A Fresh Twist on Old Tales

In July, uber-cool film studio A24 released The Green Knight in theatres, but with the new school year starting and sweater weather approaching, I feel there’s no better time to delve into an old Arthurian legend than autumn (except maybe Christmas, when the story takes place). If you haven’t seen the film, it is an adaptation of an anonymously-penned chivalric romance from Medieval England about Sir Gawain (one the famed Knights of the Round Table). And if you have seen the film, you’re probably like, “what in the world did I just watch?”

Arthurian legends in media are in no short supply. We all at least vaguely know the names King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Excalibur, right? You might have seen Disney’s The Sword in the Stone as a child (featuring, iconically, a Converse-wearing Merlin), or maybe the old parody staple, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government”)More recently, there was BBC’s Merlin, in which the titular wizard is a young man when he befriends the weirdly jock-like Arthur (cue shipping). Historically, the old tales have been interpreted in countless paintings as well (you might recognize this one especially, of Elaine of Astolat, harboring an unrequited love for Lancelot). No matter the version, they’re always recognizable as being Arthurian. The departure from that recognition, from the usual tropes, names, and places, is what makes The Green Knight such a bizarre, and modern, take. 

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K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee

It is no secret that K-Pop has recently become a larger part of the American music scene in recent years, especially with the rise of BTS on the Billboard charts and their 2020 Grammy nomination. This development has also brought about a new YA book subgenre: K-Pop books! As a lover of both K-Pop and reading, I was a bit skeptical about all these new books. Can a book really describe the visual and auditory aesthetics of the music category? I was pleasantly surprised to find that a book really can do all that.

K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee focuses on 15 year-old Candace Park, a Korean-American teenager who loves music and wants to become a singer. Despite her parents dismissal at first, Candace ends up passing an audition to become a trainee at one of Korea’s biggest entertainment agencies. The book chronicles her journey to become an idol and readers will root for Candace as she follows her dreams.

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Bugs, Bugs, Bugs!

From our viewpoint, it’s probably easy to think we reside on a planet dominated by people, but Scott Shaw makes a good case to consider that we actually reside on a Planet of the Bugs! Shaw introduces us to insect evolution through the eras, describing how environmental & predation pressures played a part in how insects evolved, steadily moving forward and proliferating on their balanced set of 6 legs (for the most part). While I’m not huge on bugs – you can find me doing the hunched shoulders & slinking away manoeuvre throughout the summer when insects abound – this was a fun and informative journey to go on, learning about the advent of exoskeletons, how insects have taken over tiny and tinier ecological niches (how’s laying an egg only in a mature specimen of another insect sound for niche housing?) with different types of parasitism*, and more!

For anyone who has a deep dislike or fear of insects, here’s one way to learn more about them in a more multifaceted way and maybe discover something incredibly cool about them that will make them more approachable. (Or perhaps the bugs approaching you isn’t the issue so much as getting them to leave you alone?) Some other really cool items we carry are the Nature Backpacks, including one with a Creepy, Crawly Critters theme, that can help you get outside and explore the outdoors!

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