Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Therein Illustrated & The Honour Of It

"House" frontispiece by Edward Gorey
We came across this article about the decline in artwork used in children's books. For an example the author cites John's novels and the differences in artwork between those published in the 1970s and those released during the 80s. We thought we'd re-publish it here to gain some more insights:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Comments of Praise, Richly Compiled

John Bellairs
Catherine Dalek commented on some of her summer reading list, including few Bellairs titles:
Obviously I’m not the target audience. however, I’m not sure how well novels written in the 1980s but set in the 1950s resonate with today’s ten year olds.
What say you, readers of today?  Do you enjoy reading of the world 50+ years ago or is too strange a time and place to bother with?  We wonder how John would have been affected by - or would have affected - children’s literature trends were he still around.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More About Widow's Walk Lake

Widow's Walk Lake
Filmmaker and Bellairs-fan James Strayer got in touch with us earlier this year about his latest work, Widow's Walk Lake, a film inspired partly by some of Bellairs’ spooky stories. The story is set in the 1930s and follows a young man as he goes off to war leaving his wife behind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enquirer: Marshall Historic District Possible

Marshall, Michigan
Darby Prater reports in the Battle Creek Enquirer:
In a town known as "Historic Marshall," it might seem appropriate that downtown buildings be required to maintain an historic appearance. But, while preservation of traditional architecture is encouraged, Main Street Manager Diane Larkin said without establishing a local historic district, the city has no legal control over it. Representatives and volunteers from 17 Michigan communities convened Tuesday [December 9] at Schuler's Restaurant to discuss the role of design in historic preservation. Marshall is one of four cities nominated for the master level of the Michigan Main Street Program, which will help Marshall attract tourism and industry, Larkin said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Alert: Magic Mirrors

Books News
There is news this holiday season of what appears to be a new John Bellairs anthology on the horizon. This one is a collection of his non-YA books entitled (appropriately enough) Magic Mirrors. The anthology looks to include:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Something About a Magician Disillusioned

Lumache Mansion in Colon, Michigan
If there's one thing we learned from The Specter of the Magician's Museum it's the men and women who practiced stage magic came up with some interesting stage names. Much of Specter has its roots in the American Museum of Magic in Marshall as well as Colon, the magic capital of Michigan. There are more names buried out in Colon's Lakeside Cemetery, too. The Magnificent Fraud. The Amazing Conklins. The Conjuring Humorist.  America's Greatest Pickpocket. You get the idea.

Ion Zwitter shares the story of one such magician, The Great Lumache:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Whirl Along with Us in the Globe

Inside the globe
How many glass orbs can you think of from the Bellairs and Strickland novels?
  • The green glass paperweight-thing of Prospero's (The Face in the Frost)
  • The snow globe Johnny sees first hand (The Hand of the Necromancer)
  • Does that crystal orb atop Mrs. Zimmermann’s staff count?
Elisabeth linked to images of snow globes created by Walter Martin and Pamela Munoz and rightly says they remind her of Bellairs's books and Gorey's illustrations.  Yes, indeed they do - and we'd love to see a series of globes with one representing each book.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Time Capsule: October 31, 1948

The ayes have it
October 31, 1948: It may be hard to believe but it was sixty years ago tonight that ten-year-old Lewis Barnavelt dared himself to meet Tarby Corrigan in Oakridge Cemetery and...well...you know the rest.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Such Virtue Hath My Pen

Fan art for "The Figure in the Shadows"
Color us impressed: John Joy has created a mock book cover design for John Bellairs’ The Figure in the Shadows.  Very impressive - to the point we'd like to see the whole series by Mr. Joy. Anyone at Dial paying attention?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Book Alert: The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer

The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer
It's summer again in New Zebedee and Lewis Barnavelt is back in another hair-raising adventure! What sort of shadowy figure does Lewis see and why has our timid hero immersed himself in understanding the mystical and magical number three? Fates? Wise men? Blind mice?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Time Capsule: October 3, 1958

Scholastic
October 3, 1958: 50 years ago today John Bellairs debuted in the pages of the University of Notre Dame student magazine, the Scholastic. Now a senior level English major, Bellairs and friend Charles Bowen were tapped to share their humorous observations about life in South Bend by alternating each week author of Escape.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008 Living History Portrayal Walk

Oakridge Cemetery
Oakridge Cemetery, one of the oldest continuously operated cemeteries in Michigan, is home again this year to the 8th Annual "If These Stones Could Talk..." Living History Portrayal Walk. This guided walking tour will feature actors portraying significant persons from Marshall's past at each of those individual's gravesites.

