Thursday, 29 September 2011

Rain May and Captain Daniel

I wish I'd found this book another way. I'd never heard of Rain May and Captain Daniel until last week when I was blogging and thinking about The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley. A book that I loved.  I came to realise that Cedar B. Hartley was only shortlisted for the 2003 Younger Readers Book of the Year Children's Book Council of Australia Awards. Shortlisted. It didn't win. That meant that the judges thought another book was better than the delightful Cedar! Rain May and Captain Daniel was that book. Winner of the Younger Readers Book of the Year 2003. But I'd never heard of it. Or the author. Why not? I don't know.

Rain May and Captain Daniel is a fine book. An excellent book even. But the whole time I read it, I was wondering, why, why did this beat Cedar? That's an unfair way to approach a book I suspect. Still if I'd been a judge of the CBCA Awards in 2003 would I have voted for Rain May or Cedar to win? I don't know. Thankfully, noone has ever asked me to be a judge.

Catherine Bateson is a rather prolific and lauded Australian author. Turns out she has won the Book of the Year Younger Reader, not once, but twice in the past 9 years, and made the short list many other times! That's pretty good going. It seems she rose to prominence in the poetry world and has written several verse novels. This in part explains my lack of knowledge- I really am a complete nincompoop as regards poetry.

Rain May is the story of a girl called Rain. Her parents have recently separated and she is forced to move with her mother from their inner city Melbourne life to a small town in the country. They move into her grandmothers old house, which has been rented out since Rain's grandmother died 4 years earlier. Twelve year old Rain is less than thrilled by the move, and by her parents separation. She meets and befriends Captain Daniel, the boy who lives next door to Granny's, who is just a tad obsessed with Star Trek.

The book is told in the alternate voices of Rain May and Captain Daniel. I've always enjoyed multiple narrators, and this book does it really well. Rain writes in a simple narrative style. Captain Daniel writes The Captains Log. Stardate included. It's very funny. I suspect Catherine Bateson, or her kids, has watched a bit of Star Trek.

Her name's Rain, not after the astronomer in Future's End, Star Trek, Voyager, Season 3, but after a poem. She's heavily into poetry. She writes fridge poetry. I don't know anyone who writes poetry. They tried to make us do it at school but the Klingons wrote obscene limericks instead. 
Captain Daniel is a bit of a dweeb. He's very bright, and into chess and Star Trek. Not terribly popular pursuits in small town rural Australia. Daniel is a lonely kid, and picked on at school. Rain likes him though, and they go exploring the local area, trying to find platypus in the river.

Rain is indeed named after an e e cummings poem, and she and her mother do write fridge poetry to each other with one of those packs of fridge magnets with words. She makes the pithy and oh so true comments common of the serious book for younger readers.

It beats me why kids who are liked by adults are always the ones not liked at school. 

I think Rain May and Captain Daniel, is perhaps a more earnest book than Cedar B. Hartley. Maybe that's why it won. They're both very good, and both deal with big topics. Both girls have absent fathers- Cedar's has died, Rain's has left and is living with his new girlfriend.  Cedar possiby has a lighter touch, although both are full of memorable characters and they have introduced me to two amazing new Aussie authors. Now I want to read more of Catherine Bateson, and yes my TBR just got even bigger....

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday 28/9/11

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a fabulous weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our weekly reading.  

My first word today comes from an article in the SMH on an author I wasn't familiar with, Helen Hodgman.

Anomie (noun)

The story of Blue Skies, about a young mother in a state of anomie, has echoes of Hodgman's own experience.

1. Social instability caused by erosion of standards and values.
2. Alienation and purposelessness experienced by a person or a class as a result of a lack of standards, values or ideals. The Free Dictionary.

This next one is from a blog post on Charlotte's Library, a review of Come Back, Lucy.

Spillikins (noun)

Lucy has lived a very quiet childhood brought up by her extremely old-fashioned aunt--playing spillikins and croquet, educated at home, and generally out-of-step with modern (1970s) children.

The game of jackstraws. The Free Dictionary.

Well that doesn't help, I haven't heard of jackstraws either. 

The thesaurus part of the Free Dictionary helps. A game in which players try to pick each jackstraw (or spillikin) off a pile without moving any of the others.

Ah, what I would have called Pick Up Sticks. I think spillikins is a better name.

My final words today comes from Walter Farley's 1941 classic The Black Stallion.

