Wednesday, June 15, 2005

recommendations 2 - kid stuff

first off, i want to say that kari and i have successfully converted marcos on to veronica mars. i use the word ‘converted’ a bit loosely; he saw it on tv and he liked it, without any actual intervention from us. still, being correct early on allows for a very satisfactory ‘we told you so,’ and a victory is a victory!

my second list of recommendations is a hark back to kidhood. enjoy:

smart kids’ fiction
a couple summers ago i retreated from the essays and textbooks that i had been flooded with at williams and devoted the entire summer to re-read awesome kids’ books. i did all three harry potters, as well as the classics (the lion, the witch and the wardrobe, the giver, a wrinkle in time, the true confessions of charlotte doyle, the witches, etc). there’s something daring about kids’ fiction; how it doesn’t succumb to the fear of being silly. but there is a specific time when i appreciate kids’ fiction the most – when it doesn’t underestimate the reader. it is rare, but remarkable, when authors of kids books don’t necessarily resort to the easy solution, and instead unfold their stories in a complex & intriguing way. i think this is why some stories really remain with us into adulthood—it resonates deeply with us because we are so impressed with it.

i’ve got two contemporary examples. the first one is the third harry potter, the prisoner of azkaban. usually, authors have three or so different storylines going, and sometimes those plots end up intertwining, particularly at the end of the book. but with books that deal with an entirely different universe, sometimes these plots are just stories to flesh out the world. what rowling does in hp3 is amazing – her ending ties together five or six different story elements that you completely did not see coming; little things that happened earlier that seemed irrelevant or that seemed to already have a conclusion suddenly proved vital to the primary plotline. the structure is so complex and savvy! my second contemporary example is louis sachar’s relatively recent newberry award winner holes, which some may remember from the movie version that was made a couple years ago. like tom stoppard’s “arcadia” (a work of genius! and hilarious to boot), holes tells a modern story at the same time as a historical one, and the interesting part is where the two overlap – and possibly influence each other. a fairly advanced style, considering i think the thing was aimed at 9-13 year olds. anyway, i hadn’t read or heard anything about this book before i bought it for ry, so by the time the ending rolled around, and all these separate, ridiculous elements just wove themselves together, i was sold.

mac & cheese
especially if you add a bit of your own, real, (i like mild) cheddar on top. mmmm. there’s something to be said for easy mac, too. it’s horrible for you (*so* salty) but it’s awesome! you can make it so fast!

one more thing about mac & cheese – some moms make it with the breadcrumbs or something on top and then bake it. i have never made this. it’s delicious. i’ve only had personal experience making it from the box (annie’s is quite yummy, even if it’s from a box), but if anyone has the recipe for the kind with the breadcrumbs…send it my way.

…especially on saturday mornings! there’s something about sleepily rooting for a superhero to beat the bad guy and get the girl that’s a very satisfying way to start one’s weekend. a short list of cartoons that i (and my family!) enjoy (or have in the past): "spiderman TAS," "xmen TAS," "the new adventures of batman & superman," "mighty max" (man, that’s old, i wonder if anyone remembers it), "gargoyles," "adventures of chip and dale," "darkwing duck"… ryry also liked "jackie chan adventures" (not my favorite), "xmen evolution" (eeeehhhh), and "fairly oddparents". now, of course, we’re all about the "family guy." but back in the day, the classics were it! looking back, the old "xmen" storylines actually followed the gist of the comics themselves (ie, pretty dark for kid stuff), and "gargoyles" definitely worked in some of that complex storytelling i spoke about before (c'mon, what other kids series dealt with main villans from shakespeare?!). good stuff.

comments welcome.

No comments: