Howdy Protagonists, welcome to the seventeenth subplot of HACK. If you’ve made it this far, be sure to cite your sources.
It’s 5:00 AM on Sunday morning. I’ve been awake for 90 minutes. There’s a vague memory of planning to see Noelie at Diane’s at around 8:00 last night. Apparently my body needed a deep dreamless sleep instead.
So I’m up now. Just got back from Wawa with a 24 oz. cup of 2 green tea and 2 chamomile tea bags. I’m ready to write. Except, well, I’m really not in the right mood to write.
“Mood? What has mood to do with it? Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset.” –Gurney Halleck
I’m not even in the mood to write a review of other people’s writings. So instead I’ve hacked off some pieces of Amazon editorial descriptions and Wikipedia articles on all the books I’ve read and listened to in the past year, books I’m reading now, and books I will’ve finished reading before the year is out. My blanket review would be: I approve of them all. Read them. Or read the descriptions, and contemplate other quantum realities where different versions of you have read them.
The Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment is a philosophical essay by Paterson, New Jersey-born American author Thaddeus Golas (1924-1997.) Originally started as a letter for friends, the book began as a mimeographed pamphlet which Golas handed out on the streets of San Francisco in 1971. It was officially published in 1971 by the son of an East Coast businessman, Joe E. Casey, but was quickly taken over by Palo Alto’s Seed Center in 1972, after a dispute between Golas and Casey. … The 80 page book is an original conception and has often been described as “the last book you’ll ever need to read on Spirituality.” It contains many constructive warnings to readers about typical pitfalls associated with Spiritual Questing, and offers simple remedies for many forms of confusion often found in the field.
It immediately was heralded as major philosophical work by Richard (Ram Dass) Alpert, and Alan Watts, who read passages from the pamphlet edition out-loud to their flocks.
Though the Guide inspired many to write spiritual books, it was a unique phenomenon for its time, and remains today.
… The title of the book refers to the fact that the author, a self-described “lazy man,” refuted the notion that a spiritual quest should demand “effort, non-smoking, strict diet, hard work, or other evidences of virtue.” Quoting Zen, Golas asks “If you can’t find it where you’re standing, where do you hope to run in search of it”?
In fact, Thaddeus Golas, in The Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment, explains how in his view, even the effort of seeing the world as “needing to be purified” or people “as needing to be enlightened,” can easily lead one to erect a wall that can prevent a genuine gain from occurring in the opening perceptions that lead to a state of Enlightenment, or help maintaining it.
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The signs are everywhere: Economic crisis, dramatic hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and increased rates of species extinction. According to New Age metaphysician David Cowan, we are in the midst of a 25-year transitional period of planetary shift as our solar system approaches the Galactic Photon Band, a shift that is also affecting our perception of time. The Mayans had a term for this transitional period: the “Time of No Time,” indicating that, post-2012, time as we know it or experience it may not exist at all or will have changed dramatically.
In Navigating the Collapse of Time, Cowan synthesizes a broad range of perspectives about this time of transition, from the writings of the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas, to speculative theory, quantum physics, philosophy, and the nature of illusion and reality posed by a range of theorists and academics including Ken Carey, Barbara Hand Clow, William Gammill, Zecharia Sitchin, Carl Calleman, Gary Renard, Ken Wapnick, Brent Haskel, and many others. He also lets us know what to expect as events continue to unfold to their prescribed conclusion and how to navigate this time of change.-
Amidst all the doomsayers and fear-mongers around the 2012 predictions, David Ian Cowan’s book Navigating the Collapse of Time gives us a different and “enlightened” perspective on what the “end of time” really means.
According to Cowan, ego-death/spiritual awakening is the name of the game and the concept of time is an ego-based phenomenon which is on its way out. He has done an impressive job of describing the changes that some of us are already experiencing, as well as offering suggestions and encouragement for us to begin moving in the direction he has compelling reasons to believe we are going anyway. (Moving from duality to the Oneness that we really are.)
