Monthly Archives: May 2010

Bob and Gertie

As we’ve previously noted, Robert’s parents are in Argentina this month.  They’ve taken off for a week to visit Iguazu Falls near Buenos Aires and then they will go to Salta for a few days.  Then they will return to Cordoba to finish out their vacation.  One of the highlights of their trip has been their very sweet rental house  here in Cordoba.  You can see some photos here.

Editors Wanted: Bad Children’s Literature

Why, with all the young children’s stories published every year, can we not find enough that make sense and follow a standard narrative form?  Most stories out here in child-rearing-land could be cut in half and still be too long.  Illustrations, of course, are often the point. But when one finds a book that is both well-illustrated and competently written, one has a true prize.  Thus far, we’ve come across only two authors that fit the bill.  Maurice Sendak and Beatrix Potter.  And bad examples?  Here’s some of the more egregious.

#1.  Edward’s Exploit and Other Thomas the Tank Engine Stories.  1993.  A Random House PICTUREBACK.  No author named.

Incredibly obtuse, the action in these stories jumps from one scene to the next without any explanation.  We can forgive the Britishisms that escape us on first reading, but surely essential action sequences should be explained.

In the story, The Deputation, a pair of twin train engines named Donald and Douglas remove snow from the tracks. Clear enough.  Here’s how the action unfolds.


“Presently, they came to a drift which was larger than most. They charged it, and were just backing for another try, when . . .
“Help! Help!”
“Losh sakes, Donald, it’s Henry!  Don’t worry yourself, Henry.  Wait a while.  We’ll have you out.”
Henry was very grateful.  He saw all was not well.
“The twins were looking glum. They told him Sir Topham Hatt was making a decision. “He’ll send us away for sure.”
“It’s a shame!” said Percy.
“A lot of nonsense about a broken signalbox,” grumbled Gordon.
“That spiteful brake-van too,” put in James.  “Good riddance.  That’s what I say.”
“The twins were splendid in the snow,” added Henry. “It isn’t fair.”  They all agreed that Something Must Be Done, but none knew what.
Percy decided to talk to Edward about it.  “What you need,” said Edward, “is a deputation.”  He explained what that was.
Percy ran back quickly. “Edward says we need a depotstation.”
“Of course,” said Gordon, “the question is . . . “
“. . . what is a desperation?” asked Henry.
“It’s when engines tell Sir Topham Hatt something’s wrong,” said Percy.
“Did you say ‘tel Sir Topham Hatt’?” asked Duck thoughtfully.  There was a long silence.
“I propose,” said Gordon, “that Percy be our–er–hum–disputation.”



 We think Henry was stuck in the snow. We have no idea why Henry would be grateful that all was not well. We can’t figure out the role that the broken signalbox played in anything, or who Gordon, Henry, Edward or Percy are.  Or where they came from.  Is the something-that-must-be-done so important that it must also be initial capitalized?  What’s the decision to be made?  And, last, but not least, what’s a “deputation,” anyway?







Bob and Gertie

As we’ve previously noted, Robert’s parents are in Argentina this month.  They’ve taken off for a week to visit Iguazu Falls near Buenos Aires and then they will go to Salta for a few days.  Then they will return to Cordoba to finish out their vacation.  One of the highlights of their trip has been their very sweet rental house  here in Cordoba.  You can see some photos here.

La Cumbresita

As some of you know, Robert’s parents are visiting Argentina for a month.  Well, this weekend we went to the tiny German town in the mountains called La Cumbresita.  As you can see, when the Roberts get together, some wild times ensue.

La Cumbresita

As some of you know, Robert’s parents are visiting Argentina for a month.  Well, this weekend we went to the tiny German town in the mountains called La Cumbresita.  As you can see, when the Roberts get together, some wild times ensue.