This year’s famous Marshallnites include Anne Ells (no relation Myra, that we know of), Samuel Burpee, Mary Coleman, Deville Hubbard, Calvin Clark, Rev. Christopher Heidenreich, and Adam Crosswhite. 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 11, 2008
Time: 7:00 pm

To learn more, please contact the Marshall Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time Capsule: September 20, 1378

Grand Central Schism
September 20, 1378: 630 years ago today Antipope Clement VII was elected by French cardinals as opposition to the Roman-elected Pope Urban VI; these proceedings lead to what Bellairs lovingly called the Grand Central Schism in Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies [58-9].

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To Think What Follows....

Eoin Colfer
The Bookshelves of Doom notes the news of the sixth book in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, after Adams's widow sanctioned Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl) as the author. The site then notes:
I generally don't like it when people continue the work of much-beloved-but-sadly-deceased authors (see Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, John Bellairs, etc.).
The sixth Hitchhiker’s book, And Another Thing..., will be published in October 2009. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Whistle and Hum

Whistle and Hum
Brendan Adkins writes about finding new Bellairs books - albeit in a dream.  And he may be on to something because I may have had a similar dream.

I was adamant the new cover featured Johnny or Lewis riding a bicycle on an empty rural road and there was something shadowy watching from behind the only tree within miles.  Whistle and Hum sounds more interesting - unless it's a bad U2 cover album.

Then I glanced over and noticed a series of five John Bellairs books that I remembered enjoying in high school (including one called Whistle and Hum). I thought about finding them for a while after I woke up, until I realized they don’t exist.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Salisbury Cathedral, Cheer thy Spirit with this Comfort

Salisbury Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Mary – better known as Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England – is celebrating the 750th anniversary of its consecration.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Visit to Edward Gorey's House

Edward Gorey House
Edward Gorey's art is something you don't forget. Even if you can't remember his name, his style stands out.  Pam also thinks his former house stands out and she's remembered enough about her visit to share these thoughts online.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

45th Annual Historic Home Tour

Marshall, Michigan
For 45 years the Marshall Historical Society has been showcasing eight private homes, one church, and one business as part of its Historic Home Tour. It has been called the Granddaddy of Midwest Home Tours and is famous all over the country for its traditions and heritage. Marshall's Home Tour was voted the Best Home Tour by the readers of AAA's Michigan Living magazine.

Of special interest to fans of John Bellairs is the inclusion in this year's tour of the Zaharion (née Cronin) House (407 North Madison), the landmark inspiration for The House with a Clock in its Walls.

When: September 6-7, 2008
Time: Saturday 9:00 to 5:00, Sunday 10:00 to 5:00

For more information, including cost, please contact the Marshall Historical Society.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

About Widow's Walk Lake

Widow's Walk Lake
One of the joys of Bellairsia over the years has been the response we get from fans. Some are new to the Bellairs-game and have questions about books, while others are long-time readers and appreciate the site memorializing John and his work. It’s also been nice to hear from John’s close friends and have them express their pleasure in us keeping John’s memory alive. And we’ve had fun doing it, too.

So we found it interesting a few weeks ago that another such fan surfaced to tell his story.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Prosperity Be Thy Page Count!

Book pages
Over the past few months our inbox has had the fair share of questions about the new book: when is it going to be released, which character is the book about, what is the plot, and so on. Well, we know The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer is due out this October, it features Lewis Barnavelt, and that Amazon.com says the book is 176 pages.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The John Bellairs Mural

John Bellairs mural
Team Haverhill, an independent citizen action group dedicated to bettering Haverhill, Massachusetts, began a Mural Project in 2007 consisting of outdoor murals of famous people from the city's past. A new series of murals are planned for 2008, bringing the total to 18, and among those will be one honoring author and former Haverhill resident John Bellairs.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An Edward Gorey Cover Bonanza

Edward Gorey
The Caustic Cover Critic combed through a cozy collection of covers created by celebrated ... oh, come on now, give it a break.  Part three of the site's Edward Gorey bonanza finally centers on covers (grr...) for the Bellairs series.  Judging from the crazy collection of comments a number of fans hoped Bellairs titles would be included in the cover critic's list this time around.

