Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart.
I am not going to blog about my Kindle Fire. I’m done with that and am still shocked I dedicated an entire post to the nifty little sucker. However, the KF did come in handy this latest trip north—I didn’t have to cart a stack of books with me and since I was reading for research purposes, what a treat to travel lighter—although what does that mean, really, when traveling with a preschooler except that the space in my suitcase reserved for my books was filled instead with his toys. One of them a space shuttle as big as a dachsund. And a spiky stegosaurus my mind transformed into a live iguana each time I saw it peeking through my sweaters, causing me to scream a little as I packed…
This trip I was engrossed in Lloyd Alexander’s The Book Of Three, the first book in The Chronicles Of Prydain, featuring Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper—finding his way to hero status through adventures, mishaps and accompanied or hindered by all manner of odd characters with twisty or twin-consonant-filled names no mortal can properly pronounce. (When I was 10 and a dedicated bookworm, I remember enjoying wrapping my mind around the Welsh words as I was gripped by the story from page 1.) In addition to the sensory titillation received when reading long forgotten ancient words of yore, like vexed, I recommend the action sequences for learning purposes, if you happen to be writing a book involving action involving more than a duel. Stampede-ish battles? This is your book.
Sir Hero Alexander’s pacing and visuals have much to teach. I especially love when we first meet the Cauldron-Born and he has them gallop towards Taran, dismount mid-gallop and run, weapons raised, without breaking stride, towards their terrified target. Nice! Effectively scary. Also interesting are Lord Of The Rings similarities and a character resembling (in character) Rowling’s Dobby–or, rather, Dobby resembles Gurgi. The unceasing chain of influence and inspiration (traced back to the beginning of the beginning of fairytales). Fflewddur Fflam! No, I don’t need a tissue.
I have one word for you: oink!
Really feeling those pig-keeping duties…(you know I couldn’t leave it at only one word.)
Beth: sometimes the pig slop really takes over, doesn’t it? Oink.
Thanks! Such a nice tribute to those wonderful books of childhood—my favorites, and I believe Taran was my first crush. I met Mr. Alexander when he kindly visited our Santa Barbara summerschool in the summer of ’69—a fascinating, intense individual who kept an entire audience of elementary school children hushed and enthralled for half an hour or more with his softly-spoken answers to our enthusiastic questions re: the world of Prydain.
You met him!!!!!!! How fantastic. Must talk to you about that. Thanks for posting your experience. Wow. I also didn’t know he wrote over 40 books.