Sunday, February 10


I have recently been at the receiving end of a wonderful bit of serendipity.  I had half and hour to kill before my movie started, so, naturally, I allowed my feet to carry me into the Dymocks bookstore.  When I go to Dymocks, I only look at two shelves.  The first is the Classics section.  The second is the Children's Classics section.  The latter was where the happy accident took place.  

Now before I unveil the surprise, I'd like to back up a bit and give you some context.  You know by now that my favourite movie of all times is You've Got Mail, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.  Meg Ryan plays the beautiful Kathleen Kelly, who is to me and many other book-lovers, the quintessential bibliophile.  In the film, after being forced to close down her children's bookstore, Shop Around the Corner, she wanders into her competitor, the Fox Books megastore, where the following dialogue takes place:

A woman browsing, stops a sales person.

 Do you have the "Shoe" books?

 The "Shoe" books?  Who's the author?

 I don't know.  My friend told me my
 daughter has to read the "Shoe" books,
 so here I am.

 Noel Streatfeild.  Noel Streatfeild wrote
 Ballet Shoes and Skating Shoes and
 Theater Shoes and Movie Shoes...
  (she starts crying as she tells
 I'd start with Ballet Shoes, it's my
 favorite, although Skating Shoes is
 completely wonderful, but it's out of print.  

 Streatfeild.  How do you spell that?


 Thank you.

Ever since I saw this movie for the first time, I have had my eyes peeled for any book by Noel Streatfield.  And it was in Dymocks on this particular occasion that I happened across a gorgeous cloth-bound, hard-cover edition of Ballet Shoes, (1936), bound by an actual burgundy ribbon, as seen in the picture below (image from the Book Depository).  

And now, instead of whiling away my empty holiday hours, I can take myself into bed and snack on the words of one Noel Streatfeild, courtesy of Kathleen Kelly.  

Wednesday, February 6

Robin Sloan's Codex Vitae

Well, I loved Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore so much that it was inevitable that I would just have to have my own copy. 

From The Book Depository, you can purchase a hard-cover, dust-jacketted edition, with the open hands symbol of the Unbroken Spine etched beautifully into the cream front cover.

The really, really exciting part though, is that the dust jacket glows in the dark.  

This is what the dust jacket looks like during daytime:

 And this is what it looks like after it has been charged under a bright light and shut in a dark place:

It was a great feat to capture this image, but at least now you can relate to my wriggle of exhilaration when I first shut myself into my wardrobe at the promptings of my lovely childhood friend.  And what a great childlike thing to do, too.  With a torch, I coaxed the green glow out of the page.  

I love how this links to the book.  It excited me that by making the cover glow, I was almost participating in the act of solving the codex vitae of Robin Sloan the author, and making a message or a new image or a new epiphany pop out of the book itself.  

This dust jacket has redefined my reading experience!