Whether or not we will have the global enlightenment he sees for us, since reading his book I feel substantially liberated from my own fears around 2012. Firstly, because I really heard him when he repeatedly mentioned the fact that fear is of the ego and keeps us in its grip; Secondly, because living in fear is not fun on any level and I’m one of the people he talks about who is fed up with suffering; and thirdly, because even if the external events don’t go as he is saying to create this massive shift, if it’s true that we create what we see, why would we want to see Armageddon?
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In three definitive volumes (The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, and The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin) Idries Shah takes us to the very heart of this mysterious mentor, the Mulla Nasrudin. Skillful contemporary retellings of hundreds of collected stories and sayings bring the unmistakable – often backhanded – wisdom, wit and charm of the timeless jokester to life. The Mulla and his stories appear in literature and oral traditions from the Middle East to Greece, Russia, France – even China. Many nations claim Nasrudin as a native son, but nobody really knows who he was or where he came from.
According to a legend dating from at least the 13th century, Nasrudin was snatched as a schoolboy from the clutches of the “Old Villain” – the crude system of thought that ensnares man – to carry through the ages the message of how to escape. He was chosen because he could make people laugh, and humor has a way of slipping through the cracks of the most rigid thinking habits.
Acclaimed as humorous masterpieces, as collections of the finest jokes, as priceless gift books, and for hundreds “enchanted tales”, this folklore figure’s antics have also been divined as “mirroring the antics of the mind”. The jokes are, as Idries Shah notes, “perfectly designed models for isolating and holding distortions of the mind which so often pass for reasonable behavior”. Therefore they have a double use: when the jokes have been enjoyed, their psychological significance starts to sink in.
In fact, for many centuries they have been studied in Sufi circles for their hidden wisdom. They are used as teaching exercises, in part to momentarily “freeze” situations in which states of mind can be recognized. The key to the philosophic significance of the Nasrudin jokes is given in Idries Shah’s book “The Sufis” and a complete system of mystical training based upon them was described in the Hibbert Journal.
In these delightful volumes, Shah not only gives the Mulla a proper vehicle for our times, he proves that the centuries-old stories and quips of Nasrudin are still some of the funniest jokes in the world.
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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott. Writing pseudonymously as “A Square”, Abbott used the fictional two- dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointed observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. However, the novella’s more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions, for which the novella is still popular amongst mathematics, physics, and computer science students.
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Viking marauders descend on a much-plundered island, hoping some mayhem will shake off the winter blahs. A man is booted out of his home after his wife discovers that the print of a bare foot on the inside of his car’s windshield doesn’t match her own. Teenage cousins, drugged by summer, meet with a reckoning in the woods. A boy runs off to the carnival after his stepfather bites him in a brawl. Wells Tower’s version of America is touched with the seamy splendor of the dropout, the misfit: failed inventors, boozy dreamers, hapless fathers, wayward sons. With electric prose and savage wit, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is a profound new collection of stories.
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R.I.P. Alvin Schwartz (November 17, 1916 – October 28,2011.)
• Looks at the ways thought is embodied and how it takes on a life of its own
• Shows how Superman, an archetype of popular culture, is a perfect example of the nonlocality of quantum physics
Writer Alvin Schwartz received a great deal of attention from fans when he began talking publicly about his seventeen-year stint writing Superman and Batman comics. One of the individuals who contacted him was no ordinary fan, but a seven-foot Buddhist monk named Thongden, a tulpa or individual who was thought into being by a Tibetan mystic. Thongden put Alvin Schwartz on the path without form, an amazing journey he took in the company of Hawaiian kahunas, quantum physicists, and superheroes. Superman, as it turns out, is also a tulpa, a being created by thought that takes on a life of its own and, in Mr. Schwartz’s words, is an archetype expressing the sense of nonlocality that is always present in the back of our minds–that capacity to be everywhere instantly. Superman is one of the specific forms that embodies our reality when we’re at our highest point, when we’re truly impermeable, indestructible, totally concentrated, and living entirely in the now, a condition each of us actually attains from time to time.
