Fantastic Books for the Holidays
    by Fiona Barnes (reader)

Ug. That's the title of a wonderful new children's book. I'm not kidding. It really is. Ug is the name of a cave boy who just happens to be a Stone Age genius -- only he doesn't know that he is. There's not a name yet for Ug's kind of inventiveness (he makes the first wheel, after all), or for his brand of philosophical inquiry -- he's forever asking "Why?" He wants something better from life -- a pair of warm trousers -- you know how cold a cave can be. And from this simple premise comes . . . . most of civilization, at least as Raymond Briggs imagines it in this hilarious, clever, pensive graphic novel for kids of all ages. Briggs is perhaps most famous for The Snowman, and Ug is sure to have your household's comics enthusiasts looking for all of his books, especially for classics like Fungus the Boogeyman, which tells the story of that famous creature from his point of view.

The new Clive Barker novel, Abarat, has just appeared, too -- with much fanfare in the press about how much Disney has invested in acquiring the rights to develop a Clive Barker franchise. This fantasy novel is for teenagers and young adults. It's the first installment of a four-book saga about Candy Quakenbush's journey away from her boring, demeaning family and high school life -- and in fact from her whole boring town on the prairie. She literally dives into another world, Abarat, which is composed of twenty-five islands, each more fantastic and perilous than the last. Candy, like any worthy heroine of an epic fantasy, has been called on to save the archipelago, literally from the forces of Midnight and Mischief that are intent on turning them into a strange new world. Some critics have felt that the void left by a year without a Harry Potter book would be filled by Abarat. But that's like the difference in taste between a sturdy, familiar apple and an exotic, unnamed fruit.

And speaking of fantasies, you really must take a look at Fairie-ality a book of exquisite photographs of actual high fashion clothing designs for, believe it or not, fairies. They're amazing creations, made from feathers and flowers and the leaves of plants -- and they look like they're fresh from the runways of Rivendell. Now, who says fantasies can't be real?!

Copyright 2002 John Cech

Abarat by Clive Barker
Abarat book cover

Ug by Raymond Briggs
Ug book cover

Fairie-ality by The House of Ellwand
Fairie-ality book cover

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Tuesday, 12-Jul-2005 14:59:09 EDT

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