Crash Chords: Band Paper

Writing about music isn’t quite as awkward as dancing about architecture, but a lot of books sure make it feel that way. If you’re tone deaf or just plain deaf, then let your eyes do the hearing and see what you’re missing by reading through this list of noteworthy prose, background noise is optional.

Cover of the UK edition.

Cover of the UK edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone with even the slightest belief in the legitimacy of their personal musical taste would have tried to inflict it upon helpless friends and family via that trusty weapon of sonic torture – the unsolicited mix tape! Nick Hornby goes one further with Songbook (published in the UK as 31 Songs), a collection of personal essays about his 31 favorite songs. “I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as I do,” he declares unapologetically. To be honest, if Hornby hadn’t cemented his music-writing cred with High Fidelity, or written so passionately and shamelessly about falling into Last Song Syndrome as easily as the rest of us, then this trifling exercise may have come off as insufferable. But there are deeper undercurrents to all the navel-gazing. While Hornby was working on the book, his young son was diagnosed with autism, and proceeds benefit TreeHouse, a U.K. charity for autistic children.

Shelter, by Marty Asher, is a little book that doesn’t seem to have much going for it. The back cover blurbs name-drop Ellison and Vonnegut, the usual stock fixtures of the 1960s counterculture scene that Generations Y and Z may mostly find irrelevant. Each page contains only a paragraph or two, and most of the text seems to be composed of lyrics from Beatles songs, quoted repeatedly. But there’s much more at work between the lines of this fun, funny, and poignant fable. We read through the ramblings of Billy, an idealistic bumper sticker writer surviving the cold-war era’s paranoia of nuclear Armageddon by obsessing over the music of the Beatles. It’s a charming character study filtered through a heady experimental trip that shakes your views on just what John Lennon was trying to say, whether you’re a fan of the Fab Four or not.

Cover of "The Wrong Boy"

Cover of The Wrong Boy

In Willy Russell‘s The Wrong Boy, we follow the story of star-crossed misfit Raymond Marks, as told through a series of long letters written to his own hero, the cult musician Morrissey, lead singer of indie music gods The Smiths. Raymond’s life was perfectly ordinary, if slightly dysfunctional, until the expose of an innocent little game that he and his school friends played together, undeservedly brands him as a perverted troublemaker. Excerpts from Morrissey’s lyrics weave in and out of the correspondence, setting the tone for the book’s blend of social commentary, comedy, and pathos, much like the actual songs themselves. The narrative is rich with extended gags that you can’t help but laugh out loud to, but it also hits heavily with touching moments that’ll jerk tears from even the hardest punk rocker or Smiths fan (whoever you find more extreme). The Wrong Boy is the real deal, a novel that satisfies completely.

Sting is so “awesome”, he not only does without a last name, but he even manages to make our great editor-in-chief personally request the inclusion of his book in this humble piece. Of course, could we ever expect Sting’s autobiography to be anything less than lyrical? Entitled Broken Music, we get to know Sting as the young Gordon Sumner, and probe into the devastating influence of his artistic but volatile mother. Sting’s writing is open and honest to a fault, only his kinkiest fans may appreciate his digressions into sexual mumbo jumbo. He also relies on a flashback framing device that verges on the disorienting and unevenly spreads out the nuggets of true insight. Fortunately, we also get treated to the inner workings of The Police, and the stories behind the composition of some of his most significant songs. In the end, this memoir serves quite well as an apology, explanation, and confession, demonstrating how Sting tries his best not to sell his fans short, which is way more than you can say for most music icons.

-text by Jude Defensor, some rights reserved. first published in Manual magazine, 2005

Going Past Genre: Brain Food For Academic Anorexics

All Techies ain’t necessarily Trekkies as well. There’s a softer, more thoughtful side to sci-fi and other genre fiction that escapes most readers. Beyond Star Wars and Star Trek, Middle Earth and The Matrix, Harry Potter and Robert Langdon, there’s an entire galaxy of cool, challenging literature out there. These are books to test your central processing unit with, get you to boot up your brain a bit and gain an IQ point or two.

Cover of "Shadow & Claw: The First Half o...