Huckster (Noun)

Alec helped to harness old Napoleon to the little huckster's wagon.

The Free Dictionary has three definitions
1.One who sells wares or provisions in the street; a peddler or hawker.
2.One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product.
3.Informal. One who writes advertising copy, especially for radio or television.

Clearly Walter Farley was using the first meaning.

Tony's wagon might have looked like this
Hobbyhorse (Noun)

Made the track record look like it was made by a hobbyhorse.

Again 3 definitions from The Free Dictionary
1. A child's riding toy that consists of a long stick with an imitation horse's head on one end.
2. A figure of a horse worn attached to the waist of a mummer, as in a morris dance.
3. A topic that one frequently brings up or dwells on; a fixation.

Ah, if I'd ever known that these were called hobbyhorses then I'd forgotten that! Of course these days I'm much more familiar with the "getting on one's hobbyhorse" usage.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

All Sorts of Stupidity 3

It's been a while since a mere newspaper article got me this stirred up. Perhaps it's because it combines my two great loves- children's books and food.

Eric Carle's 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar is under attack in Melbourne.

I wasn't lucky enough to have this book be part of my childhood but I made sure that my son enjoyed The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a toddler. And enjoy it he did. He loved that book. We read it over and over and over again. I think it was one of the very first (and few actually) books that he "read" to me.

For those not overly familiar with the story- a little caterpillar is born on a leaf one fine Sunday morning. He sets about to eat as caterpillars do. Ravenously. Initially he chomps his way through a mountain of fruit, on the way teaching kids counting and days of the week. But he was STILL hungry. So he goes on a binge. And it's funny, and gross. And the kids get that it's funny and gross, and too much, and way over the top.

But clearly a bunch of do-gooder parents in Melbourne hasn't worked it out. They don't get the joke. They have replaced Carle's OTT 1969 binge with what? Low fat yoghurt! And Steamed Broccoli.

Picture credit

Oh please. Spare me. The world really is going insane.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley

I love finding wonderful new authors, particularly wonderful new Aussie authors! Martine Murray was unknown to me before I read this fabulous book. I'd seen the cover around about the place, but don't remember ever reading a review, although there was a glowing one in The Guardian

Thankfully this book was selected to be in the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up that I am reading my way through (I've now read 169/1001- there's a long time before I can hope to be Grown Up!). 

This book was shortlisted in the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards (Book of the Year- Younger Readers) for 2003. Shortlisted. It didn't win! Which got me to wondering what did that year. It was a book I haven't heard of at all - Catherine Bateson's Rain May and Captain Daniel. I think I may have to read that now. Which is the bad part of reading a Great Book. I now want to read all of Martine Murray's books, and this one that beat Cedar. Yes, my TBR just got even longer. 

Cedar B. Hartley is a young girl growing up in suburban Melbourne. But she prefers to be called Lana Monroe, as that has a famous kind of ring to it. She lives with her mother who works full time with brain-injured people. Her father is dead, and her older brother, Barnaby, has been sent away somewhere and keeps in touch by sending cryptic postcards. 

First there's me, and I'm exasperating and potentially infamous. My name is Lana Monroe. I have red hair and I'm twelve, almost thirteen, which means I'm not old enough to be invited to play in Harold's bungalow but I'm too old for making water bombs or playing cumquat wars.  That's for kids. 

Cedar hangs out on her street after school before her mother gets home from work. Like lots of kids she knows the neighbours. Her friend Caramella. The gay couple. The Yugoslavian lady and her dog. Things happen after her dog, Stinky, goes missing. Cedar meets Kite, the bird boy, who teaches her to fly. 

Cedar gives us possibly the best explanation of dog people and cat people ever. 
The way I figure it, the world is made up of two types of people-dog people and cat people. If you drew a line down the middle and said all dog people on one side and cat people on the other, then the dog side of the world would be chaotic and muddy, an exuberant unparticular big kind of a place with many trees. The cat side would be clean and deliberate and full of sunny patches and silk couches. I belong to the dog side, so does my mum, and even Barnaby. But Marnie Aitkin, she definitely belongs to the cat side. It's the coral coloured fingernails. 
And how boys think

The thing about boys is that they don't talk in the same way as girls. They talk about things. Out-and-about things, things you can touch and see, not the things that are inside. Those inside things aren't really things at all, since you can't see them-not with your eyes- and you can't hold them- not with your hands. So they're situations. I call them situations of the heart. Boys don't talk about heart situations. If they're blokish, they talk about bulky things that move, like cars, footballs and chicks. If they're natty sharp, they go on about plug-and-socket things, like computers, stereos and science experiments. I think really smart boys probably talk about the government and the theatre, but there aren't many that smart. The smooth talkers talk about girls they see on the tram, and older boys like Barnaby talk about music, bands and marijuana, and what an antelope doesn't know. I don't think many boys talk about what an antelope doesn't know; only Barnaby, because he's a dreamer like our Dad was.

