Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: If you build it...

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  • Paul Brislen,

    I loved reading "A Day with Wilbur Robinson" to my girls, and they loved the wacky pictures and the story ...

    And somehow the movie they made of it ignored the fabulous art work, dumped the story line, changed the characters around and became, well, something else entirely.

    This is not on.

    Mind you, having said that, I much preferred Shrek the movie to Shrek the book. But that's just me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 170 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Thanks Jolisa, this is a wonderful story with obvious modern day application. I love reading to my youngest, 3, who I suspect will soon "read" a couple of books herself given how frequently she hears them. One of my favourites at the moment is this book, Pssst; though it's not got the utopian theme of Andrew Henry, there's a great ending which, judging by my daughter's reaction, kids totally get.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I didn't know I'd read this book until you started describing the plot and it all came flooding back. Lovely. But, action-packed climax? Ick.

    When I was a kid, we used to play in the abandoned quarry across the road from my mum's house. We had a regular wee village of huts and bivvies down there. Then the council put up a proper confidence course, which is always kept locked, and a skate-board half-pipe that nobody uses.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • amzolt,

    Made my Twinklies glow brighter and also made my knickers get all bunched-up with those snoopy, ungrateful elders--the people that politicians love and I have a hell of a time living around...

    ~ Alex

    Kettering, Ohio, USA • Since Jul 2008 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As of last report, the kids are fighting back, in a gentle, insistent way, but the city won’t budge and the neighbours are putting up surveillance cameras. Oh, the irony! There’s nothing to see but kids having fun! On a piece of land that has been used for games, on and off, since the Second World War veterans returned to town.

    This reminded me of danah boyd's stuff about online social networking spaces, and how they emerge because people keep shutting down kids' real-world public spaces. The friggin' surveillance cameras kinda nailed that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    I recently watched 'Bridge To Terabithia' with my 8 year old daughter, not knowing anything about the story.

    When the <spoiler alert> film shifted 3/4 of the way through from an entertaining fable about the power of childhood imagination to something infinitely more sobering and adult, we were both absolutely blindsided (and having recently lost someone very close, quite devastated).

    This led to a parent/child conversation about love and loss and friendship - I don't know if Mia will remember the discussion, but I sure will.

    Mia and I then resolved to read the book, knowing that it was regarded as a classic. Although we probably did things the wrong way around (film then book) I am inordinately pleased to report that the film really does do the book justice and capture the same themes and messages, and pack the same emotional wallop.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    When I was a kid, we used to play in the abandoned quarry across the road from my mum's house. We had a regular wee village of huts and bivvies down there.

    I've always been quite grateful for growing up in: (a) an expanding suburb with access to vacant sections and building sites (also very handy for skate ramp materials later on), and (b) a house up against the bush line in Greymouth for three years -- no one could mess with you once you hit the bush.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I also grew up on the edges of suburbia, a quirk of Auckland that still had market gardens, mangrove swamps and orchards to play in. Places to ride bikes, make huts, run around, and investigate in. So very often the best activity is organic, and self sustaining.

    If we want to look at grinches closer to home, the police association is among other things (and there are a few that are equally disagreeable), recommending we institute ASBOs on young people. Annette King is approving of the idea. The trend towards vilification of the youth continues in many quarters.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I grew up in a small town, and my brother and I had free rein of the town rubbish dump! Andrew Henry would have loved it.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    My brothers and I spent hours and hours and hours building trolleys out of old bits of wood and the wheels from the collapsed pram, with a bit of looped rope to steer the front wheels. We would push each other around on them, and then when we got braver, career off down the drive.

    We got hurt. But no one broke any bones. It was fun.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Thanks for the tips re Wilbur Robinson (no relation to Heath?) and Psst and Bridge to Terabithia. I'll check them out, although I might save the latter for a couple of years. Very sensitive plant, is Busylad, guaranteed to cry at minute 75 ("dark night of the soul/all is lost!") of even the most benign movie. I'm slowly indoctrinating him into the art of literary criticism so he can at least have a bracing intellectual frame for the stories that upset him so.

