had to be there by 7 a.m. It's a seven-minute drive when there's no traffic, so naturally, M wanted to leave by 6:30. (She is nothing if not responsible.) Our morning stop at Wawa (a regional chain of mini-marts, which I really think are the best mini-marts in the U.S.) netted M the same thing you always find at that hour at Wawa: contractors and health-care workers coffee and a muffin. (And no, I am not afraid that the coffee will stunt her growth - the child is 1/2" shy of 6 feet tall.)

After I dropped M off, I started noticing how virtuous I felt, being up and around early. (Look! I'm up and around before other people! It's a miracle!) And then I got to thinking about how productive I feel on days when I actually get up early. Here it is, my preferred wake-up time, and I've already made scones, cleaned the kitchen, started a second load of laundry, and put air in my tires. Except that I am now precariously close to face-planting, and I am afraid that it will require massive amounts of caffeine and willpower for me to stay up and actually get anything else accomplished today. I'd blame the carbs in the scones, but it's really just a lack of sleep.

And now, to see if I can stay awake until the HVAC guy turns up "late this morning". I do not know what time that means. Could mean 9:45, could mean 3 p.m.

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a book at her side

The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier

Right there, at the top of the cover, is a blurb from Brian Selznick, author/illustrator of the extremely engaging The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I hear is going to be a movie starring (wait for it) people including Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, and Christopher Lee. And there was much rejoicing! But I digress. The Selznick blurb says "Be prepared. You're going to love it."

Well, Mr. Selznick, let me tell you something. You were absolutely correct! It only took a few pages of this graphic novel to capture my attention (and affection) hook, line and sinker. (See what I just did there?) It opens with a boy (the terribly clever Walker Bean) interacting with his grandfather, who is telling him wild stories - like the Princess Bride, only not, because in this case, Walker and his grandfather are about to become part of the story.

I frankly don't want to tell you all that much about the plot, except to say that involves pirates, cursed skulls, sea-crab merwitches, rat-like monkeys, corrupt naval officers (including Walker's own father - *shakes fist at Walker's father*), a girl called Genoa who has some funny-looking ears, a boy named Gustavo Cuchillo (called "Stiv"), a dog named Perrogi, an eye-patch wearing granny/cook who has a mechanical teapot named "Stout" to do her bidding (Stout slices, dices and julienne fries - but wait! there's more!). There are inventions and contraptions and devices. There are adventures and misadventures and mishaps. There are maps and a forgotten language that can be decoded using a handy-dandy drawing on page 103. There is, quite obviously, far more going on here than meets the eye and, moreover, there is obviously an entire history leading up to this book, including folklore and legends and songs.

And the art. Oh, the art. *swoon* The contraptions and devices are so cool, and the images are all made of awesome. And Alec Longstreth, who did the color, was a genius. All the dark blues and blacks and greys of the night shots are terrific. And the cover image above isn't nearly as awesome as the actual cover, on which the words "Walker Bean" are not yellow print, but gold foil (or whatever it is one uses on covers).
You can see some of the inside spreads in Aaron Renier's blog post about the book, and you can see more by going to Amazon.com, you'll be able to "look inside the book" and see actual pages. Although - here. You can look at one page here, okay?

This book is, I am sorry to tell you, not available until September.

But if you like graphic novels and/or pirates and/or legends and/or adventures and/or sea goddesses/monsters/myths and/or Atlantis, put this on your must-buy list. Meanwhile, I shall continue to quietly gloat over the review copy that the good folks at :01 (First Second) were kind enough to send me.

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