Dec 4, 2012

So it's December...

... and I don't want to leave any books unfinished.

My reading lists will survive the end of the world for sure, but I must finish my books first.
And I know just the perfect place for reading...

Sure, it doesn't look like those fancy library-rooms I've been seeing on the web lately but it's got all the necessary elements: Bookshelf nearby, dictionaries in bed, notebooks and pens, old monitor box turned into table, warm covers, pillows, Kindle,  lamp, cats... What more can a bookaholic want?

Nov 3, 2012

The naming of cats- Neil Gaiman version

"Cats don't have names. (...) Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are so we don't need names."

Later edit : I am currently reading Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The movie has been around for a while now and I was very tempted to watch it during the animation festival, but I kept loyal to my determination to ALWAYS read the book first.

Oct 6, 2012

How to call someone stupid, like a sir

Poor Odysseus, lost at sea for about 20 years, finally comes to the court of the Phaecian king Alcinous, begging for a ship to take him home. Before sending him on his way, Alcinous organizes a feast and some competitions in his honour. All fun and games but all the poor guy can think of is how to get home faster, and then there's this bard, Demodocus, who sings a song about Odysseus himself and his great feats in the Trojan War which makes him weep like a baby.

Then one of the champions of the realms gets this crazy idea in his head to challenge the hero to take part in their games but he's to sulky to think about racing. The thug then claims that Odysseus must be somekind of fraud and not really a great man at all. At this, hero that he is, Odysseus reacts and calls the guy an oaf.

And here comes the good part. It's Homer, for crying out loud, so he's very elegant with his insults.
In the following lines, how to call someone stupid like a sir.

You, you’re a reckless fool—I see that. So,
the gods don’t hand out all their gifts at once,
not build and brains and flowing speech to all.
One man may fail to impress us with his looks
but a god can crown his words with beauty, charm,
and men look on with delight when he speaks out.
Never faltering, filled with winning self-control,
he shines forth at assembly grounds and people gaze
at him like a god when he walks through the streets.

Another man may look like a deathless one on high
but there’s not a bit of grace to crown his words.

Just like you, my fine, handsome friend. Not even
a god could improve those lovely looks of yours
but the mind inside is worthless.

Jul 11, 2012

A gun in her knickers

So, what kind of stories can be found in Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes? Revolting they may be, though utterly realistic and maybe much more interesting for nowadays children.

  • First of all we have a moody arrogant Cinderella who dresses all nice, nylon pantyhose and all, goes to the disco to meet the prince, leaves the party in a hurry and in her underwear (!), one of the Ugly Sisters replaces the famous shoe with one of her own smelly boots. When this fits her, the prince goes all commando and slaughters the two Ugly Sisters, while Cinderella, repentive, agrees she cannot marry a maniac and chooses a nice kind modest marmelade maker. So the morale: Rather than marry up and have your head chopped off, rather date the jam guy and be happy.
Warning! The maniac Prince calls Cindy a slut at one point! Don't read this to your kids unless you want to spend ages trying to explain what that means!

  •  Then we have a very entreprenorial mother of Jack, who gets eatten by the giant up the bean stalk because she hadn't washed properly, so there is some moral conclusion in this story as well:

"A bath" he said "it seems to pay
"I'm going to have one every day"
  • Snow White is a little more decent then I would've imagined, when I tried to guess what Roald Dahl can make of a story where a lovely young maiden shares house with seven old guys. Turns out, they're only addict gamblers
Snow White's father, on the other hand, seems like a very cheeky king:
"Oh, what a nuissance! What a life!
'' Now I must find another wife!
(It's never easy for a king
To find himself that sort of thing)
He wrote to every magazine
And said: "I'm looking for a Queen"
Art least 10 000 girls replied
And asked to be the royal bride.
The king said with a shifty smile,
'I'd like to give each one a trial'
  •  In the other stories, Goldy Locks get told off for the nasty little thing she is, breaking in like that and eating the poor bears' porridge, and Papa Bear has a lovely line to say to his son, here:
'Go upstairs, the Big Bear said,
Your porridge is upon the bed.
But as it's inside mademoiselle,
You'll have to eat her up as well.'
  •  And finally, Little Red Riding Hood, not the most optimistic of stories as it starts with the grandma being eaten by the wolf, and no saving of the poor woman later on. Little Red, however, is one dangerous little girl, who hides a gun in her knickers and shoots the wolf dead then wears his skin instead of her silly childish riding hood. Later on, she reappears in the Three Little Pigs' story to take care of another big bad wolf, who's been watching some cartoons, apparently, since he is planning to blow up the brick house with dynamite. She shoots this wolf as well, but ruthless as she is, she turns the poor surviving piglet into a pigskin travelcase.