Cover via Amazon

Like a really good decadent chocolate cake, Gene Wolfe’s writing is so dark it can get you dizzy and so dense it can cause indigestion. Wolfe churns out strong stuff that should come with guidelines describing how well they go with your choice of chemical stimulant. The four-volume Book of the New Sun is his magnum opus, an unclassifiable and unsummarizeable work that has been compared to James Joyce’s Ulysses (but is much more fun to actually read). The saga is set in a future so far ahead that everything has been rendered unrecognizable by entropy. If you can get past the fantastical cover art, tricky vocabulary, and murky starting chapters you may discover a work of literary genius that is not entirely what it seems. Imagine the creepy allegories of C.S. Lewis layered with the convoluted semiotics of Umberto Eco, all presented in glam rock trappings. Coming to understand The Book of the New Sun is like playing a game, solving a meticulously constructed puzzle that rewards the vigilant with an unforgettable reading experience and an overwhelming knock-out of a story.

Iain Banks’ novels of The Culture show how space opera can be upbeat and funny yet still profound and intelligent. The series reads like Douglas Adams with depth or Ursula Le Guin with a sense of humor. Somehow, Banks makes Objectivism accessible and downright engaging, Ayn Rand would be very happy. The Culture is an intergalactic society sustained by principles of both anarchy and elegance. Where nobody has to do anything and everybody wants for nothing, but people still get into trouble anyway. Having honed his chops in conventional literary fiction, Banks spins sarcasm, comedy, violence, and philosophy together in a cavalier, laid-back style that’s sure to entertain and impress even those most resistant to the science fiction genre. The Player of Games is his most straightforward and accessible book, while the vertiginous Use of Weapons is widely considered as his best (although not recommended for the faint of heart).

Cover of "In the Garden of Iden: A Novel ...

Cover via Amazon

Sky Coyote

Sky Coyote (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Company series by Kage Baker deals with two favorite punching bags of angsty genre fiction – immortality and time travel. Baker transcends the usual whiny clichés of these themes by bombarding us with a troupe of distinct and colorful characters and a delectably meaty back-story to chew on. Think of the Highlander movies or Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles stripped of much of their existential moralizing and supernatural mumbo-jumbo, plus the across-the-ages romantic passion of Somewhere In Time crossed with some Alias-style covert action. Baker treats time and history like an interactive tollway with many secret off-ramps, gleefully ignoring the issue of paradoxes and liberally sprinkling anachronisms as background flavor. The first two books, In The Garden of Iden and Sky Coyote, are required reading to really get into the subtleties of the whole series, but like a loaf of Gardenia bread, they’re both good enough on their own (Sky Coyote in particular is a hilarious page-turner). The Company’s cyborgs are immortal beings suffering from a refreshing lack of ennui, indestructible and ageless freaks who actually like who they are and what they’re doing. We get to know their fetishes and foibles as we’re treated to a rollicking adventure stretching across the width and breadth of humanity, from prehistory to the end of the world as we know it.

The Diamond Age

The Diamond Age (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A montage showing author Neal Stephenson and f...

A montage showing author Neal Stephenson and four historical characters from his book series The Baroque Cycle: (counterclockwise from top left) Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, Electress Sophia of Hanover and William of Orange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neal Stephenson’s blockbuster novel Cryptonomicon is worth the price of purchase based on his strikingly accurate depiction of Manila alone. He nails the nuances of our very own city both in its prewar Pearl-of-the-Orient glory and current state of modern semi-decay. Take that Alex Garland! Part high-tech treasure-hunting caper, part mathematical treatise, and part sweeping war-torn epic, Cryptonomicon acts as a prequel and warm-up of sorts to Stephenson’s most ambitious creation, The Baroque Cycle. This series consists of three best-selling nine-hundred-page novels, all focused on obscure topics of cryptography, monetary theory, and philosophy. Stephenson even wrote them with a fountain pen to get himself into the mindset of the eras in which the books are set. While the Baroque Cycle makes for more interesting than enjoyable reading (his other books are more entertaining), Stephenson’s radical concepts never fail to pack a punch. The Matrix movies heavily borrowed their core mythos from his seminal cyberpunk novel Snow Crash. But his most subversive ideas may be found in The Diamond Age, where he envisions a world transformed by nano-technology, with citizenship defined by philosophical affiliation and not by nationality. The closest he’s come to a conventional potboiler is the political thriller Interface, in which Big Brother takes over the US elections. After this expedition into the Baroque, who knows what realm Stephenson will subvert next?