See ya.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Curse of the Sad Little Figurine

Sad little figurine
Stu Horvath tells the story of this image shared on Flickr, found in an antique store (where else) in the Brandywine River Valley:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

In Forms...and At Zoos...Imaginary

Morgan's Zoo
Writer and children's librarian Lisa Chellman writes about the devil's in the details when it comes to fictional things in Michigan:
When I was a kid, I never fully forgave James Howe for writing, in Morgan's Zoo, that one of the animals was to be shipped to the zoo in Kalamazoo. There was no zoo in Kalamazoo, as I knew darn well; the nearest zoo was in Battle Creek. My parents explained poetic license, but to me it was just wrong.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Best Punch Line in a Fantasy Book, Ever

Prospero
What's the best punch line in a fantasy book? Jim Lehmer asks and answers himself, saying it's the following:

"Use the spell, fool."

This being the wisdom of wise-one Michael Scott from Bellairs's The Face in the Frost.

Good one, Jim.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Memoriam: Dody Goodman

Dody Goodman as Miss Eells
Dody Goodman, best known to contemporary audiences as the scatterbrained secretary in the Grease movies and in her role in the sitcom Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, died Sunday, June 22. She was 93.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Discovering Hoosac

Minnesota
by guest contributor, Ben McLeod:

When I was about nine or ten years old, in the very early 1980's, I checked out the Winona Public Library's copy of The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn. I probably took it back into the stacks, which is where I liked to curl up with creepy finds. But before you write this off as another fan's first-time discovery of Mr. Bellairs work, let me explain. I felt like Bastian in Michael Ende's The Neverending Story because as Anthony Monday wandered around the Hoosac Public Library, I began to think it was strangely familiar. As I read further and the novel's description of Hoosac developed, I came to realize that it was, in fact, Winona, Minnesota under a different name.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Under the Spell of Scary Stuff

John Bellairs
It’s nice - even if it is all these years later - to come across something new about John Bellairs. This week we were directed to Marilyn Stasio's article in the June 9, 1991 edition of the New York Times that gives some praise to the then recently-deceased author.

Plus we sort-of like the phrase "chiller-dillers" and welcome it back into polite society PDQ.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Something About Jamesian Inspirations

M. R. James
Knowing Bellairs was fond of the ghost stories of M. R. James has led a few people to send us their recommendations for similar tales.  What's your verdict?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bibliofile: Peter Smith Publishing

The Figure in the Shadows
No book collecting topic has been discussed more at Bellairsia and the Compleat Bellairs over the years than the fine art of tracking down the hardcover first edition copies of John and Brad’s books with the wraparound dust-jacket artwork by Edward Gorey and doing so without shelling out fistfuls of money in the process.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hollywood Hints for Filming Bellairs

Film commentary

Blogger custardpringle has some commentary on any proposed film adaptation, so listen up!

I never thought I'd say this, but considering what's been done to some of my favorite YA fantasy, I hope to high heaven there aren't any more The Dark is Rising movies. I'd love to see the Narnia franchise go away, too, but I don't think I'll be that lucky. And I've heard rumors of a film version of The House With A Clock In Its Walls, too, and I definitely don't trust Hollywood to go near John Bellairs.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Photographic Memories: Marshall

Photographer Lee Rentz recently visited Marshall, Michigan, and shares some of his thoughts and photographs documenting his tour of Michigan Avenue, including Hemmingsen Rexall Drug Store.
For those who think American small towns died soon after “It’s a Wonderful Life” was filmed, it’s a surprise to see that there are beautiful small towns all over the Midwest that look for all the world like Bedford Falls. These towns have two or three story well-proportioned brick buildings lining Main Street, and these days the drygoods stores and mom-and-pop groceries of a hundred years ago have been replaced by antique shops, styling salons, and lawyers’ offices. In many cases the old storefronts have been restored to something near their original look, and the space-age aluminum facades of the 1950s and 1960s have been removed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Celebrate Edward Gorey's Children's Books

Edward Gorey House
Celebrate Edward Gorey's Children's Books with a visit to the Edward Gorey House and their exhibition of original works by Edward Gorey for his own children's books and illustrations he created for many other authors. The Edward Gorey House is pleased to announce the 2008 opening on Thursday, April 17th and running though December 21, 2008.

