Featured Post

The Earl of Cork's Enigma

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sad Girl In The Snow

M. Millhorn
Traipsing through the trenches and we came across this odd but entertaining crossover of Narnia and the Southern Kingdom by a user named necreavit.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Edward Gorey Artwork

Edward Gorey
Kevin McDermott of Gotham Book Mart in New York City passes along word that original Edward Gorey artwork for three Brad Strickland novels are for sale via ABEbooks.com. The titles are The Bell, the Book and the Spellbinder; The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost; and The Hand of the Necromancer. They'd make great Christmas presents for your favorite Bellairs-fan this holiday season.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Book Alert en français

Books News
It’s been a busy time in France for the books of John Bellairs (and Brad Strickland): La Tour de la fin du monde, the ninth book in the Kévin et les magicians series, was released this past June. In Johnny Dixon news, La Vengeance du fantôme was published in November and Les yeux du robot tueur is scheduled for release in February 2006.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gorey Art for Sale

Edward Gorey
Up for grabs at ebay this week are two pieces of original Edward Gorey art. First, two interior illustrations from The Trolley to Yesterday (1989) on one piece of paper: the hand and sword pointing at a lit candle (page 120) and the mysterious tabergan (page 107). The second piece paper contains the ink drawing of the rebus clue from The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull (1984), the capital letter "L" covered with leafy vines (page 52). The seller notes both pieces were originally purchased at the Gotham Book Mart in Manhattan. If you've got the money...good luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What's Gorey's Story?

Edward Gorey
Elizabeth Tamny writes in the Chicago Reader of the formative years of Edward Gorey:

Time Capsule: 1985

The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost
November, 1985 - A tip of the hat (so it can suck your scalp dry) to Brother Tentacles! Twenty years ago this November we learned just how sinister the Windrow clan truly was. John Bellairs’s fourth adventure in the Johnny Dixon series introduced us to, not only the malevolent Zebulon, but also his unforgettable familiar - the short, hunched figure with tentacles that roams the Windrow estate in New York. The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost continued the Windrow saga, as started the year before in The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull, making for a delightful one-two punch from some of the author’s best-remembered villains.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

26th Annual Christmas Candlelight Walk

Brooks Memorial Fountain
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: five of Marshall, Michigan’s historic homes will open their doors to visitors during the upcoming Holiday Season. Participants will walk with a guide from home to home in a group of about 30 people. There are four start times to choose from, and you will receive final details prior to the tour.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Someone's In My Fruit Cellar!

The Evil Dead
After watching the horror film The Evil Dead (1981) on someone's movie channel we went online to the trivia section at IMDb and found this tidbit:
The cabin did not actually have a cellar. Most of the cellar scenes were filmed in the stone cellar of a farmhouse owned by producer Robert G. Tapert’s family in Marshall, Michigan. The last room of the cellar was actually Raimi’s garage. The hanging gourds and bones are a tribute to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). For the scene where the students descend into the cellar, a hole was cut into the floor, a shallow hole was dug, and a ladder was placed into the pit.
Nice. Anyone want to add anything to the story?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Go Bellairs! Quote Chaucer!

On the dust jacket of the original Harcourt Brace Jovanovich edition of The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn you’ll find this interesting bit of trivia bout John:
While an undergraduate at Notre Dame University, John Bellairs startled a national television audience by quoting Middle English on the College Bowl program. He went on to teach English at several colleges and to travel widely. 

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

Time Capsule: September 30, 1955

Eddie Fisher (Notre Dame 1956)
September, 30 1955
: Back to college we go as television and music star Eddie Fisher drops in on the student body at Notre Dame, broadcasting his NBC program, Coke Time, live from the pep rally at the old field house. Along hand in the production were the Notre Dame Band and Glee Club.

After the program, Fisher and wife Debbie Reynolds mingled with students; both were in attendance at the football game against Indiana the next day.

We've learned John was not the BMOC at this point so we find it doubtful he was in attendance at the pep rally.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Memoriam: Helen Cresswell

Helen Cresswell
Author Helen Cresswell died Sept. 26 of cancer at her home in England. Cresswell is best remembered for his books staring Lizzie Dripping, the girl with a witch as a best friend, and The Bagthorpe Saga, the tales of inept British eccentrics, both later adapted for television by the BBC. "I do not particularly believe in what most people call reality. I only really believe in truth of the imagination," she said.

BBC: Helen Cresswell's literary legacy
Links: FantasticFiction

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Fidgety Feet

Saint Fidgeta
Digging through the trenches recently we stumbled upon an online record store where one could purchase a slew of unfamiliar albums from almost anywhere across the world (mainly Poland, the Czech Republic, the eastern half of West Germany and so on). One particular record caught our eye: a 1988 album by the USSR-based Nevskaya Vosmyorka Jazz Band. The album is entitled Fidgeta.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Remembering Roommate Ronald Cardwell

University of Notre Dame
Fifty years ago this fall John Bellairs began life as a college undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame. While there are the usual number of firsts anyone undergoes transitioning from high school to college, one first of Bellairs's was this semester he had a roommate in Zahm Hall. Actually, in four years of college at Notre Dame, Ronald Cardwell would be Bellairs's only room mate.

Whatever happened to Cardwell is uncertain but another Zahm resident - Bellairs's life-long friend Alfred Myers - was nice enough to recall their brief encounter:

Who Is Chubby Lewis?

Lewis Barnavelt
That's the question we were once asked and we didn't have a good answer. Why are the Lewis Barnavelt books sometimes referred to as the "Chubby Lewis" series?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Notre Dame: Living in Zahm Hall

Fifty years ago this fall, Bellairs began his Freshman year (1955-56) on the University of Notre Dame campus. During this initial year, he lived in Zahm Hall.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Itinerary: Bellairs Walk, Marshall

Jeremiah Cronin, Jr. House
by Leah Adams (July 29, 2005)
(Originally published at LiveJournal)

Wednesday, I got to fulfill one of my lifelong childhood dreams. This was more important to me than going to New Orleans. For those that know me, that’s pretty damned important. This was like my own personal Mecca. I got to go to Marshall, Michigan.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Dost Thou Turn Away And Hide Thy Face

Joseph Force Crater
There’s news of a possible break in the case of Joseph Force Crater, the prominent New York City judge who disappeared on August 6, 1930. A recently discovered letter asserts Crater was murdered and buried near the Coney Island boardwalk:

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

...and the Prisoner of Guantanamo?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Go figure: the Harry Potter series and books by Agatha Christie are what are being read at the Guantanamo Bay prison at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba [article]. The Washington Times first reported Monday about the reading habits, noting Christie is popular since some of her mysteries are set in the Middle East. The Times also notes the library has 1,200 books and the Potter tales in four languages: English, French, Farsi and Russian. It's on order in Arabic and someone had put a request out for the film adaptations.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Tales of a College Nothing

The Curse of the Blue Figurine
In his June 23 article in the Daily Californian (Berkeley), David Boyk writes an interesting review of John Bellairs’s books, mentioning The Curse of the Blue Figurine, among others. What we found funny?
“...they have pictures by Edward Gorey. Sadly, new editions have replaced his stylish, weird scratchings with the work of some schmuck who wouldn’t know a cross-hatch if it hit him in the Roman nose.”
Our favorite?
“The world’s simple, and the biggest problems mostly have to do with Johnny accidentally hurting Grampa’s feelings.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

2005 Living History Portrayal Walk

Oakridge Cemetery
Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall, Michigan is host once again to the annual Living History Portrayal Walk. This guided walking tour will feature actors portraying seven significant persons from Marshall's past at each of those individual's gravesites. The event will take place rain or shine so participants are encouraged to bring flashlights, wear comfortable walking shoes, and carry an umbrella.

When: October 15, 2005
Time: 6:00 pm

Tickets for this fundraiser will be limited to 300. For more information, including cost, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Paging Pascale Cosse

Film commentary
For at least the past seven years Pascale Cosse has been named as one of the writers of the film adaptation of The House with a Clock in its Walls, as seen on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com).

Monday, August 1, 2005

Book Alert: The House Where Nobody Lived

Books News
From Brad Strickland:
With the settlement of Frank Bellairs's estate, the publisher has asked for new books and the first one will be called The House Where Nobody Lived. The publishers asked for a Lewis book, so that's what it is. It's based on an actual house in Marshall, Michigan, though I've taken liberties with it and have relocated it.