-text by Jude Defensor, some rights reserved. first published in Manual, 2005

Chic Lit: Reading for the Red Carpet

photo by Tata Tuviera

Sometimes it’s not what you know but what you have. It’s not about the books you’ve read, but the books you own. And to some people’s eyes, luxury reading means expensive books about expensive things. However, true class is a different beast from mere conspicuous consumption. A catalog of rare Star Wars memorabilia cannot compare to a registry of vintage cars. If you want to impress, it takes more than a pair of Armani reading glasses to show that you’re a connoisseur of the printed word and the hardbound book. You need to have a kick-ass library (or coffee table at least) to back up your wardrobe and wallet. Past the medicine cabinet and baby pictures, most dates and prospective mates progress to ransacking one’s bookshelves. Barring librarians and literature majors, this roster of weighty tomes ought to raise your lux-factor considerably.

Cabernet: A Photographic Journey from Vine to Wine by Charles O’Rear, Michael Creedman

Part travelogue and part oenologue (just a fancy way of saying wine-book), the authors take us on a worldwide tour of the regions where the Cabernet grape is grown. Get drunk on stimulating panoramas of vineyards, grapes, oak barrels, and photogenic locals. Wordiness-wise, there’s just enough red meat in the text, including a foreword from renowned vintner Robert Mondavi, to go well with this particular vintage. Now you can better sip and smooth talk your way through a wine list. Just say, cabernet (that rhymes).

ART of the 20th Century (Paperback) by Klaus Honnef, Schneckenburger, Fricke, Ruhrberg

Cover of "Art of the 20th Century"

Cover of Art of the 20th Century

This attention-grabbing boxed set aims to be the end-all and be-all guide to the art of the past 100 years, a tall order for any work. Full of eye-popping pictures of modern art’s usual suspects like the crisply named Klimt and Munch, who you can now match to their respective tersely titled paintings (The Kiss and The Scream). If the art won’t work you up, at least the writing won’t put you to sleep.

Annie Leibovitz: American Music by Annie Leibovitz

Cover of "Annie Leibovitz: American Music...

Cover of Annie Leibovitz: American Music

Leaf through revealing portraits of rock stars, folk singers, and their elaborate accoutrements as shot by Vanity Fair’s top photographer. The compositions are alternately nostalgic and naughty, showing off Leibovitz’s knack for capturing icons at their most relaxed and real. Seeing these gods of cool brought down to earth will do wonders for your own cred.

Film Noir by Alain Silver, James Ursini

This ultra-stylish book even features white text on black background to go with its dramatic collection of black and white stills from classic crime movies. The elegant imagery is a stark contrast to the sordid themes, vulgar dialogue, and depraved characters of the typical noir film. Possessing this book lets you point out and congratulate yourself on how far above you live from the humble criminal lowlifes such as gangsters, hitmen, and corrupt politicians.

The Rulemakers by Sheila Coronel

Knowing about the wealthy and well-born is a step closer to being one of them (but then if you’re reading this magazine and this book then you probably already are). Although rather deceptive and academic, this is the closest one can get to a comprehensive inventory of the reigning political dynasties of the Philippines. Whether you’re wooing a militant activist (reading the PCIJ’s work earns you major radical points), or a silver-spooned scion (pointing out their family name in the power list is sure to charm), you can’t lose.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Cover of "The 48 Laws of Power"

Cover of The 48 Laws of Power

Power is the ultimate luxury. And Greene’s guidelines read like Machiavelli and Sun-Tzu spiced up and simplified for modern readers. With such ruthless gems of advice as “Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit” and “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy”, once you take these 48 rules to heart you can give even the Rothschilds and the Medicis a run for their money. Merciless ambition always impresses, maybe as long as you aren’t dating your boss, or his daughter (if she doesn’t idolize Lady Macbeth that is).