Our exhibit will show many of Gorey's original pen and ink, watercolor, and preliminary pencil illustrations for children's books of his own creation, and for other noted children's authors including Peter Neumeyer, Florence Parry Heide, Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, T. S. Eliot, and others. Special books such as Gorey's only pop-up book, The Dwindling Party and the three-dimensional accordian book The Tunnel Calamity are highlighted. A unique focus of the exhibit will be early drawings and illustrations by Gorey from his childhood years.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Something About Eternal Flames

Eternal flame
Voynich News noted this fact recently, allowing the words "Voynich" and "Susanna Hoffs" to grace the same page:
The song "Eternal Flame" was written by hugely successful American songwriter Billy Steinberg with Tom Kelly and Susanna Hoffs (of The Bangles). The inspiration for the song came from an eternal flame seen by Bangles' bass-player Michael Steele burning at Gracelands in Elvis Presley's memory, as well as from one at a Palm Springs synagogue Steinberg had seen when very young. But historically, claims of actual eternal flames go back a very long way: in my book, I mentioned briefly that many in the Renaissance believed a "perpetual light" burned in the Temple of Vesta in Ancient Rome.
One wonders if Hamish Runcet, the long-retired vestal verger in England, had such a flame in his parish?

Book Alert: The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer

Books News
A summary of Brad Strickland's forthcoming book, The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer:
In Michigan in the mid-1950s, Lewis Barnavelt is convinced that the series of accidents he and his uncle are experiencing are the result of a curse by a mysterious, hooded figure that may be part of his uncle's past.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Remembering the Old Man of the Mountain

Old Man in the Mountain
We’re a bit behind in marking the fifth anniversary of the demise of the Old Man in the Mountain but our friends at roadsideamerica.com remembered. They also share the story of a New Hampshire artist wanting to replace the stone head with a glass one.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Unfortunate Children Who Find Weird Stuff In Their Walls

What weird stuff in walls would you find?
We assume you can probably figure out which one of John’s books is discussed from this wonderfully-worded title.  Thus, here's Kate working in a northwest Philadelphia library:
Everyone knows that ordinary-looking wardrobes are connected to magical lands, and unassuming train platforms can lead to adventure in other worlds. But what else is hidden in the everyday objects around you? The books I'm going to tell you about today all feature quirky characters who fall on hard times - usually orphans or outcasts - and end up living in strange houses that lead to other worlds. You'd be amazed what you can find in your walls, for instance. Haven't you always wondered if that scratching you hear at night is a mouse... or a boggart?!
Besides House how many can you think up?

 


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Something About 'Lost Hearts'

Lost Hearts
We've noted some of the similarities between the introduction to The House with a Clock in its Walls and M.R. James’s Lost Hearts. Now you can see some screen shots from a 1970s-era adaptation of Lost Hearts (which looks creepier than the 1970s-era adaptation of The House with a Clock in its Walls, for that matter). A warning to the curious (!) but this is not for faint-hearted.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Creature Of Sale

Jeremiah Cronin, Jr. House
We don't usually do what Bishop Barlow does - playing the part of realtor - but we this was too good to not pass along.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

About Those "Notes" Found In The Desk Of A New York Advertising Executive...

Pope Benedict XVI
Maybe it’s because we were immersed in trying to understand Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies a few years ago that we cracked a smile at the news that Pope Benedict XVI is making his first visit to the United States this week. This will be the ninth time a pope has visited the United States and Benedict XVI becomes only the third pope to do so, followed by John Paul II (seven visits) and Paul VI’s first, and historic, visit to New York City.