So there it is, Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. Refreshing chilling humour on a scorching summer's day. It was worth it.

Business advice from Roald Dahl

From Revolting Rhymes - Jack and the Beanstalk
 Jack's mother said 'We`re stony broke!
' Go out and find some wealthy bloke
' Who'll buy our cow. Just say she's sound
' And worth at least a hundred pound
' But don't you dare let him know
' That she's as old as billy-o.  '

Jun 11, 2012

A moment of bookaholic WIN

Returning home from work today on the subway. Of course, just like any other day, I was reading. I was immersed in some fantastic prose by Mircea Eliade and when I finally looked up from my book and looked around me, I noticed that I was surrounded by people reading. As I took the escalator to the surface there were four of us with our books and kindles  one after another carelessly reading on the escalator one more page before we had to walk again. And I felt less alone.

May 23, 2012

Finite incantatem...

...because I have finished, finally, volume 7 of Harry Potter.

Still infatuated with Hogwarts, especially since I've been sick and feverish lately so I've been having nightmares about my friends in real life being chased on brooms by Voldemort.
It's been difficult to tell reality from fiction in the past few days and even to write this post, though I finished the book two days ago. Also, I have been looking for something "wise to say".

So here it goes, Harry Potter books and why I read them. 
  1. Because I was starving for good old children's fantasy, no intellectual strings attached, because I am a child inside out, whatever my ID card says and because I grew up with fairy tales and fiction, though I'd never read anything as big as this.
  2. Because Romanian children's books are not as nice/cheerful/interesting/magical or they are missing entirely, in some opinions.
  3. Because all my students had read them and I wanted to know what they are talking about.
  4. Because I am a mythology-geek and I like to read about or invent my own creatures.
  5. Because I wanted to see the movies and I had this fixed idea that I MUST READ the books first.
  6. Because I was starving for a world to lose myself in, I was having this sort of alternative to reality mood that I get into from time to time.
On the down side:
  •  Not the best written piece of literature I ever read, easy to digest narrative, rather simple linear characters; but then again I did swallow a lot of big people books before and I have to keep reminding myself that this is children's literature.
  • Not the most coherent principles behind it; as I said before, I am a mythology geek and I was looking for patterns and theories, but it seemed most of the time that the author was making things up along the way and didn't really have a point to make. 
  • The ending was rather disappointing, you don't die because especially because you agree you must die, and everyone lives happily ever after and get married and have children, just to satisfy prepubescent imagination, I just found it too mooshy... (not sure if this is a real word but it's just how it feels to me )
My Favourites:
  • Favourite book: The Goblet of Fire,because you get a glimpse of the magic world outside Hogwarts (though not so much after I found out that Edward the vampire played Cedric Digory in the movie...)
  • Favourite character: Remus Lupin
  • Favourite creature: The Thestrals
  • Favourite spell: Probably ACCIO, especially when I can't find the keys in my bag ( though it's been raining like crazy in Bucharest for the past few days and I am really craving for IMPERVIUS)
  • Favourite magical object: The Marauder's Map
  • Favourite place: Bill and Fleurs Shell Cottage

May 16, 2012

I wish ...

WARNING: More references to Harry Potter !

The Room of Requirement is a special place at Hogwarts which only appears if you really need it. For Dumbledore, it was a chamber full of chamber pots. I wish it would be possible to  run into one of those when you are kilometers away from home and Bucharest has so little public toilets!

Marauder's Map is a map that shows you where everyone is at any time. Working in a rather big school and everyone being busy all the time, it's difficult to find the people you need most of the time. So this would come very much in hand. And when they found me, they would say :"ACCIO Daiana!"

Click on the picture above for one of the most complete websites about Harry Potter. It is based mostly on the books, which I appreciate and also recommended by J.K. Rowling herself.

May 15, 2012


Raj and Musette
Hail and rain and wind in Bucharest. Impossible to walk or hold an umbrella.

