"In fantasy stories we learn to understand the differences of others, we learn compassion for those things we cannot fathom, we learn the importance of keeping our sense of wonder. The strange worlds that exist in the pages of fantastic literature teach us a tolerance of other people and places and engender an openness toward new experience. Fantasy puts the world into perspective in a way that 'realistic' literature rarely does. It is not so much an escape from the here-and-now as an expansion of each reader's horizons."
Jane Yolen, award winning author and editor, quoted by Terri Windling in Myth and Moor
The illustration is by Christophe Vacher
You're being someone else...
"When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world, and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed."
The above quote is from an excellent article/review by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings of Neal Gaiman's book "the view from the cheap seats".
The illustration, from Neal Gaiman's Coraline, is by Dave Mckean.
Never Grow Up
I wondered how a play about a flying boy and some kids who go with him to an an island where the big attraction was a cliche pirate and some runaway boys could be the biggest theatrical event of London, in 1904, with 145 performances. It didn't make sense to me. I remembered Disney's Peter Pan film, and a Disney book (many years ago) and I thought I knew the story.
However, I hadn't read the play or the original book by J.M. Barrie. Apparently, if I was to understand the immediate success of Peter Pan, I needed to read the play, Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. And after reading the play, I realized that Disney was the primary reason that the success of the play -- and the books that followed -- didn't make sense to me.
Reading the play, and about the production, was a fascinating eye opener. The writing, ideas, characters, and staging (50 cast members) was very impressive. Apparently, my thinking had been clouded by Disney's saccharine, romantic version of the story.
Theater in those days was primarily entertainment and melodrama. There was, of course, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, and Chekhov. However, eternal youth, the underlying concept of Peter Pan, and the magical play with clever writing, music, and special effects galore, gave birth to a wonderful entertainment, and two years later, to the book, Peter and Wendy. This, in turn,was followed through the years by numerous theatrical productions, musicals, movies, and TV shows.
Peter Pan himself, It turns out, was also rather complex. Finding Neverland and having perpetual youth meant living forever in a difficult and dangerous world. Peter Pan had problems with his memory, had no stories to stimulate his imagination, and wanted to have a mother. In addition, his personal fairy, Tinker Bell, was mordantly possesive and capable of nasty tricks (unlike Pinocchio's loving fairy). In short, life in Neverland was not simple. It was in perpetual motion filled with danger, surprises, drama and slapstick.
My understanding of the peter Pan phenomenon also benefited greatly from reading insights from Maria Tatar's book, Enchanted Hunters-the power of stories in childhood, and Seth Lerer's book, Children's Literature -- a Readers History from Aesop to Harry Potter. I have quoted excerpts from them here...
Children Must Grow Up
"Barrie recognized that children must grow up and that they cannot make a go of it alone with that pal from Neverland who will never grow up. He knew that trying to stay in Neverland would doom Wendy and her brothers to perpetual amnesia (before long, they forgot all kinds of details about their mother and father) and arid repetitions of the same adventures. By creating a theater for the imagination stage-managed by a child who will always remain a child, he grudgingly discovered the emptiness of a childhood without end...he was also able to channel the inner child, creating a new world that was truly for children even as it reminded adults of what they had lost." -- Maria Tatar
Peter Pan seeks a meaning in fantastic
Peter Pan is a play that looks back to a lost age of Victorian security, It seeks a meaning in fantastic rather than in empirical or scientific life. It sees life as theatrical and performative, rather than as authentic and sincere. It exposes the conventions of social life as conventions, and in the process calls attention to the gap between morality and propriety.. -- Seth Lerer
The top illustration of Peter Pan and Wendy flying over Kensington is by Charles Buchel.
The other two illustration are by F.D. Bedford from the original J.M. Barrie book, Peter and Wendy.
Fairytale is a Country of the Mind
"Impossible – absurd – enchantments define fairytale as a form of storytelling, but the magic also gives expression to thought-experiments: the wicked fairy turning out to be capable of love, the Frozen princess thawed into humanity by her heroic sister’s staunchness and love. Fairytale is a country of the mind made by imagery, by riddles and charms, spells and nonsense; it uses language to create imaginary structures in which language itself is supremely powerful: Rumpelstiltskin is undone when the heroine discovers his name..."
Marina Warner. How Farirytales Grew Up in the Guardian
Yelodoggie is Coming
The joyous new Yelodoggie book, Why Am I,,,?, addresses issues of belonging, acceptance, inclusion, and embracing that which is unique in each of us.
After all, Yelodoggie isn't quite like other dogs.
Yelodoggie helps open the imagination and perspective of children around the world and the world around them. It helps then to recognize and appreciate differences.
"I have an issue with people trying to protect children from their imagination." JK Rowling
Fantasy and My Neighbor Totoro Travel to the Digital World
There seem to be few limits to the digital imagination. I am not a knowledgeable person about computer games, and I am not often a visitor to the digital game world. However, I did watch this Minecraft HD video wherein I saw the world of Totoro in the process of becoming a game. The images flow and move the story forward just as they do in Miyazaki's films. I am certainly in favor of more kids knowing this wonderful story -- a fantasy classic -- and learning of Miyazake's films
Here is a link to the trailer for My Neighbor Totoro
Here is a link to the film My Neighbor Totoro
The refugee crisis impacts all of us. Not since WW2 have there been so many people displaced from war-torn areas. Save The Children is a wonderful organization helping children and their families in meaningful ways and with proven humanitarian programs that have been developed from hard experience. ave The Children was founded in the United Kingdom in 1919 and has now grown to where there are Save The Children organizations in 30 countries.
