Tales of wonder usually have happy endings. They may have danger and darkness, forbidden places and strange creatures, witches and cruel magic...but wonder tales -- fairy tales -- do have happy endings...with very few exceptions. The journey may be fearsome, but salvation and awakenings occur in the end...and these stories endure forever.
Beauty, Horror, and Ignition Power...
In the chapter entitled, Beauty , Horror and Ignition Power, she writes about the effect of wonder tales on the imagination of children, including the balance between the dark side and positive endings. Here are excerpts..."We rarely worry about the effects of beauty, but horror is another matter...with an allure all its own, horror has the power to frighten as well as to fascinate...how much do we want children to find in their stories and how soon?..."
Tatar then illustrates the idea of too much horror with "Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Girl Who Trod On The Loaf', a tale that revels in torturing Inger, the 'girl' in the title." Tatar then writes, by contrast, of three classic tales where all ends well.
"By contrast,'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Snow White' begin with the child as victim, but they end with the triumph of the underdog and the punishment of the villain. 'Children know something they can't tell; they like Red Riding Hood and the wolf in bed' Djuna Barnes once declared. Fairy tales and fantasy enact perils and display horrors, but they always show a way out, allowing children to explore great existential mysteries that are far more disturbing when they remain abstract and uncharted rather than take the concrete form of the story."
The illustration of Little Red Riding Hood is by Hermann Vogel.
The Defining Dynamic of the Fairytale
Amanda Craig, is an acclaimed British novelist, journalist, and children's book reviewer. The following excerpt is from her insightful review of Marina Warner's "Once Upon A Time, A Short History of the Fairy Tale", in the Guardian
"One of the most interesting aspects of reworking fairytales is that it tends to be practised by idealists and reformers, whether devout Christians, such as CS Lewis, or socialists, such as JK Rowling. The defining dynamic of the fairy tale is optimism (as opposed to the tragic tendencies of the myth), but this has encouraged bowdlerisations from the dark and gruesome aspects of many originals – Dickens hated the way the illustrator George Cruikshank softened stories, the brothers Grimm tinkered to “excuse the men and blame the women”, and the ambiguity of the fairytale led to them being twisted into Nazi propaganda, with Little Red Riding Hood being saved from a Semitic wolf.
Happily, they have also been transmuted by modern feminism: Neil Gaiman’s striking novella, The Sleeper and the Spindle... conflates and subverts Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into a tale of female courage and choice..." Read it all in the Guardian
The illustration from Tom Thumb is by Warwick Goble.
Where the Light is Golden...
“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: "It is simply a matter," he explained to April, "of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists
Illustration by Mike Dringenberg or Kelly Jones .
The Humane Society of Missouri helps more than 85,000 homeless, abused and unwanted animals each year. Here is their mission statement:
"Since 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri has been dedicated to second chances. We provide a safe and caring haven to all animals in need - large and small - that have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and pet overpopulation through our rescue and investigation efforts, spay/neuter programs and educational classes. We are committed to creating lasting relationships between people and animals through our adoption programs. We further support that bond by making available world-class veterinary care, and outstanding pet obedience and behavior programs..."
Learn more about their work at www.hsmo.org.
"Perfect for Me"
C.A. Wulff is an author, artist, and animal advocate. She has volunteered in animal rescue for more than 26 years and attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
Dr. Seuss’ ‘What Pet Should I Get?’
"First, though, the book itself: It features a round-faced brother and sister — his close-
cropped hair is bristly on top, she has a long, wispy ponytail — who enter a pet store excited about the prospect of taking a new animal home. 'Dad said we could get one./ Dad said he would pay,' the boy exclaims. Inside, they confront a head-spinning lineup of choices. Also, they don’t have much time — their mother has told them to be home by noon. A few pages into their predicament and again toward the end, the words MAKE UP YOUR MIND charge across the top of a two-page spread, each held aloft by a different invented Seussian creature — floppy-limbed, scruffy-coated, oddly proportioned, jubilantly weird. On one of those pages, the boy sums up the book’s central point in a deceptively innocent lament: 'Oh, boy! It is something to make a mind up!' ”
Here is a link to read all of Russo's article: SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW
Here's a link to a delightful and informative Dr.Seuss Today Show report on the new book, Theodore Geisel, his widow, his personal assistant, and his publisher.
