Friday, November 28, 2003

Book Alert: Le Spectre du Musée

The French edition of the The Specter from the Magician's Museum, with cover art by Lalex, is to be published next January. This is book #8 in the Kévin et les magiciens series.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Forgotten Spaces: Eagle Opera House

Jon Caulkett passes along an article in a recent Battle Creek Enquirer about a tour that took place Saturday November of four "Forgotten Spaces" in Marshall, including the Eagle Opera House (inspiration for The Doom of the Haunted Opera), put on by the Marshall Friends of the Arts.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Testimony: Lewis Barnavelt: Friend for Life

by Jay Cook (2003)
(Originally published at the compleatbellairs.com)

When I was in elementary school in rural Indiana, I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching cartoons and drawing while eating my way through a plate of cookies. Soon Vincent Price's mug appeared and began narrating a series of short films based on scary children's books. I continued to draw and munch on cookies, and occasionally looked up at the rather poor acting and special effects being shown on the television.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Dirda On Bellairs

The following excerpts from Michael Dirda in the Washington Post were passed along to us recently. He has a few facts mixed up - and weren't not at all clear on the second half when Bellairs chimes - but it's nice to see the attention:

Thursday, September 18, 2003

2003 Living History Portrayal Walk

Oakridge Cemetery is once again host to A Living History Portrayal on Saturday, October 11. This is a guided, walking tour of Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall, during which actors portray significant persons from the past at each of those individuals' grave sites. The actors, impersonating each individual, will provide factual information about each personage, but in the tradition of the theater - the Marshall Civic Players is one of the sponsors along with the Marshall Historical Society - the evening will be high drama!

We tried sending Walter to this last year to summon up spirits from a Greek-lettered mausoleum. This year he plans to dress up in a cloak with a hood over his face and silently follow the crowd around when they aren't looking at him. Whatever.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Sunday, August 24, 2003

40th Annual Historic Home Tour

John Bellairs's hometown is celebrating 40 years of its Historic Homes Tour on September 6 and 7, 2003.

The Marshall, Michigan home tour continues offering exquisite private homes and businesses for public viewing and enjoyment. The tour will feature eight vintage homes and will include five historic museums covering diverse specialties such as unusual architecture, antique home furnishings, Civil War memorabilia, and a restored antique post office. To close out the tour's sixteen structures will be three businesses from Marshall's well-maintained historic business district. The event takes place every year on the weekend after Labor Day.

For further information call the Marshall Historical Society or the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Inside the Cronin House, 1977

As a fifth grader growing up in Marshall, Michigan, author Bryndis Rubin had a class interview assignment and, being extremely fond of John Bellairs' books, talked her classmates into doing something involving the Cronin House, the inspiration for the house with clock in its walls. Upon calling the owners, the Misses Elizabeth and Virginia Cronin, she explained the project and was granted a tour and interview.

"As visuals were a requirement, I borrowed a Polaroid camera from my friend's mom. It was 1977 and Polaroid's were not common then, as I recall, so we thought it was really neat to be able to have such a high-tech aid for our project."

The classmates ended up touring the house with the Cronin sisters, learning interesting trivia and getting photographs of the interior and exterior of the popular Marshall landmark. "Some of the shots are a little blurry because I was 9 or 10 at the time, and not that great a photographer. Most are clear and not too bad and as a result I have used the pictures in my work as a librarian – nothing turns a kid on like visuals."

All this talk of the interior made us wonder if there was a coal pit and a boarded up tunnel behind it somewhere in the basement. We're joking, of course (and we hope you could figure that out), but like most old houses, coal was very much present in the house at one time. "There was a coal area somewhere but we were not allowed to see it because the Cronin sisters wouldn't let us go down into the basement. She said it was very dirty and the stairs leading down were rickety. The house had been converted from coal to gas and eventually electricity; it still had most of the original gas fixtures." We have to wonder how much of what the pictures show still existed at the time of Virginia Cronin’s death last year and how much of that was put up at the estate auction.