And my glasses are useless so I feel as blind as a rat. It's days like this I wish stuff like IMPERVIUS worked in real life...

If it's Tuesday, this must be poetry*

Harry Potter themed, of course, since I am still stuck in volume 6.

Celestina Warbeck - A Cauldron, Full of Hot, Strong Love

Oh, come and stir my cauldron, 
And if you do it right,
I'll boil you some hot strong love
To keep you warm tonight.
To my not-so-great surprise, I found this video on Youtube as well as many other Harry Potter inspired songs. Hmmm... Seemed a bit odd at first, but then again I am a Trekkie and a Whovian myself so I can totally understand fanfiction. 

However, how do you call a Harry Potter fan? A potty? Must investigate further...

* If it's Tuesday... is related to this 1969 movie about a bunch of Americans on a tour of Europe. If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium is the original title.

May 14, 2012

About appropriate reading and school spirit

So, two different ideas today:

1. Going through volume 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince. Ron is snogging girls now, what's next?
In my head, I keep thinking that this is not appropriate for my 12, 13 years old students but then I remember that at their age, in Romanian school, we were reading books were people were screwing behind the stove in the same room with the girl's drunk sleeping father. And this is something we had to read for our exams, it wasn't something I would smuggle out of the library. Details about the book, here, though it's in Romanian. So I guess a little kissing in Harry Potter is ok.

2. I really really want to play Quidditch! These guys do, I wish I studied or taught in a school as cool as this!

May 11, 2012

Formula 86 - Delayed Action Mouse Maker

How it works: 
It turns children into mice, but not instantly. The formula kicks in at a specified time. Useful if you want to lose your tracks before it happens.

  • Boil the wrong end of a telescope until it softens, for about 21 hours(helps with the shrinking)
  • Fry 45 mouse tails in hair oil
  • Simmer the 45 tail-less mice in frog juice for 1 hour
  • Take an alarm clock, set it at the time you want the formula to kick in, then roast it in the oven until it's crisp and tender
  • Mix everything together and add a gruntle's egg
  • Add the claw of a crabcruncher, the beak of a blabbersnitch, the snout of a globbersquirt, the tongue of a catspringer
  • Add one drop into a chocolate bar or a candy
  • The ingredients above are enough for 1000 portions

Source: Text adapted from The Witches, by Roald Dahl, video from the movie The Witches (1990)

How to recognize a witch

Below you will find a series of very useful tips to keep your children safe from witches:

Image from the movie The Witches (1990)
How to recognize a real witch

  • Real witches dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ordinary jobs. 
  • They always wear gloves because they have claws on their hands
  • They are bald as a boiled egg, so they always wear wigs. Pay special attention to women who scratch their heads a lot.
  • They have large nose-holes and they can smell children from a great distance. To them, children smell like dogs' droppings.
  • Their pupils change colour and you can see fire and ice in them
  • They don't have toes but they force their feet into elegant shoes, so check for women who seem to have trouble walking
  • Their spit is blue. (Although if you get to this step, it might already be a little late for you)
Why it's important to stay away from witches:
  • They hate children with a red-hot sizzling hatred. 
  • They are known to be guilty of at least the following: strange disapearances, children being sent into paintings upon their families' walls, transfigurations (into chicken, porpoises, mice, stone statues etc.)
  • Their goal is to eliminate all children and their motto is :
One child a week is 52 a year
Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear

Source: The Witches, by Roald Dahl

May 10, 2012

Roald Dahl Poetry

About television, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

© 2006 Margaret Berg.
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!

More poetry by Roald Dahl, here.

Willie Wonka's Wonka-Vite

One more post about the Glass Elevator, then I'm off to the Witches, also by Roald Dahl.
Below, ingredients for Willie Wonka's Wonka Vite, if you want to make it for yourself. This extraordinary little pill takes 20 years off your life, just like that! I just need to find a really big cauldron and then I'm off to the local market to find an elephant suitcase!