"To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks."
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
The illustration is by E.H. Shepard.
Rescuing Wonderful Shivery Tales
This is the title of Marina Warner's excellent and inclusive article in the NY Review of Books . Warner writes about contributions to the world of wonder tales and children's literature by Jack Zipes, Philip Pullman, Peter Wortman, and Maria Tatar. In the case of Tatar, she concentrates on her work in introducing, translating, and annotating the Turnip Princess, the tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth.
Here are excerpts from this informed and insightful article:
"Jack Zipes has long been a staunch advocate of fairy tales and their proper study since his
book Breaking the Magic Spell (1979) issued a devastating blast against the wishful thinking of mass entertainment and shook the staid and soporific scene of folklore studies. To interpret the tales he has combined Marxism, feminism, cultural materialism, and even—for a short period—evolutionary biology. He has stirred readers with a similar passion for his material, while attacking the use of literary fantasy in movies and television to camouflage moral manipulation. Writers whom he admires—Jane Yolen, Terri Windling, and above all Angela Carter—and the films informed by their work have supplied countermodels to the sins of the dream factory.
In the epilogue of the new critical collection, Grimm Legacies, Zipes, drawing on the work of the philosopher Ernst Bloch, once again argues that fairy tales are best understood as utopian thought experiments. When the peasant crushes the ogre, the poor lad finds justice; persecuted by malicious relatives, the kind sister gets her due, the courageous girl saves her beloved siblings or lover...
Zipes is on a lifelong mission, as ardent as the Grimms’, to bring fairy tales into circulation for the general increase of pleasure, mutual and ethical understanding..."
The illustrations for the Grimm's Hansel and Gretel and King Thrushbeard are by Arthur Rackham.
By Don Blankenship, educator and reviewer for Good Books for Kids . This is an excerpt from his review of Castle In The Mist...
"This is the second book in the Planet of the Dogs series and I must say I enjoyed it, cover to cover. This work can be read as a sequel to Planet of the Dogs, an ideal situation, but can also be read as a stand-alone with no loss to the flow of the story. This read is suitable for children of approximately eight years and up as a reader, or can well be read to children much younger. Adults will love this one also; I know I did, but then I have my fare share of kid still in me...
The art work by Stella Mustanoja McCarty is of the same high quality that we found in the first book in this series (and we find in the sequel to this book also), and is a delight to the eye. These are a series of black and white drawing, probably enhanced by the use of charcoal, which fit the text perfectly. When you bring a skilled artist and writer together that know children and know their dogs, then you know you are in for a treat."
Read sample chapters of Castle In The Mist at our website: Planet Of The Dogs.
The photo, above, of the boy, Chase, and Rose, the therapy dog, are by Susan Purser. Susan and Rose bring hope and caring to many people, of all ages, from young readers to the ill and the aged.
We have free reader copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at email@example.com and we will send you the books.
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...Librarians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
The illustration and book cover are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.
Pan In The Garden
"In many ways , modern children's literature remains an Edwardian phenomenon. This period defined the ways in which we still think of children's books and of
the child's imagination. During its few years, this age produced a canon of authors and works that are still powerfully influential in the field...Our default mode of childhood, if you like, remains that decade or so before the first World War; the time between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and the assassination at Sarajevo in 1914, the time when writers looked back over loss and could only barely anticipate the end of the old order"
In the chapter "Pan In the Garden", Seth Lerer, in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter, writes of the impact of the Edwardian era on children's literature..."the years before the First World War in Britain and America were also years that socially and politically redefined childhood."
