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Beautiful Darkness

If you like your fairy tales with a dark edge, then you might want to read Beautiful Darkness, written by Fabien Vehlmann and illustrated by Kerascoët. At turns sweet and disturbing, this graphic novel tells the tale of young Aurora, her prince, and their friends as they find themselves struggling to survive in a frightening—yet familiar—world.

While on the surface the characters seem as sweet as the illustrations might suggest, as the story progresses a darkness pervades, and their true natures become alarmingly apparent. The princess is sweet and good-intentioned, but naïve and jealous; the prince is charming, but self-absorbed; the loyal servant is helpful, but greedy; the injured waif is deceitful and downright sociopathic.

According to the book jacket, “the sweet faces and bright leaves of Kerascoët’s delicate watercolors serve to highlight the evil that dwells beneath Vehlmann’s story as pettiness, greed, and jealousy take over.” It’s easy to get distracted by the illustrations, which are indeed quite lovely. It’s only when you stop and take a real look that you realize what’s actually going on. The characters’ forms, although pretty to look at, lie in stark contrast to their true natures, which become worse with each page. Many meet unfortunate ends. Even the setting of the story is beautiful and horrible at the same time. I won’t bother spoiling that awful surprise—you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Although it is a fairy tale, this one is best left to adults.

 

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

ArtWalk Ventura and Late Night @ Foster

ArtWalk!

A signature Ventura event - July 19 & 20.

Stop by Foster Library for a special after-hours event Saturday from 5:30 to 8pm.

Enjoy art, music, food, and a special book sale hosted by the Friends of the Library.

ArtWalk Ventura, it's a great way to spend the day and it's totally free! 

 

 

Picture This! Read with an Animal

Share Your Summer Reading Fun 

With a Furry Friend

Read with your pet, or a friends pet, and take a picture.
Bring the picture to any Ventura County Library and
we will hang it on the wall or with your permission, display
it on our website.  We want everyone to know what great
readers and animal lovers we have in Ventura County!

 

   

Parent & Child Together Workshops at Ojai Library

 

Theodora Reyes
to conduct free workshops

Ojai Library invites kids age 4 and up to create with clay, build with Legos and beat their drum.

Workshops will be in Spanish and English 
Tuesdays July 22 - August 10 - 11am.

Build your child's socio-emotional well-being and bond through the creative process.

No registration required

For more information call Ojai Library 646-1639

 

 

Saturday Matinee @ Foster

On Saturday, July 26, E.P. Foster Library will show two films for this month’s Saturday Matinee!

The films will be shown in the Topping Room, and will include a 1960s fantasy feature based on Greek mythology and a 1940s film serial about an arch-criminal attempting to steal a superweapon. This event is free and open to the public.

The first film starts at 4 p.m. We hope to see you there!

ArtWalk: Late Night @ Foster

ArtWalk is coming to Ventura on Saturday, July 19, and Sunday, July 20! There will be venues throughout downtown, including E.P. Foster Library.

ArtWalk is a signature Ventura event where visitors can take part in self-guided tours to view artistic displays and exhibitions at a number of galleries, studios, and other locations. It’s a great way to spend the day, and is also totally free!

Foster Library will be holding a special after-hours event on Saturday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Stop by for art, music, and food, as well as a special book sale by the Friends of the Library!

London: Off the Beaten Path

If any traveler, armchair or otherwise, feels they have exhausted the possibilities of London—one of the world’s most historic and sprawling cities—several recent guides have focused on the lesser-known aspects of one of the planet’s most fascinating destinations.

Secret London, An Unusual Guide is one in a series of “local guides by local people” from by Jonglez Publishing. While dealing with some of the lesser-known aspects of major attractions (such as the Triforium at St. Paul’s cathedral which provides a “secret history of a London landmark”), the compact illustrated volume primarily takes readers way off the beaten path.

And the variety is astonishing, from Henry VIII’s wine cellar, located “deep within the bowels of the Ministry of Defense,” to a Cinema Museum in Kensington housed in a former Lambeth workhouse where a nine-year-old Charlie Chaplin once labored. An exhibit of playwright Joe Orton’s famously (and lewdly) defaced library books can be seen at the Local History Centre at the Finsbury Library in Islington.

Like most London guides, Secret London is divided by district. Maps and suggestions for unusual bars, cafes, and restaurants are included. Detailed instructions for finding each sometimes quite secret destination are provided.

Another guide to a once-illegal but now-hardly-secret aspect of London life is Gay and Lesbian London (Time Out Group Ltd., 2010), which conforms to the usual district-by-district form of most city guides, but with a focus on the interests of the GLBT visitor or native. But really, anyone interested in the “in” and off-beat aspects of London would find this volume of interest.

