Children’s Literature: A Gripping Read

The Stumps of Flattop Hill

(The Curious Flower Girl of the Town Down Below)

By Kenneth Kit Lamug

A fairytale like no other, The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a lusciously penned cautionary tale, with mild horror elements, about a little girl Florence, who more strongly believed the children daring her by exploiting a perceived personal flaw, than believing them about any of the real dangers laying in wait in the House on Flattop Hill.

“They dared, declared
that Florence was scared
to enter the house on Flattop Hill.”

And yet young Florence didn’t heed the warning about the house being a place of pure evil, it called out to something deep inside — perhaps loneliness, a need to prove them all wrong, natural curiosity (written in such a way that you can draw your own meaning)…  we are invited along on a beautifully grisly, increasingly tense journey all the way to the absolute end. Although the artwork echoes the work of Edward Gorey and Tin Burton, in this work, Kenneth Kit Lamug has created very much his own style.

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With so much to love about this fairytale and all the details highlighted with flecks of nuance and shadowed with splashes of dread, there’s scope for discussion. A strong warning arises when Florence passes by the departed spirits making their way home across the river Styx that adds to the ominous tones. Once explained that the River is the causeway between life and death, the foreboding only deepens.

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The house of Flattop Hill does not disappoint

A fun read for seasoned readers; to be read out loud, an absolute must and with as much dramatic expression as you can muster… just be cautious with more sensitive children, if you’re not certain, avoid the first read at bedtime — besides you may need to leave some room for discussion of some very long words and concepts. Written in a rhythmic style, the visual elements scattered throughout draw the art and story neatly together.

In the world of Children’s literature, Kenneth Kit Lamug both illustrator and author, is more than good enough to hold his head high, and stand alongside the rest of the best. I will be on the lookout for more of his work in future. Links to his existing work are in the Author’s biography below. If you would like to support the Author more directly, the links to his work are on his website: The Stumps of Flattop Hill .

Said Kenneth Kit-Lamug;

“This book is meant to be read aloud; that’s when it comes alive.
It is my goal to inspire and spark imaginations.
Kids love campfire stories and this is one that will keep them talking.
My four-and seven-year olds love to repeat the rhymes over and over.”

About the Author

Kenneth Kit Lamug is a Filipino-American author/illustrator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. His debut picture book A Box Story has won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, Literary Classics, Pinnacle Awards and the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. He has contributed to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tiny Books of Tiny Stories, Underneath the Juniper Tree and various publications. He has also worked in movies, comics and his photography has been showcased internationally.

Watch the trailer for a sneak peak into the wonderful imaginings of Kenneth Kit Lamug’s The Stumps of Flattop Hill 

Tarot Reading 2015

Before I share the tarot reading I did for 2015, let me explain my approach.

I aim for any reading to be more practical than mythical. I inform anyone reading this, as I remind everyone I read for in real life, that these are really just indicators of the greater potential. They provide talking points (with links to the current context) to enable a discursive process. Because I am doing this reading, it will be relevant within my reality construct.

I am not psychic, I just find tarot a useful tool for outlining details in situations. I don’t believe in foretelling hard futures, however people with enhanced sensitivities might receive more information than I would in this spread, and would see something more tangible within a reading that I can’t. I would LOVE it if any such insights come to you, you might share in the comments below…

Method

Layout

The spread looks a little like a Celtic Cross, but isn’t because it’s cast, and read differently, in a way that intuitively works for me.

The order is as follows: Primary cards (Querent (1) and Influences (2)) are drawn first, the first card is the subject of the reading covered by the influencing card, which the rest of the reading revolves.

The Foundation (3) and Recent Past (4) cards are drawn next – as they have influenced the situation that attracted the first card. The Above and Below the Querent (Card 1) represent Consciousness (5) and Subconsciousness (6).

The “Future” cards summarised as Advice (7) and Potential (8) are drawn next.

The reading culminates with the detailed cards running up the right side in the following order, Leadership (9), Environment (10), Hopes and Fears (11) and then the rest of the cards until a Major Arcana card is reached (12).

Often the pillar card sequence tells the most interesting part of the story – especially when it goes on for a while before a Major Card appears, but in this particular reading, there are only two Ace cards before Judgement.

