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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Figgs & Phantoms by: Ellen Raskin

Figgs & Phantoms
Ellen Raskin

Puffin

ISBN 9780140329445

This is a bizarre little book - a book focused around Mona Lisa Figg Newton, a teenager living in the town of Pineapple with her eccentric, eclectic and somewhat esoteric family. Her family includes her tap dancing mother, Sister Figg Newton, her uncles, Truman the Human Pretzel, Romulus the Walking Book of Knowledge, Remus the Talking Adding Machine, (Romulus and Remus are of course twins) and her cousin Fido the Second. The only family member Mona gets along with is her uncle Florence, a book dealer. A main concern of the characters is Capri, the Figg family heaven, which involves a ritual passed down through the Figg family for generations. Uncle Florence's greatest wish is to find his Capri. Mona's greatest fear is that her uncle will succeed and leave her alone.

While doing a children's literature course we were informed that this book was often used along with Tuck Everlasting in grief counseling. It deals with questions about what is real, what is reality and what is dream.

It also has string elements of learning to accept self, and growing into who we are to be. Also the acceptance of what we can change and what we cannot. What it really comes down to is learning to live and learning to love. Also it shows that books can be friends and support us in our alone times.

The book will teach about learning to dream, learning to live and ultimately learning to go beyond ourselves.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.) 


Books by Ellen Raskin:
Novels:

The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)
Figgs & Phantoms
The Tatooed Potato & Other Clues
The Westing Game

Picture Books:
Nothing Ever Happens on My Block
Silly Songs and Sad
Spectacles
Ghost in a Four-Room Apartment
And It Rained. Atheneum, 1969.
A & The, or, William T. C. Baumgarten Comes to Town. Atheneum, 1970.
The World's Greatest Freak Show. Atheneum, 1971.
Franklin Stein. Atheneum, 1972.
Moe Q. McClutch, He Smoked Too Much. Parents, 1973.
Who, Said Sue, Said Whoo? Atheneum, 1973.
Moose, Goose & Little Nobody. Atheneum, 1976.
Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three. Atheneum, 1976.

Illustrated by Ellen Raskin
Happy Christmas: Tales for Boys and Girls. Edited by Claire H. Bishop
A Child's Christmas in Wales. By Dylan Thomas
Mama, I Wish I Was Snow, Child You'd Be Very Cold. By Ruth Krauss
Poems of Edgar Allen Poe. Selected by Dwight MacDonald
We Dickinsons. By Aileen Fisher and Olive Rabe
The Jewish Sabbath. By Molly Cone
Paths of Poetry: Twenty-Five Poets and Their Poems. Edited by Louis Untermeyer
Songs of Innocence. (Two volumes) By William Blake. Music and illustrations by Ellen Raskin
D. H. Lawrence: Poems selected for Young People. Edited by William Cole
Ellen Grae. By Vera and Bill Cleaver
Poems of Robert Herrick. Edited by Winfield T. Scott
Probability. By Arthur G. Razzell and K. G. Watts
This Is Four: The Idea of a Number. By Arthur G. Razzell and K. G. Watts
Books: A Book to Begin on. By Susan Bartlett
Inatuk's Friend. By Suzanne Stark Morrow
Lady Ellen Grae. By Vera and Bill Cleaver
A Paper Zoo: A Collection of Animal Poems by Modern American Poets. Edited by Renee K
Piping Down the Valleys Wild: Poetry for the Young of All Ages. Edited by Nancy Larrick
Symmetry. By Arthur G. Razzell and K. G. Watts
We Alcotts. By Aileen Fisher and Olive Rabe
Circles and Curves. By Arthur G. Razzell and K. G. Watts
Come Along! By Rebecca Caudill
Shrieks at Midnight: Macabre Poems, Eerie and Humorous. Edited by Sara and John E. Brewton
Three and the Shape of Three. By Arthur G. Razzell and K. G. Watts
Elidor. By Alan Garner
Goblin Market. By Christine Rosetti

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