But here I am! And am I using this blue-moon moment to catch up? Of course not! Because I'm Charity. And I'm a little bit ridiculous!
But there are just a few things from this past month that have really filled me with delight. And I thought it only appropriate, at this time of year when we seek out delightful things, to suggest them to all six of you that read my blog. :) Go check 'em out--any of 'em--and I can (almost) promise that wonder and delight will ensue....
And so here, in no particular order, are my endorsements for the month... and the year.... and (because a few of them are so lovely to me) the span of a lifetime....
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente
Okay, if the name and the cover alone don't make you want to pick this book up and read it (well, then you're strange!)... Then the writing absolutely will! This was my first exposure to Catherynne M. Valente's work, and I was immediately smitten! It is beautiful and lyrical and whimsical and fun and deep, all at the same time. It is a fun and fantastical adventure, and yet it pulls you--the characters have depth, there is something at stake, and you love the characters. As soon as I finished this book, I recommended it to everyone! And I went in search of the author's other works as well. I bought The Habitation of the Blessed on a whim, simply because it was hers...I was not disappointed. That one, an adult book rather than YA lit, was just as beautiful, infinitely deep. Ah! She is like the female fantasy version of Ray Bradbury!
Catherynne M. Valente--Go read her stuff. She has something to say.
Oh, what can I say?! You know that scene in BIG, where he goes to FAO Shwartz and it's like a life-sized Candyland to play in? Or in Home Alone 2?
Well, Blickenstaff's is kinda like that...that sense of being in toy heaven... but with the intimate cozy feeling of The Shop Around the Corner. We walked in, and my kiddos were instantly enthralled! Coco went running around, collecting all the giant stuffed animals he could get his hands on, setting them up in a circle and showing us his "friends."
Our Bear, on the other hand, never left the front of the store. Right when you walked in, just ten feet from the doors, was a small wooden dollhouse, full of furniture and those tender little Calico Critter families (which I remember so fondly because my sister owned a bunch of them twenty years ago now). Well, as soon as she saw that house, that was that. For the hour that we played in the store, she never left that spot, never even looked to see if we were still there (though we kept our eyes on her, of course). Totally, blissfully oblivious!
And my honey and I were kids again... We played with all the wind-up toys and the old-school knick knacks. We had to pick up everything we saw and show it to the other, with comments like, "Wouldn't this be perfect for..." "We really need this because..." Oh, if Willy Wonka were a toymaker.... Anyway, I think Santa will be stuffing our stocking with Blickenstaff's! And if you want to check out their delightsome selections yourself, go and visit! And if you don't live in Utah, go to Blickenstaffs.com. You won't be disappointed! You'll be a giddy schoolgirl/boy, for crying out loud!
Well, this movie's been around our house for a few years now. Another instant love.... I knew we were destined to be soulmates before I even saw the movie. How could I possibly know? Well, put together two of my favorite people--Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick--and how could it not be complete and utter obsession?! And it was! First of all, for those of you who haven't read the book, read it! Yes, you can even read it right before you watch the movie, and it will not ruin either for you. Yep, it's that good! The story has my favorite kind of otherworldly, fun but macabre feel to it; and the movie mimics that feeling perfectly. The music is superb. The voices are spot on... and that Coraline! What a little spitfire! Really, one of the most wonderfully realized animated (it counts as an animated film, right) characters ever, in my opinion. A favorite of mine and Coco's and my sister's, it's sure to be a classic!
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Since we're on the topic of stop-animation films, here's another beauty! This one's rougher, simpler in its creation, and it's still totally.... well, fantastic! You just can't go wrong with Wes Anderson anyway. And this, his first foray into animated films, still captures all the genius that his movies do. It's fun and quirky and light and deep and rich and layered and funny. It entertains kids and adults alike, and on both levels. Really a treasure, this one! You've got to give it a chance sometime!
And yes, Cherry Sours!
Random, I know, but I discovered these little beauties over the summer, when I needed a good road trip candy. Oh man! Instant addiction! These are the perfect candy, I've decided... just the right amount of tartness, soft and chewy, melt in your mouth. Oh boy, this is making me want to drive off to the store just to pick some up. I have to be oh-so-careful with how often I allow myself to buy these because once the bag is opened, it is eaten almost entirely by yours truly. I try to save one or two for my honey and the kiddos, but I can't ever guarantee they'll get them. Like a little taste of perfection on your tongue! And a whole lot less guilt than a bag of chocolate peanuts.
A Christmas Carol
And finally, because it is Christmastime, you should all pull out your bent and dusty copy of A Christmas Carol. Yes, I'm talking about the book. It's small enough that it only takes a couple of hours of your entire month, and yet it's the perfect way to really get yourself into the holiday season--into the mankind-loving, serving, blessing-acknowledging, basking side of the season. Which, let's be honest, is the very best part! So go read it! And then, yes, go watch the movie--and really, there are so many lovely versions out there! My preferred version is, of course, A Muppet Christmas Carol (which also happens to be my all-time favorite Christmas movie)... Michael Caine never disappoints; really great music; the quintessential Santa character, in my opinion (I'm sure you that have seen it know to whom I am referring); and, obviously, the Muppets, who I just really adore! My December is not complete without it. And actually, I usually save it till Christmas Eve--it's that tender for me! But if you're not a Muppet fan, well, you're crazy, first of all. :) But then go find another version. We were actually really impressed with the Disney one from a couple years ago--you know, that one with Jim Carrey that didn't get spectacular reviews....It's spot-on with the novel; and yes, though a little dark for kids, it still teaches the message wonderfully. Even Mickey's Christmas Carol is tender and heartfelt, all 25 minutes of it! Just get out there and find one, and bask in what it truly means to "keep Christmas well." Then go do it!
Happy Christmas, one and all! Go pick up a good book, or watch a good movie, or listen to a good album, and enjoy the season! Before you know it, you'll be taking your tree back down, and the magic will be over. So savor it! I certainly will be!