Alvin Schwartz’s story is a personal journey through a lifelong remembrance of synchrony, inspiration, accident, and magic. As it unfolds it puts into vivid clarity the saving grace that inhabits every moment of our lives. The author travels as a stranger in a strange land, whose greatest oddity is that this land is our own.
• Depicts the author’s ability to use the raw strength and brooding force of Batman to reach the next level of enlightenment on a voyage of discovery of one’s self
• Explores the nature of consciousness as an interpersonal continuum of shared identities
For 17 years Alvin Schwartz lived a double life, one half of which was spent writing the adventures of Batman and Superman, the other half writing novels and spending time with members of New York’s intellectual society such as Saul Bellow and Jackson Pollack. During this period, his characters had taken on lives of their own, and he realized that his writing of their adventures was more like dictation than creation. He found that personalities can be taken off and on like the suits worn by his superheroes and that the lives of Batman and Superman were melding into his own. The journey of inner awareness that Schwartz undertook at the prompting of the tulpa Thongden (who appeared in his earlier book An Unlikely Prophet) evoked a great sense of metaphysical unrest, which is where this story begins. With the aid of his mentor Thongden, Schwartz is carried beyond the ordinary boundaries of personal identity into an interpersonal consciousness inhabited by a multitude of selves, including the dark figure of Batman.
While in An Unlikely Prophet Schwartz was able to channel the ever-present figure of Superman into a positive voyage of self-discovery, in A Gathering of Selves he uses the raw strength offered by Batman to carry him to the next stage of understanding: What we think of as “self” is but one layer of an onion-like structure of multiple selves that co-exist, representing the foundation of the fundamental unity of all being.
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The Long Walk is a novel by Stephen King published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman in 1979 as a paperback original. It was collected in 1985 in the hardcover omnibus The Bachman Books, and has seen several reprints since, as both paperback & hardback. Set in a near future, the plot revolves around the contestants of a gruelling walking contest, held annually by a somewhat despotic and totalitarian version of the United States of America. In 2000 the American Library Association listed The Long Walk as one of the 100 best books for teenage readers published between 1966 and 2000. Stephen King has revealed that it is the first novel he ever wrote, when he was a freshman at the University of Maine in 1966-67.
One hundred teenage boys participate in an annual walking contest called “The Long Walk,” which is the “national sport”. Each Walker must maintain a speed of at least four miles per hour; if he drops below that speed for 30 seconds, he receives a verbal warning (which can be erased by walking for one hour without being warned). If a Walker with three warnings slows down again, he is “ticketed.” The meaning of this term is intentionally kept vague at first, but it soon becomes clear that “buying a ticket” means to be shot dead by soldiers riding in half-tracks along the roadside. Walkers may be shot immediately for certain serious violations, such as trying to leave the road or attacking the half-track. The soldiers use electronic equipment to precisely determine a Walker’s speed.
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Bridge of Birds is a fantasy novel by Barry Hughart, first published in 1984. It is the first of three novels in the The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox series. Hughart called the novel “a modern version of a classical form of Chinese novel, which was an underground Taoist form designed to fight back against Confucians. Confucians liked to castrate people who fought the establishment. Without mentioning names, the Taoists could use real emperors and real power structure in a fantasy form.” When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox found master Li Kao. Together they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure, and together they discover adventure and legend, and the power of belief….
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The Third Policeman is a novel by Irish author Brian O’Nolan, writing under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien. It was written between 1939 and 1940, but after it initially failed to find a publisher, the author withdrew the manuscript from circulation and claimed he had lost it. The book remained unpublished until his death in 1966. It was printed by McGibbon & Keein in 1967.
