Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Word about Free Children’s Books

The following children’s books are free and available through Amazon for the Kindle. I downloaded them because of the beautiful illustrations that are included in the public domain book. Be careful, though; not all books that are in public domain include the illustrations, as I found out with a few children’s books I downloaded and then deleted.

I took a class many years ago at the University of Pittsburgh from M. E. David, a well-known scholar in children’s literature. We used one of her books, issued by a publisher that accompanied her text with line drawings, that were not very interesting. This set her on a tirade about how children love color and beautiful illustrations and how good children’s books always have beautiful, colorful illustrations for children to see. Adults, too, like illustrations, but most adult books don’t have illustrations.

Enjoy these free books with the marvelous illustrations.

(2013-10-25 105Title: Beauty and the Beast

Author: Andrew Lang; illustrations by Walter Crane

Publication Information: Published by the Planet, 2011 (originally published in 1889)

ISBN: 978-1-908478-58-0

Library of Congress Classification: PZ8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Daughters–Juvenile fiction
Animals–Juvenile fiction
Princes–Juvenile fiction
Magic–Juvenile fiction

(2013-10-25 097Title: Snow White

Author: Brothers Grimm; illustrations by Franz Jüttner

Publication Information: Published by the Planet, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-908478-35-1

Library of Congress Classification: PZ8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Princesses–Juvenile fiction
Dwarves–Juvenile fiction
Queens–Juvenile fiction
Witches–Juvenile fiction
Apples–Juvenile fiction
Magic–Juvenile fiction

(2013-10-25 031)Title: Russian Fairy Tales

Author: Alexander Afanasyev; illustrations by Ivan Bilibin; translated by Post Wheeler (1912)

Publication Information: Published by the Planet, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-908478-55-9

Library of Congress Classification: PZ8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Princes–Juvenile fiction
Emperors–Juvenile fiction
Empresses–Juvenile fiction
Vasilisa (Legendary character)–Juvenile fiction
Baba Yaga (Legendary character)–Juvenile fiction
Frogs–Juvenile fiction
Magic–Juvenile fiction

(2013-10-25 098Title: The Swineherd

Author: Hans Christian Andersen; illustrations by Heinrich Lefler (1897); translation by H. B. Paul (1872)

Publication Information: Published by the Planet, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-908478-39-9

Library of Congress Classification: PZ8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Swine breeders–Juvenile fiction
Princesses–Juvenile fiction
Magic–Juvenile fiction

(2013-10-19 012)Title: East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North

Author: Illustrated by Kay Nielsen

Publication Information: Published by the Planet, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-908478-67-2

Library of Congress Classification: PZ8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Girls–Juvenile fiction
Boys–Juvenile fiction
Princes–Juvenile fiction
Princesses–Juvenile fiction
Mothers and sons–Juvenile fiction
Cats–Juvenile fiction
Magic–Juvenile fiction

(2013-10-25 069Title: The Nightingale

Author: Hans Christian Andersen; illustrations by Edmund Dulac (1911); translation by H. B. Paul (1872)

Publication Information: Published by the Planet, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-908478-65-8

Library of Congress Classification: PZ8

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
China–Juvenile fiction
Emperors–China–Juvenile fiction
Nightingale–Juvenile fiction
Magic–Juvenile fiction

Mark Rosenfelder, The Planet Construction Kit

Rosenfelder-Planet Construction Kit (2013-09-01 02)Title: The Planet Construction Kit

Author: Mark Rosenfelder

Publication Information: Chicago: Yonagu Books, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-9844700-3-7

Library of Congress Classification: GR940

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Imaginary places
Imaginary languages
Fictitious characters

I found this book on one of my forays into the Internet.  I was looking at books on artificial languages, and this was one of the books listed in the bibliography. So, I went out and bought the book and a few others. I wasn’t disappointed.

For anyone who has ever made up races, languages and planets,  this is for you. Rosenfelder’s web site ( is a plethora of information on languages, numbers, cultures–basically everything to give you information on how to construct an entire civilization. Rosenfelder discusses civilizations that he created on the imaginary world of Alemea. There’s a link from his web  site to the different languages, cultures, religions, etc. on Alemea.

When I was a child and a teenager,  I used to create civilizations and languages all the time. I loved drawing maps of imaginary planets where these characters lived. Yes, it was fun to play with the Star Wars action figures, the Micronauts, and all the rest of the figures from different sci fi shows, but I liked making up new characters, civilizations and situations in which to put these figures. I still have the many maps I drew as well as the symbols I used for the languages. Of course I had no real understanding of the differences between languages.