In other breaking news, it really looks as if the movie of The House with a Clock in Its Walls will finally be produced. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Grimoire Commeth

Brad Strickland
Mark June 2006 as your first chance to meet the Midions. The Curse of the Midions is the first adventure in Brad Strickland’s Grimoire mystery series for young-adults, something I’m sure we’ll hear more about as the months progress. The series is being published by Dial Books for Young Readers.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

42nd Annual Historic Home Tour

Michigan, Marshall
The Marshall, Michigan Home Tour is in its fifth decade of 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. Marshall's Home Tour was voted the Best Home Tour by the readers of AAA's Michigan Living magazine.”

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cuts Like a Knife

The BBC recently noted a long, lost treasure from the ancient city of Pompeii
A set of ancient silverware has been dug up from Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by a volcano 2,000 years ago. The hand-crafted goblets, plates and trays had been bundled into a wicker basket by an inhabitant fleeing the erupting Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

The tableware, well preserved in ash and mud, was discovered five years ago and archaeologists have used the latest techniques to separate 20 pieces. Experts say it is the most important find of this kind for 70 years.

Five For Six

Five for Six
In the event you thought the uproar of that book released over the weekend flew by us, leaving us unscathed, you’re wrong. We know some people sit up until the crack of dawn reading the latest adventure and, having said that, we were still somewhat surprised at the email that arrived in the overnight hours, awaiting us in the inbox early this morning:

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bibliofile: The Curse of the Blue Figurine

The Curse of the Blue Figurine (1987, UK)
John Bellairs' first three Johnny Dixon novels – The Curse of the Blue Figurine (1983); The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt (1983); and The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull (1984) – were published by British publishing house Corgi in the mid/late 1980s. David Langford comments on the foreign edition’s translation:

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Gorey: The Gashlycrumb Tinies Come Home

Edward Gorey House
In cooperation with the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, The Edward Gorey House is very pleased to announce a major exhibit for 2005: the original art for Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

This major Edward Gorey exhibit encompasses the pen and ink drawings for The Gashlycrumb Tinies and Mr. Gorey’s original typescript draft notes for the text. Also featured will be the five pen and ink panel drawings for Gorey’s slipcase for The Vinegar Works (three volume set includes The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Insect God and The West Wing). The exhibit is scheduled to run from June 23 to September 5, 2005.

Friday, July 1, 2005

The "Welcome to My Garden" Tour

Jeremiah Cronin, Jr. House
Jon Caulkett passes along a story from the Battle Creek Enquirer about the Marshall Area Garden Club's 15th annual "Welcome To My Garden Tour," showcasing some of the community's private and public gardens. On this year’s tour is the Zaharion House, formerly owned by the Cronin family, the house that is the inspiration for Bellairs’s The House with a Clock in its Walls. The tour is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 and 10. For more information visit the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Time Capsule: 1965

Saint Fidgeta at Forty
Summer, 1965 - She’s tiny, she’s jittery and she’s what made Bellairs the “famous author.” Forty years ago this summer Saint Fidgeta found herself in print when the Catholic publication The Critic published the humorous story of this miraculous patroness that changed the lives of parishioners everywhere.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Photographing the John Bellairs Walk

Jeremiah Cronin, Jr. House
We're always interested in improving Bellairsia. While we have an updated copy of Ann La Pietra’s John Bellairs Walk tour - featuring two new locations - we’re missing one particular item: pictures. Do you have photos of any of the locations on the tour? If so, and you want to share your photographs from your last stopover in Marshall, please drop us a line and we’ll see about getting them added to the online tour in the months ahead.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Something About Kryptos

News of the Kryptos sculpture was passed on to us this week and it immediately reminded us of something Johnny Dixon might stumble upon – and then figure out while at Boy Scout camp (see The Mummy, the Will and Crypt) – and we thought others might enjoy its tale:

Monday, June 6, 2005

What A Treasure Hadst Thou!

Michael Stadther
Here’s an interesting story about author Michael Stadther’s book, A Treasure Trove:
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Michael Stadther can top that: His illustrated children's book, A Treasure's Trove, could be worth just over $1 million—if you can solve the riddles. Hidden within the 116-page forest-world fantasy are clues to the location of 12 golden tokens, each of which can be redeemed for a jeweled insect brooch valued at $8,500 to $450,000. "Anyone who can read can solve the puzzle," says Stadther, 53, a lifelong treasure-hunt fan. "I've [always] wanted to do this."