The guide includes interesting personal perspectives by prominent Londoners. But a highlight is a fascinating history of gay London which takes you from the Celts and Romans through various royal and artistic affairs to the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1962 and contemporary icons such as Orton and Elton John. Depressingly (but conscientiously), the guide opens with a full-page cautionary essay on the history of AIDs in London.

Guides quickly become out-of-date, but another Time Out publication, London 2012, doubles as an official (and now historic) memento of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with maps and features on the Cultural Olympiad and Olympic Park.

Hands-down, however, my favorite London book is David Piper’s The Companion Guide to London. Due to the changing character of any great city, this exhaustively detailed and brilliantly written volume has been reissued in various revised editions. But it’s still a London guide/history for all seasons in any revision, and some of the best and most informed travel writing I have ever read.

First published in 1963, my personal copy is the 1996 seventh edition, and you may have to do an interlibrary loan search for a newer reissue.

Cheers!

Ross Care

Prueter Library Family Ukulele Class

 

 Learn to Play the Ukulele

with local musician Alan Ferentz

Children 8 years or older are invited learn to play the ukulele in a four week series of classes beginning Saturday August 2 at 1:00pm.

A parent or caregiver must also attend and advance registration is required.  A limited number of instruments will be available.  To register call 486-5460

 

Oak View Library Exhibiting Animal Art

Animal Art at Oak View Library

Oak View Library is hosting an animal art exhibition in partnership with Oak View Park and Resource Center Art Studio.

Featured artists’ works are in a variety of mediums including acrylic, oil and chalk on canvas, gourd painting, weaving
and photography.

The exhibition runs June 23 through August 23.

 


 

Font to Film: “A Princess of Mars” / “John Carter”

Sometimes an author creates a world which is so richly detailed and epic in scope that readers can’t believe that any adaptation could do justice to what they’ve constructed in their own imaginations. These days the limits of what is possible to put on the screen are being continuously stretched, and fans are finding themselves admitting to being impressed with the results of some very ambitious productions. However, Hollywood didn’t always have access to the techniques and technologies that are commonplace today, and there was a time when filmmakers were forced to throw up their hands and admit that they simply couldn’t do an adaptation the way they wished they could.

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story that would become A Princess of Mars as a serial in 1912; it was first published as a standalone novel in 1917. Often held up as a prime example of the pulp fiction of the period, the novel has a fairly standard sci-fi adventure plot that revolves around a traditionally masculine hero showing off his martial prowess by fighting to save a damsel in distress—in this case, the titular princess. The first-person narration is straightforward and matter-of-fact, reinforcing the idea that Captain John Carter is a simple man who is only doing what he believes is right under the (admittedly fantastic) circumstances in which he finds himself. Carter fights for his life, his honor, and his princess in a very uncomplicated manner, and a large part of what saves this novel from unremarkability is the fact that it was published back when the genre was young, and as a result Burroughs has served as inspiration to many of the sci-fi authors who followed him. While the plot may be too bland for some readers, the world that Burroughs creates is rich and vibrant, fleshed out with unique creatures, cultures, and environments that secure its place as a sci-fi staple.
There were rumblings about adapting A Princess of Mars as early as the 1930s, with the idea that it would be animated due to the difficulty of creating a live-action representation of Burroughs’ Barsoom. The project ultimately fell through, as did subsequent attempts in the 1950s and 1980s. Work began on John Carter in 2009, and while it wasn’t released until 2012 critics agreed that the film was—visually at least—a general success. John Carter features some impressive effects, including its CGI representations of Barsoom’s Tharks and other native creatures, and has a somewhat altered story which presents Carter’s heroics in a more complex—and at times hilarious—light. It also gives a greater role and increased agency to Dejah Thoris, who is no longer a simple damsel but a scientist and warrior of great skill. The film’s plot can be difficult to follow for someone unfamiliar with Burroughs' works; having read at least A Princess of Mars definitely gives the viewer a leg up on following the action. Still, one gets the feeling that the film isn’t taking itself too seriously, instead embracing its pulpy roots and inviting the audience to appreciate it for what it is: a fun, somewhat silly, visually impressive sci-fi adventure.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars is available as part of E.P. Foster Library’s adult science fiction collection. In addition, you can download an eBook version of the novel from our eLibrary through Project Gutenberg. John Carter is available within the Ventura County Library system as well; if the film or novel is not on the shelf, you can request for a copy to be sent to your preferred branch in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.

 

Penned by Ronald Martin.

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