Finding a good illustrated version of a classic fairy tale can be quite a challenge. All too often, the illustrations are ugly, or creepy, or both. The below picture is an excellent example, even though it comes from one of my childhood books and I kind of want to get a copy and kind of never want to see it again:
If terrified ambivalence is not something you are interested in, and being awoken by children/partners afraid of creepy-ass Bosch-styled monsters isn’t your thing, then you might want to check out Jan Brett’s books. She has illustrated and retold literally millions of tales, from the Ukrainian folk tale The Mitten to a version of Three Little Pigs set in Namibia. My boy’s new favorite is her version of Beauty and the Beast.
After seeing the Jean Cocteau and the Disney versions, (oh and that Ron Perlman take too) it would be difficult to approach this classic Perrault story with fresh eyes. But Jan Brett does a fantastic job. The beast isn’t even a lion thing like he is in every other version. He’s a big hairy hog! Which is far less sexy than a lion, which makes Beauty’s decision to marry him that much nobler.
But seriously, it’s no wonder she has 37 MILLION books in print. She’s a terribly talented illustrator. The pictures are so rich and filled with little hidden treats for kids to pick out of the details. Fun.
With the exception of famine, genocide, and people who willingly use the phrase “it’s my time to indulge!” as an excuse for treating themselves to things like sugar free vanilla lattes, Sun Chips, or a Wendy’s Frosty™ frozen dairy desserts, there are few things that I will not stand for more than the rancid sight of a struggling student crumbling under the weight of societal expectations. With so much pestilence, poverty, and permissiveness paralyzing our great land already, it is beyond heartbreaking to witness people—just like you and me!—ostracized and obliterated just because they can’t ace an algebra test, go out for the equestrian team, or sell as many school-fundraising magazine subscriptions as that weird overweight kid who breathes through his mouth and whose family owns the cutlery store in the mall (y’know, the one with the suit of armor standing in front of it) that no one you know has ever stepped foot in.
Perhaps this is why, dear readers, I have chosen to present to you today not just a review, but, rather, a public service announcement that tells the sad yet uplifting tale of just such an unfortunate soul, “Strangers With Candy’s” Jerri Blank.
Like so many unique flowers before her, Jerri has struggled all her life to understand just why it is that she doesn’t fit in. Born into a family that would sooner feed her to the wolves than feed her mind with the great works of Dostoyevsky, Dickens, and Danielle Steele, Jerri’s home life led her astray at an early age to the horrors of the street. Whilst school chums were learning to tie their shoes and tap dance, our fair lass was learning to tie one off just so she could make it through another lap dance. And for what? Another hit of smack instead of her favorite Easy Mac snack? For shame, America. For shame.
Now, in her forties and not-so-lovin’-it, Jerri has made the courageous decision to gather up the pieces of her life, go back to school, and start anew. Though other women her age may be learning to embrace the goddess The View says is within, our Jerri is learning to accept the fact that she must open a window to a new view on life—one that lets her be a heroine without heroin.
This, dear readers, is where you come in.
Though I know many of you must already be reaching for your wallets, wondering how you can help contribute to the renewal of one of our most valuable resources, I am here to tell you that you needn’t shove any more bills down Jerri’s pants to help strip her of her shame. Instead, what you can do is watch all three seasons of the riveting television documentary, “Strangers With Candy,” which details Jerri’s difficult transition back to high school as a not-so-traditional (and how!) student.
As each episode unfolds, you’ll gain a greater and deeper respect and understanding for all the dilemmas faced by women of the night whom have chosen to return to the day. Does being a drug runner make you good at track? How can I choose to walk away from an argument rather than stab a girl’s eye with my six-inch heels? If I sell my body today, does it mean I’ll get an A tomorrow? These are the questions Jerri must ponder every day and the cameras are right there with her, capturing every hesitation and quiet conversation with God.
Of course, amidst all the nervous breakdowns and drug withdrawals, fun with a capital F (Fun!) is also to be had as Jerri engages in wacky adventures with all of her new underage buddies! Watch as she tutors a blind student on human anatomy! Marvel as she challenges the inequalities wrought from our country’s race war by claiming a role in Raisin in the Sun! Cheer her on as she takes back her virginity from the hundreds of liver-spotted hands that have run their bony fingers across her! It’s time to feel good again America and Jerri’s here to massage all that mirth into you for only $75 an hour!
