Week Three: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury [145 Pages]
So this weeks book isn’t exactly seasonally appropriate but I’ve been excited to read this book since I bought it purely because I loved the movie so much as a child and haven’t been able to watch it since. Ever since the collapse of Cartoon Network, I’ve missed out on a lot of the shows and films I loved growing up. Even those which came out on DVD very rarely come out for the British region. Which is kind of heart-breaking.
I recently watched the Nostalgia Critic’s review of The Halloween Tree animated film and was hit by the nostalgia of it and had a quick search to see if I could get the DVD and instead ended up with the book.
Unfortunately, I think that because I loved the film so much, the book was never going to live up to my expectations. It has a very similar tone to the film, but a lot of things were better represented visually. This is one of the very rare instances where I like the film more than I like the book.
For those of you who don’t know, the story revolves around a group of boys learning the different traditions behind their costumes. It’s by no means an accurate depiction of the whole history behind the modern day Halloween but for a story aimed at kids it does a good job.
The biggest downside for me is that it’s impossible to connect with any of the characters. You don’t learn most of the boys names until half way through the book and there’s a great deal of emphasis on how fantastic one boy Pipkin is. But we don’t learn how great he is through his actions, it’s just a chapter describing how absolutely amazing this one boy is.
What really saves this book for me is the artwork. Joseph Mugnaini has done a fantastic job sticking to the tone of the story with his illustrations and the book looks absolutely beautiful.
All in all, I would only reccomend this book as a way to teach kids a simplified version of the Halloween traditions.
Week Two: Sports Chanbara- Samurai Sports by Tetsundo Tanabe [236 Pages]
So I may be cheating a little bit with this one. It’s not a fiction book like the rest of the books I intend to use for the 52 Book Challenge, but it is a really interesting book that I want to show to people.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a black belt/instructor in Freestyle Karate. My Uncle (who runs my class) was just promoted to head of chanbara by the Chief Instructor and given this book as a guide:
My uncles not a big reader, whereas I was fascinated by the book. So I volunteered to read it for him and give him the abridged version.
The first thing I noticed is the signature at the front:
But not only is it signed by the author, but the author may be visiting at some point. So we’re suddenly under a lot of pressure to get his techniques right, which is hard to do when the only visual representations you have are small black and white photos.
The books itself is beautifully laid out, I love books that have the original text on one side and the translation on the other for comparison purposes.
For those of you who don’t know chabara is kind of like fighting with swords. Except without the swords, what we use are more akin to pool-noodles on sticks. But the general principle remains the same. The book is focused on making the sport more accessible to people of all ages, genders and abilities which I really like. It also has a really iteresting history of the development of different swords for different functions.
If you can get your hands on a copy, I would definetly reccomend it.
Week One: “Too Much Information. …Or Can Everyone Just Shut Up For A Moment Some Of Us Are Trying To Think” by Dave Gorman [332 Pages]
Dave Gorman’s is surprisingly similar to what I expected from him. I’ve read a couple of books by comedians and it’s always interesting to see how the tone of the books matched up with their personalities. For example, Miranda Hart’s book “Is it Just me?” is exactly how you would expect her to write. But Jo Brands novels could be written by an entirely different person and I never would have guessed.
I haven’t seen much of Dave Gorman’s work, but I have watched quite a bit of his TV show “Modern Life is Good(ish)” and the book has a very similar tone to the show. Unfortunately it can be too similar at times.
Like the show, Gorman makes use of pictorial representation. In the show this is displayed on a PowerPoint. The book similarly makes use of pictures in what is sometimes a very witty way. I particularly like:
A lot of the material in the book is similar to what he has used in his shows. Which is forgivable, if it works in one format it will most likely work in another. However a few jokes fall flat in the book format. I pretty much skipped over the chapter where he discusses when newspapers use the word “matching” to discuss celebrities wearing outfits that don’t match at all. In the PowerPoints, he shows the photographs that the newspapers are using to show just how ridiculous the claims are. Whereas in the book, he just has to use words to describe them. Which doesn’t have nearly the same comedic effect.
It was still a good read nonetheless and definitely worth reading if you enjoy Dave Gormans comedic tone.