Take a block of the finest chocolate weighing one ton (or twenty sackfuls of broken chocolate, whichever is easier). Place chocolate in very large cauldron and melt over red-hot furnace. When melted, lower the heat slightly so as not to burn the chocolate, but keep it boiling. Now add the following, in precisely the order given, stirring well all the time and allowing each item to dissolve before adding the next:
  • The hoof of a manticore
  • The trunk (and the suitcase) of an elephant
  • The yolks of three eggs from a whiffle-bird
  • A wart from a wart-hog
  • The horn of a cow (it must be a loud horn)
  • The front tail of a cockatrice
  • Six ounces of sprunge from a young slimescraper
  • Two hairs (and one rabbit) from the head of a hippocampus
  • The beak of a red-breasted wilbatross
  • A corn from the toe of a unicorn
  • The four tentacles of a quadropuss
  • The hip (and the po and the pot ) of a hippopotamus
  • The snout of a proghopper 
  • A mole from a mole
  • The hide (and the seek) of a spotted whangdoodle
  • The whites of twelve eggs from a tree-squeak
  • The three feet of a snozzwanger (if you can't get three feet, one yard will do)
  • The square-root of a South American abacus
  • The fangs of a viper (it must be a vindscreen viper)
  • The chest (and the drawers) of a wild grout
When all of the above are thoroughly dissolved, boil for a further twenty-seven days but do not stir. At the end of this time, all liquid will have evaporated and there will be left in the bottom of the cauldron only a hard brown lump the size of a football. Break this open with a hammer and in the very center of it you will find a very small round pill. This pill is Wonka-Vite.

There is also Vita-Wonk, which, as the name suggests, is the exact opposite of Wonka-Vite, making you older, if you need to make any adjustments!

May 9, 2012

Wish I could illustrate this...

1. 'I`ve done it!' cried the Chief Financial Adviser. 'Look at me everybody! I`ve balanced the budget!' And indeed he had. He stood proudly in the middle of the room with the enourmous 200 billion dollar budget balanced beautifully on the top of his bald head. Everyone clapped.

2. This is the Gilligrass Patent Fly-Trap: The fly climbs up the ladder on the left. He walks along the plank. He stops. He sniffs. He smells something good. He peers over the edge and sees the sugar lump. ‘Ah-ha!’ he cries. ‘Sugar!’ He is just about to climb down the string to reach it when he sees the basin of water below. ‘Ho-ho!’ he says. ‘It’s a trap! They want me to fall in!’ So he walks on, thinking what a clever fly he is. But as you see, I have left out one of the rungs in the ladder he goes down by, so he falls and breaks his neck.

*From Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

The Nurse's Song - Roald Dahl

Miss Tibbs sings about President Gilligrass:

This mighty man of whom I sing,
The greatest of them all,
Was once a teeny little thing,
Just eighteen inches tall.

I knew him as a tiny tot,
I nursed him on my knee.
I used to sit him on the pot
And wait for him to wee.

I always washed between his toes,
And cut his little nails.
I brushed his hair and wiped his nose
And weighed him on the scales.

Through happy childhood days he strayed,
As all nice children should.
I smacked him when he disobeyed,
And stopped when he was good.

It soon began to dawn on me
He wasn't very bright,
Because when he was twenty-three
He couldn't read or write.

"What shall we do?" his parents sob.
"The boy has got the vapors!
He couldn't even get a job
Delivering the papers!"

"Ah-ha," I said, "this little clot
Could be a politician."
"Nanny," he cried, "Oh Nanny, what
A super proposition!"

"Okay," I said, "let's learn and note
The art of politics.
Let's teach you how to miss the boat
And how to drop some bricks,
And how to win the people's vote
And lots of other tricks.

Let's learn to make a speech a day
Upon the T.V. screen,
In which you never never say
Exactly what you mean.
And most important, by the way,
In not to let your teeth decay,
And keep your fingers clean."

And now that I am eighty nine,
It's too late to repent.
The fault was mine the little swine
Became the President.

Politics and the Glass Elevator

As promissed, I return with a few notes on politics and politicians as depicted in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Brief introduction: Willie Wonka's extraordinary means of transport, the Great Glass Elvator, is supposed to bring all of Charlie's family into the chocolate factory, where they would live happily ever after. Hysterical Grandma Georgina causes the Elevator to go off track and ends in Earth's orbit, on collision course with the Space Hotel.
As in most American movies, when something reaches orbit, it means NASA, it means Houston, we have a problem, the President of the USA gets in the picture, there are aliens, intervention teams, conspiracy theories etc.