I really love books written in the first person, especially those with a unique, funny voice. They're some of the most memorable books for me. Vernon God Little springs to mind. And Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang.  We Need to Talk About Kevin. I definitely loved the vibe of the thing here. I loved the story. I loved the cover. I loved the little illustrations that were included as part of the text. 

I think we should all plan to live an unusual life! I'll definitely be reading more of Martine Murray's work. 

Kid Konnection is a weekly childrens book feature at Booking Mama

Saturday, 24 September 2011


Whilst butter is low GI by definition (ie it's completely fat with no carbohydrates), it doesn't quite fit into the ethos of my low GI blog. So I shall post about my excursions into butter making here.

I was lucky enough to receive a Thermomix for my birthday a few months ago. It was a big surprise for me, although we had casually chatted about replacing my ageing, and lets face it not-quite-up-to-it-anymore blender, but hadn't got around to it.

We've been using for all sorts of things- sorbet, custard, soup, risotto. But one of the things that made my heart race when I first looked through the book was the chance to make home made butter. It seems so down on the farm, and yet it's done in a completely modern, high-tech way.

It's a really cool, simple process. You pour cream in, and whizz it around really fast. Within a minute or so it looks like this:

Then the buttermilk separates out

You add water and "wash" it for a few seconds

Re-blitz (at which you can add salt if you like) and you have home made butter! All in under 5 minutes.

Sometimes Mr Wicker makes homemade bread

And we can have our homemade butter on our homemade bread

It's almost like we're Amish or something.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.


A walk through the local botanic gardens is nice at any time of year, but particularly lovely in Spring. It was Gorgeous last weekend. 

Bulbs and blossoms everywhere:

The wattle is starting to be a little past its prime, but still lovely

And I think this is the most magnificent Rhodendron I've ever seen. Massive plate sized blooms!

And this isn't even the birds that I went to photograph! They'll be for next week.

Saturday Snapshot, is a wonderful weekly meme from at home with books.

The 13-Storey Treehouse

Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton are another successful, enduring author/illustrator partnership. They have quite a prolific output. This year has seen at least two books- What Body Part is That? and now The 13-Story Treehouse. They seem to have books scheduled every 6 months coming up into next year.

My 10 year old son went through quite an Andy Griffiths phase a few years ago- he acquired lots of his Just books. I've read a few of those- some stories were very funny for the mother of a young boy as well as being funny for a young boy. The majority were more funny for young boys, which is after all their intended readership. The 13-Storey Treehouse was another book that was funny to the mothers of young boys as well.

Andy and Terry (the characters, not the author/illustrators) live in a fabulous 13-storey treehouse. Of course it's not your average 13-storey treehouse! It has some fantastic features like a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a lemonade fountain and a marshmallow gun that fires your favourite flavoured marshmallows into your mouth whenever you're hungry.

It's hard to give any real indication of the plot, except that it relates an average day in the life of Andy and Terry as they laze away in the treehouse, with a book deadline looming. Suffice to say that it involves sea monkeys, catnaries and Jimi Handrix (yes the a is intentional, actually I think Andy Griffiths has a Jimi Hendrix fascination, he featured in the last book as well). The 13-Storey Treehouse is plain silly really, and funny. My 10 year old is quite keen to read this, and then I shall donate it to his school library so that other kids can enjoy it too.

Kid Konnection is a weekly childrens book feature at Booking Mama

Thursday, 22 September 2011

John Glasby and Badger Books

Reading the obituaries is always interesting. You read of people's lifetime of achievements, their enduring passions, how they lived. Sometimes the people are famous of course, sometimes they're not, and that doesn't matter. Sometimes you probably should have heard of them, but haven't before their death.