Children's books written in the Edwardian era are known, even today, by many children: The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), Peter Pan (JM Barrie), The Wind In the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) and more.
The cover illustration is by Inga Moore.
The illustration is from Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky.
Disney Got It Right in 2011-- After Previous Stumbles
According to Rotten Tomatoes, 90% of the critics (out of 127) liked the 2011 Disney production of Winnie the Pooh. Here is excerpt from the review by Michael DeQuina in Movie Report.
..."the writing team and directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall make it work by never losing sight of the spirit of the characters, world, and Milne: imagination, innocence, and heaps of heart--best encapsulated by the bear's simple, moving gesture of friendship that so eloquently ties up the story, characters, themes and the enduring legacy that is Pooh."
Here's a link to the trailer: Winnie-the-Pooh
"Embrace A Vet is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing direct and supportive services to these Maine Veterans and their families living with PTSD and/or TBI. Besides helping to save the lives of our veterans by providing love and hope through a new canine 'best friend', we also save the lives of many of the dogs who we adopt from shelters."
Embrace A Vet is the recipient of a $5,000 grant for their Paws for Peace Program. This funding, from the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) will aid in the placement of 12 dogs with veterans in need,
Here's a link to their new video:
Reading Is Fundamental
Jessica Lahey, in the Motherlode section of the New York Times, wrote an excellent article on reading, literacy, and RIF. Here is an excerpt...
"Fortunately, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), has been enriching children’s childhoods through the distribution of free books since 1966, when the founder Margaret McNamara resolved to give books to the children of Washington, D.C., children who may not
otherwise have the chance to own books. RIF delivered books into the hands of these children by way of their iconic Bookmobiles; magic vehicles of wonder that pulled right up to the schoolhouse door and invited children to select, and take home, books of their very own. In its first year, RIF gave 200,000 books to 41,000 Washington children, and by the time I stepped into my first Bookmobile in 1977, I was just one of 1.1 million children RIF served that year.
RIF’s vision has remained constant since Ms. McNamara handed out those first books: to
create “a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading.” While RIF promotes literacy for all children, its priority is to provide books to children in underserved and impoverished communities. Since 1966, RIF has given 412 million books to more than 40 million children, and today, it hands out 15 million carefully selected tomes each year.
Literacy is a prime predictor of student success, as well as a range of economic and physical well-being. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly half of the adult population, or 93 million Americans, read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully to society. Adults below this basic level of literacy are far more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, while individuals who achieve higher levels of literacy are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, and vote in state and national elections"...
Here's a link to read it all: Motherlode
The photo of RJ reading with his aunt's dog, Howie, is by Julie Boylan.
Go Ask Alice
Anthony Lane,in an effervescent New Yorker article, wrote about Lewis Carroll, the Alice books, the world of nineteenth century Oxford,and several biographies in what Lane calls the Carrollian maze. Here is an excerpt from this fascinating article...
"Conversations about what is real, what is possible, and how rubbery the rules that govern such distinctions turn out to abound in the tales of Alice. Yet they are sold as children's books, and rightly so. A philosopher will ask how the identity of the self can be preserved amid the ceaseless flow of experience, but a child -- especially a child who is growing so fast that she suddenly fills the room -- will ask more urgently, as Alice does, "Was I the same as when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different" Children, viewed from one angle, are philosophy in motion."
After I had prepared this post, I found that it was already posted by Maria Tatar on Breezes From Wonderland. Tatar has since added more about Alice including information about a new Annotated Alice by Mark Burstein and other news about 175 translations worldwide.
Here is a link to Grace Slick singing White Rabbit at Woodstock (August 1969)
The illustration of Alice is one of ninety-two by John Tenniel for Lewis Carroll's books.
A Rose Is Not a Rose...
This excerpt is from a fascinating article by Marina Warner in the Guardian
"A fairytale doesn’t exist in a fixed form; it’s something like a tune that can migrate from a symphony to a penny whistle.
