The Principal Chronicles by David Garlick

Publication Date: December 19, 2021

The Principal Chronicles is a collection of humorous stories of one man’s childhood and career in Windsor and Essex County, Ontario.

 

 

 

Full disclosure: I am acquainted with David Garlick and his lovely wife, Linda, by way of the heritage advocacy scene in Windsor, Ontario. Though I think they’re delightful people, this will in no way color my review of The Principal Chronicles or the opinion that this book would make an excellent holiday gift for anyone in your life that enjoys an afternoon with a cup of tea, cozy blanket, and a good book.

When I started this blog in 2012, my intent was to review books with my dad. We never really synced our reading schedules and my dad, who will read 3 or 4 books at a time, often remembered books but not really specifics other than that he liked the book or didn’t. Sometimes I would catch him at a good time and include his input in the reviews. He was recently diagnosed with dementia and his memory has gotten hazy regarding what he reads if not discussed in the moment. I recently visited and we read The Principal Chronicles together laughing at the varied stories and talking about those anecdotes we found especially relatable. I usually call him “Dave” in my reviews but will refer to him as Dad in this review to avoid confusion.

Anyone can teach. It takes a special person to be a good teacher. Garlick begins his anthological memories by showing us the child that grew into that good teacher. The Principal Chronicles is sometimes fact, sometimes openly fiction, and frequently funny. The anecdotes are largely simply written and the sort of thing that you’ll tell friends and acquaintances at holiday parties in part or in full.

This author is clearly someone that has spent a lot of time around children as the patois is very natural. The flow of his narrative is clear, and the chapters follow a natural progression. There are anecdotes labeled openly as fiction. The Tornado of 1948 shows an insightful little boy who uses the faulty information that his brother (who is not as horrible as he seems in the story, Garlick tells us) has given him to navigate a teacher who isn’t as warm and fluffy as he might have experienced prior. The purpose of plot brings readers to a surprise ending that is very true of little boys talking in the dark and serves as a bit of a redemption for the antagonist and the older brother. That childlike insight makes sense earlier when you see parents giving their child the autonomy that would not be realistic these days but was once a normal routine. Dad remembers walking to the neighborhood store at 5 years old to pick up an item his mother forgot. My brother and I were not quite that young, but we weren’t much older when we’d each proudly present a nickel for a special treat.

Though it’s been a long time since I’ve read Jean Kerr (Please don’t eat the Daisies) or Erma Bombeck, I found Garlick’s style heavily reminiscent of the two authors. The anthological layout is mostly happy and mostly bright. When it does get a bit heavy, it is with purpose and serves as a mere retelling than as a sermon. One anecdote takes us post 9/11 and serves as a gentle reminder of the atrocities and that not everyone of a culture is the same. Another deals with bureaucracy in the school board with the good of the children in the balance and optics maybe or maybe not winning the day.  Each chapter is short and self-contained making The Principal Chronicles a book easy to pick up and put down again if you’re reading in precious spare moments. As readers of this blog will know, my dad is quite the fan of the short and self-contained chapter. “Good coffee refill points,” he told me.

Despite being the memoir of an educator, The Principal Chronicles is a relatable read. You need not live in rural Amherstburg, Ontario to identify with that time of year when the mice come into the warmth of a building. That said, Dad and I agreed that neither of us had seen a turkey in the wild before I moved to the area, and he visited. One fateful Canadian Thanksgiving, a flock of turkeys gathered in our backyard not far from Western Secondary School surely plotting their revenge. You may gather, I am no fan of the wild turkey. They tend to be quite large birds and, unlike the Chef at Western, I can’t contemplate cooking one up. My father shared his own story of chasing a squirrel around the halls of Brunswick High School. The principal of that school employed a similar tactic to Garlick with much different results, but it prompted quite a bit of laughter when my mother suggested that the cafeteria missed an opportunity to serve Squirrel and Dumplings (not something she would ever eat).