The Third Policeman is Flann O’Brien’s brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the theories of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to “Atomic Theory” and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby’s view that the earth is not round but “sausage-shaped.” With the help of his newly found soul named “Joe,” he grapples with the riddles and contradictions that three eccentric policeman present to him.
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Pulp is the last completed novel by Los Angeles poet and writer Charles Bukowski. It was published in 1994, shortly before Bukowski’s death. He began writing it in 1991 and encountered several problems during its creation. He fell ill during the spring of 1993, only three-quarters of the way through Pulp.
Unlike many of his other works this was a fictional novel; however, Pulp was indeed similar to his other works in the way that it was mildly autobiographical.
Pulp is a pulp fiction novel which acts also as a meta-pulp. Pulp comments on the obsessions of the pulp fiction genre, making fun of itself as stereotypical of the genre in the grimiest form. Bukowski dedicates the story to “bad writing”, as Bukowski did not plan his mystery novel well and frequently wrote Nicky Belane into holes he could not escape from. Bukowski wrote some of his most violent, cynical, sarcastic, and shocking work during the final months of his life. Many critics have agreed this was likely Bukowski showing his acceptance of his own inevitable death in his writing.
A convoluted detective story about a hard-boiled private eye who solves his cases by waiting them out, Pulp evokes Raymond Chandler, an author who lived in Los Angeles and set stories there, as did Bukowski. The novel also bears similarity to some works by Dashiell Hammett; and the name of character Nicky Belane rhymes suggestively with the name of author Mickey Spillane as well as Casablanca‘s main character Rick Blaine.
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In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.
Neal Stephenson explained the title of the novel as his term for a particular software failure mode on the early Apple Macintosh computer. “When the computer crashed and wrote gibberish into the bitmap, the result was something that looked vaguely like static on a broken television set — a ‘snow crash’ ”.
The book presents the Sumerian language as the firmware programming language for the brainstem, which is supposedly functioning as the BIOS for the human brain. According to characters in the book, the goddess Asherah is the personification of a linguistic virus, similar to a computer virus. The god Enki created a counter-program which he called a nam-shub that caused all of humanity to speak different languages as a protection against Asherah (a re-interpretation of the ancient Near Eastern story of the Tower of Babel).
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Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery. He also discovers friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.
At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, The Magicians boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
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Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.
The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy.
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The Visual Miscellaneum is a unique, groundbreaking look at the modern information age, helping readers make sense of the countless statistics and random facts that constantly bombard us. Using cutting edge graphs, charts, and illustrations, David McCandless creatively visualizes the world’s surprising relationships and compelling data, covering everything from the most pleasurable guilty pleasures to how long it takes different condiments to spoil to world maps of Internet search terms.
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In The Pillars of the Earth, Tom Builder’s dream is to build a cathedral, but in the meantime, he must scrounge about to find a lord that will hire him. His search pulls him and his family into the politics of 12th-century England, as different lords vie to gain control of the throne in the wake of the recently deceased king. Prior Phillip, a man raised in the monastery since childhood, also finds himself drafted into the brewing storm as he must protect the interests of a declining church. Penguin Audio’s unabridged version is read by John Lee and runs 41 hours.
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Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled us since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show that the world was about to end, they embarked on a massive mission to write a book that summed up the human race: What we looked like; what we accomplished; our achievements in society, government, religion, science and culture — all in a lavishly produced audiobook of approximately 200 minutes.
After two weeks of hard work and nights in the recording studio, they had their audiobook. EARTH (The Book) is the definitive guide to our species. With their trademark wit, irreverence, and intelligence, Stewart and his team will posthumously answer all of life’s most hard-hitting questions, completely unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity, or even accuracy.
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The Mars trilogy is a series of award-winning science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson that chronicles the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars through the intensely personal and detailed viewpoints of a wide variety of characters spanning almost two centuries. Ultimately more utopian than dystopian, the story focuses on egalitarian, sociological, and scientific advances made on Mars, while Earth suffers from overpopulation and ecological disaster.
