Book: The Discovery of Dragons

The Discovery of Dragons
Greame Base
1996

This is a very entertaining book. Like all of Base’s books, it is extraordinarily detailed and beautiful. The book is a collection of letters from three people who are credited with discovering the first and most dragons in three different areas of the world. More dragons exist, but the four most important discoveries of each person are presented with the appropriate letter, a beautiful picture and a pretty border along the bottom illustrating the story told in the letter. Through the course of the book the reader enjoys three amusing stories, learns about twelve dragons, and gets a good idea of the competition going on between the supposed author (Professor Rowland W. Greasebeam) and his colleague.

This book is beautiful and vastly entertaining. I love the large illustrations of each dragon! I think that the fabulous picture of the Welsh Red Dragon is my favourite, but the beautiful image of two Eastern Temple Worms is a very close second! Besides the beautiful dragon illustrations, there are wonderful stylized borders along the bottom of each page illustrating the adventures described in that letter. The nice thing about them is that besides summarizing all of the important (and funny) events described in the letters these borders also give us more information (like what is happening to the recipient back home). This really rounds out what would otherwise be a very simple story.

This is a rather unusual, but wonderful book by Graeme Base. I highly recommend checking it out!

Publisher’s Description
Buy it from Amazon

New Dolls – Alice, Belle and More

This week I have five new pixel dolls to show you! The first is a doll of Matt Rhodes‘s wonderful piece “Alice on the Grass“. I really like how it turned out. I think this is some of my best shading. The second doll is Belle in a ballet outfit from a comic strip in (I think) a french Disney Princess magazine. I just liked the dress and wanted to doll it. The third doll is Felicity from the American Girl dolls series in her (new) Meet Felicity dress. They changed her “Meet” dress at some point and I really don’t know why, but I think it’s kind of cute and decided to doll it. The fourth doll is a mini Barbie based on the My Scene outfit designed by Karen Garrett for “Project Outcast“, which is based on the show “Project Runway”. Check out her site for further explaination. The last doll is Supergirl in her most recent standard costume. I really like this costume (I hated the last one with the white t-shirt and tight mini skirt), so I wanted to doll it. I think it is a much better updating of her classic costume and generally looks really good. The doll isn’t perfect, but she also isn’t symetrical, so I’m proud of her. As always, click on the doll to be taken to the base maker’s site.

Alice on the Grass - Matt RhodesBelle BallerinaMeet FelicityProject Outcast BarbieSupergirl

Four Things Questions

Ok, so I’ve been seeing this meme around and kind of ignoring it, but through Lucy’s not-so-scientific method of tagging at Always Listen to Your Pig Puppet I was sort of tagged. And the meme amused me, so I decided to go for it!

Four Jobs You’ve Had
1. Bookseller at a Barnes and Noble
2. Fabric seller at a Hancock Fabrics
3. Dress seller at a Gantos (I think they have gone out of buisness)
4. Costume Designer for a local children’s theater group

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over
1. Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version with Colin Firth)
2. Return to Oz
3. White Christmas
4. Thumbelina (the animated version)

Four Places You’ve Lived
1. Apartment I’m living in now with my husband
2. The Birdhouse (another apartment with a friend and my then fiance)
3. My parents house in a small town near where I live now
4. Another house owned by my parents in the city (we lived there for something like 15 years)

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch
1. Project Runway
2. Desperate Housewives
3. Charmed (guilty pleasure)
4. Masters of the Universe (I just got the first season box set for Christmas!)

Four TV Shows Your housemates love, which you’ve therefore Actually Watched in the past year
1. Numbers
2. Mythbusters
3. No Reservations (I can’t stand this show)
4. Globetrekkers (can you tell my husband likes travel shows?)