I will admit to a bit of disappointment not to see much mention of Walkerville Collegiate Institute in The Principal Chronicles. The school is home of Walkerville Centre for the Creative Arts, one of the region’s enhanced arts programs.  Because of the band program (and later Visual Arts), my daughter opted to attend this school rather than the one in Amherstburg from which we live walking distance. Garlick was retired by the time Alex began her freshman year, but he and his wife made a point of attending the varied shows. Seeing this retired educator in the wild, it is evident the affection that the teachers and his former students hold for him.   Walkerville is a great school filled with some vibrant personalities and I’m sure Garlick has several stories from his time at the school. Because of the nature of the truly wonderful and creative students of that institution, I’d like to think that it was the setting for Loneliness in G Minor, an especially beautiful anecdote in which Garlick encounters a student playing a violin after hours in the school foyer. This disappointment is mine alone, my father thought that the stories included were perfect and not including everything opens the author up to a follow

The Principal Chronicles is a joy to read and would make a great gift for that special someone in your life. Because I share and account with my father, I got the e-book version but it’s available in paper form from Amazon or at your independent bookshop. I know my local bookstore, River Bookshop, in Amherstburg has copies but if yours doesn’t, encourage them to stock a few. Well written and engaging, The Principal Chronicles is the right book for that special reader in your life.

 

Read an excerpt and buy The Principal Chronicles by David Garlick on

Amazon U.S.   Amazon U.K.   Amazon CA

 

 

 

Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

CORRECTION: I said in an earlier version of this review that this book was last in the series. I am overjoyed to learn that it’s not.

 

Publication Date: December 31, 2018

 

Dave Marwood and his girlfriend, Melanie, are due for a bit of a break in the country after saving the City of London from destruction. It’s a bit of a worry that Death, the last standing Horseman of the Apocalypse and Dave’s employer, is having a bit of an existential crisis and Dave has been acting as his flip-flopped toy scythed stand-in, but a relationship needs tending. The break, however; is not the peaceful time away the couple anticipates when they find themselves beset by ghosts and the people seeking them.

Serious Moonlight by Dave Turner is the fifth book in the How to be Dead series.

 

Part of my life’s work is finding books that give me the feeling I got when I first read the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Jasper Fforde. The beautiful humor and massive creativity of the aforementioned authors are qualities shared by the great Dave Turner. Continue reading Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

 

In The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, it’s 1985 in the fictional world that is parallel to our own. Someone is kidnapping literary characters. It’s the job of Thursday Next, the occupant of our world but the detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before it’s too late.

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a bestselling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by an author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually, they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well-defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is extremely well-read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete. Continue reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Publication Date: May 27, 2010

 

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill BrysonAt Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson is a collection of stories that deal with everyday historical aspects. Bill Bryson, who lives in a historic parish in Norfolk, tours his house with his readers and talks about the life of the previous owner. Let At Home: A Short History of Private Life take you on a journey into the past

Continue reading At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Movie Released: 1960 in b/w | DVD Release Date: July 1, 2008

 

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)The Little Shop of Horrors was produced in 1960 on $28,000 budget (according to my research the budget ranged between $24,000 and $30,000 — so your guess is as good as mine.) Directed by the legendary Roger Corman, this movie was produced within two days. Corman decided to use an earlier film setting that was due to be torn down in the next two days.

Continue reading The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

The Martian (2016)

DVD Release Date: January 12, 2016

 

DVD_MartianThe crew of the Ares III is forced by a dust storm to evacuate from Mars. In the rush to leave, Astronaut Mark Watley is hit by debris and his suit isn’t showing signs of life, so his fellow astronauts presume him dead and leave him stranded on Mars. Watley must do what he can to survive until the next mission arrives. Earth Control receives satellite photos showing that Watley has survived which they decide to suppress. Will Watley make his way home against the odds?

 

 

 

 

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Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

Released: April 1, 1983 | DVD Release Date: December 24, 2002

 

DVD_The_Meaning_of_LifeThe Meaning of Life is a 1983 musical sketch comedy that chronicles phases of life in seven parts. There is a bonus “middle of the film” segment in which viewers are invited to play “find the fish.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

The Prostitute in the Family Tree by Douglas Adams

Publication Date: August 1, 1997

 

DA_The_Prostitute_Family_Tree

Douglas Adams (not THAT Douglas Adams) believes most readers of the Bible miss the humor and irony. If you’re missing the humor are you also missing the meaning behind Biblical stories?

 

 

 

 

Continue reading The Prostitute in the Family Tree by Douglas Adams