Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vogelein Clockwork Faerie by Jane Irwin

Vogelein is a Young Adult Graphic novel. As a matter of fact, Vogelein-Clockwork Faerie is one of Booklist's top ten Graphic Novels for 2003. It's the first Graphic novel I've ever read. I was quite impressed. Vogelein is a faerie created by a kind man named Heinrich. He lives in Germany. Since her creation, Vogelein has traveled far and wide making many new friends and one particularly angry enemy. He hates "fir" meaning man. Vogelein is very sad. Fortunately, her friends give her ways to cope with the permanent state of her life like "if it won't kill you, it will only make you stronger."

The book is well put together with great illustrations, beautiful poems written by Yeats, Waltman and even Martin Luther King. There is a glossary and so much helpful material in this book making your journey with Vogelein more fun. You won't forget Vogelein. As a matter of fact, I hope to meet up with her again in other books by the authors.

Ill Met By Moonlight by Sarah Hoyt

It Happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina

It Happened In Italy by Elizabeth Bettina, is a missing part of Italian and Jewish History. Campagna, Ferramonti and other remote Italian towns were places where Jewish people did not experience the horrors of Dachau or Auschwitz. Therefore, the words “concentration camps” were never used by the carabiniere. Some of the rescued people likened their lives to living in a “hotel.”

In these Italian villages the Jewish people went to synagogue, prayed, and families were kept together. They practiced The Bris and cooked matzoh for Passover. While reading Elizabeth Bettina's book, It Happened In Italy, I was amazed to learn the meaning of Christian in Italian. In Italian Christian means human being. Elizabeth Bettina includes many black and white photos in the book. The photos prove the survivors' memories are true.

Elizabeth Bettina is a woman with purpose. Her journey is one of miracles. One group had the chance to meet with Pope Benedict. Each person wanted to share their miracle of hope with the world and to say thank you to the Italians before their earthly journey came to an end.

So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba

"So Long a Letter" by Mariama Ba is a spectacular book. Ramatoulaye is a widow when the novel begins. We meet her while she is in mourning. Soon, we learn about the other sorrows of her heart. Times throughout which she cried and cried. Her healing strength comes through writing this letter to Aissatou. Because the friendship means so much to her Ramatoulaye names her daughter after Aissatou. I thought this was a beautiful way of showing appreciation for a friend who always had a listening ear and a nonjudgmental heart.

In this letter to Aissatou, Ramatoulaye gives details about her marriage to Madou Fall. This lengthy letter is like a flashback in time. Both Aissatou and Ramatoulaye faced the identical situation with their men. Each woman chose a different way to handle their new circumstances. Still, neither woman judges the other woman.

I adored the book for so many reasons. I loved the friendship between the two African women. I enjoyed learning about the West African culture and I liked learning more about the African male. At the last page, I had my pen ready to write down other titles by Mariama Ba. Unfortunately, this is her first and last novel. "Ba died tragically in 1981 in Dakar after a long illness, just before her second novel Le Chant Ecarlate appeared. "So Long A Letter" by Mariamb Ba is translated from the French by Modupe Bode-Thomas.

If anyone can translate the French phrase, I would appreciate knowing the name of the novel in English.

The Dream Room by Marcel Moring

"The Dream Room" by Marcel Moring is about a small family. There is the mother, father, son and grandparents. The family lives in England. The grandparents are of Dutch and English descent. When the book begins, the family are faced with hard ecnomic times. It is after WWII. When the mother also loses her job, a neighbor has the perfect idea. This family will help him with his business. It is a dream come true.

The neighbor is a doll doctor. He also sells airplane kits to hobbyists. For whatever reason, customers are coming into the shop looking at the completed airplanes hanging from the ceiling instead of looking at the kits on the shelves. The art of crafting has gone by the wayside. Why buy the kit? If the plane is already put together, buy the ready made. Perhaps, the war is to be blamed. People fear the passing of time. Time and life are fragile.

David's family live above the doll hospital. The family decides to put the planes together for their neighbor, the doll doctor. I like to think a lot of love and thought went into building each airplane. The father had been an air pilot during the war. When his parachute crashed, by serendipity he discovered his soon to be wife. She was his nurse while he recuperated from many broken bones.

This book is about love and dreams on many different levels. I especially enjoyed reading about the romance between David's father and mother. The way they met one another is unforgettable. There is the mother's love of the Dream Room at David's grandfather's home. In the Dream Room is a curved window and a seat where David's mother would sit dreaming while looking out to sea or reading a book that takes her faraway. Then, of course, there is the father's love of flying. "When he flew his mind emptied and there was nothing but the thrust of the plane...." There is also David's passion for cooking. I love culinary books. This part of the book was really enjoyable to me. I always see male chefs in restaurants or in a movie or on tv. I never think about what these men must have been like as little boys. It's fascinating.

Also, I felt throughout the book a feeling of crossing the globe: Paris, England, Holland and Germany. It made me think about the origins of ourselves and our neighbors. We are complex. Each of us is made up of many different places like a patchworked globe. We are like roses, petal upon petal, layers and layers of shaded differences brought together by the beginnings of love. At the end of the book, Marcel Moring keeps us in the Dream Room through the words of a fable. I will think more about that fable tonight.

The Dewbreaker by Edwidge Danticat

Nadine is about to learn a big secret in her father's life. For years he never liked to have his photo taken, he hid the long scar on his face with his hand and he and Nadine's mother never talked about their past: Haiti, relatives, friends or accomplishments. With Nadine we learn the secret of her father's life.

I like Nadine as a character not only because there is such a big hole in her life but also because of her craft. She is a sculpture. Over and over she strives to understand her father by sculpting him in mahogany and other mediums. I am use to reading about painters. It's not often I have read about sculptures. A woman sculpture makes the story even more interesting.

Edwidge Danticat draws descriptive pictures so well in "The Dew Breaker." Whether it is Florida, New York or Haiti the place, the setting comes alive. Each place feels like a place I've visited in real life or in a dream.

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

Like many of you, I have been a tourist in different places. Jamaica Kincaid begins her book by describing how a tourist looks at the new place he or she has discovered. Jamaica Kincaid seems so right about tourists. I tend to wear ear stoppers and rose colored glasses. This is to keep myself from sights that might make my heart bleed and my eyes to cry. When I am a tourist, I don't want to think about the cleanliness of the water in the swimming pool or ocean. I don't want to think about the life of the waiter or waitress after they serve me and go home. Is their home a cardboard box? What is their health like? Do they receive proper health care? Do their children go to school? No, I don't want to know. This is my moment in the sun. God forbid if anybody drives a cab somewhere to show me real life.

In "A Small Place," Jamaica kincaid writes about the 1974 earthquake that smashed and destroyed parts of Antigua. For example, the public library was badly destroyed. After twelve years there was still a sign on the library. On the sign these words are written the library is going to be repaired. The repairs are pending. Twelve years later the library remained unoccupied and remained in the same shape.

I applaud Jamaica Kincaid for honesty. She doesn't strive to make Antigua, her birthplace, a place like a fantasyland. She seems to be saying the tourists don't know the "real" people or the "real" island when they visit for their vacations.

After she writes from the viewpoint of a tourist, Jamaica Kincaid writes on a personal level. She can tell us the truth about Antigua because this place is her home. She talks about what it was like living under British rule. she talks about corrupt politicians.

Also, she talks about the beauty of the island. "Antigua is too beautiful. Sometimes the beauty of it seems unreal....for no real sunset could look like that; no real seawater could strike that many shades of blue at once; making everything seem thick and deep and bottomless." About one place, Antigua, Jamaica Kincaid snapped my heart back and forth like rubber.