Four Places You’ve Been on Vacation
1. Munich
2. A lot of stuff from here to Chicago to Toronto to New York to Philadelphia to here again
3. A lot of stuff from here to L.A. to San Fransisco to here again
4. Disney World

Four Blogs chosen at random
1. Out of Ambit
2. Introspective Navel Gazing
3. Liana’s Journal (although she hasn’t updated in ages)
4. The Language Guy

Four of Your Favorite Foods
1. Mega Muffins!
2. Corn on the cob
3. Steak cooked rare by someone who knows how
4. Raspberries

Four Places You’d Rather Be
1. by a roaring fireplace
2. Disney World
3. Cambridge, England (Sidney Sussex College, specifically)
4. Ice skating

Four Albums You Can’t Live Without
1. Right now, Wicked
2. Assassins
3. Hercules (the Disney movie)
4. Sweeney Todd

Four Vehicles You’ve Owned
1. I own a car right now, but it’s my first (I’ve been driving it since high school)
2. I had a bike when I was little
3. I remember this great Smurfs bigwheel that I had as a kid
4. We had a red wagon for a while

Four people to tag – I’m stealing Lucy’s idea here – if your birthday is on one of these days of the month, you’re tagged!
1. 9
2. 12
3. 7
4. 14

Poll (Please Answer!)

A few weeks ago (shortly before Christmas, when I had no time to spend researching the idea) my husband made a comment that got me thinking about the perception of unicorns in our society. I don’t usually spend really any time thinking about unicorns, they were never a facination of mine. However, what I’ve been reading and hearing as I look into this further has me even more interested. I certainly want to explore the issue more deeply. Who knows, I may end up writing a paper about it.

So I need more data (at least preliminary data to get me thinking) about what people think about unicorns. So below is a poll. Please answer it. I need as many answers as possible. Feel free to answer anonymously or send me an email at unicorns @ pixiepalace . com if you don’t want people to know what you have to say. Just please be honest! I’ll post about it if anything comes of this research. And I won’t use any quotes or anything from this (unless you give me permission), it’s just for me to see what opinions are out there.

Thank you! I can’t wait to see what people say!

1. What is your age and gender? (This is just for data pattern detection, I really don’t care what your age and gender are.)

2. What do you think of or about unicorns?

3. What do you think of when unicorns are mentioned?

4. What was the last image or reference you remember seeing of a unicorn (s)? Please tell me what you remember about it and what you thought or felt about it.

5. Have you ever seen an image of or heard/read about something about a unicorn(s) that just struck you as wrong? What was the image/reference? Why was it wrong?

6. Have you ever seen an image or or heard/read about something about a unicorn(s) that really stuck with you? Why did it stick with you? What do you remember about it?

7. Is there anything else you have to tell me about unicorns or your reactions/thoughts/feelings/whatever about them?

Two New Dolls

Two new dolls! The first is Cinderella in winter (based on some of the Disney Princess promo art) and the second is an Oscar de la Renta dress that I saw in a magazine. Click on Cinderella for her base. The de la Renta is on my base.

Cinderella in WinterOscar de la Renta Dress

Book: Not in Kansas Anymore

Not in Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic is Transforming America
Christine Wicker
2005

This book was written by a reporter and looks at the various types of “magical thinking” that are common around the country. It tells stories about vampires, elves, hoodooists, and even ghosts. The book describes almost entirely things that Miss Wicker witnessed herself or was told about first-hand. There are a few sections with less direct information (like the chapter that discusses Zora Neale Hurston and her influence on the magical community) that relate less personal information, but that never feels out of place and always ties into some kind of personal experience or discussion.

The book is quite well written and extremely enjoyable to read. The stories are fascinating and often very strange. Her descriptions really drew me into what she was talking about (I really wish I could have met the werewolf she talked to). They made the discussions and stories seem more real (which, of course, they were) as well as conveying quite well the way the writer herself felt about the people and situations. The first-hand perspective of the book is very refreshing and I doubt the book would be nearly as good without it.

Many of the issues and ideas raised by the book are fascinating. I love the history Miss Wicker gives as well as the unique look into a community outside of most people’s experience. My only problem with the book was it’s structure. It was written very much like an article, with lots of stories and few actual conclusions. Few of the interesting issues she raises are actually pointed out and discussed. The subtitle made me expect an essay with some discussion of how magic is transforming America, but the idea itself is never really brought up in the book and the structure is far from being essay-like. I found the stories very interesting and entertaining, but I kept wanting her to make a point of some kind and she never really did. I would have liked some kind of conclusion or at least some questions that are examined and discussed. Instead I got a lot of interesting little human interest stories.

This book is interesting, but don’t expect it to actually discuss the subtitle’s theme much. It gives some fascinating history about the spiritual and magical history of the country and the stories are very enjoyable to read, but I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you really enjoy stories of odd occurrences with little point given.