John Glasby was one such man that I'd not heard of before. I've just read his London Telegraph obituary that was reprinted in the Sydney Morning Herald. John Glasby was a mild mannered chemist by day (although perhaps mention of his research on detonators and rocket propellants suggest otherwise), but in his spare time he churned out hundreds of novels and short stories across many genres. Most of his works were published under  pseudonyms so I feel less bad about not having heard of him before.

The obituary is fascinating but is less about the man than the company he wrote for. Indeed it seems that John Glasby and Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe wrote most Badger Books. A fascinating piece of publishing history to read that Badger Books would get the cover art first, and then get the author to write the story for it- often over a weekend! I'm not exactly certain that this is how high art is usually crafted. I don't know that I'd heard of Badger Books particularly before either, but the style of cover is certainly immediately recognisable.

I'm sure we've all seen them, even though Badger Books stopped publishing in 1967. My library has 10 John Glasby books- all in large print format- I guess he's popular with the older readership. I'm going to keep an eye out for one of his books. I'm always astonished at the authors who published hundreds and hundreds of titles. Barbara Cartland was like that too. I read one of her books, simply because she had published 700+ titles. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting but I wouldn't want to read 100 of them, let alone 700.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Top Ten Books I Feel Like Everyone Has Read Except Me.

Top Ten Books I Feel Like Everyone Has Read Except Me. 

I'm sure that this list could extend way beyond 10. But here's 10 off the top of my head. 

I've read it now!
See my review

I've read it now!
See my review

I've read it now!
See my review

I've read it now!
See my review

I've read it now!
See my review

It's funny I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday for some time, some of these books are clearly weighing heavily on my conscience, as many appeared back here too.... I need to take the next step I think. I did buy Anne Frank since last I compiled a list, perhaps it's time to read it. Although I'm planning on saving it for my first visit to Amsterdam (whenever that joyous event occurs).

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!


Jackie French is very famous in Australia. Not surprising as she is just about everywhere. She writes a gardening column in The Women's Weekly- one of Australia's longest running and biggest selling magazines. She used to be on the tele, not sure if she still is. She famously loves wombats and chooks. She writes picture books for children. And she has written many, many books for older children. 

Whilst I've read quite a number of her picture books, and some of her gardening advice books, (although sadly I don't need much day to day advice on wombat wrangling) I'd never read any of her books for older readers. My son's teacher has been reading his Year 5 class one of French's other recent books A Waltz for Matilda this year, and he remains very taken with it. So when I saw the many glowing reviews about the place for her latest book, Nanberry, and found myself with plane tickets to cross the Pacific, and many hours of reading time, I knew that this book had to be part of my holiday reading. And I'm so glad I did. This is an absolutely fascinating book that brings the reality of life in early Sydney vividly to life. 

Nanberry is an Aboriginal boy living with his family on the shores of Sydney Harbour when strange ships sail into the harbour in 1788. Soon unknown disease takes a dreadful toll on the native population and Nanberry is left sick and orphaned. He is treated and then adopted by the colony's first surgeon, John White. Nanberry comes to live with "Father White", his maid Maria and an orphaned possum. Nanberry grows up between the two cultures, black and white. At times he takes over the role of translator for the colony, when Bennelong can't. He later has an adoptive white brother, Andrew White, who is Father White's son with his common law convict wife Rachel Turner. 

One of the great aspects of Nanberry, is that it is soundly based in fact. These are real people, having imagined conversations. The vast amount of research that Jackie French has done is easily woven into the story. Disease. Squalor. Poverty. Food rationing, that requires guests at the Governor's residence to bring their own bread rolls, as there was not enough in the Governor's allocation to cater for them. There is a great section of notes at the back of the back fleshing out some other details not covered in the story. 

I know so little of Australia's early history that it really is shameful. Sure, I know some basics, but that's about it. I gasped when I realised that Balmain was named after someone! (William Balmain, Assistant Surgeon to White, later Principal Surgeon after White retired). It's astonishing to realise that John White was still the surgeon in Sydney when members of my family arrived on the Third Fleet in 1791, and sad to learn why several of them died so very soon after arriving. 

And what an amazing world we live in that we can so easily see a digitized copy of John White's Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales! Complete with his illustrations. We don't have to travel to a great library and don white gloves to reverently inspect the manuscript, although that would be such a delight. But how easy it is to lie in bed on a sick day, with a lap top, and peer into our history like this? 