President Lancelot R. Gilligrass is one ridiculous little man with a hero's name who carefully led through his decisions by Miss Tibbs, his nanny, now holding the position of Vice-President. He is also counselled by the Chief of Army, those of the Naval and Air Forces, a sword-swallower from Afganistan, the Chief Financial Adviser, the Chief Spy and his cat, Mrs. Taubsypuss.


The President to his Chief Spy:
'Knock-Knock', said the President.
'Who's there?', said the Chief Spy.
'Courtney who?'
'Courtney one yet?', said the President.
Gilligrass calls Premier of USSR, who is called Yugetoff (ha!)
'Knock-Knock', said the President.
'Who`s there?' said the Soviet Premier.
'Warren who?'
'Warren Peace by Leo Tolstoi.' said the President.
Calling the Premier of China, How-Yu-Bin, the US administration dials the wrong number a couple of times:
'The country`s so full of Wings and Wongs, every time you wing you get the wong number.'
Finally, the President gets to talk to Assistant-Plemier (no typo!) of China, Chu-On-Dat
'Knock-Knock', said the President.
'Who der?'
'Ginger who?'
'Ginger yourself much when you fell off the Great Wall of China?' 

You know you're a bookaholic...

...when, as a teacher, you're invigilating IGCSE and A-level exams in your school in Bucharest and, in your head, you keep calling them OWLs and NEWTs.
*From Harry Potter. At Hogwarts, students sit for standardized external examinations, OWLs in year 5 and NEWTs in year 7
OWL= Ordinary Wizardry Level
NEWT= Nastily Exhausting Wizardry Tests

Reading List no. 5- Roald Dahl children's books

Children's stories
1.   The Gremlins 
2.   James and the Giant Peach 
3.    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
4.   The Magic Finger 
5.   Fantastic Mr Fox 
6.   Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator 
7.   Danny, the Champion of the World 
8.   The Enormous Crocodile 
9.   The Twits 
10. George's Marvellous Medicine 
11. The BFG 
12. The Witches 
13. The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me 
14. Matilda 
15. Esio Trot 
16. The Vicar of Nibbleswicke 
17. The Minpins 

Children's poetry

1.   Revolting Rhymes 
2.   Dirty Beasts 
3.   Rhyme Stew 

Don't care what they say...

...Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is not a story for children. Not if they love their grandparents.
In the first book, the one with the Chocolate Factory, we find out that little Charlie lives with his very poor family in a little house that only has one bed, and this is shared by his four very old grandparents. They are called Grandpa Joe, who joined Charlie in the chocolate factory trip, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina. As you finish The Chocolate Factory and start reading through The Glass Elevator, you start getting the feeling that there is some sort of happy end on the way for this poor family who has been suffering for a very long time.
This, only if you manage to get over the very nasty feeling you get in The Chocolate Factory when Charlie spends Grandpa Joe's savings for an unlucky bar of chocolate and then the family starves for weeks.
So, Charlie inherits the chocolate factory and exotic Mr. Wonka wants to drag the whole family into the factory where they could live happily ever after. So far so good.
But the three grandparents that never get out of bed cause a lot of nasty problems because of their disbelief in Willie Wonka. The elevator gets thrown out into the orbit of the Earth and becomes a space shuttle and here Roald Dahl plays all-in on Hollywood effects: The President of USA is here, there are last minute escapes, aliens, conspiracy theories, political satire etc. (Will post some quotes for sure, they are just too good.)
The most disturbing part of the story happens back in the chocolate factory, though, where the grandparents are punished for their greed, just like children had been in the previous book. But there is something really sad and not right about old people going through hell, or maybe it's just me. I wasn't bothered at all when children where being inflated or shrunk in the first book. But here you have 80 year-olds who should enjoy the rest of their lives in peace now but they are almost killed. This is too much even for mean Willie Wonka when he simply refuses to watch the grandparents fighting over his miraculous medicine.
So, to avoid giving anymore spoilers, a few conclusions that have been haunting me all day:

  • Read The Great Glass Elevator carefully and keep your eyes open for puns and subtle jokes as only Roald Dahl can make
  • Read it for the dark humour and the satire and the absurdity of it all
  • Read it when you're feeling ok and well-rested and you are ready to change the world 
  • Read it if you need extra reasons to hate politicians

  • Don't read it when you're missing your grandparents because it will disturb you in ways you cannot imagine
  • Don't read it to very young children. It takes a lot of brain power and a strong emotional balance to go through this and survive it.