The three novels are Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), and Blue Mars (1996).
For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny.
John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches.
And for the genetic “alchemists, ” Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life…and death.
The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces–for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.
Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.
Nearly a generation has passed since the first pioneers landed, but the transformation of Mars to an Earthlike planet has just begun The plan is opposed by those determined to preserve the planets hostile, barren beauty. Led by rebels like Peter Clayborne, these young people are the first generation of children born on Mars, joined by original settlers Maya Toitovna, Simon Frasier, and Sax Russell. Against this cosmic backdrop, passions, rivalries, and friendships explode in a story as spectacular as the planet itself.
The red planet is red no longer, as Mars has become a perfectly inhabitable world. But while Mars flourishes, Earth is threatened by overpopulation and ecological disaster. Soon people look to Mars as a refuge, initiating a possible interplanetary conflict, as well as political strife between the Reds, who wish to preserve the planet in its desert state, and the Green “terraformers”. The ultimate fate of Earth, as well as the possibility of new explorations into the solar system, stand in the balance.
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FOR THE CHILDREN
This section includes the books I’m teaching to fifth graders this year.
Until a week ago, Gib Finney was just a regular guy, shooting spitballs and messing up his science experiments. But when he finds a mysterious device called the Unner, everything changes. Gib discovers that the Unner has the power to erase any and all mistakes. At first, Gib thinks this is better than winning the lottery: he’ll never flunk another test or strike out again!But after a terrible accident, Gib must decide which events of the previous day he must undo to stop the disaster from happening the second and third time around. He soon learns that some things are more worthy of “unning” than others, and some things can’t be changed at all. Ultimately, Gib learns the value of life and family in this touching and straight-forward fantasy
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Fairy Tales and Fantastic Stories is a book of children’s stories written by Monty Python‘s Terry Jones and illustrated by Michael Foreman with both ink drawings and watercolor paintings. The book tells an assortment of short fantasy tales, told with an irreverent voice and comic nonsense. Some of the dialogue is surprisingly adult (“That is one hell of a beautiful butterfly,” says an admiring frog) and some of the tales end on a rather sad note, but they also feature the old-fashioned lessons and fearsome monsters one would expect of fairy tales.
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Holes (1998) is a Newbery Medal-winning novel by Louis Sachar. It was adapted into a screenplay for the 2003 film by Walt Disney Pictures. At the beginning of the story, Stanley Yelnats IV, a timid, fat boy supposedly affected by a family “curse”, has been wrongly accused of stealing the baseball player, Clyde Livingston’s shoes from a charity auction, and sentenced to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention facility where boys of similar age are forced to dig holes to “build their character.”
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Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curaçao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed.
When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.”
But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy.
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A different sort of book for everyone except those who have given up completely. (and even they might secretly enjoy it.)
A TALE PARTLY ABOUT LIFE PARTLY ABOUT REVOLUTION AND LOTS ABOUT HOPE FOR ADULTS AND OTHERS (INCLUDING CATERPILLARS WHO CAN READ )
Hope for the Flowers is an inspiring allegory about the realization of one’s true destiny as told through the lives of caterpillars Stripe and Yellow, who struggle to “climb to the top” before understanding that they are meant to fly.
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The Phantom Tollbooth is a children’s adventure novel and modern fairy tale published in 1961, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. It tells the story of a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon and, having nothing better to do, decides to drive through it in his toy car. The tollbooth transports him to a land called the Kingdom of Wisdom. There he acquires two faithful companions, has many adventures, and goes on a quest to rescue the princesses of the kingdom, Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason. The text is full of puns, and many events, such as Milo’s jump to the Island of Conclusions, exemplify literal meanings of English language idioms. The Phantom Tollbooth achieved “instant classic” status upon publication.
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Towel Boy is hot off the presses.