Surprise book of the month

Beautiful Goats cover.docxBeautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds

Written by Felicity Stockwell  and photographed by Andrew Perris

I have noticed that Library staff love putting Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds on display and it always gets borrowed. So what is so appealing about this unusual title?

I asked myself “Why do we love goats?” They eat almost everything and can butt you in the backside, then appear to laugh about it.  However, goats are also sweet natured and have pretty faces. They have personality. Maybe they are endeared to us from childhood, when we listen to the story of the brave Billy Goats Gruff outwitting the vile troll on the bridge. One of my colleagues also told me that goats have become nearly as popular as cats on the Internet.

In the first few pages of Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds, Felicity Stockwell looks at the history and cultural significance of goats. She writes about the agricultural products derived from goats, goats as pets, wild goats and show competitions. However, the greatest part of this book is devoted to showcasing 40 breeds of goats. Photographs are accompanied by specific information about each breed that is featured.

These goats are simply photogenic and definitely beautiful. Each goat is photographed against a simple grey background, which reflects the colour of the book’s covers.  They do not require any other artifices. Andrew Perris skilfully manages to capture so much expression on each of these animal’s faces.  The goats look proud and happy to be photographed on set. They raise their heads in regal poses as if to say “This is my good side”.

The final section of the book ‘Reportage’ takes a fun look inside a goat show, where black and white snapshots are posted billboard style, accompanied by cute captions.

It is worth browsing through this lovely book, whether you have an interest in agriculture, you would like a cheeky pet or even if you just enjoy clever photography. You can reserve Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds. Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

 

 

Season’s Greetings

wrting-cardsEvery year, do you mechanically write out your Christmas cards at the last minute, using the same message for everybody, while getting a sore wrist?

Do you write “Merry Christmas and best wishes for the coming year, love from…” Even if that is what the card’s verse basically says?

cropped-santa

 

Or do you cringe when you have selected or made a beautiful blank card that needs a message? If you would like to saysomething more poetic and personalised, then Just the Right Christmas Words could be what you need.

just-the-right-christmas-words-cover-largeJudith Wibberley has created a selection of messages that you can use for your festive cards and invitations, to make the people who receive them feel special. She includes a variety of wording for Christmas and New Year greetings in both prose and in verse. There are messages for loved ones and different relatives, including families who have a new child.

Judith also writes for friends who are living overseas or serving in the armed forces. She includes a special section for Christian messages and for writing to Jewish friends celebrating Hanukkah. So as is noted on page 155 of Just the Right Christmas Words,“This Christmas, Spend a little, Laugh a lot, And enjoy.”

You can reserve Just the Right Christmas Words through the online catalogue or enquire when you visit the Library.

Classic Graphic: The Moomin stories

moomin_history_tove_jansson-cfb36ad907e5b10ec440f2105589c600                               pee-hoo

Today is the birthday of Finnish author, artist and cartoonist Tove Marika Jansson. Tove was born in Helsinki on 9 August 1914 and died on 27 June 2001 at the age of 86.

Tove Jansson was a member of the Swedish speaking minority in Finland. She was raised by bohemian artist parents, who encouraged a love of nature and an appreciation of diversity in their children. Tove studied art in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris. Her siblings also grew up to become artists.

Tove Janson is the most widely read Finnish author outside her own country. Shemoomin_by_marzymarrs-d8wj23y received wide recognition for her short stories, novels, picture books, plays and a comic strip. Tove also exhibited paintings and graphic art and was commissioned to create public art works. Although Tove wrote for both children and adults, she is best known and loved for her Moomin stories.

230px-Finn_FamilyIn 1945 Söderström & Co published Tove’s first Moomin story The Moomins and the Great Flood in Swedish. This was followed by Comet In Moominland in 1946 and Finn Family Moomintroll or The Magician’s Hat in 1948.

Tove continued writing about the adventures of the Moomin family throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 the International Board on Books for Young People awarded Tove the Hans Christian Andersen award, which is the highest accolade that can be given to a writer or illustrator of children’s books.

Following the translation into English of her books Tove was approached by a British publisher to transform her Moomin stories in a comic strip format. In 1954, the famous London newspaper The Evening News started to publish it. In order to allow his sister more time for her visual art projects, Tove’s brother Lars Jansson took over drawing the comic strip from 1960.  It ran up until 1974.

In 1970, Tove ceased writing Moomin stories with the publication of her ninth and last Moomin book Moominvalley in November. She later published a somewhat eerie children’s picture book called The Dangerous Journey in 1977, which is about different characters but takes place in the world of Moominvalley.