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

An Announcement from Brad Strickland

Brad Strickland
Brad Strickland writing:
Brad Strickland has agreed to write more books in the series begun by John Bellairs. Following the death of John's son Frank, the copyright situation was complex and tangled. Through the efforts of John's and Brad's agent Richard Curtis, all of John Bellairs's surviving relatives (his former wife Priscilla, his sister Suzanne, and his brother Frank) have reached an agreement regarding copyright with Dial Books for Young Readers, clearing the way for new additions to the series. Titles have yet to be worked out, but this fall Brad will turn in the first new Bellairs series title since The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost. I hope the readers think this is good news!

All best,

Edward Gorey Art For Sale

Edward Gorey
Up for grabs on ebay this week are the original pen and ink illustrations by Edward Gorey from the interior of The Trolley to Yesterday. On one sheet of paper are the illustration of the pointing hand, candle and sword as seen on page 120 and, our favorite device, the tabergan from page 107. The seller notes that the piece was purchased from the Gotham Book Mart on April 22, 1995.

La Pendola Magica - e altro ancora!

Longtime Bellairs fan Lorenza Boisi recently wrote to us from Italy and helped fill in some of the gaps of the Italian editions of House and provided some thoughts on the books:

Monday, May 23, 2005

Whither Travel You?

Gorey compas
Visiting Vinalhaven this summer? Heading to Hoosac? Partying with puffins on Lundy Island? Zephyring over to New Zebedee? We are interested in hearing about any of your summer vacation plans that include visits to locations or ports of calls mentioned in John or Brad’s books. Or let us know if your vacation ends up like Rose Rita’s in The Letter, the Witch and the Ring (but if it does...well...you’re on your own...). Anyway, once you’re returned write a review of the destination, include a picture if possible, and we’ll share it online.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Time Capsule: 1955

May 31,
- Fifty years ago John Bellairs graduated from Marshall High School. According to the MHS yearbook, the Dial, he spent two years in the Latin club and the Chess club for all four years of high school. Dubbed "Genius John," the yearbook says his future included attending Notre Dame and studying pre-law. Only half of that came true: Bellairs did live in South Bend for four years but focused his attention on English literature and, during his senior year, becoming a minor television celebrity.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Something About Summer Reading

Summer reading
NPR has a list of librarian Nancy Pearl's options for kids - and parents – for reading this summer in the downtime between Harry Potter adventures. Her choices " range from new releases of proven classics to new, irreverent and witty fantasy books that cross boundaries of genre and age." Titles include long-time favorite The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer, the tale of three children in a futuristic Zimbabwe.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Encouraging Boys to Love Books

Jon Scieszka
 Author Jon Scieszka has spent his adult life trying to encourage young boys to read. The former teacher and the author of more than 20 children’s books says treating boys and girls the same in school just doesn’t work. Read part of an interview at NPR and excerpts from his literacy program or visit the guysread website.

Monday, May 9, 2005

Go, Bid Thy GothGirlsCloset

Longtime ebay seller gothgirlscloset has 26 John Bellairs books (and those later completed and written by Brad Strickland) for sale. She notes many titles are almost out of print in this format with the Edward Gorey illustrations. These are all first editions, with many books being first printings and are a mixture of ex-library and brand new books, most in very good to excellent condition! Definitely a look-see for any collector.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Great Reckonings In Little Rooms

Childermass Clock
We received an email earlier this month from a writer for the British magazine Dolls House and Miniature Scene who is working on a forthcoming article about the use of dollhouses in fiction. We’re told that John's The Spell Of The Sorcerer's Skull will be mentioned in the piece, in reference to the Childermass Clock:

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Memoriam: Saul Bellow

Author Saul Bellow died April 5 in Massachusetts. He was 89. Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and was the only writer to win the National Book Award for Fiction three times.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Researching the Tropical Hut

Tropical Hut
When it comes to learning about some of John’s exploits in Chicago one of the better sources is his friend and fellow adventurer, Bob Yaple, who shared the names of some of the restaurants and bars that he and John visited during their graduate school days of the early 1960s.