Or you can compare it to a plant genus, to roses or fungi or grasses, that can seed and root and
flower here and there, changing species and colour and size and shape where they spring. But if the prevailing idea of an archetype gives too strong an impression of fixity, the picture-language of fairytale is fluid and shapeshifting: a rose is not a rose, an apple not an apple; a princess or a villain signify far more than what they seem. A dictionary of fairytale would look more like a rebus made up of icons: snow, crystal, apples, dark forests, pinnacled castles, mermaids, toads, giants, dragons, sprites, fair princesses, likely lads and crones.
The symbolism comes alive through strong contrasts and sensations, evoking simple, sensuous phenomena that glint and sparkle, pierce and flow, by these means striking recognition in the reader or listener’s body at a visceral depth (gold and silver; diamonds and rubies, thorns and knives; wells and tunnels). It’s an Esperanto of the imagination, and it’s available for any of us to use – in almost any medium..."
The painting of Sleeping Beauty is by Edward Burne Jones. The illustration is by Jennie Harbour.
I highly recommend Kidlitosphere as a source for anyone interested in children's literature.
Some of the best books being published today are children’s and young adult titles, well-written and engaging books that capture the imagination. Many of us can enjoy them as adults, but more importantly, can pass along our appreciation for books to the next generation by helping parents, teachers, librarians and others to find wonderful books, promote lifelong reading, and present literacy ideas.
The “KidLitosphere”is a community of reviewers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, parents, and other book enthusiasts who blog about children’s and young adult literature. In writing about books for children and teens, we’ve connected with others who share our love of books. With this website, we hope to spread the wealth of our reading and writing experience more broadly...
KidLitosphere Central strives to provide an avenue to good books and useful literary resources; to support authors and publishers by connecting them with readers and book reviewers; and to continue the growth of the society of bloggers in children’s and young adult literature...here is a link to read more.
Welcome to our world.
The top illustration is of Tom Thumb. The bottom illustration is of the Frog King.
Here is a link to the trailer: Song Of The Sea
No Dark Deeds Here
This excerpt of the review by Jo Williams in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, sums up the Minions, a movie for the very young.
"If you’re old enough to read a movie review in a newspaper, you’re too old to fully appreciate “Minions.” Ditto if you’re old enough to read the menu at a fast-food joint, the height requirements at an amusement park or the price tag on a shiny yellow toy. This spinoff of the “Despicable Me” cartoons is like a pre-verbal version of “Inside Out,” all coos and colors and cute facial expressions. Tiny tots will eat it up like jelly beans. But what about their bigger siblings and baby-sitters? Will they be trapped on a sugar-rush cycle with no hope of escape?
Yes, but … The mad scientists at Dreamworks have scrubbed this ’toon of anything that might scare or challenge the target audience"...
Here is the trailer: Minions
The Dog Rescue Railroad...
Several years ago, I read Deb Eades book, Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale, and first learned about the nationwide network of volunteers who are "rescuing dogs from certain deaths in kill shelters and then being driven by dedicated animal lovers to a new life in another state."
Deb Eades was one of these volunteers, and her book is filled with touching first-hand stories of rescuing dogs and driving them to a place where another volunteer takes over and drives the next leg of the rescue journey. Or, sometimes, actually driving the rescued dog(s) to their new home.
Sunbear Squad is a mainstay in dog rescue. Here is an excerpt from their site:
"Each weekend in America, an army of volunteer rescue transport drivers deliver dogs and cats to safety in an organized relay of vehicles. Hard-working volunteer transport coordinators plan the logistics, organize the four-legged passengers, and provide support by phone continuously during the entire one- or two-day operation. Drivers sign up for relay "legs" via e-mail. They meet the previous leg drivers at an appointed time, transfer the lucky dogs and cats to their vehicles, and drive to the next relay meeting spot where the process is repeated until the destination is reached..."
To read the entire article follow this link: Rescue