Tove went on to write an acclaimed novel for adults, which focuses on the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother who are living on an island. The Summer Book (1972) is her best known work of fiction which has been translated into English. Throughout her life, Tove produced six novels and five books of short stories for an adult audience.

Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories have been adapted for film, the stage, television series, an opera and a theme park. Her books have been translated into several languages.

You can reserve books about Tove Jansson’s life through the One Card Network online. Visit the official Tove Jansson website at http://tovejansson.com/

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CharactersA friend asked me to post about Tove Jansson, so I decided to explore the world of the Moomins, to discover why both children and adults are still captivated by them.

So you may ask, what exactly is a Moomin? Are they really trolls?

Fear not, the Moomins are not your average ugly, stupid trolls lurking in the mountains or under bridges, lying in wait to catch their next meal. The Moomins are cute, kindly fairytale characters who are plump and white and resemble hippopotamuses! They are intelligent, literate and make their home in a tower in Mooninvalley, living alongside a host of eccentric characters.

Tove’s stories are full of lighthearted humour. Her simple and colourful ‘retro’ style illustrations will appeal to children. She cleverly parodies many different concepts in her Moomin stories, from becoming famous, vanity, the theatre, the legal profession to buying unnecessary modern kitchen gadgets.

Young Moomin or Moomintroll, as he is known in the original Swedish version, is a sweet-natured, brave and somewhat naïve character, making his way in the world. Moomin lives with his close knit family, his mother Moominmamma, father Moominpappa and girlfriend Snorkmaiden.

Moomin familyThe Moomin family is always ready to embrace new experiences, meet new people and welcome them into their home.

Moonminpappa enjoys reading and philosophising. Moominpappa’s romantic view of himself leads to all sorts of grand plans such as moving his family to a lighthouse so he can write a grand novel. The more practical Moominmamma takes pride in her home and loves her garden. She prefers to live simply but comfortably.

Moominmamma is skilled at making others know that they may not have made the best decisions, without making her family feel bad about themselves. Her serenity helps us to realise that everything will eventually turn out okay. However, Moominmamma is not immune from falling into the trap of keeping up appearances and competing with her neighbour Mrs Fillyjonk!

Pretty Snorkmaiden is a dreamer. She and Moomin are devoted to each other.  However, she can be insecure, overly concerned with her Snorkmaidenappearance and with getting Moomin’s attention. The adopted Little My causes chaos in the Moonmin household but she is perceptive and brings other characters down to earth with her sharp observations.

Tove Jansson’s work is original and surrealOn their numerous adventures, many of the characters that The Moomin family encounters are of indeterminate species. For example, at first glance Too-Ticky appears to be human, until you notice her strange birdlike feet. The fearless Little My is so small she can fit incharacter_mymble_familyto the pocket of her half-brother Snufkin. She looks remarkably like her mother, older sister Mymble and her seventeen younger siblings. A ghost who haunts a lighthouse resembles a sausage with legs!

The Moomin books teach us about the importance of family and friendship and about accepting others for their uniqueness. They value living a simple life, staying close to the beauty of nature and just being happy. The Moomins are always ready to help other characters, as everyone is important and needs a purpose.

You can borrow the Moomin stories and graphic novels (which comprise episodes from the Moomin comic strip) across the One Card Network. Tove Jansson’s work has also been adapted to bring her characters to younger readers, through a series of new picture books. Search the catalogue online, or enquire next time you visit the Library. Why not also visit the official Moomin site: https://www.moomin.com/en/

And yes, I could be hooked.

Our Slouch Hat Soldiers on show

Brothers in Arms

They served the same cause,

Fresh-faced boys departed,a new breed of diggers returned,

toughened by violent events.

They knew what was expected of them,

battle savvy,

they backed each other,

fought off insanity with humour,

got the jobs done.

 

They witnessed events

no one should see,

did things they’d rather not talk of,

fought battles

long after they had ended.

And in this chasm of hell

A special breed of mateship grew.

Second World War 1939 – 1945.  Robert John Jarrad, Page 47, Slouch Hat Soldiers Generations at War, an Echoes Downunder publication, 2014.

Robert John Jarrad speaks about his poety at the Tea Tree Gully Library.

Robert John Jarrad speaks about his poety at the Tea Tree Gully Library.