Jackie French has crafted a cracking tale of life in early Sydney that is too good to leave for the kids. But I really hope the kids read it too. 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Gucci Bike

I did a double take when I saw this in the Gucci window in George St, Sydney earlier in the year. Not that I peer into Gucci shop windows all that often. But I was surprised to see a bike. A beautiful bike of course, with fancy detailing.

Saturday Snapshot, is a wonderful weekly meme from at home with books.

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Magic Finger

I've come to Roald Dahl quite late. Most of it really wasn't written in time for my own childhood, but I've been introduced to him via my son. Roald Dahl is certainly a favourite with Australian primary school teachers of the naughties. I've read much of his children's work now, but still have a few titles that I haven't read. My favourites thus far are The BFG and The Minpins.

To celebrate Roald Dahl Day this year I decided to read The Magic Finger. Not a well known title for me. The Magic Finger is actually one of his earlier titles for children, published in 1966. An unnamed 8 year old girl lives next door to the Gregg family. The Greggs are all keen hunters, shooting deer and ducks. The girl doesn't like hunting at all, and when she doesn't like things her Magic Finger gets going. The girl is almost like a sketch for Matilda in a way. The book is quite anti-hunting, and I was surprised to find it was published so early, on reading it I presumed it was one of his later works. I'm glad to have read it though.

Every time I read something about Roald Dahl I'm more surprised by him. He wrote screenplays in the 60s for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a James Bond You Only Live Twice. In the back of The Magic Finger there are two pages describing A Day in the Life of Roald Dahl. He liked to take a leisurely breakfast in bed and read his mail. He would go to his writing shed in the garden at 1030, then work til midday. On returning to the house he would typically lunch on Norwegian prawns, mayonnaise and lettuce, washed down with a gin and tonic. I'm liking him more and more! He would then have an afternoon nap, and return to write between 4 and 6. I now feel that I'm much more cut out for the life of a famous writer than I am for that of the workaday drone existence that I remain condemned to.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday 14/9/11

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a fabulous weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our weekly reading.  

New words can turn up anywhere. Even reading your friends blog which is usually about chocolate but sometimes about soup. And brilliant green soupy diadems.

1. Diadem (noun)

A crown worn as a sign of royalty. The Free Dictionary.

Picture credit (fascinating story too)

I recently read Jackie French's new book Nanberry. It's getting fabulous reviews around the place, and deservedly so. Any historical fiction will usually give you some interesting new words, and Nanberry was no exception.

1. Collops (noun)

She had fried the kangaroo collops in the giant skillet, and added a dust of flour and water to make their gravy.

A small portion of food or a slice, especially of meat. A roll of fat flesh. Middle English. The Free Dictionary.

2. Lags (noun)
Then he saw them: a line of lags in convict grey, chains linking their ankles as they shuffled up the road.

Whilst I knew the falling behind kind of lag, and that one can lag pipes for insulation I was unfamiliar with this usage. The Free Dictionary tells us that lag is indeed a convict, or ex-convict in British slang, and that it can actually mean the act of imprisonment too.

3. Skeps (noun)
Neat farmhouses with bee skeps behind them, and big eyed dairy cows; here an orchard of peach trees and ripening plums or a boy shepherding a small flock of sheep, heavy with wool; there bullockies with teams of sixteen or more, hauling loads of logs or sacks or what he supposed was grain.

A beehive, especially one constructed of straw. The Free Dictionary.

Picture Credit

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Illustrated Mum

I was very excited to finally get to read a Jacqueline Wilson book. She is a children's book phenomenon. She has written over 90 books, selling more than 30 million books in the UK alone, and was Children's Laureate in the UK from 2005-2007. She has had a long term partnership with illustrator Nick Sharratt, which gives her books a very distinctive feel, much the same as the Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake partnership makes those books instantly recognisable.

Jacqueline Wilson is particularly famous for writing children's books that deal with non-traditional families with all too common problems- marital breakdown, drug and alcohol problems, mental illness. Her families aren't perfect. The Illustrated Mum is certainly one of those books. Marigold is the illustrated mum of the title. She is possibly alcoholic, she certainly drinks much more than is good for her, and she has untreated manic depression. She has two girls, Star and Dolphin, who she does love and is doing her best to bring up despite the chaos of her own internal world. Marigold uses her skin as a canvas for self-treatment and believes that each new tattoo will make things better, or at least represent her life struggles. 