May 7, 2012

About censorship

While browsing for treasure on the www, I came across this Australian version of Project Gutenberg which contains some good titles, not available in other locations. Browse for yourself and find out more.

Among other things, I found this interesting version of the classical Mother Goose Rhymes, which is in not much different than the original except for the fact that some words are blacked out.

It is a statement about the effects of censorship on otherwise harmless books and a good laugh if you have enough imagination and a bit of perversion.

Examples are shown below:

The Reader of Books...

... is the name of the first chapter of Matilda, a lovely book by Roald Dahl.

List of books Matilda had read before the age of 5:

  • The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  • Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  • Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Th. Hardy
  • Gone to Earth - Mary Webb
  • Kim - Rudyard Kipling
  • The Invisible Man - H. G. Wells
  • The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
  • The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
  • The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  • The Good Companions - J.B. Priestly
  • Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
  • Animal Farm - George Orwell
In BOLD, the books I read before the age of 25.

I have always imagined that this was a book about me, a little girl that reads and reads her life away. On the other hand, I didn't have the misfortune of having parents who didn't appreciate the value of reading, but rather encouraged me all the time. My father never told me to turn off the light at night and stop reading, even though my lamp has probably been bothering him all his life. Instead, he has invested a lot of effort and money into buying me the best reading lamps he could afford, so I wouldn't suffer at all.
By the time I was old enough to realize it, my father had gathered a huge collection of books that covered most of our living room while my mother had most probably read all of them.
Unfortunately, not a lot of this collection survived after a brief financial crysis, but long live the Kindle and the Internet! I have already filled all the shelves in my father's house with books I bought in the last few years, since I started having my own money and now I am just filling my Kindle with all sorts of treasures from the Wonderland of WWW.

It isn't always like that, though.
A couple of years ago, one of my students won a trophy in a school competition and after a few minutes of showing off, he asked me, gravely:
- And what am I supposed to do with this, Miss? Where do I put it?
-Well, display it at home, in your bookshelf. What else can you do with it?
- But, Miss, I don't have a bookshelf...
I thought maybe we were having a lost-in-translation moment, so I explained:
- In your bookshelf, where you keep your books in your house. Do you understand?
At which point, he just burst into laughter:
- Of course I know what a bookshelf is, but we don't have any. There are no books in my house!
And he found it natural not to have any books. And I was appalled by his news, while he just laughed at my confusion...

I wish...

... I could write report cards like these:
Illustration by Quentin Blake
Illustration by Quentin Blake

A scorcher:
Your son, Maximilian, is a total wash-out. I hope you have a family business you can push him into when he leaves school because he sure as heck won't get a job anywhere else.
A lyrical approach:
It is a curious truth that grasshoppers have their hearing organs in the sides of the abdomen,. Your daughter Vanessa, judging by what she's learnt this term, has no hearing organs at all.
Natural history-inspired:
The periodical cicada spends six years as a grub underground, and no more than six days as a free creature of sunlight and air. Your son Wilfred has spent six years as a grub in this school and we are still waiting for him to emerge from the chrysalis.
About a poisonous little girl:
Fiona has the same glacial beauty as an iceberg, but unlike the iceberg she has absolutely nothing below the surface.

Source: Roald Dahl - Matilda (chapter 1)
Disclaimer:My students are actually nice little boys and girls who don't deserve these comments. (Well, most of them are.)

May 6, 2012


Yep, share the news please! For the first time ever I've won something on the net. The challenge came from a bookaholics' website and the task was to complete the sentence: "A bookaholic walks into a bar...".
My winning text, below:
A bookaholic walks into a bar in search of lost time and asks for a madeleine with tea.
“As you like it !”,replies the bartender and as he serves him, spills the hot water on the customer.
The bookaholic shouts out:
“Water water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink!”
The bartender replies placidly:
“Oh, stop making so much ado about nothing!”

My prize: the second edition of a brand new short stories publication.

May 2, 2012

Too many books, so little time...


In my household, everyone reads.

This is Taz, my tom, exhausted after a volume of Harry Potter mixed with Hans Christian Andersen tales.

I wish...