When local retired engineer, military gunner, artist, didgeridoo player and writer Robert John Jarrad launched his first book of poems Slouch Hat Soldiers – Generations at War at the Tea Tree Gully Library in March 2014, there was standing room only.

Accompanied by illustrations from by internationally acclaimed military artist Barry Spicer, Robert’s collection of poignant war poetry focuses on Australians who enlisted when their country called.  Robert based his poems mainly on the powerful stories and images told to him by his nineteen relatives – including his father and grandfathers – who had enlisted and served in World Wars I and II, and in the Vietnam War. As we hear in his poem Brothers in Arms, Robert’s poems give us an insight into the harsh realities of war, but he also describes the mateship between soldiers and how they used humour to cope with their dire situation.

Robert hopes reading his poems may help a new generation of Australians to understand what it was like to go to war and how those who served were prepared to give their lives for their homeland that they loved. Moreover, they came back forever changed by their experiences.

Since the launch of Slouch Hat Soldiers – Generations at War, Robert Jarrad has toured around Australia, speaking to community groups about his book. He has been invited to several Centenary of Anzac events. In 2015, Robert’s poems, selected from his book Slouch Hat Soldiers-Generations at War, were performed at the Australian War Memorial’s ‘Of Words and War’ Anzac Centenary poetry event.

Now Robert’s literary achievement has been honoured once again. Some of his poems will feature prominently in the upcoming Wish me luck – an Anzac Centenary photographic exhibition, which pays tribute to South Australia’s World War II veterans. The exhibition is showing from 9 July to 11 September, in the Flinders University City Gallery, located within the State Library of South Australia on North Terrace.

Vale Clifford Brice

‘Poster boy’ for the Wish Me Luck exhibition, Vale Clifford (Cliff) Bryce sits aside his portrait.

Curated by Sharon Cleary (Veterans SA) and Louise Bagger (AIPP), the Wish me luck Exhibition has grown out a special nationwide project, which began on Anzac Day 2015. The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) photographed Australia’s surviving World War II veterans, many of whom are now in their late nineties.  In South Australia 1050 portraits were taken over a seven month period.

Veterans SA is partnering with AIPP, Flinders University Art Museum and Atkins Photo Lab to present 100 photographic portraits of those who served in the Navy, Army, Airforce and Medical Corps from SA during WWII. Entry is free.  The Flinders University City Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from 11am – 4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 4pm.

A series of public talks will accompany the ‘Wish me luck’ exhibition.  Come and hear Robert reading from Slouch Hat Soldiers on Sunday 4 September at 2.00pm at the Flinders University City Gallery.   RSVP essential to 08 8207 7055. Copies of Slouch Hat Soldiers – Generations at War, will be available for sale.  Part proceeds of all book sales will benefit Legacy.

Bob Jarrad Wish Slouch Hat SoldiersYou can also borrow Slouch Hat Soldiers – Generations at War through the One Card Network. Search the online catalogue or enquire next time you visit the Library.

Discover more about Robert Jarrad and his acclaimed book Slouch Hat Soldiers.  You can also explore the 100 Years of Anzac website.  Read more about the Wish me luck exhibition and Robert’s poetry reading.

A classic comes of age? Ladybird books for grown-ups

Ladybird books logoThe official Ladybird Classics site http://www.vintageladybird.com/ tells us that the printers Wills & Hepworth, from Loughborough in England, registered the Ladybird trade mark in 1915.  During the First World War, the company started publishing wholesome and healthy literature for children, in an attempt to sustain profits during the war years.

However, it was not until the early 1950s, under the guidance of Douglas Keen, that Ladybird Books established itself as a respected and well known children’s brand. Titles covered a vast range of subjects and interests, including British heritage, history, fairy tales, family stories, travel and pirates! The 1950s to the 1970s are often thought of as Ladybird’s ‘golden age’.

Ladybird books for children were affordable and designed to balance education with entertainment – and words with beautiful, detailed pictures. Distinguished commercial artists, rather than children’s book illustrators, created the artwork for each story, which made them unique. The illustrations in each book were full of light and colour and reflected the optimism of people in post-war Britain. Those books focusing on contemporary Britain depicted a utopian lifestyle, with happy nuclear families spending time together and a society full of new technology and modern conveniences

Now authors J.A. Hazeley and J.P. Morris have created a range of Ladybird books written specifically for adults. Full of tongue-in-cheek humour, Ladybird Books for Grown Ups are neither wholesome nor healthy!

