These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness Quotes

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness (2008) ~ Colin Thompson - author and illustrator


George lived alone with his grandmother and an empty place where his mother and father should have been.

Most Friday afternoons on his way home from school, in that time before the weekend when lonely people realise just how lonely they are, George visited the dog shelter.

The last cage was where the dogs no one wanted went for a final week before their journey to heaven. George felt at home there. 

In the dark gloom, he found a place where everything seemed lonelier than he was. 

On the surface, the quotes paint a gloomy world, yet there is a feeling that this particular place may hold the key to a brighter world for more than George.

Linking to:
Quote It Saturday

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness Begins

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness (2008) ~ Colin Thompson is the author and illustrator.
This view is on the inside of the book just before the story begins.

Opening words:

George lived alone with his grandmother and an empty place where his mother and father should have been. 

George’s grandmother was a kind lady, but she was very old and the two of them spent most of their lives on different planets.

Clearly from the opening words, the young boy has a very deep, hollow sense of loneliness that needs filling with love quite urgently.

Linking to:
Book Beginnings on Fridays

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness (2008) - Colin Thompson

George is just a young boy
Without his parents
But blessed with a loving grandmother
A grandmother who means well
But just doesn't quite live on
A young boy's planet 

A young boy needs a friend
Who understands
Who feels
Who relates to

A dog
Cast in the last dark cage
In a dog shelter
Waiting for a heavenly journey
Desperately needs a friend
Who understands
Who feels
Who relates to
Being unloved

 By some wink of circumstance
A dog cursed with just three legs
Links the boy and his grandmother in
A happy
Kind of sadness


The Big Little Book of Happy SadnessThe Big Little Book of Happy Sadness by Colin Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who could imagine that a 3 legged dog close to heaven, (where those unloved wait for their time according to some humans), would unite a grandmother and a young boy and give the boy his first taste of unconditional love and a glowing sense of being. Sadly, the happy moments seem to become a little overly dramatised right at the end of the book. Perhaps there could have been another journey on the horizon!

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Red Piano

The Red Piano (2008) - Andre LeBlanc
NOTE: This is based on a true story.
Andre interviewed Zhu Xiao-Mei in April 2007.
She is now a virtuoso pianist.

A camp
Lost between
Inner Mongolia
And China

Playing music
The only way to keep a child's senses

Just wired

She secures the notes on

Transportable testimony of

Far away
She will erase
Five years of

And play the music of



So far away....

The Red Piano Quotes
The Red Piano Begins


The Red PianoThe Red Piano by André LeBlanc
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Manual labour for children during China's Cultural Revolution was a time of abyssmal darkness for creativity. Just how dark and negative that time could be is demonstrated by The Red Piano. Unless of course, that child is Zhu Xiao-Mei, longing to find her voice playing the piano. Quietly she rebelled, determined to let her music be heard. How she rebelled evolves into a mesmerising, humbling story.

My poetic review is on my Songlines on the Winds blog.

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Linking to:
dVerse ~ Poetics ~ Beautiful Sadness
Poetry Pantry ~ Poets United

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Red Piano Quotes

Back cover of The Red Piano (2008) ~ Andre LeBlanc


Pianos are criminal. Pianists are criminals. Schools are closed down. The Communist Party is re-educating everyone.

But what possible purpose does music serve? Can it erase five years of exile, a wasted youth, cold, hunger, filth and imprisonment?

Collecting human compost from the latrines and transporting it to the fields, to fertilise the soil; this is what happens to a rebellious artist.

Yesterday's post presents the opening words of this delightful book HERE!

Linking to:
Quote It Saturday

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Red Piano Begins

The Red Piano ~ Andre LeBlanc. Wilkins Farago. 2008. Australia.
Illustrated by Barroux

To Zhu-Xiao-Mei, the virtuoso pianist who, in April 2007, told me her story and encouraged me to interpret it with 'imagination' for the children of today. - A.L.

Opening words:
Zhangjiake Camp 46-19 on China's border with Inner Mangolia is blighted by an eerie moonlight. 
In the hut, the cramped rooms reek of warm sweat, the foul smell of extinguished coal fires and packed earth. Crammed together, the comrades are already sleeping on the bare ground. Taking small, careful steps, the young girl leaves the communal house.

Always love a few brush strokes of history in a tale - especially dark history!

Manual labour
Children re-educated
Cultural madness

Linking to:
Book Beginnings on Fridays

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Girragundji

My Girragundji – Meme McDonald + Boori Pryor. 1998. A Little Ark Book. Allen and Unwin

I may know the kids in my world
But they don't want to know me

I fight them to preserve my identity
But I get into trouble for fighting
I get into trouble for losing

My parents live in my house
But they love their drink
I don't know them when they drink
They don't know me

Being different in a white world can be traumatic
But being uncomfortable in your own black world can be
Soul destroying

Of course
You find a little spirit
A little tree frog
A girragundji


My GirragundjiMy Girragundji by Meme McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tapping in to the spirit of a living thing can be a magical balm for a lonely soul.

p.34 When I look in my gundji’s eyes, she speaks to me.

A touching story of a boy seeking some kind of identity in a world fractured by racial discomforts.
A beautiful idea, but somehow the book weathers the final narrative.

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