June 17, 2009

The Composer is Dead - Lemony Snicket

I've not read the books "A Series of Unfortunate Events," and I don't particularly have a desire to, but this book was hilarious.

In the tradition of Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev) and A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (Britten), it was written to introduce children to orchestral instruments and "classical" music.  It is a picture book with an accompanying CD, however the word play and a lot of the humour would appeal to adults more than children.  I heard part of the story a few weeks ago on In Tune, one of the few CBC Radio 2 programmes that I still listen to (don't get me started!), and was doubled over with laughter.

Maybe it is because I am an occasional musician and former orchestra member that it particularly appealed to me, though my instrument did not fare well.  The flutes were busy doing bird imitations when the composer died, and they claimed to be much to wimpy and high-pitched for murder :-)  Fortunately the piano (my true love) was not involved in the whole scenario!

I loved this book, and can see myself giving copies of it away as gifts in the future!

June 5, 2009

The Little House books - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Summer time is a time for re-reading books.  And even though the weather hasn't turned warm yet, the days are getting long and I spent the last week and a half re-reading the Little House books.  While I am not quite as much of a fan of them as my sister is (I don't know if anyone could beat her - I even made a bonnet for her at one point so that she could pretend to be Laura - and she was 20 years old at the time!), I do enjoy revisiting the series every couple of years.

I never did watch the television show, so I can't make any comparisons here.

Some random thoughts that crossed my head this time through...

I wonder what Laura's Pa and Almanzo's father would have thought of each other?  I bet that Almanzo's father would have thought Pa to be a drifter; lazy and uncommitted.  While Pa would have thought that Almanzo's father was stodgy and boring and unadventurous.

How much bad luck can one family have?  Little House in the Big Woods wasn't bad; but then in Little House on the Prairie, they are just getting settled when they are kicked off their land; On the Banks of Plum Creek is one disaster after another; By the Shores of Silver Lake starts out with the family needing to start over again on top of the family being ill; and in The Long Winter the family almost starves to death.  Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years are a bit more positive, but then Laura and Almanzo's married life starts out with a four year run of bad luck in The First Four Years.

I wonder what would have happened, had the Ingalls family decided to stay in Wisconsin and become settled farmers, rather than moving out west?  Would they have become prosperous land-owners sooner than they did?

Why are the books so appealing, despite all of this bad luck?  I think that it is the love and the bond of family that shines through all of the stories, through good times and bad.

Anyways, just a few random thoughts as I go into the weekend.  I have no idea what book I am going to pick up next.  I had started the latest Anne Michaels book before diving into the Little House series - I may finish that, or I may pick something else up.