... there was a place where I could go when I have a broom crush crash.

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

  • ARTEFACT ACCIDENTS… Ground floor Cauldron explosion, wand backfiring, broom crashes, etc.
  • CREATURE-INDUCED INJURIES… First floor Bites, stings, burns, embedded spines, etc.
  • MAGICAL BUGS… Second floor Contagious maladies, e.g. dragon pox, vanishing sickness, scrojungulus, etc.
  • POTION AND PLANT POISONING… Third floor Rashes,regurgitation (uncontrollable), etc.
  • SPELL DAMAGE… Fourth floor Unliftable jinxes, hexes, and incorrectly applied charms, etc.

I want...

... to live across the street from this place and not have a job so I could spend all my time in there.

It is the Kansas City Public Library

List of books on the wall:

  • Kansas City Stories - 2 volumes
  • Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
  • Children's Stories
  • Silent Spring - Rachel Carson
  • O Pioneers! - Willa Cather
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  • The Republic - Plato
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain READ IT
  • Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu
  • The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
  • Black Elk Speaks - by Nicholas Black Elk as told to John Niehardt
  • Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
  • To Kill a Mocking Bird - Harper Lee
  • Journal of the Expedition - Lewis and Clark; Undaunted Courage - Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Lord of the Rings - J.R. Tolkien
  • A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
  • Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
  • Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare READ IT
  • Truman - David McCollough

I also found this rather interesting article about the conception of this place.

May 1, 2012

Reading list no.1 : Sherlock Holmes

What I have been up to: I am currently reading a couple of books among which, the 3rd volume of short stories with Sherlock Holmes, called His Last Bow.

When I first started this, I wondered what would be the best order to read the stories. Should I keep to the inner chronological order, like I have for Chronicles of Narnia, or should I read them in the order they were published?

When I saw that I was dealing with 60 titles, which included mostly short stories, and that no two critics could agree on the correct inner chronology, I said, the hell with it, I’ll read as any other contemporary of Doyle would have read them – As they came. There are four novels and five collections of short stories, so I decided to keep to the publishing order, which is the following:

1. A Study in Scarlet, Novel

2. The Sign of the Four, Novel

3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Collection (ASH)

¸ A Scandal in Bohemia
¸ The Red-headed League
¸ A Case of Identity
¸ The Bascombe Valley Mystery
¸ The Five Orange Pips
¸ The Man with the Twisted Lip
¸ The Blue Carbuncle
¸ The Speckled Band
¸ The Engineer’s Thumb
¸ The Noble Bachelor
¸ The Beryl Coronet
¸ The Copper Beeches

4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Collection (MOSH)

¸ The Silver Blaze
¸ The Yellow Face
¸ The Stock Broker’s Clerk
¸ The Gloria Scott
¸ The Musgrave Ritual
¸ Reigate Squares
¸ The Crooked Man
¸ The Resident Patient
¸ The Greek Interpreter
¸ The Naval Treaty
¸ The Final Problem

5. The Hound of Baskerville, Novel

6. The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Collection (RSH)

¸ The Empty House
¸ The Norwood Builder
¸ The Dancing Men
¸ The Solitary Cyclist
¸ The Priory School
¸ Black Peter
¸ Charles Augustus
¸ The Six Napoleons
¸ The Three Students
¸ The Golden Pince Nez
¸ The Missing Three Quarters
¸ Abbey Grange
¸ The Second Stain

7. The Valley of Fear, Novel

8. His Last Bow, Collection (HLB)

¸ Wisteria Lodge
¸ The Cardboard Box
¸ Red Circle
¸ The Bruce-Partington Plans
¸ The Dying Detective
¸ Lady Frances Carfax
¸ The Devil’s Foot
¸ His Last Bow

9. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, Collection (CBSH)

¸ The Illustrios Client
¸ The Blanched soldier
¸ The Mazarin Stone
¸ The Three Gables
¸ The Sussex Vampire
¸ The Three Garridebs
¸ Thor Bridge
¸ The Creeping Man
¸ The Lion’s Mane
¸ The Veiled Lodger
¸ The Shoscombe Old Palace
¸ The Retired Colourman

Before anyone jumps out, I KNOW, this is not exactly the order the short stories were published. Most of them were published in magazines at random times. This is the order in which the volumes of short stories and the novels appeared, and I am sticking to this.