The HangoverThey carry a similar premise to the original children’s books. “This delightful book is the latest in the series of Ladybird books that have been specially planned to help grown-ups with the world about them.” Clear, large script, which is easy for children who are learning to read, is ‘thoughtfully’ placed opposite original vintage illustrations, in the style of the classic editions.  These literary devices are designed so that grown-ups will think that they have taught themsleves to cope!

Much of the humour is achieved by the matter of fact, unemotional nature of the text and its placement alongside a sometimes contradictory, or exaggerated illustration. Quintessentially British and cleverly written, you can hear a voice in your head like somebody reading to children about issues relevant to adults, “What a confusing world it can seem with a hangover. Sit as still as you can. Do not attempt to make any decisions. Look out of the window. Can you recognise simple shapes or colours? Is there a moon or a sun in the sky? What sort of a name might you have? Where might there be bacon?” The Hangover, page 12.

402261-MumOne of my favourite excerpts comes from ‘How it works’ The Mum, page 42, “When she was single, Debbie had nightmares about being left alone and unwanted. For the last three years, someone has called for her every two minutes and watched her every time she has taken a bath or sat on the toilet. Debbie now dreams of being left alone and unwanted, even for just a few minutes”.

 

DatingDating is about everyone’s search to find a partner in life.  This little book will help you to smile and realise that you are not the only one experiencing bad dates, with totally unsuitable people.  Perhaps after reading it you to never look at romance in quite the same way!  On page 46 of Dating, a woman is being served at the counter of a 1950s post office,  “Judith is breaking up with Tony.  She knows a text message can be impersonal so she has come to her local Post Office.  The lady at the counter checks Judith’s envelope is sealed.  If any of the faeces leaks out, the Post Office is not obliged to carry it.  Judith sends her package by recorded delivery.  She can make sure it has reached Tony and know she is single again.”

The ShThe-Sheded explores men’s primal need to have their own space, or rather how use their beloved man cave to escape from family and responsibility, at any given opportunity.

 

 

The Mid Life CrisisThe Mid-Life Crisis makes us laugh by talking about the funny things we do in middle age to try and keep up with the times, relive our youth or just make ourselves feel better about growing older. The book starts with “When we are young, we all dream of doing something wonderful and exciting with our lives. What will we be? A cosmonaut? A detective? A tommy gunner? A groin surgeon? Anything is possible. And then, one day, it isn’t.” The facing page features old fashioned style illustrations of an American astronaut, a deep sea diver, army troops heading into battle and a medical team performing surgery. Where did all that time go?

o-THE-HIPSTER-570

The Hipster uses ridiculous text to make fun of affluent, trendy bearded men and pretentious women.

Other titles which are available in the Ladybird books for grown ups series are Mindfulness, How it works’ : The Wife and  ‘How it works’ : The Husband.   You can borrow Ladybird books for grown ups through the One Card Network. Reserve them online or enquire at the Library.

A Keane eye

Margaret Keane, The First Grail, 1962

Margaret Keane, The First Grail, 1962

You might remember seeing faded prints of sad, haunting, waif-like children with overly large eyes, displayed in charity shops or in houses during the 1960s and 1970s. However, did you know that the works by American artist Margaret Keane, though derided by art critics and dealers, hung in the mansions of major Hollywood stars and in European museums? Or that her paintings were praised by artists such as Dali, Picasso and Warhol?

Through mass marketing, Margaret’s work became was incredibly popular with the general public. It sold millions of copies, when reproduced in affordable forms such as wall sized posters and cards, which you could buy in supermarkets and gift shops. Margaret’s waifs influenced the style of other painters and graphic artists. Unfortunately, Margaret never received the money that she earned from sales of her paintings, nor received the recognition that she deserved until recent times.

Produced and directed by Tim Burton, the movie Big Eyes stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. It is based on the true story of how Margaret’s husband Walter Keane created an elaborate deception, fooling the world by claiming credit for his wife’s art.

The film opens with the statement that the 50s was a great time if you were a man.

Fleeing a bad marriage in the mid-1950s, shy suburban housewife Margaret Hawkins flees to San Francisco with her young daughter, where she makes her living painting motives on furniture. She supplements her income at an outdoor market, painting children’s portraits in her distinctive style because “The eyes are the window to the soul”. It is there that Margaret meets the charming, ambitious landscape artist and real estate salesman Walter Keane. When Margaret’s former husband attempts to declare her an unfit mother and secure full custody of their daughter, Margaret accepts Walter’s offer of marriage.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane in Big Eyes.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane in Big Eyes.