Publisher’s Description
Christine Wicker’s Website
Book Blog Post
Book Blog Post (Good and Evil)
Book Blog Post (Point?)
Book Blog Post (Storytelling)
Book Blog Post (Grave Dirt)
Book Blog Post (Paths)
Book Blog Post (First-hand Experiences)
Book Blog Post (Geeks and Outcasts)
Book Blog Post (Selfishness)
Book Blog Post (Final Point?)
Buy it from Amazon

Book: The Iron Ring

The Iron Ring
Lloyd Alexander
1997

This book follows the adventures of King Tamar as he journeys to a kingdom he has never heard of to fulfil a destiny he thinks may be a dream. The fictional land that the story takes place in a land that Alexander created using Indian and Hindu stories and mythology. The result is an fascinating world where monkeys can be enchanted people and snakes can talk. The concepts of Dharma and Karma are very important. This is fundamentally a soul-searching quest.

The structure of this book is a pretty typical Alexander adventure story. The king as a vision that causes him to leave home on a quest without any real idea of where he is going. Along the way he assists and meets various different types of people (the monkey king, a beautiful cow tender girl, etc.) who eventually join him on his quest. He is constantly tested and must show that he can follow his dharma. The things that he “knows” are questioned and his view of the world and of people is dramatically altered over the course of the story. This all creates a very interesting and rather cerebral story. As Tamar questions things, so does the reader. It is a wonderfully well done effect that reminds me very much of the legends and stories on which the world is based.

I liked the characters a lot. Mirri (the beautiful cow tender) is a fascinating character who both breaks rules and fearlessly defends them. She is much like some of Alexander’s other feisty female characters, but she is also very different. Nearly everyone on the book finds following one’s dharma to be very important, but for Mirri it means little. She has her set of morality and follows it regardless of the fact that it often conflicts with what would traditionally be considered her dharma. The other characters are also interesting in that they present images of very different types of dharma. What would be morally wrong for Tamar is often morally correct for the monkey king. It makes a very interesting tapestry of characters showing many different ways of viewing the world.

This may be one of Alexander’s most “grown up” fantasies. It is very cerebral and makes references that few children could understand completely. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating read that I would gladly give to a child. The writing is excellent (as is to be expected from Alexander) and the story is engrossing. I highly recommend this book!

Publisher’s Description
Book Blog Post (Monkeys)
Book Blog Post (Strong, Smart Women)
Book Blog Post (Hinduism)
Book Blog Post (Adult Issues)
Book Blog Post (Tactics)
Book Blog Post (Equality)
Buy it from Amazon

Book: Ophie Out of Oz

Ophie Out of Oz
Kathleen O’Dell
Illustrator: Rosie Winstead
2004

This is a pretty typical girl school story. Ophelia Peeler has just moved to a new state and a new school, but that isn’t unusual because Ophie’s family moves around a lot. Usually Ophie is fine with that, but this time she’s not happy for a variety of reasons (misses her friend, hates the weather, etc.). Anyway, she meets her new classmates. The outcast, Brittany, instantly adopts her (much to her chagrin). The perfect popular girl, Merry, and her best friend/minion Rachel both instantly dislike Ophie for any number of reasons. The book chronicles Ophie’s attempts to get in good with the popular girls and to come into her own at her new school. The plot is pretty standard as far as girl school stories go.

The story is fairly entertaining and I did like Ophie, but the book isn’t terribly remarkable. The characters are pretty standard to this type of book (odd outcast girl who glues herself the hero, blond rich popular girl, slightly less pretty devoted minion of the popular girl, slightly quirky but likeable heroine, etc.), which was a little bit exasperating. The plot followed the usual outline for books of this type. All that said, however, the story is pretty entertaining. I liked Brittany and Tana (her little sister) as well as the games they play with Ophie. I liked the ambitions Ophie has regarding her singing and acting, they provided more solid motivation for her actions than most girl school stories do. In general I thought this was much better than much of the random girl books out there, but it wasn’t amazing.

The illustrations were pretty much just little graphics at the start of each chapter. Most of them are fairly simple and just have something to do with the chapter. They are well chosen and appropriate for each chapter. The style isn’t particularly original and is fairly common to books of this type (it also vaguely resembles the style of the Mattel My Scene promotional drawings). I do like the little pictures, though. Especially the cute ice skates and the letter and envelope. I like the illustrations, but (much like the text) they are not really anything remarkable.

This book is good and fairly entertaining, but nothing worth going out of your way for. If you want a good girl school book, try this one. Otherwise, it’s probably not your cup of tea.

Publisher’s Description
Kathleen O’Dell’s Website
Book Blog Post (First Impressions)
Book Blog Post (Unimportant Issues)
Book Blog Post (Stock Characters)
Book Blog Post (Final Impressions)
Buy it from Amazon

Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Illustrator: Abelardo Morell
1998

This may be my new favourite edition of this book! The illustrations and the layout are simply wonderful. I am just so impressed with this book!

I love the “Alice” books by Lewis Carroll. I love the clever word play throughout as well as the wonderful imagery. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has some of the best nonsense poems in it as well as some fascinating philosophical questions. The Cheshire Cat’s statement about everyone being mad is an interesting statement. Is everyone really mad or is it just perception? Alice provides an interesting view into this world where everything is topsy-turvy. I just find the set up and the craziness very interesting.

The illustrations and layout of this book are so perfect for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that it’s incredible. One of my favourite things was that each chapter started in very large print and slowly shrunk so that by the end of the chapter’s first page the text is down to the size it is on every other page. This is a great design choice because of the constant size shifts throughout the entire book. Alice never really knows from one minute to the next what size she is going to be and the size change in the text really reflects those changes.

The illustrations themselves are very interesting. The photographer, Mr. Morell, cut out and sometimes enlarged the classic illustrations for this book by Tenniel. Then he set them up in small scenes using books, props, plants and various other things and photographed the result. The pictures he created are so wonderful! They use books in particular in a wonderful way. The rabbit hole is a hole through a book, the tea table (where the interesting and funny word play conversations take place) is a dictionary, and Alice’s giant hand reaches out of a book for the white rabbit when she has grown to fill his house. The images are simply incredible! I just love the cleverness of the choices. The lighting and placement is always perfect, like in the Cheshire Cat image where the shadow creates a second tree trunk making the image even more confusing and magical than it was originally!

This book is wonderfully put together. I love the images and the book is really one of my favourite stories. I wish I could find Through the Looking Glass done by this illustrator! I highly recommend this book. If you are looking for a really good edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this is the one to get!

Abelardo Morell’s Website
Book Blog Post (First Impressions)
Book Blog Post (Changing Sizes)
Book Blog Post (Word Play)
Book Blog Post (Final Impressions)
Buy it from Amazon

Book: 100 Years of Oz


100 Years of Oz
John Fricke
1999

This is a large and attractive book that focuses on images of objects from the Oz collection of Willard Carroll, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind in the world. The book is divided into sections by decade, starting in the first decade of the 1900s and going all the way up to the end of the 1990s. Each section showcases memorabilia that is either from or closely related to Oz events from that decade. As a result there are definite themes in many decades. For example, the 1930s focuses on the MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz” which first came out in 1939 and the 1970s focuses on the musical The Wiz which appeared both on stage and on screen in that decade. This makes for a fascinating romp down the yellow brick road of twentieth century Oz imagery.

Each section begins with a few pages of text discussing the theme of the decade and the changes and development that happened to the world of Oz during that time. Throughout the text are small images of important pieces of memorabilia and following it are several pages with simply images and captions of more objects. Sprinkled liberally throughout are quotes from the books, movies and plays that take place in Oz. The text is brief, but packed full of extensively researched information. This makes for a quick read, but a very interesting one. I was very impressed with the text both for its skilled brevity and for its completeness of information.

The images are wonderful. There are dolls, books, stamps, ornaments, and nearly anything else Oz related that you could ever think of! I loved the peanut butter jars and the various kits, they were so interesting to see. So much of the memorabilia pictured is so rare that this may be the only way most people would ever be able to see it! The presentation is attractive and (for the most part) the photography is excellent. There were a few instances where the artinesses of the photographs made it difficult to really see the objects, which was rather irritating. Nevertheless, the majority of the images are well done and the book is a lot of fun to flip through!

This is a wonderful book. It is very interesting and extremely well designed. It is probably not for everyone, but it would be very interesting for anyone who likes either Oz or memorabilia and I highly recommend it!

Publisher’s Description
Buy it from Amazon

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