Modern Sports Cars: Roger Bell Evaluates the World’s Top Driving Machines by Roger Bell

Full of enough acronyms and jargon to intimidate the casual car enthusiast, and brimming with glossy shots of shiny hoods, gleaming engines, and plush interiors to make the hardcore auto-eroticist blow his load a few pages in. Who cares about erectile dysfunction when your hands are fondling the gear shift of a Ferrari at 203 miles an hour? If you don’t, then this motor show is for you. Just take care to mop up the saliva (or whatever) stains.

New Complete Sailing Manual by Steve Sleight

Cover of "The New Complete Sailing Manual...

Cover of The New Complete Sailing Manual

What, you don’t own your own boat yet? Then at least own this book. It’ll be handy for bluffing your way through affairs on a yacht or at the yacht club. This comprehensive manual teaches the basics of sailing from navigation to boat care. Get a tan, blow some wind into your hair, learn which side is port or starboard, and you’re all set for the next regatta (or at least the next clothes shopping trip to Regatta).

The Horseman’s Bible by Jack Coggins

Cover of "The Horseman's Bible"

Cover of The Horseman’s Bible

The original luxury conveyance, purebred horses trump sports cars or yachts any day. There’s something primal and sensual about horse-riding. In terms of prestige and sex appeal, a man on a horse evokes such noble imagery as polo matches, fox-hunting, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Horse racing isn’t called the sport of kings for nothing. Besides, having this book lying around provides you with a great back-up explanation for owning all those Mane & Tail products. Since horses don’t usually come with their own instruction manual, this classic guide is the best one you can get.

The Architecture of I.M. Pei by Carter Wiseman

Here’s a thorough retrospective on one of the most important architects alive. To even the most architecturally clueless people, you can always point out that he’s the guy who designed the Essensa towers at the Fort. This thoughtful and detailed look at Pei and his work is heavy on the textual content, sketches, and diagrams, but a bit skimpy on the color photos. If it’s a good enough hobby for Brad Pitt, then maybe there’s something sexy about blueprints that we guys ought to look into.

Hip Hotels series by Herbert Ypma

Herbert Ypma seduces us with a procession of the world’s chicest and quirkiest boutique resorts and hotels. These slickly designed paperbacks give readers a peek at the lush interiors of the ultra-modern getaways that are Ypma’s focus, while dozens of detail-rich thumbnail shots help capture each hotel’s interior mood. Although the vivid layout might skirt the edge of sensory overload, Ypma’s writing remains immensely readable and full of flair. Fortunately, some of the establishments he highlights are so hiply obscure, you can get away with talking as if you’ve been to them without having even set foot on the same continent.

photo by Tata Tuviera

-text by Jude Defensor, some rights reserved. first published in Manual magazine, 2005 

Corpses and Coincidence

first published 2002

Cover of "Death du Jour (Temperance Brenn...

Cover via Amazon

Kathy Reichs‘ novel Death du Jour has a B-movie thriller’s plot and an art film’s production design. Every year, forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan commutes between Quebec and the Carolinas, teaching in two universities and helping solve crimes in laboratories thousands of miles apart. What most distinguishes this quite satisfactory detective novel are its exceptionally refreshing locales. The author’s bracing depictions of murder and corpses in Montreal and the chillier regions of French Canada go down like ice water. Whereas her scenes set in the antebellum American South emanate a honeysuckle-perfumed charm. Because of Ms. Reichs’ deft descriptive abilities, I readily forgave her for asking me to swallow the first obvious coincidence she throws at us. But by the second coincidence, one may start raising one’s eyebrows. When she finally slaps us in the face with lights-a-blazing coincidence number three, one can’t help but maybe feel a little resentful of the plot’s disingenuousness. Admittedly, there is enough suspense to keep the story moving at a functional pace. And yet mystery aficionados might be able to predict the revelations while they’re still whole continents away. But in this genre of fiction, even though there may be few legitimate surprises and the grand dénouement rings artificial, it’s the shivers and goose bumps along the way that count.  And this book can sure bring them on, at least as effectively as a pack of frozen tarantulas.

In her heroine Temperance “Tempe” Brennan we get the familiar patented feisty, noble, divorced, unconventionally attractive wonder woman. Tempe feels a lot like an idealized template of the author’s own fantasy persona. She’s so decent and proficient she could be an action figure. And for accessories she even has a beautiful, intelligent daughter and a gruffly sexy Canadian detective lover.  We also must not forget the family cat, who even gets the spotlight for a couple of chapters. In fact, it is in this cat subplot where Reichs effectively milks some genuine distress, grief, and subsequent relief.