Margaret Keane, Little Ones, 1962.

Margaret Keane, Little Ones, 1962.

Always the opportunist, Walter seeks out new ways to sell their art. He rents out wall space in a popular club. When patrons of the club start to notice only Margaret’s paintings of children, Walter takes credit for her work. The lie builds in intensity, as famous identities come to the club to see buy the pictures and the media takes an interest in this latest trend. It is not until Margaret watches Walter selling the paintings at the club does she realise what is happening. Although she is disturbed by Walter’s behaviour, Margaret has so little self esteem that she reluctantly goes along with the charade. She loves Walter and tells herself that she is doing the right thing. Remember, this was an era where women were expected to defer to the judgment of the head of the household, to their husband or father.

Big Eyes handles serious themes such as violence towards women, but Tim Burton’s quirky influence comes through. Sets are beautifully designed and there is a sense of otherworldliness to the look of the film. Burton uses warm lighting, bright colours and intense pastels in the cinemaphotography and he depicts suburbia like a model village, reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. The film has elements of a fairytale. Margaret’s character is Burton’s usual blonde protagonist. She is the innocent woman imprisoned in a tower, living a nightmare. In in her attic studio, she is forced by her evil husband to paint magical pictures for up to 16 hours a day.

Christopher Waltz plays the deranged Walter Keane.

Christopher Waltz plays the deranged Walter Keane.

Burton’s brand of comedy comes through in both his characterisation and in his presentation of peculiar situations. For example, the exceptionally sweet Jehohavah Witness ladies arrive at Margaret’s door and change her life. An art snob who runs a fashionable modern art gallery rejects the paintings of waifs as kitsch but tries to sell splotches of paint on canvases to wealthy customers. Christopher Waltz expertly plays the egotistical Walter Keane, depicting his flamboyance and over the top mannerisms. Yet we are never in doubt of how sinister and deranged the character really is.

Big Eyes is also the story of Margaret’s triumph. As society starts to change for women throughout the 1960s and 70s, Margaret will find the courage to take control of her life and fight for her reputation as an artist.

Margaret Keane, San Francisco Here We Come, 1991.

Margaret Keane,
San Francisco Here We Come, 1991.

Margaret Keane aged 88 with Amy Adams

Margaret Keane aged 88 with Amy Adams

You can borrow the DVD or blu ray of Big Eyes through the One Card Network. Reserve it through the online catalogue or enquire at the Library. Find out more about Margaret and her work at: http://keane-eyes.com and http://www.margaretkeane.com/

Book Review

Cats & Lions

Cats & Lions by Mitsuaki Iwago

Ailurophobia is the persistent, irrational fear of cats. Doubtless, a former colleague of mine suffered from this condition, for when looking at a photograph of a reclining cat, she exclaimed in horror “It’s just like a wee lion!”

Remembering this incident, I was drawn to reading Cats & Lions by award winning wildlife and nature photographer Mitsuaki Iwago.

Iwago tells us that “Cats are small lions. Lions are big cats.” In a series of beautiful and distinctive photographs, Iwago cleverly sets out the lives of domestic cats in urban areas and African lions in the wild, side by side. He reveals the similarities between the two species and captures the natural beauty of the different environments in which they live.

He compares these cats’ musculature and movement, when walking, feeding and hunting. We see them when they are at rest or gazing into the distance, thinking who knows what and scenting the air. Other outstanding photographs focus on the close bonds between feline families – parents with kittens or cubs, grooming each other and playing together.

Iwago’s work is atmospheric, which is partly due to the amount of detail the he captures in both the subjects and backgrounds of his photographs. Colours are intense and the lighting stunning. You can almost feel the snow falling, hear the murmur of the wind moving through the grass of the savannah, or anticipate the sound of thunder in the distance, preceding the rain.

I think that Iwago aims to create an emotional response from the reader. His photos invoke happiness, especially if you like cats.  They will make you happy but also perhaps, a little sad.  Iwago explains in his introduction to Cats & Lions that “The Lion is a wild animal and does not have an easy life.” His images show us that while lions are supremely adapted to their environment, they must compete and hunt for food. Their only shelter from danger and the harsh elements of heat, drought and driving rain is the long grass and some sparse acacia trees.

You can reserve Cats & Lions through the One Card Network library catalogue, or enquire when you visit the Library. Mitsuaki Iwago is also the author of Curious Cats, In the Lion’s Den and Mitsuaki Iwago’s Whales which are available through the One Card Library Network.