I didn’t even know that there were people out there doing the same things I was as a child and a teenager. I guess the Internet has brought like people together. As for this book, I highly recommend it to any geek who loves creating his/her own worlds and civilizations. I learned a lot from it.

Matt Adrian, Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds

Adrian-Guide to Troubled Birds (2013-09-30 010)TitleThe Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds

Author: Matt Adrian

Publication Information: The Mincing Mockingbird, Inc., 2012

ISBN: 978-0615593685

Library of Congress Classification: PN6231.B46

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Adrian, Matt—Humor
Adrian, Matt—Catalogs
Painting—United States—Catalogs
Birds in art—Catalogs

The Mincing Mockingbird returns! Actually, this book came out before the other two, but this is the first time I’ve seen it.

This time, Matt Adrian write a book for “anyone to quickly identify psychotic, violent or mentally unstable bird species.” As usual, Adrian’s paintings of birds are accompanied by crazy things the birds seem to be saying from the way they look. There are some entries for birds that go on for a page or more.

There are two entires that I spotted for owls, which made me happy.  Of course what’s written about owls is not complementary, but a study in the owl psyche. Like other birds, owls cannot be trusted.

New paintings come to Whimsies, which carries the book as well as the paintings. I was told by Karen that Adrian never does the same paintings; he doesn’t have a set number of this or that bird on hand, he just paints. Apparently, he hasn’t painted any owls lately. The last shipment had two or three different owls in it, so I should have bought then.

So if you like twisted humor and birds, this book is for you.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto

Marx-Communist Manifesto (2013-09-05 007)Title:, Communist Manifesto

Author: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Publication Information: Originally published in 1848 [Kindle edition]

Library of Congress Classification: HX39.5

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

This is an interesting book, but I’m going to try and keep this review short.

I love reading over reviews, if for no other reason than to weed out the idiotic ones that are just knee-jerk reactionary. The “evil” Communist Manifesto, and how wrong Marx and Engels were in their assessment of society. Most of these reviewers directly link the Soviet Union as the “model” of what communism is, when it could not be further from the truth.

Communism calls for the eventual withering away of government. The government of the Soviet Union was not “withering” in any sense of the word. What the Soviet Union (and, for a while, the People’s Republic of China) proved is that communism can be a tool of dictatorships to further control the people. It does not generate money the way these dictatorships want, which is why capitalism is a much better tool. Hitler’s control of Germany was assured when he was able to take control of the capitalist economy. The popular mode of capitalism in the United States in corporate capitalism.

What is so unsettling is that Marx and Engels were able to predict many things that have come to pass 148 years before they happened . They saw big corporations exploiting the world market and creating “a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country” (p. 64). The exportation of the American way of life has been one big factor in generating production and consumption based on the Western model (p. 65). Of course they blame the bourgeoisie as the motivators of this new model of production.

Just who are the bourgeoisie? Basically everyone who does not work a blue collar job or who is incredibly poor and destitute. This lumps the rich and the middle class together, which doesn’t make me feel comfortable. Still, the corporate capitalism that has overtaken the United States could not have been done without the consent of the middle class, a large part of which still support it.

Could communism work? No. Government is a necessary evil; it can never “wither away.” Without government, there would be chaos. There must always been an authority to fill the holes in the street, make the buses run, replace burned out traffic lights, etc. Taxes are the only way to get the money to maintain society’s infrastructure. It’s idealistic to think that humans could live without some type of government. (And no, I’m not going to pitch-in with others and fill potholes.) The ancient Greeks believed that laws—created and enforced by government—were what separated them from the barbarians.

More realistically, and contrary to what Marx and Engels believed, socialism could work. It allows for the (limited) ownership of property and limits the size of private business, which would benefit society. A handful of greedy idiots could not bring down the world economy like was done in 2008. A truly pure socialist government that could exist remains to be seen. A hybrid of capitalist and socialist elements are the norm in Western Europe; even the United States has the “evil” socialism in the guise of welfare, social security, and unemployment. Health care is the one that’s missing, and it looks like it will not be added any time soon.

I would never rule out Marx and Engels. What they have to say gives one pause to consider the current socioeconomic structure—and what might happen if things do not change for the better for everyone.