Books, Old and New

Today’s a busy day, but here are a few lunchtime items for you to chew on:

  • Hello Milo. It is the 50th Anniversary of “The Phantom Tollbooth”. The article talks about a roundtable discussion with the author and illustratror, Norman Juster (author of the wonderful “The Dot and the Line“) and Jules Feiffer (author of so many wonderful books), respectively. The article notes that Juster was an architect who’d written a book (I’m guessing this is the aforementioned “Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics”) that didn’t fit the mold of children’s books at the time — its puns were too sophisticated, the vocabulary was too difficult, and there was that whiff of political metaphor. Further , Juster was told “fantasy was bad for children because it disorients them”. Juster was inspired to write the book by Marx Brothers movies and his father, who often punned and played with words. This is always a special book to me; I have a copy given to me by my brother shortly before he died.
  • Hello Shel. There’s a new Shel Silverstein poetry book, “Every Thing On It”, written posthumously. This is not rejected material that has been collected; rather, it is material Silverstein really liked but never found a place for in his other collections. The article quotes one short poem, titled “Happy Birthday”:

    So what if nobody came?
    I’ll have all the ice cream and tea,
    And I’ll laugh with myself,
    And I’ll dance with myself,
    And I’ll sing ‘Happy birthday to me!’

    I’ve always loved Shel Silverstein: both his poetry collections, as well as his more adult books.

  • Hello New Year. It’s that time of year again. Next week, at this time, we’ll be concluding the morning services for the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish Journal has an interesting article on a bunch of new High Holiday machzors (liturgies) that have been/are being published since last year. This includes the Conservative movement’s “Mahzor Lev Shalem”, the chavurah “Machzor Eit Ratzon” from Joseph Rosenstein, a new Koren Publishers realese of a Rosh HaShanah-only volume, and a major revision of the 1985 Hillel machzor, “On Wings of Awe.” CCAR Press is also doing a sizable trial of drafts of new Reform Rosh Hashanah services modelled after ‘Mishkan T’filah’. This will supposedly be the first new American Reform machzor since “The Union Prayer Book II” was published in 1925. The Reform movement’s current machzor, “Gates of Repentance,” was adapted from the High Holidays prayer book of its counterparts in Britain’s Liberal movement.