Wildwood Imperium & Happy Weekend


Happy Friday, dear readers!  How is the weather where you are?  It is warm this morning, but apparently, cold, wet, and potentially freezing stuff is moving in.  It's supposed to be worse in the state capital of Topeka, where Big Sis and I are headed after school.  It's Kansas Silent Film Festival time!  After missing last year's festival due to the Great Blizzard of Oz, we are gung-ho to make it to Topeka tonight.  I'll watch the weather while we're there tomorrow.  I'm hoping hoping hoping the weather will allow us to stay through the final film tomorrow, which is Chaplin's Modern Times.  Mr. B and I saw it on the big screen before, and the truth is, we own it, but I want to watch my silent film buddy's face when she sees it for the first time on a big screen.

So...  I finished a book!

Wildwood Imperium, the third book in the Wildwood Chronicles trilogy,
by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Carson Ellis.   Balzer + Bray, 2014.

I finally completed the final book, Wildwood Imperium, in the Wildwood Chronicles trilogy by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis.  The books have an incredibly complex plot, with lots of subplots weaving in and out, and trying to sum up anything feels...  arduous.  So I'm not going to do it.  (Am I not the worst book reviewer EVER???)  You can read my post about the second book, Under Wildwood, here.  Watch the videos, perhaps.


I wish I would have taken the time to re-read the first two books.  As much as I loved the second book, I admit to feeling a bit lost at times here, trying to remember details that I seemed to have forgotten. The Chapeaux Noirs are a lot of fun.  The illustrations are still wonderful.  The ending felt a bit rushed to me.

Here, I'll let the author and illustrator talk a bit.



I recommend the series.  I am recommending the series to you right now.  If you haven't read the first two books yet, then perfect.  Now is the time.  All three books are out.  You can read them, one right after the other, and avoid the confusion that haunted me for the first third of this book, as I tried to remember all the details.  After all, it had been over a year since I read the second  book.  I'm getting old, I think.  My memory doesn't work as well as it used to.

Much like my beloved Fairyland books, these are children's books for grown-ups.  I am convinced of that. Don't get me wrong, when I feel the girls are ready, I will thrust them into their hands.

[Okay, one more side-note:  Little Sis has a stomach bug, and I didn't much sleep last night.  I'm full of excuses, right?  As well as half-formed thoughts and barely-expressed opinions.  Please, first-time readers, don't judge me on this one post, okay?]









Next up on my nightstand is an actual grown-up book, The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.  I started it last night, and I am already sucked in.  I'm a big fan of vintage Alice Hoffman, and the reviews for this one have been overwhelmingly positive.  After that, I have Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, that strange teen novel based around old found photographs, by Ransom Riggs.  Now it has been over two years since I read that one, so I do believe I may have to re-read it first, in order to avoid an embarrassing lack of review, such as the one above.  HA!

And so, my dears, a Merry Weekend to You!  Happy Reading!


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Our Newest Old Toy


Little Sis has been begging me for an old View-Master, ever since we saw one last October at the Kansas Barn Sale.  The one at the Barn Sale was a heavy old Bakelite model, similar to this one.  The asking price was $15, and the mechanism didn't seem to be working too well, so I told her that in this case, I'd rather get her a new one.  However, Christmas came and went and everyone seemed to have forgotten about it.

Then last week, while the girls were out of school for teacher in-service, we paid a visit to our favorite antique mall.  There, we found another old Bakelite View-Master.  It had a reel inside it already, so I tried it out.  Or I tried to try it out.  The handle wouldn't move.  I told her no, but that we'd keep looking.  Again, we found another Bakelite View-Master.  This one sat on a pile of old Kodachrome reels.  I put one in and tried it out.  Oops.  The View-Master almost ate the reel!  I told her no, we'd keep looking.  Finally, in another part of the mall, stacked on a shelf with some fabulous old cameras, was a box.  Inside the box was a fabulous 1960s plastic View-Master!  There were no reels, so we raced back to the stack of reels under the second View-Master.  I put one in and magic happened.  The asking price on the old plastic View-Master (with original box!) was much lower, and it was 25% off on top of that, pretty comparable to what you'd pay for a new one today.  We picked out some of the Kodachrome reels, and voila!  Little Sis has her coveted View-Master.




 The "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" reel was the first one we tried out.  I love it.  And look at the original booklet!



We also picked out "A Day at the Circus," featuring photos of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey at work.



And finally, since we have never been to a Disney theme park - well, Mr. B has been to Tokyo Disney, but that's it - I grabbed these wonderful vintage Disneyland reels!



And Little Sis learned a valuable lesson.  Price isn't the only thing Mama is picky about.  The darned thing had better work, too!



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Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Old American Girl Doll Catalogs



I did not have an American Girl doll of my own as a kid.  My sister started receiving the catalogs in the early 1990s, and because I was in middle school, I decided I was too old for a vinyl doll.  Never mind the fact that Kirsten was so adorable, with her Swedish immigrant/pioneer girl clothes.  Nope, I was too old.


But my little sister, who was better with money than anyone else in the house, saved up and bought her own Samantha doll ($82) with book (oops - $86), plus her accessories set ($20).  Her doll, book, and accessories cost $106 in 1991. These were never inexpensive dolls.

My grandmother scored a few American Girl bookish collectibles at an estate sale last week, and brought them to our house, along with four old American Girl catalogs from 1991 and 1992.  The catalogs had belonged to my sister, although I loved to look at them myself.  I wasn't ready to be out of middle school.  I wanted to go back in time and play dress-up with Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly, too.


Our first two catalogs were from the waning days of the original three dolls.  The dolls were still issued by Pleasant Company.  (Pleasant Company became a subsidiary of Mattel in 1998.)












Just in time for the holiday season, 1991, a fourth American Girl doll was introduced:  Felicity Merriman.








My daughters had a ball looking through these catalogs the other night.  They loved looking at the Kirsten and Felicity stuff, since they hadn't seen much of it before.  Most of all, they loved seeing the pages full of little girl clothes that matched the doll clothes.  They have pajamas to match Molly's and Kit's, but the dresses!  The nightgowns!  The capes and coats and shoes!


Little Sis looked at the pages of Molly look-alike clothes and cried, "Aww!  Why couldn't I be born back in the olden days???"  She didn't mean 1944.  She meant 1991.  She really wants Molly's sweater outfit for herself.

Oh, kiddo.  I still wish I had Samantha's Victorian cape...

Little Sis with Molly, Big Sis with Kit.  More American Girl stuff here...

And one more photo for you.  Poor Mr. B, braving the American Girl store in Kansas City like the wonderful dad that he is...



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