If you want the actual Sherlock Holmes stories publishing order click on the link.

Mr. Potter, this is a school, not real life!

why you no work?Currently reading volume 5, Order of the Phoenix and there is this part where Harry and his classmates are complaining to their teacher, Ms Umbridge, because their training is too theoretical and is not preparing them whatsoever for real life. The title above is the teacher's answer.
Sounds familiar?

Note: I mastered HTML coding enough to format this post just by using the Edit HMTL function of Blogger.
Why would I do that?
Because I am using such an outdated browser that I cannot upload images to my posts the normal way.
Or maybe it's just a pretext for learning something new!
Thank you,

Apr 29, 2012

Did you notice...

... how the Harry Potter books get thicker and thicker with each new volume?

Harry Potter - Labour Day Fun

In January this year, I changed house and I found this snug little studio right by a park. And I don't think I have to tell you what a miracle it is to live in a capitol city and have a view of trees instead of a busy avenue or just lame gray buildings.

I have been wishing to go spend afternoons in the park ever since it started getting warmer, but you know the deal, I usually waste daylight at work.

However, today, just like yesterday, I took advantage of an extended Labour Day weekend, courstesy of our Labour Ministery and my employer. Yesterday, I took my book and headed for a bench in the park. Spent 4 hours there and finished Harry Potter 3 - Prisoner of Azkaban. Today, in about 6 hours, on  a blanket, by the lake, I finished The Goblet of Fire.

In a rather poor Romanian translation, unfortunately... Took me 100 pages to realize that Cercetasii (Literally- boy/girl scouts) was the lame translation for the House of Gryffindor... and that  Ravenclaw had magically transformed to Hawkeye (Ochi de soim).

Having myself spent months of my university translating literarature I find this appaling. In a hurry to release the Romanian translation as soon as possible after the original version, they've made some huge errors, I mean, come on, the text wasn't even proofread properly. The name of Cornelius Fudge appears at least in 5 different versions of CRONELIUS, Cornwlius... and so on... Disappointing translation, but I still prefer the books over the movies, which seem to me to have no plot whatsoever...

Before reading the books, a few years ago, I had a Harry Potter movie marathon, when I saw the first 5 movies of the series in one night. The other 3 hadn't been released yet. OK, special effects, I myself have a weak spot for fantasy and all, but I hated the plot, couldn't make heads or tails of it... Disappointing, rather. But the kids I teach kept bugging me about Harry Potter so I said I would give it one more chance and read the books.

So, after I got my Kindle I started reading...

For whoever needs this, the books of the series are:

1. The Philosopher's Stone - Read in English on my Kindle
2. The Chamber of Secrets - read in English on my Kindle
3. The Prisoner of Azkaban - Romanian paperback
4. The Goblet of Fire - Romanian hardcover
5. Order of the Phoenix - still reading......Finished on May 4th 2012

6. The Half-Blooded Prince - In progress...  Finished, May 15th
7. Deathly Hollows - in progress...  Finshed !!!

When I finish the series, which I hope will happen in the following week, I'll tell you my conclusions. :)
Tonight, Order of the Phoenix.

Apr 24, 2012

Just finished reading...

... Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Everytime I think of Willy Wonka, I see this guy*

... and not Johnny Depp. Sorry, guys!

(*Gene Wilder, from the first musical film adaptation of the novel, made in 1971, which was called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

Apr 20, 2012

It was bound to happen...

Hi, I am Daiana and I am a bookaholic.

Welcome to my Magic Bookshelf!
This is a blog that I vowed to myself to open in a very long time, advertising my unmeasurable love for the written word.
I am a reader and a writer. Me and my Kindle have a special love affair with violent episodes that extend long into the night.
This is the space where I decided to "share the love" with you, mortals, and I won't waste a long time explaining what I mean to do, but rather jump right to it. You'll get it on the way.
Some of the titles you'll be reading about are Le Petit Prince by Saint-Exupery, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and I will be transferring also some other short articles I've written before on my other blogs.

But, before I leave you, I wish to share my New Year Resolution with you. After years of promissing myself I would lose weight or save money, this year I decided to keep it simple and have only wished to read the Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  So far, I have managed to get through about 70% of it and when I finish, I'll let you know.

Wish me luck and hop along !