August 23, 2011 • Fiction
This past Sunday marked an important birthday for one of the most beloved characters in the history of children’s literature. Winnie the Pooh. And although he didn’t appear in print until 1926, the actual stuffed animal that inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories is 90 years old. People sent the real Winnie the Pooh a birthday card via the New York Public Library. I’ll be honest: I was a little disappointed that I was too old to send a card. I am firm in my belief that Winnie the Pooh is such a lasting character because he can’t be fully appreciated until you’ve grown up. Only then can you realize all the life lessons the silly old bear has given you.
1. Positive Thinking. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” (The House at Pooh Corner, p. 11) Although Eeyore is generally known as the gloomy one, even he can look on the bright side occasionally.
2. Empathy. “What about me?” said Pooh sadly. “I suppose I shan’t be useful?” “Never mind, Pooh,” said Piglet comfortingly. “Another time, perhaps.” (Winnie the Pooh, p. 95) Piglet, being a Very Small Animal, acutely understands what it is like to feel useless.
3. Gratitude. But Eeyore wasn’t listening. He was taking the balloon out, and putting it back again, as happy as could be… (Winnie the Pooh, p. 89) It doesn’t matter to Eeyore that Piglet meant to give him an inflated balloon and Pooh meant to give him a pot of honey for his birthday and what he got was a popped balloon and an empty pot. He enjoys his gifts because his friends thought to give them to him.
4. Creative Problem Solving. In the very first story of the very first book we learn about Pooh’s Passion for Honey. (We also learn that capitalizing words in the middle of the sentence makes them serve two purposes; to stand out as a Very Important Idea and to define A. A. Milne’s Narrative Voice.) In Pooh’s quest for honey, the bees have become suspicious of him, and thus he needs a new plan that will allow him to fly under the radar and stealthily take the honey. He decides on attaching himself to a balloon. But a blue balloon or a green balloon?
He explains the benefit of each to Christopher Robin: “When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you’re coming. Now, if you have a green balloon, they might think you were only part of the tree and not notice you, and if you have a blue balloon, they might think you were only part of the sky and not notice you.” (Winnie The Pooh, p. 13)
August 22, 2011 • Fiction
Photo by Rob Boudon
These days, it seems everyone is looking to break into the unicorn farming industry. Be it the economy, the limited opportunities in the classifieds, or the undeniable allure of ‘80s nostalgia, new batches of unicorn farmers are sprouting up across the globe.
I have seen it myself at Unicornomics, the unicorn farm and research and development firm where I am Chief Unicornomicist, as our workshops on How to Raise Unicorns have experienced record attendance in inverse correlation with the Dow.
And, while unicorns are appreciative of this zeitgeist, they are also wary of the pitfalls that a surplus of unicorn farmers can bring. Thus, in the interest of unicorns’ wellbeing and preserving the future of this profession, I present to you the 5 Things You Need to Know Before Entering the Best Occupation Ever.
August 17, 2011 • Zombies
When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a huge stash of comic books that belonged to my father and I developed a life-long love for comics. When I heard that one of my favorite books, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, was turned into a graphic novel, I was excited to get my hands on it.
I have to tell you how great it is. Yes, sometimes graphic novels are a little hard to follow. My kids love to read The Legend of Zelda graphic novels and since they’re Japanese-style, they read from back to front. I swear I get lost trying to figure out which panel to read first, but this book is fairly straightforward.
Maybe the drawings aren’t as detailed as you’re used to, or they’re not in color. However, there are hidden benefits to everything. This particular book is perfect, because it combines three things I love: reading, comics and the opportunity to color.
Yes, color. I still love to color. I’m in my 40’s, but I’ll admit it. When I was a kid, I had some amazing art coloring books and this book totally takes me back. The paper is perfect for colored pencils. We recently went on a trip to the beach and I took PP&Z with me and it was entertaining and made for hours of enjoyment. Which color should I use for Elizabeth’s dress today? How many streaks of coral can I put in her hair? Should she be blonde or brunette? Brunette, of course!. Should I make the zombies green or purple? How about green with purple guts?
August 16, 2011 • ,
You've got a last minute invite to a friend's Summer party. You've got no time to prepare and your reputation as an awesome chef to maintain. What do you do? What do you make?
The answer? Chorizo and cheese-stuffed mushrooms.
A quick and easy fix for any last minute chef, once cooked, the flavors of melted cheese and butter seep through the mixture of spicy, finely chopped Spanish chorizo meat which is seasoned and stuffed into jumbo mushrooms. This delicious appetizer will make everyone think you slaved over the stove for hours. But you and I, we both know the truth. And I'll keep your secret.
You can bring it baked and ready to eat or if the hosts allow, bring it in a foil pan and cook it at the party in under 10 minutes. And just as the guests are arriving, these stuffed mushrooms will come out of the oven (or the top of the grill) steaming hot, butter dripping, cheese melting and the chorizo sizzling.
Once this happens, be ready to deal with the onslaught of invitations to everyone’s summer party or neighborhood potluck. You’ll be the hottest, most sought-after party guest of the season. You and your spectacular stuffed mushrooms.
August 15, 2011 • Fiction, Zombies
Over the past few days, review copies of Ben H. Winters’ latest novel, Bedbugs, have been steadily mailing out from the Quirk HQ to bloggers everywhere. As I stuffed books and posters into manila bubble mailers, I came across one particular… er… let’s say “special” copy of Bedbugs that I’d nearly forgotten about.
See, during BEA this year, Ben signed ARCs of Bedbugs for eager fans. Unfortunately, a few copies of Bedbugs didn’t quite make it to the Book Expo in one piece. Notable, this copy, which was completely smashed in, the pages crumbled up.
Ben, being the good-humored guy he is, picked up the copy of the book and signed it anyway, for a silly online giveaway.
Sorry what happened to your book!
Ben H. Winters
Want to get this one-of-a-kind copy of Bedbugs? Just leave a comment here or retweet this post to your followers (make sure to @quirkbooks!). I’ll select one of you at random sometime next week. You’ll receive the mangled signed copy, as well as a mint condition signed copy + poster.
Come on, you didn’t think I’d just send you a beat up book, did you? I'm not the monster here. The bedbugs are. Comment and tweet away! Good luck.
August 11, 2011 • History
Middleton’s gift shop had this outdoor display featuring our book! Thanks guys!
How Southern Gothic can you get? The road to Middleton Place Plantation, just outside Charleston, South Carolina, is lined with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. When you turn your car into the drive of the plantation, you behold a landscape the way it looked around the birth of the United States.
In recent months, my co-author Denise Kiernan and I have been driving up and down the east coast visiting historic sites associated with the signers of America’s founding documents. It’s our way of promoting our existing Quirk book, Signing Their Lives Away, about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Signing Their Rights Away, about the Constitution signers, which pubs Sept 6.
When we have some free time, we’ve been working on a documentary about these sites. So far, in the state of South Carolina, we’ve created a short film about Middleton Place, Hopsewee Plantation, and the Governor’s House Inn in downtown Charleston. All three of these homes were residences of signers of the Declaration of Independence.
We think the videos have turned out pretty well, and we’re anxious to move on to other states.