Saturday, May 03, 2008


We saw James Gurney, author of Dinotopia, speak at The Odyssey bookshop last weekend. He was great. He drew for us and spoke to everyone (kids between the ages of 6 and 14 and their parents) as if we were all fellow amateur paleontologists and artists. His enthusiasm was infectious and I felt that he made us all complicit in his curiousity. He spoke about questioning professional paleontologists about how the large, long-necked dinosaurs would drink, and about how a city made for both humans and dinosaurs might look.

At the end he signed all of our books and drew illustrations for us. He was amazing and although I had not yet read Dinotopia (nor has Max) we fell in love right a way! He is a gracious man who seemed to make everyone feel that they could share his brilliant mind and if we hadn't had these thoughts it's just merely a coincidence and we would all, of course, stumble upon such questions and answers in due time.

The one small snafu was that The Odyssey didn't have copies of his first book, and in fact we went to every bookstore in Hadley, Amherst and Northampton and could not find a copy. But we are working on getting a copy and we now have the latest book Journey to Chandara anxiously awaiting a read.

Thank you Mr. Gurney for sharing your world with us!

Here's a picture of his Waterfall city.

The People of the Book

I finally finished Geraldine Brook's wonderful book-- The People of the Book. Told from the point of view of a young Australian rare books expert, it tells the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah-- the first illumanated Jewish manuscript from the 15th century. This book spoke to me on many levels. As a person who holds Passover as the highlight of the Jewish year, and someone who loves used books not only because they are books and cheaper than new, but because the volumes themselves hold their own history, I found this book to be delightful. The parts about repairing antiquarian volumes, and the history of the haggadah itself were breath taking and clearly the subject of love for the author. The parts about Hanna, the woman doing the restoration, were a little lame and contrived. She was not a character as much as a conduit. But that was fine because the story of the book itself was really the main story and clearly the passion of the author.

I think this book would be wonderful to read back to back with Sheridan Hay's The Secret of Lost Things about a young kiwi bibliophile working in The Strand Bookstore in NYC and following the mystery of a missing Melville manuscript.

You can learn more about the author Geraldine Brooks and the Sarajevo Haggadah by listening to the podcast.