Storytellers and The Oral Traditon
The photo is of a statue of a woman who could recite (sing) 32,000 verses of poetry
from the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. Her name was Larin Paraske (1833-1904), one of the last Finnish Rune singer-storytellers. During the Finnish Renaissance of the nineteenth century , artists, writers, and composers (including Jean Sibelius) listened to her interpretation of the Kalevala. The Kalevala was passed on for centuries by rune singers. In earlier times, there were hundreds of Rune singers in this land of lakes and forests.
Cinderfellas: The Long-Lost Fairy Tales
Here are excerpts from an excellent article about the soon to be published (February 24), The Turnip Princess. The article is a preview from the New Yorker of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "Lost" Fairy Tales. It was written by Maria Tatar, who also wrote the English translation of the new book.
"...Schönwerth’s tales have a compositional fierceness and energy rarely seen in stories gathered by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, collectors who gave us relatively tame versions of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” and “Rapunzel.” Schönwerth gives us a harsher dose of reality than most collections. His Cinderella is a woodcutter’s daughter who uses golden slippers to recover her beloved from beyond the moon and the sun. His miller’s daughter wields an ax and uses it to disenchant a prince by chopping off the tail of a gigantic black cat. The stories remain untouched by literary sensibilities. No throat-clearing for Schönwerth, who begins in medias res, with “A princess was ill” or “A prince was lost in the woods,” rather than “Once upon a time…”
This fascinating article continues, describing the cultural shifts that resulted in the softening of these folk stories, and noting many instances where stories that were originally about boys, became stories about girls.
" ...Boy heroes clearly had a hard time surviving the nineteenth-century migration of fairy tales from the communal hearth into the nursery, when oral storytelling traditions, under the pressures of urbanization and industrialization, lost their cross-generational appeal. Once mothers, nannies, and domestics were in charge of telling stories at bedtime; it seems they favored tales with female heroines."
Tatar offers several examples of these changes. Here is her summary of a change in role that struck me as a vivid example, a precurser of the Princess and the Frog...
"Equally charming is the story about Jodl, a boy who overcomes his revulsion to a female frog and, after bathing her, joins her under the covers. In the morning, he awakens to find himself in a sunlit castle with a wondrously beautiful princess..."
Greater Understanding of Fairy Tale Magic
...Here at last is a transformation that promises real change in our understanding of fairy-tale magic, for suddenly we discover that the divide between passive princesses and dragon-slaying heroes may be little more than a figment of the Grimm imagination."
The illustration of Snow White is by Franz Juttner. The illustration of the Prince and the Frog is by Maxfield Parrish.
Tales Told by People
"...Von Schönwerth spent decades asking country folk, labourers and servants about local habits, traditions, customs and history, and putting down on paper what had only been
passed on by word of mouth. In 1885, Jacob Grimm said this about him: "Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly and with such a sensitive ear." Grimm went so far as to tell King Maximilian II of Bavaria that the only person who could replace him in his and his brother's work was Von Schönwerth."
This excerpt is from an early Guardian article by Victoria Sussens-Messerer reporting on the discovery of a trove of "new Fairy tales" by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth
The illustration of Snow White is by Walter Crane.
The Original Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Zipes, a pioneering scholar and prolific author of books relating to folk tales, fairy tales, legends and myths, has also written an insightful and informative article on the Brother's Grimm, their motivation, methodology, and the world in which they lived and worked. The article, The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm, was published in the The Public Domain Review.
Here are excerpts...
"...Turning to the tales of the first edition the first thing a reader might notice is that many of the stories...were deleted in the following editions for various reasons, not because they were poorly told but because they did not meet some of the requirements of the Grimms...
...The second thing a reader might notice about the tales in the first edition is that most of them are shorter and strikingly different than the same tales edited in the later collections. They smack of orality and raw contents. For instance, Rapunzel reveals that she has become impregnated by the prince; Snow White’s mother, not her stepmother, wants to kill the beautiful girl out of envy...
...The literacy of the informants, however, did not diminish the folk essence of the tales that, as the Grimms and other folklorists were to discover, were widespread throughout Europe and told more often than not in dialect. The tales came to the tellers from other tellers, or they read tales, digested them, and made them their own. Indeed, we always make tales our own and then send them off to other tellers with the hope that they will continue to disseminate their stories...
