I hope it's obvious to people when a Daddy Types post is based on hands-on personal experience and when its based on just seeing something online. As a general rule, I discourage companies from inundating DTHQ with product samples or other free stuff; I'm skeptical of the push-based reporting industry, but I also don't want the hassle of dealing with all the clutter and waste.
And while we don't buy 99% of the stuff discussed around here, I recently bought several books that I've personally gone gaga over, and you know what? Sometimes I'm not so gaga anymore.
But my real issue is with Cynthia Rylant [or as she's always referred to, "Newberry Medal honoree Cynthia Rylant"] and her story. I don't know Rylant's Newberry-winning work, but holy crap, she turned the melodrama-meter to 11 for this thing:
This is a story about darkness and light, about sorrow and joy, about something lost and something found. This is a story about Love.Damn good thing Blair didn't paint a picture of Prince Fabio ripping Cinderella's bodice off. What the hell? I'll read about fairy godmothers and transmogrifying pumpkins all day, but does Disney really expect a parent in 2007 to feed this kind of Harlequin Romance claptrap to his kid? Coming at it from the art angle, I expected Cinderella to be modernist and retro; instead, it's retrograde.
She [Cinderella] lived a dark life in a dark house, with people who did not love her. Each morning when she rose up from her bed, Cinderella felt this darkness all around her.
How does a young man find his maiden? His heart leads him. He finds her in a room. He asks her to dance. And when he touches her, he knows. Cinderella and the young prince danced into a private world all their own. They did not even speak.
I'm still glad the book's out, and it's really beautiful, but in its telling, it's also woefully off-key in ways that make the movie version look almost progressive.
The other book we just got was Peter's ABC Book, which Chicago artist Robert Amft made as an "artist's insurance policy" for his young family, in case he got killed in WWII. For all the ambitious-sounding discussion of Dali and diChirico, the book is really just a sweet series of colored pencil drawings of animal scenes with snapshot images of Peter collaged in. It's well-done, refreshing, and worthy, but it's not a once-lost masterpiece.
For me the big news was the Amft didn't actually ever get drafted at all, a tiny fact that never managed to make it into the marketing material for the book. Rather than hyping this as a legacy left by a father facing imminent death, I think the book is better seen as an expression of one artist dad's appreciation and observation of and care for his family. From the foreword:
For Peter's ABC Book, Amft not only took his son as his object, but as his subject. Peter had already been featured in many of his father's paintings, dating back to portraits Robert made of his wife pregnant. In some of these, Marian was nude at the piano--the nervous parents hoped that exposing their baby to music in-vitro, at close range, would contribute to making him musical. He was. Perhaps it worked.Mozart who? We should be calling this the Amft Effect.