As with many families where the parents aren't fully around for whatever reason, the children are older and wiser beyond their years, yet still wanting their mother to love them and parent them. The girls generally take care of things- shopping, cooking, getting themselves to school, although Dolphin has taken to wearing the same black,witch dress every day to school which she thinks gives her magic powers. She and her clothes probably aren't all that clean. But she certainly loves her mum, despite the chaos and uncertainty in each and every day.

Marigold's backstory is hinted at -the abuse whilst in foster care when she was a child, stints in psychiatric hospitals, and a stream of men with whom she has tried to find happiness or love. However she is still infatuated with Micky, Star's father, and dreams and plots of getting back together with him, even though she doesn't  know where he lives. Indeed, neither girl has met their father. 

I liked this story well enough, but wasn't as bowled over as I was expecting to be. Perhaps it was too much like a family I would see at work? Marigold, Star and Dolphin were certainly very real characters to me.  My copy (Corgi Yearling 2007) has an introduction by Jacqueline Wilson where she recounts her inspiration for this book. She was sitting in Central Park, New York with her daughter Emma when they noticed "a thin tattooed mother walking with two little girls in dress up clothes, tiaras in tangled hair, and skinny ankles wobbling in big silver high-heeled sandals". I certainly admire the fact that she can take this brief sighting on the street and turn it into such a thought provoking book. 

I find it really interesting that this book, and indeed this style of book is so overwhelmingly popular with young girls- and clearly they are. There is no doubting that. Jacqueline Wilson gets mobbed by her many young fans whenever she makes public appearances. Perhaps kids can see more of the family striving to go forward together no matter what the difficulties? Whereas as an adult reader I concentrate on the parental short comings and see what it is doing to the children? I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Jacqueline Wilson's work.

A few times Marigold and the girls dance around singing" I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky", this is a very obvious reference to an early Kylie Minogue song (a superstar here in Australia and in the UK, but she never had all that much success in the US)- ah the 80s! Ah Stock, Aitken and Waterman! We were all so young back then....

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

13 Sculptures Children Should Know

My love affair with this series continues. As does my art education. Here I knew 33% of the cover art, hardly an achievement given that Michelangelo's David is possibly the most famous sculpture in the world.

Winged Victory of Samothrace
Nicholas of Verdun, Shrine of the Three Kings
Dancing Ganesha
Great Buddha of Kamakura
Michelangelo, David
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Fountain of the Four Rivers
Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais
Mbala Mask
Constantin Brancusi, Endless Column
Claes Oldenburg, Giant Toothpaste Tube
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty
Niki de Saint Phalle, Stravinski Fountain
Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate

I shall concentrate on the three Parisian sculptures, just because I can. I have been lucky enough to see the Winged Victory of Samothrace twice now on visits to her home in the Louvre.

But I didn't know that she was a depiction of the Goddess of Victory, Nike (or indeed why that is the name of a shoe company). She is beautiful and certainly awe inspiring as she is given pride of place at the top of a flight of stairs in the Louvre.

I wasn't familiar with Rodin's Burghers of Calais, despite visiting the Rodin Museum last year. We didn't get to go inside the house, it may be in there, or perhaps we missed it in the grounds. An excellent excuse to plan a return visit anyway. Ah, no, it's outside.

Picture Credit and lengthy info

The Burghers of Calais is fascinating for a number of reasons. It does depict the surrender of Calais in 1347 to the English during the Hundred Year War. Which is an unusual moment for the city of Calais to want to memorialise in such a way. The original is in Calais, 12 copies have been made (most of which were after Rodin's death) which are on display around the world.

The third Parisian sculpture is again one I haven't seen, but only because of my dislike of the architecture of the Centre Georges Pompidou. I've glimpsed it down the rue, but never been interested enough to go a few blocks out of my way. Next time in Paris, I shall have to make the detour. Because lurking nearby is the Stravinsky Fountain created by husband and wife team, Niki de Saint Phalle (the only likely female sculptor I can see in this book) and Jean Tinguely.

Picture Credit
I'm not sure if I like it, but now I will have to see it for myself.

The cover art is of course Michelangelo's David, Claes Oldenburg, Giant Toothpaste Tube and Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty.

See my previous posts
13 Modern Artists Children Should Know
13 Artists Children Should Know
13 Buildings Children Should Know