    Yes to the trolleys out of scrap wood and pram wheels! You can buy kits these days, but it's not quite the same, is it? And yes to the empty sections and the edge of suburbia and abandoned quarries! Construction sites were always incredibly attractive, too. Nothing like clambering through the wooden skeleton of a house in progress. Yeah, it's dangerous, but that's what tetanus shots are for.

    I think fear of litigation is a huge part of what's going on in Greenwich. Note the aside in the NY Times article about the sledding doctor who sued the city over a broken ankle -- what a dick! When Busylad careered off the local sledding slope face first into a thorn bush last winter, we didn't sue the city, we just slathered him with Savlon. For a day or two he looked like he'd gone five rounds with a rabid panther, but he healed up without a trace of a scar, and with a new and healthy respect for thorn bushes.

    It's amazingly catching, though, this lawsuit-shyness. Last night we noticed a well-dressed young lady cutting through our back yard. It would be nice if she introduced herself, but more worrying was the thought that she might injure herself while vaulting the spiked wrought iron fence, in which case we might be liable... not a happy thought. And we can't get a trampoline, because it would send our homeowners' insurance through the roof...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Oh, and Carol, lucky you, having the run of the dump. Have you read Wallace Stegner's gorgeous short piece about the town dump of his childhood? There's a downloadable transcription here, although I can't guarantee its accuracy; you can also find it in various anthologies, including Stegner's own Wolf Willow.

    Here's how it begins:

    The town dump of Whitemud, Saskatchewan, could only have been a few years old when I knew it, for the village was born in 1913 and I left there in 1919. But I remember the dump better than I remember most things in that town, better than I remember most of the people. I spent more time with it, for one thing; it has more poetry and excitement in it than people did...

    He catalogues the glorious mess of objects in the dump and their personal connections to the people of the town, including himself; also the bounty he discovered there and the mischief he and his friends got up to with their finds, even though they were forbidden "on pain of cholera or worse" from going there. "The dump was our poetry and our history. We took it home with us by the wagonload, bringing back into town the things the town had used and thrown away." I wish I could quote the whole thing, it's so beautiful and funny and melancholy, and the descriptions of the various objects are sublime.

    Anyway, here's how it ends:

    Occasionally something we really valued with a passion was snatched from us in horror and returned at once. That happened to the mounted head of a white mountain goat, somebody's trophy from old times and the far Rocky Mountains, that I brought home one day in transports of delight. My mother took one look and discovered that his beard was full of moths.

    I remember that goat; I regret him yet. Poetry is seldom useful, but always memorable. I think I learned more from the town dump than I learned from school: more about people, more about how life is lived, not elsewhere but here, not in other times but now. If I were a sociologist anxious to study in detail the life of any community, I would go very early to its refuse piles. For a community may be as well judged by what it throws away—what it has to throw away and what it chooses to—as by any other evidence. For whole civilizations we have sometimes no more of the poetry and little more of the history than this.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Kennaway,

    Bob Harvey has some great stories of growing up in Point Chevalier in the post-war years, and the adventures that were available in the town dump. The father of one of his mates worked for whatever government department was responsible for dumping old military surplus gear, so they'd get a heads-up in advance of any particularly exciting dump.

    One of the most memorable was a truck-load of old bayonets. The following day half the boys at school turned up armed to the teeth and looking forward to an Erroll Flynn- inspired sword fight at lunch-time..... something which the teachers and parents were considerably less thrilled about....

    Western Bays • Since Feb 2007 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    I'm in two minds about the Greenwich thing.

    Kids playing wiffleball on public land? Seems entirely reasonable and wholesome.

    Kids putting up fences and "pouring concrete" on said land? Can't say I'm in favour.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 450 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Note the aside in the NY Times article about the sledding doctor who sued the city over a broken ankle -- what a dick! When Busylad careered off the local sledding slope face first into a thorn bush last winter, we didn't sue the city, we just slathered him with Savlon.

