Giants and Patriots: Not what you think

Well the Superbowl happened last weekend. Although I don’t really follow American football all that closely, I do like Superbowl weekend because that means that baseball is only weeks away! Instead of talking about the NFL or clever commercials or cheesy half-time shows or anything like that, I thought we could take a quick look at some of WPL’s materials that deal with  other giants and patriots out there.

GIANTS

The Iron Giant by Ted Hughes

The Iron Giant (1999) based on the Ted Hughes story

Originally published in Great Britain under the title, “The Iron Man”, Hughes’ fable tells the story of the sudden appearance of a large robot-like creature in the English countryside. He terrifies locals by eating their farm equipment, but is eventually befriended by a little boy who protects him. The Iron Giant is put to the test later on in the story when a giant dragon threatens Earth’s safety. This story was made into an animated feature film in 1999. The title was changed to “The Iron Giant” when it was published in the United States so that there wouldn’t be confusion with the Marvel Comics’ character “Iron Man”.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (2010)

Ken Follett is known for writing epic tales like “Pillars of the Earth” and “World without End”, and he doesn’t disappoint readers in this 2010 offering. Part one of what he calls “The Century Trilogy”, “The Fall of Giants” follows five inter-related families from Wales, Germany, Russia, England and America as they weave through the events leading up to and including World War I. Follett has the uncanny knack of making potentially dusty and boring historical events pop with the human touch. I can’t wait for Part 2, which I assume will deal with World War II.

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (2008)

Neil Gaiman wrote this short novel for World Book Day, an annual event organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It tells the story of a boy named Odd who assists the Norse gods Odin, Loki and Thor who have been tricked into leaving Asgard by a crafty Frost Giant. Full of adventure and a wonderful introduction to Norse mythology for reluctant readers, Neil Gaiman brings the goods again.

PATRIOTS

On to the patriots!

John Adams HBO Mini-series

Promotional Poster for HBO's John Adams (2008)

This series, directed by Tom Hooper of “The King’s Speech” fame, has won four Golden Globes and more Emmys than any other mini-series in the Emmys’ history. Starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail Adams, it tells the life story of the second president of the United States. The series opens on the night of the Boston Massacre and follows Adams through the some of the major events that led to the formation of the United States of America. Strong performances from Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin and Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson make this captivating viewing, even for us Canadians.

American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson's American on Purpose (2010)

On a lighter note, irreverent late night talk show host Craig Ferguson has written a book for his legion of cheeky monkeys and robot-skeletons. Mr. Ferguson recounts stories from his early days growing up in Scotland to his arrival in Hollywood where he landed a role on “The Drew Carey Show” and later became host of “The Late Late Show” on CBS. Along the way, he tells the reader about his struggles with alcohol and drugs, as well as his becoming an American citizen in 2008. I recommend getting a hold of the audiobook version, so that you can enjoy the author reading his own book. Most of the stories here demand to be told in a saucy Scottish accent. Coincidentally, Franklin’s “Join or Die” drawing used extensively in the promotion of “John Adams” is also tattooed on the inside of Craig Ferguson’s right arm.

Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont by Joseph Boyden

Louis Riel & Gabriel Dumont by Joseph Boyden (2010)

We can’t do a post on Patriots without a little Canadian content, yes? There is an excellent series out there called “Extraordinary Canadians” of which any title would make a suitable example of a Canadian Patriot. I’ve singled out “Louis Riel & Gabriel Dumont” by Joseph Boyden for a couple of reasons. First, I absolutely LOVE Joseph Boyden as a novelist. His book Three Day Road is easily in my top five favourite books of all time. Secondly, why not include a little local history? Boyden covers the period in history when Dumont, a master hunter and Riel, a brilliant yet troubled university-trained leader came together in 1884-85 to form a united Métis worldview that threatened Sir John A. MacDonald’s vision of Canada and ushered in Manitoba as a province. This book reads like a novel and like Follett, Boyden has the ability to make history breathe.

Wasn’t this more fun than reading about a couple of teams from New York and New England?

Trevor

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