Reading

2015-reading

The Devil covered by the Lovers flanked by Materialism and Opulence on the one hand, and the Hanged Man and Moon on the other… A twisted union of codependent materialism with nowhere meaningful to go?

The past cards (Ten and Nine of Pentacles – Pentacles also called Coins in some decks represent material goods, money, treasures, investments…) could represent the past comforts that people aspire to retain in a way that people out of control would do with the few things they have left remaining. In a way, these comforts, although felt as necessities, have become crutches and they’re the foundation for the current situation – people don’t want to lose what they have, especially if what they can get now, is less.

This Union of Doubles is consciously being held together by a Temperance born less out of Zen, and more out of a need to maintain the system at all costs, while subconsciously (behind the scenes), the work continues at the coal face of production, people working their fingers off, trying their best to keep it all going when in the face of it, it’s a devilish system.

The Devil’s in the detail.

Considering the current state of flux between all the political parties (Al Murray sums it up beautifully here) the Devil and Lovers is an apt combination. But until something happens, nothing will.

The Advice (Card 7) suggests the best course of action is do nothing, hang in there. The Hanged Man is not struggling, he’s almost enjoying himself as he hangs out in a situation that has no obvious exit, no tangible outcome. He reminds me of Mohandas Gandhi and his passive resistance. No good comes out of violence, one act of vengeance does not negate a former act of vengeance. Sometimes the best way to squash something is to ignore it – starve it of energy.

The Potential (Card 8) shown in the Moon card is reflected light, wish-washy, wish fulfilment. Creativity and fantasy, howling at the moon — Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Lies, more lies, and damned statistics. The moon is creativity – which is something we probably all think we want more of… Yet when creativity is applied to a devilishly detailed system with the King of Swords as Puppet Master and all sorts of new things pending before some kind of Judgement takes place… is it something we really want, or would it be better if we were looking toward a future represented by The World, The Sun, The Star or even The Fool?

No… we have The Moon to look forward to howling to.

Or perhaps a British Moon on a British Stick…

King of Swords.

In the Leadership (Card 9) position the Kind of Swords indicates an individual at a level of thought and communication that is mastery. The virtuoso of thinking. The cornerstone of intellect…

In the Environment (Card 10), everyone is working hard. Plans are in place, being discussed. There is work being done. But the Three of Pentacles is a card that represents an element of working hard, consistently, in consultation across silos, without any real rewards or moments of personal recognition.

In many ways we could interpret this as the current trend of highly qualified and experienced people working in underpaid jobs, battling to meet their financial requirements, perhaps tightening their belts, people working hard but getting little reward or recognition for what they’re doing, having to sell out doing what they love and are good at, to pay bills.

The Four of wands in the Hopes and Fears spot – often a sign of something good – a happy surprise. Though being in the Hopes and Fears spot, it’s just stating the obvious – everyone is hoping for a miracle – doesn’t mean we’re going to get it.

Lastly the two wands (Cards 12-14) indicate that perhaps theres a decent chance of our hopes being delighted, and our fears, disappointed…

Does the Ace of Wands mark a moment of creative expansion?

Is there going to be a step up to a better level or a different one – I don’t know – I am drawn back to the Querent (Devil) and the King of Swords and wonder who these potent indicators will be aimed to serve best?

The Ace of Swords represents that the moment to cut through the BS and get to straight talk is on it’s way. The card is about cutting through to the heart of issues. However it could also just as easily be about laws and rules to harness signs of chaos.

There are some excellent speakers currently gaining in popularity and reach with their ability to articulate wisely the nature of the obvious problems to the masses in ways that previous mediums have obscured. But we know that the status quo of free speech is presently in question, and wonder whether the Ace of Swords will be the enforcement of some sort of formal restriction on this first, before opening up later, remains to be seen.

The two Aces together are an auspicious combination, because considering the environment is filled with people working hard, working for little reward but getting on with it nonetheless, and there are hopes for a great surprise… perhaps the ultimate outcome for the Devil in the reading is a bit of well timed, perfectly directed Judgement, confirming that the time for absolutes, either way, is drawing near.

Before life continues…