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Archive for February 1st, 2015

edgar

by Sam Juliano

TRUE! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.  

-Edgar Allan Poe

A model of word economy and one of literature’s most celebrated works of psychosis and depravity, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart is probably America’s greatest short story writer’s most famous story of all.  It is usually the first one taken up in Junior High classes, and the one that regularly makes its way into literature textbooks.  Though it is as macabre as some of the author’s equally venerated stories (most especially The Cask of Amontillado, The Black Cat and The Fall of the House of Usher) it is distinguished  by the fact that every word contributes to the purpose of moving the story forward.

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Much like several entries in the Roger Corman film series based on Poe’s works, a continuing children’s picture book series by Jennifer Adams and Ron Stucki attributes its creation to the inspiration from the respective work, in this case The Tell-Tale Heart.  The new book in the ‘Baby Step’ Lit series, Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart is actually a sequel to Edgar Gets Ready For Bed, and it owes just as much to Poe’s iconic poem “The Raven” as it does to the short story.  Adams makes no bones that her book is aimed at the pre-K set and is intended to teach a valuable life’s lesson while affording its juvenile readers their very first introduction to a writer they will be examining later in the more advanced grades.  Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart doesn’t overdo the Poe references, rather it throws out a few characters that makes the connection with the literary counterparts, with the goal of developing in the readers and interest in literature at the earliest age. (more…)

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elizabeth-queen-of-the-seas

by Sam Juliano

The people of Christchurch, New Zealand considered their former commonwealth’s Queen Elizabeth as someone who was strong, powerful and of course regal.  They thought the same things about a resident silvery brown elephant seal who against all odds swam in the “sweet, shallow” waters of Avon River that ran through the center of the city.  When she wore herself out she’s use her flippers to access the shore,  and nap in the sunshine, cooling herself by flipping big clumps of wet mud onto her back.  She is soon befriended by a boy named Michael who looks for this wondrous mammal enroute and on the way home from school every day, often calling out “Elizabeth!  Hello, Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas!  Are you there?”  When he was lucky he’d be recipient to a snort and a look from her dark brown eyes.  But then things in Christchurch got hairy, when Elizabeth ventured beyond the riverbank to dangerously stretch out across a two-lane road, much appreciating the warmth from above and below.  After one car swerves into a rock and another barely misses her back flippers, she slides down the riverbank, belly-flopping into the water.  But the near-miss sets in motion a story of watery transience that finally ends on a happy note.  The renowned long-distance swimmer and adult author Lynne Cox teamed up with the Caldecott Medal winning illustrator Brian Floca to bring the emotional and inspiring story loosely based on a real-life situation to exquisite fruition in Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas. (more…)

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