Monthly Archives: March 2022


To me, the poem “The Dong with the Luminous Nose” by Edward Lear, is a rather intriguing story. It’s not one of those stories when the prince (the Dong) finds his princess (the Jumbly girl), gets married and lives happily-ever-after. The Dong has lost his Jumbly Girl when she went back to sea in the sieve with the other Jumblies, and still goes out overland in search for his Jumbly Girl and… is still out there, always looking for her. This ending was a nice change from the usual, but it also makes me curious why it ended like that. Why didn’t the author make it so that the Dong finally finds his true love and they sail off together in the moonlight and live harmoniously together? Was he just sick of the ending in every story (like I can be), or did this sort of experience happen to him?

Part of me wonders if he found his true love, but it somehow got away, and he didn’t get his happily-ever-after, maybe like he had dreamed about. This ending made me very curious – it made me hope that the author (when he was still alive) had made a sequel, and there was more to the story than it seemed. I want to know if the Dong ever found her, if they ever fell in love again, if all he did to try to find her paid off. I was also wondering why he chose to make the nose the part of his body that became luminous. Was it just random, or was there a meaning to it, one that I hadn’t noticed? All in all, I enjoyed this poem: it made me ask questions, be curious, and I liked that. I liked that I didn’t know everything there was to know about it, and that the story didn’t need to be like every other one to be amazing and unique.

Alison Bizzaro adds to the conversation:

This poem is extremely odd in an intriguing way. There is not a thing in this poem that makes sense, but it makes me curious to find out why such a strange poem was written. This poem is most likely famous for the same reason I am intrigued by it. It’s so odd, almost surreal, but it makes you curious. This poem also uses very colorful visual descriptions, such as “a lonely spark with silvery rays/ piercing the coal-black night” and “Slowly it wanders,–pauses,–creeeps,–/Anon it sparkles,–flashes and leaps;” which keep any readers of this poem interested in the poem. The illustrations give a clear idea of what these clearly made up beings look like. It would be quite difficult to imagine what such specific characters could possibly look like, and the illustrations help to paint a picture and set a tone for the poem.


The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs has been quite a marvelous experience for one of my age to read. Right from the beginning you cannot but just help imagining the scenario as if you were Johnny Dixon himself. Bellairs creates very thorough and thought-out characters, most significantly Professor Childermass. At first, the professor just seems like an average grumpy old man who does nothing but complain. But he is far from it. The Prof only seems like this to people he doesn’t like. (Have you noticed that I’m not consistent with capitalizing ‘professor’? Well, neither is Dial Press. Look with me, if you will, on page 41. At the beginning of the first full paragraph of page 41, the word professor is capitalized while not addressing anyone in particular! But you can look at the 3rd line of the same paragraph to see the word Professor being properly capitalized – so because of this mistake, I will simply stick with the capital letter, partially to show Dial Press that I’m a better proofreader than they are, and partially to show honor and respect to… PROFESSOR C!)  While on the topic of Professor Childermass, he is introduced to the story as he makes his entrance into the Dixon home, hot and cursing. His car is stuck in the snow, and he’s ready to blow one of his own cylinders. “You know Henry,” the professor snarls, “in a hundred years, people will think we’re out of our ever-loving minds to spend so much of our valuable time taking care of automobiles. Think of it! Everybody on this block owns a two-ton hunk of metal that he has to feed gas and oil – .” But suddenly, the Prof stops when he sees “Gods, Graves, and Scholars, by C. W. Ceram,

and The Mountains of Pharaoh, by Leonard Cottrell,

and James Henry Breasted’s History of Egypt.” 

Commenting on Johnny’s books on page 15, the Professor speaks disparagingly about his nieces, in glowing approval of Johnny reading these books (and not even for an assignment!): “I have just come from visiting my sister’s daughter, who lives up in New Hampshire. She has two children your age, but they couldn’t read their way through a book of cigarette papers.” The Professor then launches into the story of Father Baart, an evil parish priest from the 19th century, who ran the church that the Dixons attend.

Prof Childermass describes Father Baart by saying, “He was short and wore a black cloak and he had a big head and a jutting chin and lots of grayish hair that he wore long. And an overhanging forehead, and a hawkish nose, and a deep-set, burning eyes. So if you’re ever in the church late at night well…” only to be cut off by Johnny’s grandpa. But in this short outburst, we can clearly see that on the outside the Prof may seem like a toxic, grumpy guy, but when he is speaking with someone he finds interesting or worth talking to, the Prof really opens up.

We can really see this bond being formed between the two when Johnny discovers the figurine. On pages 39-42, the Professor is the first person who comes to mind to help figure out the mystery of the figurine. But Johnny catches the Prof off guard in his so-called fuss closet. The Professor proceeds to go on a story of his whole fuss closet. Explaining that “[he] has a rotten temper… [he] came up here –as [he] always [does] in such cases… and he fussed. [He] cursed and yelled and pounded the walls and the floor,” (Bellairs, 39). Normally, even a friend walking inside of your home wouldn’t incline you to tell them a story about a closet, right? But the Professor is so fond of Johnny that he can’t help but welcome him in at any time even though he doesn’t even know why Johnny is there in the first place.

 Bellairs writes, “Johnny found the old man kneeling beside the tub. He was wearing a rubber waterproof apron, and the sleeves of his shirt were rolled up. The tub was half full of water, and in it floated a fleet of little wooden boats. They were galleys, with matchstick oars and little triangular sails. Little paper flags fluttered from the sterns of the ships. Half of the flags were red and gold and had coats of arms on them. The other half were green and had gold crescents,” (Bellairs, 61). Why such detail? In reality, these are just little tiny boats that are being fiddled with by the Professor. No one would expect a scene with a Professor playing with wooden ships in a bathtub, or would they? But the Prof elaborates and see explains the specific battle he is re-enacting, in preparation for his next day’s class, so we learn about the Prof’s abiding passion for teaching history. When reading that scene for the first time, one would not immediately discard the scene and say it has no meaning. In fact, we think of it as revealing character and humanizing the Professor even more. And without the realism in these kinds of scenes, readers would just gloss over them, which is why we can really appreciate Bellairs’ craft and choice of vocabulary. Without it, the book would not be itself, and without this craft, readers like myself would not be so enticed into the book and almost forced to make predictions. The book itself is just so enjoyable and welcoming to read so readers cannot help to try and predict the story. Questions like, is the blue figurine actually cursed? Is Johnny going to get more revenge against Eddie? and Why did Johnny remove the figurine from the church crowd and compete in our minds, fueling interest. Overall, Curse has been a wonderful enticing story that I am eager to finish and to read sequels.