And yet, the Grimms, as collectors, cultivators, editors, translators, and mediators, are to be thanked for endeavoring to do the impossible and to work collectively with numerous people and their sources to keep traditional stories and storytelling alive. In this respect their little known first edition deserves to be rediscovered, for it is a testimony to forgotten voices that are actually deep within us. Hence, the irresistibility of the Grimms’ tales that are really not theirs, but ours. "
The illustration of the wolf about to eat Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother is by Gustav Dore.
Grimm Legacies: The Magic Power of the Grimms' Folk and Fairy Tales by Jack Zipes was published in December, 2014 (Princeton University Press) as a complement to his translation of the Original Fairy Fairy Tales (above). Here is a review:
"In this landmark work of fairy-tale scholarship, Jack Zipes comes to grips with the multiple legacies of the Brothers Grimm in German and Anglo-American cultures. With nuance and inexhaustible insight, Zipes shows how mythmaking, marketing, hype, Americanization, the appeal of collective action, and utopian longing have sustained 'the magic spell' of the Grimms' tales throughout two centuries of use and abuse. Anyone seeking to understand the popularity of the Grimms' fairy tales or their richly diverse reception will do well to begin here."--Donald Haase, editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales
The Rune Singer Storyteller begins Poem 1 of the Kalevala...
"It is my desire, it is my wish
to set out to sing, to begin to recite,
to let a song of our clan glide on, to sing a family lay,
The words are melting in my mouth, utterances dropping out,
coming to my tongue, being scattered about on my teeth."
Translation by Francis Magoun from the Kalevala poems compiled by Elias Lonnrot (1802-1804)
The illustration is from a painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
The following excerpt is from the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) which provided a Grant to help Paws 4 Autism fulfill their mission.
"Paws 4 Autism utilizes specially trained dogs to help children with autism and their
families. The PDF grant will specifically fund the Canine Assisted Social Skills in Education Program (CASSIE) which provides social and communication skills training for individuals aged 6-14 who have autism...Paws 4 Autism is 100% staffed by volunteers."
Visit the Paws 4 Autism website to learn more:
"Paws 4 Autism's CASSIE program is currently working with 32 families in Kansas City, with a wait list of over 200 and growing..."
World Read Aloud Day is March 4, 2015
This photo is from Nepal.
Every year, on the first Wednesday of March, World Read Aloud Day calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories.
"World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their futures: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their stories.
World Read Aloud Day allows members of our year-round programs to invite more people into their literacy community and brings LitWorld’s messages to the rest of the world. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 80 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. The growth of our movement can be attributed in large part to our network of partner organizations and “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters taking action in their communities and on social media. "
Here is the link for more information or to be a part of this wonderful event, LitWorld.
The photo on the lower left is from a World Read Aloud Day group in the Phillipines.
"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.
Free Children's Books on the Internet in a huge digital library. Many of them appear to be from another era. From their site...
- The ICDL collection includes 4619 books in 59 languages.
- Our users come from 228 different countries.
Free access to high-quality digital books from around the world. Browse by age, genre, book length, character types, or even the color of a book's cover."
Here is the Link: ICDL
Tell Me A Story
SurLaLune , Heidi Anne Heimer's website for Fairy Tales and Folklore is a veritable constellation of fairy tale books, information, annotations, illustrations, and links. Here is an excerpt from an article she posted on folklore, fairy tales and the oral tradition of storytelling.
"...Then there is the whole explanation of how folklore comes from oral storytelling tradition. Be aware that this website and most fairy tale studies deal with literary fairy tales, tales that are once removed from oral tradition, set down on paper by one or more authors. Once the story is written down, it becomes static in that version. It is no longer only folklore, but part of the world's body of literature. In contrast, the beauty of storytelling is how the same story is slightly different each time it is told, even by the same storyteller. Oral fairy tales are elusive creatures that folklorists study, record and try to trace through history. It is an invigorating field of study, but not the one I have pursued on SurLaLune. Note that sometimes the literary fairy tale came first and was then absorbed back into oral tradition, such as with 'Beauty and the Beast.'"...
The illustration of Rapunzel is by George Cruickshank.