There are so many problems we face, both on our own and as a nation. Wouldn’t it make the world a better place then if, even for thirty minutes, we all took the time to watch a degenerate woman with clearly no hope for the future try to carve out her own little piece of heaven?
Now that’s something I can stand for. That’s the America I want to live in.
Charles P Rogers is off to a great start in 2013. Today, I’d like to inform our readers here on the Charles P Rogers blog of our support for a foundation called: The Heart Truth.
The Heart Truth works to raise awareness about heart disease for women. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer amongst women, accounting for 54 percent of all deaths. This number is up from 37 percent since 1997, and the Heart Truth works to raise awareness and prevent heart disease from claiming so many victims. For more information about the organization and what you can do to get involved, check out the Heart Truth online (http://www.hearrtruth.gov).
To help support this important cause, Charles P Rogers has donated a King Size, limited edition, red leather bed that will be auctioned on eBay between February 1, 2013 and February 10, 2013. The winning bid will be announced on February 14, 2013 – making for a memorable Valentine’s Day. All the proceeds raised from the auction of the bed (and the other items auctioned for the Heart Truth) will be used to support the Heart Truth’s on-going efforts, directly.
While the auction is still several weeks away, a link will be posted on Heart Truth’s website in the coming days with all the information about this fundraising event. House Beautiful will also provide information about this event in its February 2013 issue. You can also learn more about the Heart Truth right here on Charles P Rogers’ domain, by clicking the preceding link.
If you know of anyone who may be interested in this event, we ask that you please share the information above. Armed with knowledge, we can fight back against heart disease.
Throughout the course of the year, you won’t find much jam in my pantry. Maybe a jar of strawberry in the fridge, perhaps a blueberry variety in the cabinet. But that all changes at Christmas time, when I purchase every flavor and color I can find: blackberry, raspberry, peach, orange….even lemon and lime… in order to satisfy everyone’s favorite cookie craving and my pursuit of a colorful holiday platter.
So just about now, I find myself with a refrigerator full of jam, each jar missing only a spoonful or two. What to do? Bake Jammer Biscuits – simple drop biscuits dressed up and shiny with pretty fruit filling. Lightly sweetened and quick to prepare, Jammers are tasty either hot or cold. Let your kids help you bake – they’ll love making little biscuit craters and filling them to the brim with gooey jam.
Then, in a mere 12 minutes, they’ll be feasting on the fruits (ha,ha) of their labor. Crispy outside, melt-in-your-mouth soft middle, just begging for a tall glass of ice cold milk or a mug of hot, hot coffee. Jammers are just right for a grab and go bite or a mid-morning snack; better yet for a jammy breakfast in bed.
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
¼ cup to ½ cup jam
Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly grease baking sheet and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and mix with flour, using a pastry cutter if you like, until mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir vinegar into milk. (You can also use buttermilk in place of the milk and vinegar, if you like.) Pour all at once into flour mixture, and stir until just mixed.
Drop batter onto prepared baking sheet using a greased ¼-cup measure. Grease the back of a spoon, and use to make crater-like indentations in tops of biscuits. Fill each biscuit with approximately 2 teaspoons of jam. Bake until crispy and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
If you are a connoisseur of fine children’s picture books, perhaps you have heard of I Want My Hat Back. Or, if you are regular reader of this blog, maybe you saw my review almost a year ago TO THIS VERY DAY of that lovely, subtle, hilarious book. (If not, don’t worry. I hyperlinked it for you.) Jon Klassen’s new book takes a new twist on what worked so well the first time. This is indeed another story about hat theft in the animal world, only this time we see the crime from the perpetrator’s perspective.
“This is not my hat,” the little fish begins, “I just stole it. I stole it from a big fish. He was asleep when I did it.”
So carries on the little fish while we the readers see that the big fish indeed woke up sooner than the perp anticipated, and indeed the giant victim is hot on the fins of this diminutive ne’er-do-well. And although the little fish makes a good point about the hat being far too small for the big fish, it is not for him to decide! That being said, I think the little bowler looks quite dashing on the little guy, but I cannot approve of his methods of acquisition.
I can, however, approve of this book. Few can take a successful theme and make a second book out of it without it coming off as horribly derivative but Jon Klassen pulls it off brilliantly. Just go read it.