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The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut Paperback – May 29, 2009
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Chesterton, as another reviewer has noted, published well over 100 books, numerous poems and short stories. His influence over the writings of such people as C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien, and even Lawrence, among many, many others Is incalculable. To be honest, I cringe every time I bring the name of Chesterton up in front of a group of students and receive nothing but blank stares. I always think "how very sad and how so very, very much they are missing." Perhaps this work by Nowak will help elevate this tragedy some what and open up new worlds in literature, and indeed thought, to the younger ones of today. Chesterton is an author we dare not loose to the dusty backrooms filled with unread books in our libraries.
This particular work being reviewed is told through the eyes of a nephew as he relates tales about and by his favorite Uncle Chestnut, who of course is actually Chesterton. The author has captured the personality, quirkiness and all, of this great author and made him an interesting and lovable human being (which I strongly feel captures the true Chesterton and one only needs to read a few pieces of his writing to pick up on this). After reading this work it would be a rare kid that will not want his or her own Uncle Chestnut. It will be an even rarer kid that will not be at least tempted to explore the actual writing of Chesterton, which is the obvious reason this work was written for in the first place. At this point is up to use, the adults, to provide the books for the child and give even more encouragement, if needed.
This book consists of for stories, easily read stories, along with a brief introduction to the actual Uncle Chestnut. We are also treated to a delightful short (far too short in my opinion) of quotations by Chesterton. We are treated to little gems such as "Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese," and To have the right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it," and `Love means loving the unlovable - or it is not virtue at all." This is only a small sample.
The author's style is that of one that will please the younger set, and while simple, never once gives the impression that he, Nowak, is talking down to his audience. This is one of those works that is targeted for children, but that any adult will find just as charming and informative. I predict that as many adults will be come turned into Chesterton fans as will children after reading this one. I understand that this will become a series of books and to be quite honest, I cannot wait for what is coming in the future. If they are anything like this offering, we are all in for a wonderful and informative treat.
Do your child a favor and purchase this work. Do your self a favor and steal it from the child when she or he is sleeping and enjoy it yourself. And speaking of favors; Paul Nowak has done all of us one by writing and publishing this wonderful little book!
Unfortunately, today he is not read nearly as much as he should be. This book by Paul Nowak, however, is an excellent introduction to Chesterton. While written with children in mind, it is great for adults as well.
Not only does Nowak present a Chestertonian perspective of life in his stories (based on the writings of and incidents in the life of Chesterton), he also is a very good storyteller himself. I enjoyed reading the stories greatly. The book isn't that long (about 55 pages), but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. (And, of course, for many people, the book only being 55 pages is a plus itself, as it makes it more likely they will have the time to read the entire book).
In short, I highly recommend reading this book.
Popularly, however, Chesterton is best remembered today for his creative writing: poetry, essays, and short stories. Two plays were not very successful. Unlike a couple of his younger contemporaries whom he greatly influenced, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, "Uncle Chestnut" did not write fantasy that appeals to children. Yet, he loved children. Most of his drawings, poems, and stories for children are very personal, created as gifts for specific children and left unpublished, whereas his works that have survived were geared for adults even while they praised the ways of childhood. The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut is the first of an intended series that is designed to present G. K. Chesterton in a more familiar light for youngsters as well as time-pressed adults, based upon his own observation, "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."
Author Paul Nowak weaves actual events in Chesterton's life and bits of wisdom from his writings into four fictional stories written especially for young people in which Chesterton is pictured as interacting with a nephew Jack (named for C. S. Lewis, whose nickname was "Jack") and their neighbor Christie (named for Agatha Christie, who was a fellow member of the Detection Club with Chesterton). The setting has been moved from England to New Jersey, and the time is a little more recent, probably to make the book more appealing to today's kids, but it is still delightful reading. A few typographical errors in the first print run copy that I had for review have already been corrected for later editions. I shall leave you with this bit of advice from Uncle Chestnut: "Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously." How true!
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton had a profound influence on various historical figures. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R.Read more