The Planet of the Dogs, as the Story Was First Told
Daisy and Bean,who lived on a farm near Lake Falls Village (on planet Earth), found themselves on the Planet of the Dogs. They were the first humans to be there. This was long, ago, before there were dogs on planet Earth.
They had been chosen as emissaries, to help with a transition -- the dogs had decided to come to earth to help people learn again about loyalty, courage and love. And they needed to learn how non-violent solutions could turn back invaders. .
The following excerpt takes place following a huge gathering of the dogs,who had come to hear the decision, by Miss Merrie, Queen of the dogs, and the Dog Council, about helping people on earth....
"Rex, a big shaggy dog -- bigger than Buddy, and very old -- then spoke. 'You must not tell anyone about visiting the Planet of the Dogs. People won’t believe you, and they’ll think that you aren’t telling the truth, or that it was just something you imagined. And some will become frightened and tell false stories about you. And this will interfere with our efforts to help people. You must keep your visit here a secret. Can you do that?' ”
To read more, visit the Planet Of The Dogs
Free Books for Therapy Reading Dogs
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- If you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read dog books to kids and dogs.
The photo is of therapy reading dog Jezebell, seen here with a reading student friend. They were part of teacher Julie Hauck's pioneering Pages for Preston reading program for second and third graders in the Longfellow Elementary School, Sheboygan, WI.
Up On the Woof
"I’ve been accused of treating my dogs like children, but I honestly see that as more of a badge of honor than a criticism. After all, the more science learns about dogs, the more apparent it is that they are like children. They are as bright as any toddler, and because they are completely dependent on us, it means they stay babies all their lives. That means it’s our responsibility as pet parents to make sure their physical (food, water, shelter, safety, hygiene, play, medical) and emotional (love, encouragement, comfort) needs are met. It means teaching them, and seeing that their lives are enriched and that they are intellectually stimulated."
The excerpt above is by C.A. Wulff, from her Up On The Woof blog. Wulff is a dog loving animal advocate/activist; book reviewer and columnist (Examiner); yelodoggie artist; author of dog world books; and associate publisher at Barking Planet Productions.
In the Spring, Barking Planet Productions will publish an updated and revised edition of Wulff's fascinating memoir, Born Without a Tail.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So...get on your way!
New Cinderella from Disney opens March 13.
Cinderella returns.. Will it be Sugar Coated Survival Skills or will the spirit of Malificent return?
After the success of Frozen, which glossed over Hans Christian Anderson's Snow Queen, it's no telling. However, the director (Kenneth Branagh) is excellent, as is the cast (Kate Blanchett, Lily James, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden).
Frozen, with its romantic music and sugar coated romance, is a favorite to win an Academy Award (February 22).
Here is a link to the trailer: Cinderella
In Defense of Little Girls Who Like Princesses
Lizzy Burns wrote a caring, thoughtful, and very lively blog defending little girls who like playing princess. Here is an excerpt...
"There is nothing wrong -- absolutely nothing wrong -- with your young child liking princesses. Any princess...I get annoyed at the gendering of toys and books -- Legos and science are for boys, feelings and dress up are for girls -- but that is because Legos and science and feelings and dress up are for any child, boy or girl, and problematic messages are sent by calling one "boy" and one "girl."
Princesses (especially pink sparkly princesses) can be problematic not because they are pink sparkly princesses but because what it means to be a princess, to want to be a princess, and how society views that, along with misunderstandings about the nature of play and imagination (and I'd add, that goes for children, teens, and grown ups.)
I'm not the first person to talk about princesses, what they mean, what they don't mean, and the depth and substance that is needed for the "princess talk..."
Here's a link to read it all: Lizzy Burns
The Tin Man Returns in a theatrical performance piece involving actors, puppets, a musical soundscape and innovative staging. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times Review by Laura Collins Hughes...
Led by a Tender Heart, Before It Is Ripped Out
‘The Woodsman’ Tells the Tin Man’s Tale
"Using words is dangerous in this eastern corner of Oz, yet sound is everywhere: the mournful music of a violin, the rasp of a witch, the spooky wind of the woods.
How to Create a YA Phenomenon, in Nine Easy Steps by Amanda Dobbins
Humor, Irony, tongue-in-PC, and truth mix in this article from New York Magazine's Vulture Website. Here's an excerpt...