Rubin says she kept the project all this time because she loves the books. She kindly has allowed us to share her project to allow others a chance to see what the popular house looked like in the years following the publication of The House with a Clock in its Walls. She tells us, too, that the descriptions (below) are verbatim from the project (“and definitely in the fifth grade style!”). Enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2003

Book Alert: The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost

After two years of staying silent in New Zebedee, the latest adventure of Lewis Barnavelt and company has been released: The Whistle, the Grave and the Ghost. This is the tenth book in the Barnavelt series, coming 30 years after the release of the first, The House with a Clock in its Walls. Cheers to Lewis and Brad.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Authentic Author To Be Cited

Ruth Martin passes word along that John Bellairs will be profiled in the upcoming Favorite Children's Authors and Illustrators, part of a 6-volume reference set aimed at middle-school readers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

John Bellairs: The Spooky Writer Who Cast a Magic Spell

Carol Schaal of the Notre Dame Magazine has written a superb article about John Bellairs, "the wittiest guy in the class of '59", for the magazine's summer 2003 edition:
When the kids finish the latest Harry Potter, some fans of ghosts and spells and things that go creeeeak in the night have a suggestion: Check out the books by John Bellairs.

Bellairs, who graduated from Notre Dame in 1959, became the talk of juvenile fiction in the 1970s with the publication of The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The creepy doings in that book earned it a place as one of The New York Times Best Books in 1973.

He published three separate series of juvenile horror/mystery books until his death of cardiovascular disease in 1991 at age 53. His estate hired Brad Strickland to complete four books begun by Bellairs; Strickland has since continued the series under his own name.

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Memoriam: Bernard Markwell

Bernard Markwell, "to whom St. Fidgeta first appeared on rainy day in front of the Oriental Institute in Chicago," passed away July 2. He was 64.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Researching Mary Zimmerman

This past spring we began a series of queries with the Wisconsin Regional Writers' Association (WRWA) about Mary H. Zimmerman. Why, you’re undoubtedly asking? She’s someone John Bellairs met once while visiting Milwaukee for a friend’s wedding back in the early 1960s. John’s friend and the illustrator of his first three books, Marilyn Fitschen, was also on hand with her husband, Dale, and picks up the story from there:

Saturday, May 3, 2003

The Old Man of the Mountain

The Old Man of the Mountain, New Hampshire's natural stone profile that looks like a gnarled human face, fell from its mountainside Saturday, May 3.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Book Alert: Le Monstre Sous le Pont

The French edition of the The Beast under the Wizard's Bridge (loosely translated as The Monster Under the Bridge), with cover art by Lalex, is to be published this September. This is book #7 in the Kévin et les magiciens series.

    Sunday, April 6, 2003

    Book Alert: L'Opéra Maléfique

    The French edition of the The Doom of the Haunted Opera (loosely translated as The Opera Evil), with cover art by Lalex, is to be published this May. This is book #6 in the Kévin et les magiciens series.

    Friday, April 4, 2003

    Friday, March 28, 2003

    Book Alert: The Whistle, the Grave and the Ghost

    Amazon has posted the cover of The Whistle, the Grave and the Ghost with artwork created by S.D. Schindler.

    Brad Strickland, writing at the Compleat Bellairs:
    The new jacket cover for The Whistle, the Grave and the Ghost is very nice. I think this one is a lot of fun - we see Lewis again bedeviled by bullies, except now that he's older and maybe a little smarter, things don't quite work out the way the bullies expect. And there's a glimpse of one of Lewis's gloomy aunts as well. Won't give away too much, though.

    Saturday, March 1, 2003

    Memoriam: Sister Bernetta Quinn

    Author and educator Sister Bernetta Quinn (1915-2003), a Franciscan Sister of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, died February 24 at Assisi Heights.

    Wednesday, February 5, 2003

    Blue Devil Bellairs Fan

    The News and Observer had a recent interview with Duke Blue Devil Forward Nick Horvath where he talked about his double major (English and Physics), his love of writing and favorite authors.

    Monday, February 3, 2003

    Book Alert: Le Chasseur de Sorciers

    The French edition of the The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder (loosely translated as Wizards of the Hunter), with cover art by Lalex, is due out in February. This is book #5 in the Kévin et les magiciens series.

    Monday, January 27, 2003

    Between Compulsion and A Brave Respect

    In 1959, John Bellairs and Al Myers went from being friends at Notre Dame to friends at the University of Chicago - John studying English and Myers in pursuit of his MBA.  Myers doesn't have as clear a memory of the two's Chicago days as he does their time in South Bend but can testify that Bellairs "worked his tail off".

    Myers did share one story from their days in Chicago that doesn't concern Bellairs at all.

    #JohnBellairs