    I broke my collarbone sledding a few years ago. Several of the forms emanating from my insurance company afterward included questions about whether anyone was "to blame", which I can only presume were there in case they wanted to do a bit of suing.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 450 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    the sledding doctor who sued the city over a broken ankle -- what a dick! When Busylad careered off the local sledding slope face first into a thorn bush last winter, we didn't sue the city, we just slathered him with Savlon.

    The thing is, in the crazy US environment, your insurance company will make you sue. Eg, my sister's mother in law slipped on a spill in the supermarket in California. Her insurance company insisted she sue the supermarket to recover, otherwise they would not cover her.

    Since a hospital visit and followup treatment would run into the thousands of dollars in the US if you paid your self, I'm sure Dr So and So claimed on his insurance, and I'll bet that they told him to sue

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    The Bridge to Terabithia was the first film to make me cry since, ooh, Call of the Wild (in human years, about 30!) Like you say, Richard, I was totally blindsided by the twist. It is such a wonderful film, done a great disservice by its marketing as a Weta special effects film, when the special effects are so subtly done and in keeping with the mood. Weta should be very proud.

    I've just started my boys on Roald Dahl, mostly cos when you've read Flat Stanley a hundred times, you start cheering for the Sneak Thieves.

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 556 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Jolisa, I loved Wallace Stegner's ode to the dump - glorious! Thank you!
    This essay would have pride of place in an anthology of dump literature. We 've also recently enjoyed Stig of the Dump, by Clive King; and I think Margaret Mahy may have set a story or two at the dump.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 623 posts Report Reply

  • GemmaG,

    In between day-dreams of the adventures we had in the massive field over the creek (before they built that concrete block of flats), I'm trying to figure out how to get your blog noticed by the folks making Andrew Henry's Meadow: The Movie.

    I'm thinking a quick once-over from the script editing genius of Dr Gracewood might get them out of 'Development Hell' pdq!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm thinking a quick once-over from the script editing genius of Dr Gracewood might get them out of 'Development Hell' pdq!

    Script Doctor Gracewood ...

    I like it!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Note the aside in the NY Times article about the sledding doctor who sued the city over a broken ankle -- what a dick!

    You really wish a judge/jury would just say "You broke your leg during an accident, doing something in which accidents sometimes happen. You'll get medical costs, and that's it. Stop being an arsehole and trying to set yourself up for life because you had an accident."

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    For those who think that doctor was being an asshat, check out OverLawyered for some examples of true legal insanity. A couple of events from our shores are in there, but it's heavily dominated by the US - and, amusingly enough, West Island. Seems that our 'roo-loving cousins like the 'merkin legal system, as well as 'merkin "diplomacy".

    Anyone who dares suggest that we should do away with ACC should be pointed to OL forthwith. That kind of nonsense is a direct consequence of allowing, nay encouraging, people to sue in the event that they're injured. Take away the no-fault provisions, and watch the lawyers go mad. It's bad enough with the forecast privatisation of the workers' account if National win the coming election (it wasn't pretty last time they tried it, either), but a wholesale shift to "personal responsibility" *cough* encourages people to take as little responsibility for their actions as they can possibly sell to a jury.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    Thanks for the heads up. I had to use Amazon as I couldn't find a local distributor (for the same price). When I called the local bookshop they looked it up, umm'ed and aahhh'ed and then said "Have you tried Amazon?" !!!!

    I did try to do the right thing.

    My own busy fella sounds very similar to yours. By crikey he'd love that local museum holiday program. At the moment we are totally in thrall to Scrapheap Challenge. We have a PVR/hard drive set-top box thingo and the A(Oz)BC is showing old and new Scrapheap Challenge 6 days a week. We have a backlog of 20 or so shows to watch. WOO HOO!

    Looking forward to a rerun of Golf Ball Gatling Gun, but the Hovercraft Episode takes the cake for no-way-did-they-make-a-hovercraft-out-of-scrap mind blowingness.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    OverLawyered

    I get a 403 on that one (Forbidden
    You don't have permission to access / on this server.) ?

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4452 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I get a 403 on that one

    Bizarre. Works fine for me. Try just typing overlawyered.com into your address box.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

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