"The Divergent series has sold 5 million books and is regularly called 'the next Hunger Games' or 'the next next Twilight.'Interested in writing the next next next teen franchise? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
1. Start a blog.
Early online readers got to watch Roth write Divergent, find an agent, and sell it to HarperCollins—all in real time on her website. By the time the book was published, “she was already a social-media phenomenon,” says editor Katherine Tegen.
Pro tip: Blog about lots of things!
A list of non-writing topics mentioned on Veronica Roth’s blog: dead raccoons, traffic lanes, sweet-potato soup, spiders, a OneRepublic CD.
2. Don’t be afraid to be trendy.
The Hunger Games was big at that point, but there were a couple other books that were on the cusp of the dystopian-sci-fi trend—Matched and The Maze Runner. But the timing just worked so that Divergent ended up...Read it all: Amanda Dobbins
"How to find the best vet for your pooch is about providing the best care for your dog. Dogs have a way of working their way into our heart and becoming more than just an everyday pet. If you have a pet dog then the chances are that they have become a firm member of your family. For this reason alone you are going to want to make sure that they receive the best veterinary care, which involves the best choice of vet. You probably wouldn’t visit a doctor with a bad reputation, and you will want the same for your dog..."
Read more on Nancy Hauser's Way Cool Dogs: Best Vet
Motherless Child Project.
The voice of Emily Amber, a 16 year old girl in South Carolina, pulls you in. I rarely read YA books and I'm still in the process of reading The Motherless Child Project. However, I can report that a compelling momentum drives this story. Here is an excerpt from early on in the book...
"...In my house, no one talks about anything concerning my mother, not dad, not Jon, Nicky nor me. The best way I can explain it is like this - when it's a fact in your life that your mother is MIA, and you know you'll never get anywhere by asking where she is because you tried numerous times with bad or worse results, you just move on with your life. What else can you do?..."
On Jan 29, Kaitlin Jenkins, posted an article on her blog, She Speaks Bark, about National Seeing Eye Dog Day. I found her article to be warm-hearted and informative. Here is an excerpt...
"Guide Dogs, or Seeing Eye Dogs as they’re often called, provide support and independence to
visually impaired individuals. Often, the companionship of the seeing eye dogs allows a visually impaired person to take many of their daily tasks back into their own hands. Suddenly a world that was always limiting a person is once again re-opened, and they’ve got a constant companion who is looking out for them at all times. The partnership between a trained guide dog and their person is something to behold, and it’s something I’ve always found incredibly powerful and fascinating."
Her article led me to Guide Dogs for the Blind. This outstanding organization, located in San Rafael, CA, and Boring, OR, offers a lifetime of support to visually impaired people. In their own words...
"We are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors and volunteers, we prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of our services are provided free of charge; we receive no government funding."
Here is a link to their humorous guide to Blindness Etiquette video...I smiled, laughed and learned.
The photo of the woman and her dog is courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind
"She was made to work like a slave from morning to night. She had to get up at daybreak, carry water from the well, clean the fireplace and the fires, cook all the food and wash all the dishes. But that wasn't all, because the sisters did everything they could to make things worse for the poor girl...And when she was done at the end of the day, could she look forward to a comfortable bed? Not a bit of it. She had to sleep on the hearth, in among the ashes and the cinders..."
Cinderella - from Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm
A Dog's Life, Outside and Inside
Anna Nirva,in her Sunbear Squad blog, discusses how dogs are
social animals who are happier, and usually healthier, when they live inside. There, they can be part of a pack (people are also members of their pack). Often, however, dog owners choose to keep their dogs outside and this can necessitate -- if humane conditions are to prevail -- the need for a proper doghouse. Here is a brief excerpt:
"If you must keep your dog outdoors, construct an excellent dog house and kennel based on considerations of your dog’s breed, age,
health status, your climate and environment, and safety and health features. Schedule daily activities so that your dog doesn’t become depressed or frustrated, leading to difficult behaviors. Never chain your dog..."
Anna offers detailed, comprehensive, information and considerations ranging from the dog's physical limitations and the local environment to design features that will help the dog to stay safe and healthy. Here is a link to read it all: the Humane Dog House.
The illustration by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty is from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale.
A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level.