Reichs parades most of forensics’ tricks and stunts for maximum reader awe and titillation. We get whiz-bang demonstrations of anthropometrics, genealogy, DNA analysis, and entomology. And of course there’s sure to be lots of autopsy action. The good thing going for Ms. Reichs, a real-life forensic anthropologist, is that she can write about these specialized subjects with convincing authority. The jargon and science sound real and practical. She’s rather skillful with the guts and gore too. Her descriptions of some of the unfortunate victims will definitely affect the squeamish. If character interaction is what you’re after, then Tempe’s flirtations with rugged detective Andrew Ryan are something to look forward to. Reichs is actually a very good writer whose plots and characters may just need a smidgen more artistry in their construction. Her prose is crystalline and her dialogue textured. I believe that fans of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books may find her work a welcome alternative. And if you’re at all interested in morbid details then you’re in for a treat with this one. For our post-mortem findings, Death du Jour is a book full of fascinating elements suspended within an incongruous framework. It’s enjoyable enough, even potentially thrilling, if you don’t analyze the plot too much. Sticking true to the theme, that makes this novel a lot like a dead body. It looks a lot better when it hasn’t been dissected. Well, in forensic fiction, wouldn’t that be a relief?

-text by Jude Defensor, some rights reserved

A worthwhile bet on a winning book.

In Memoriam: Dick Francis Book Display - Centr...

In Memoriam: Dick Francis Book Display - Central Library 2010 (Photo credit: mySAPL)

first published 2002

At the horse races, picking a winner is a far from straightforward task. Tall, haughty thoroughbreds can just as easily be beaten by a horse with humbler bearing.  As it stands, Dick Francis‘s Forfeit, a slim, unpretentious-looking volume, doesn’t seem like much. But the writing within this sleek, efficient thriller can effortlessly trounce that of the thick literary wannabes it shares shelf space with any day. The contrast becomes even more pronounced when you find out that the author is a former horseracing jockey (the Queen Mother’s favorite even) turned sportswriter, and that this book is one of his earlier efforts. Dick Francis fans have long regarded Forfeit as one of his best novels, a high-water mark in his long, best-selling career. Francis’s stories are largely set in and around the world of horses and racing.  Like myself, you may only have a passing familiarity with “The Sport of Kings”. Or you could be the type of person who ignores the sports pages completely and have never set one foot into a hippodrome. You might even look down on racing. And yet Francis’s stories transcend their milieu. Don’t worry if you’re not a horse lover, the way he writes you won’t know you aren’t.

Despite his many novels, Francis rarely repeats characters. His fans and critics say that he writes about people whom you want to be friends with. It’s remarkable how he keeps coming up with a fresh cast to fit each of the different settings and plots of his books. In Forfeit, the protagonist is suave sports writer James Tyrone, a gentleman of admirable depth and decency. The book starts when a drunken colleague seemingly jumps to his death mere minutes after leaving Tyrone with an enigmatic warning that hints at blackmail. Our hero then finds himself mixed up in an international racket that takes advantage of the British races’ unique system of ante-post betting.  As he leads his paper’s effort to stop the criminals, the married Tyrone must also wrestle with his own conscience as he pursues an affair with a beautiful biracial lady.

The novel’s plot gallops along at an exhilarating pace. And except for one incredulous incident involving a drunken Tyrone and a mugful of coffee, the situations remain believable, just a step within the right side of hyper-real. The cast of characters, from news editor to horse breeder to hired nurse, all emerge as finely drawn creations. This is no mean feat considering the book’s modest length. The climax elicits appropriate levels of adrenalin. And for a thriller, the ending is exquisite in its poignancy. Once you’ve gotten to know the characters well (and you will want to), finishing this book will be an act of fond regret as you bid farewell to the endearing Mr. Tyrone and the lively universe in which he exists.

Dick Francis

Dick Francis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most readers, part of the fun of reading Dick Francis is the fact that you’re being introduced to refreshingly unfamiliar environments and professions. Apart from the well–crafted mysteries, it’s entertaining to peek inside this unique world and learn a little something about horses, racing, and the culture surrounding them. There’s always a sentence or two that really makes you appreciate Francis’ writing skills as much as his knowledge of animals, sports, and whatever other subject he happens to be exploring. Forfeit stands out as an excellent example of his work. This book is a winner, you bet on it.

-text by Jude Defensor, some rights reserved

This Bird Can Bugle

first published 2002

The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louis is a Trumpeter Swan, a species of bird renowned for their majestic proportions and distinctive loud cries of “Ko-hoh!” And yet Louis is born mute, which makes it difficult for him to communicate with his fellow swans, and renders his prospects for finding a mate rather bleak.  Now most authors would stop there and churn out an “inspiring” story about how because of his pure heart and good character, Louis is accepted by his fellow swans despite his disability. But not E.B. White, the author of such classic children’s books as Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little (from which the popular movie was based).  He has a lot more fun with the narrative, and so do we, his grateful readers.  To those familiar with his other works, The Trumpet of the Swan (Harper Trophy paperback edition, available from National Bookstore) is not as poignant as Charlotte’s Web and doesn’t have as many thrills as Stuart Little. What it does have going for it is a truly magnificent depiction of the North American wilderness. Trumpeter swans are described in brilliantly evocative passages wherein you really get a sense of the remarkable beauty of these wild animals and their natural environs. This is especially great for city kids who only get to encounter such creatures and places in books.  Country kids are not neglected as Louis manages to sign up for a few trumpeting engagements in big cities; and he even gets to stay at the Ritz-Carlton.  Another surprising aspect of the book is its rather frank depiction of swan mating rituals, which I will not go into in any more detail.

There are no villains in this book. The token incredulous adults and ornery kids are quite easily reasoned with and pose no great danger to our hero.  The other characters may at first find it unusual for a swan to be able to read, write, and play the trumpet, but never are  Louis’  abilities  thought of as ridiculous and nobody  remains stubbornly unconvinced.  The story’s main conflict really is with how Louis copes and ultimately triumphs over his “speech defect” (as the author so charmingly refers to his being mute.)  Of the book’s supporting cast, Louis’ dad is especially winning.  In this character the author manages to combine the fierce affection of a protective father, the preening haughtiness of a regal swan, and the awe-inspiring magnificence of an untamed creature.  Now is exactly the right time to go and read this literary gem, as it has just been lovingly adapted into a polished animated feature film.  Presented by Tristar Pictures, the movie features the vocal talents of popular Hollywood stars such as Reese Witherspoon as Louis’ lady love Serena, Mary Steenburgen and Jason Alexander as his parents, and Seth Green.  As proven by the widely-recognized classic cartoon Charlotte’s Web, which was also richly animated, and the whiz-bang computer-generated-imagery packed Stuart Little, it is always a wonderful treat for anyone to see E.B. White’s endearing characters come to life on screen.

Cover of "The Trumpet of the Swan"

Cover of The Trumpet of the Swan

One may be easily misled by the book’s title and first few paragraphs, which can lull one into thinking that it might resemble a lyrical but tedious National Geographic feature. On the contrary, the book’s prose is expressive yet far from dull. Grand but fun is how one may best describe E.B. White’s writing.  He even throws in a few puns that only grown-up music enthusiasts may catch.  This Harper Trophy volume is a lovely rendition of the book; the attractive typeface alone makes for very pleasant reading. Much praise should be bestowed upon award-winning artist Fred Marcellino’s charming and cheeky illustrations. They add considerable magic to the narrative, and by themselves are enough to make one grin or giggle.  To be honest, ever mindful of the author’s propensity for semi-tragic events, I was a bit on edge reading Trumpet.  At the back of my mind I couldn’t prevent myself from constantly looking out for any possible calamity befalling the characters.  With great relief, the book disappointed me in this respect as no great disaster occurs. The story, while not 100% tension-free, thankfully  possesses a complete lack of gloom. You will finish The Trumpet of the Swan smiling, with nary a sniffle. It is this cheering, soothing quality of the story which guarantees that before long, your child’s copy will be dog-eared, spine-scarred, and as battered and worn as a favorite toy; which I wholeheartedly believe is the best review any well-read kid can give a book.

-text by Jude Defensor, some rights reserved

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