We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
In 2015, we reached over 62 million children directly through our and our partners' work."
Here is a link to their excellent video on violence in children's lives -- an international problem.
Here is a link to their website: Save the Children.
Gun Nation...where anybody can buy an assault weapon
Even after watching remarkable Zed Nelson's documentary, Gun Nation, courtesy of the Guardian, I still can't understand why so many Americans are opposed to any modification, of the gun laws in the USA. This is a video of the very best kind of objective investigative video journalism. Nelson lets people speak for themselves and the results are awesome and disturbing.
A link to the Guardian documentary, Gun Nation, a journey
Castle In the Mist is the second book in the Planet Of The Dogs Series
"Loving, brave dogs come to Earth to help oppressed forest people; in this fantasy of kidnapping and war. Short, inviting chapters keep the pace going. And, in spite of war, an underlying atmosphere of kindness prevails; there is little actual violence." -Nancy Warren Ferrell, librarian, Juvenile Book Review Committee, Juneau Public Libraries
Here is an excerpt,,,,
"This good feeling changed almost at once into a moment of fear when they saw a fast moving group of men coming toward them and carrying the banner of the Black Hawk. They were led by a powerful looking older man wearing light body armor and two other warriors on horseback. More men, twenty soldiers armed with swords, shields and spears, marched behind them..."
Read sample chapters on our Planet Of The Dogs website.
The sun was shining on the sea, Shining with all his might: He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright— And this was odd, because it was The middle of the night...from Tweedledee's poem, Through the Looking Glass
"The Lewis Carroll Society of North America is back in New York City for their upcoming Fall meeting on October 15. They will be at the home of their archives, the Fales Library at NYU, thanks to host Marvin Taylor. The varied and fascinating program includes a study of The Walrus and the Carpenter, the story of NYU's Alice150 exhibition, and reflections on using Alice to process Alzheimer's, all bookended by thoughts on Alice in the classroom..."
Paws for People
Three hundred and fifty volunteers, with their specially trained pets, in four states, reach out and help individuals, from hospitals and convalescent homes to schools and training centers. Founded by a woman, Lynne Robinson, with three rescued dogs and a desire to help others, the organization has helped thousands of people. Here are excerpts from their website:
Paws for People™ (Pet-Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services, or PAWS) is a non-profit organization committed to providing therapeutic visits to any person in the community who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet... PAWS visits people of all ages, ethnicities and income levels.
Paws for People is a non-profit organization and has been helping people, including those with disabilities, since 2005.
Here is a link to Paws for People.
"I would like to make a film to tell children 'it's good to be alive'.” Hayao Miyazaki...
Treat yourself to this 17 minute visual delight...a montage of film wonders from the imagination of the extraordinairy Miyazaki.. in a video, The Essence of Humanity, written and narrated by Lewis Criswell
The illustration is from Miyazake's Spirited Away
"Once upon a time, animation could be neatly divided into two eras: BD and AD, or before and after Disney. That all changed, however, with the release of 1995’s Toy Story, a movie that — although it bore the Disney logo — marked the feature-length debut of an upstart studio named Pixar. Pixar has released 14 films since then — 13 of which are Certified Fresh — and with the studio’s 16th outing, Finding Dory, landing in theaters this weekend, we thought now would be an opportune time to take another fond look back at the studio’s extraordinary full-length filmography.
Whether you’re an avowed animation buff or simply a fan of innovative, entertaining movies, you’ve probably got your own list of favorite Pixar moments, so let’s relive them now, shall we? From Toy Story to The Good Dinosaur, to infinity and beyond, here’s this week’s Total Recall!"
The top illustration is from Inside Out. The bottom illustration is from The Incredibles
Entering an Enchanted Forest via Virtual Reality
Mikado Murphy, in a New york Times article entitled, Gnomes and Goblins , writes about an interactive virtual reality experience where you create a fantasy with a goblin. Here are excepts...
"Now, with virtual reality tools, the film director Jon Favreau wants to give viewers the opposite experience, taking them inside the movie and having their actions dictate what comes next.
“Gnomes & Goblins” is Mr. Favreau’s experiment with virtual reality, or VR. Hovering somewhere between a movie and a game, the preview version of the project makes you the protagonist and sets you in the middle of an enchanted forest, where you can build a relationship with a timid, tiny goblin living there. How you choose to interact with him determines where the story goes.
The environment has the tactile nature of the jungle in Disney’s new version of “The Jungle Book,” which Mr. Favreau directed. But in this project, it’s as if instead of watching Mowgli, you are Mowgli, free to wander and explore at your own pace."
Credit: VR studios Wevr and Reality One collaboration
We have free reader copies of the Planet Of The Dogs series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you the books.
Our books are available through independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more.
The Planet Of The Dogs series (including Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale) is also available in digital format at..Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's, Kobo, Inktera, Scribd, and Tolino.
Librarians, teachers and bookstores ..You can order the Planet Of The Dogs series through Ingram with a full professional discount.
To read sample chapters of the series, visit PlanetOfTheDogs
"I like a bit of mongrel myself, whether it's a man or a dog; they're the best for everyday."
George Bernard Shaw