Thursday, October 12, 2017

Picture Book Read-Along

My sister made an audiobook recording for a school project, and to my delight chose one of my favorite picture books, What Do You Do With a Kangaroo? by Mercer Mayer. She recruited friends, family, and classmates as voice-actors, incorporated sound effects, and the result (in my completely unbiased sisterly opinion) was pretty awesome.

What I didn't realize was that she posted this audiobook to her YouTube channel.* Had I but known, I would have shared it earlier. As it is, I know now, and so I'm sharing it:

This is one of those "listen and read-along" audiobooks, and thus doesn't include the illustrations in the video. To enjoy the full experience, you can purchase the picture book online, either on or AbeBooks

*Blatant nepotistic plug for my sister's YouTube channel. See, I did it again!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Mabinogion - The Fairest of Them All

If you thought it was fun counting how many injuries should have killed Sir Kai, you’re in for another counting treat: How many of the maidens in this book are the most beautiful in the land?

If you want to know the answer but don’t have time at the moment to read the entire Mabinogion, don’t worry. I did it for you:

1)     “And he saw a beauteous maiden leaning her head out of a window of the tent, and he had never seen a maiden more lovely than she.”

2)     “And certain were they all, that had her array been suitable to her beauty, they had never seen a maid fairer than she.”

3)     “And he thought had had never seen a maiden fairer or more comely than she.”

4)     “…with them came in likewise the Queen, who was the fairest women that he had ever beheld.”

5)     “Then he thought that the beauty of all the maidens, and all the ladies that he had ever seen, was as nothing compared to her beauty.”

6)     “Now she was one of the three chief ladies of this island, and she was the fairest damsel in the world.”

7)     “‘I believe that thou didst never hear a lady discourse better than she, and when she was in her prime none was ever fairer.”

8)     “…and she was the fairest maiden of her time who was known there.”

9)     “She was the fairest sight that man ever beheld.”

10)  “…and also a daughter named Creirwy, the fairest maiden in the world was she.”

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Mabinogion - The Immortal Sir Kai

I had mentioned before how The Mabinogion’s stories contained a lot of gruesomeness. What I did not have time or space to mention, however, was that as I was reading the book, the majority of that violence seemed to be aimed at one character: Sir Kai.

Now, Sir Kai (also spelled Kay, Cei, or Cay depending on translation and author’s spelling preference) is the foster-brother of King Arthur himself. Anyone who’s read T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone (or seen the Disney movie, which is fairly accurate despite lacking the thematic depth of White’s prose) may remember that Arthur, although heir to the crown of England, was raised by rather mediocre knight named Sir Ector and everyone was ignorant of Arthur’s true birthright until he pulled out the sword in the stone. Sir Ector’s own son, Kai, although generally characterized as a bully or boor, is made knight of the Round Table upon his foster-brother’s ascension to the throne.

His role in these stories is usually negative—he serves as the brutish muscle, the hotheaded person picking fights and challenging duels, or mocking the new Camelot arrivals even though they are really diamonds in the rough who will show him up with their superior deeds of valor and questing. However, I’ve always felt sorry for him, and feel he gets a bad rap.

Sir Kai can’t really be a villain. When his dorky adopted brother turned out to be king of all the land, he doesn’t seem to be jealous, but in fact is one of Arthur’s most loyal supporters. Arthur at least seems to trust him, making him not only a member of the elite Round Table, but also seneschal (steward) of Camelot and his second-in-command. On the rare times Arthur is away fighting, Sir Kai is the one in charge.

On top of that, even though Sir Kai may be temperamental and bullying, he certainly gets beaten up enough himself: