Doors, Rabbit Holes, Mirrors, Middle Earth, Platform 9 3/4, Garden Gates, Beanstalks, Wardrobes, A Crashed Airplane in the Desert...all open doors to new worlds of magic. From wizards to witches, they are all within reach of a child's imagination...and, maybe, ours.
Alice Is Back
Actually, she may never have gone away.
Cranky flowers talk to her and she walks backwards to climb a hilltop that lies in front of her.
She has fantasy adventures that are real, but not true. Her adventures are often quite scary.
She also has people who make movies based on her adventures.
Many thousands of people went to see the last one and they paid over a billion dollars. And so, they have made a new one.
Once again, millions of people, young and old, will live in wonderland with Alice.
Long live Alice!
The illustrations are by John Tenniel.
Wonderland, Like Neverland, Is a Great Place to Visit, But...
"It is one of the ironies of our age that a true understanding of what children want in their books emerged from a pathologically shy mathematician who believed in rules, order, and limits for children but who overcame those convictions in order to produce a book that would entertain the seven year old girl with whom he was infatuated. He inadvertently revealed to us that Wonderland, like Neverland, is a great place to visit whether you are a child or an adult, but you really don't ever want to live there."
Maria Tatar, writing about Theaters For The Imagination in her book, Enchanted Hunters.
Liberating the Fairy Tale In Victorian England
"Like Dickens, Carroll fought tenaciously to keep the child alive in himself and in his fiction as a critic of the absurd rules and regulations of the adult Victorian world...
Carroll's contribution to children's literature and the fairy tale is immense for his Alice books served to liberate the fairy tale from moralism and encourage young readers to think for themselves and question the mores of the adult world."
Jack Zipes, writing in his book, Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and the Elves.
The New Movie -- Alice Through the Looking Glass
Alice Through the Looking Glass is Directed by James Bobin, who brings his own version to the spectacular world that Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with "Alice in Wonderland". The film, written by the excellent Linda Woolverton, is based on the characters and story created by Lewis Carroll.
Johnny Depp is back as the Mad Hatter, Mia Wasikowski is back as Alice, and Helena Bonham Carter is back as the Queen of Hearts.
The film opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016 .. It will be presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D,
Reports are that Alice must turn back time to save the Mad Hatter.
The film features Pink’s cover of the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit.” You can here it on the Trailer: Alice Through the Looking Glass.
And, here is a link to Grace Slick singing the original version of White Rabbit with Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock:
Alice has inspired several Pop Music and Rock and Roll music videos including: Tom Petty and The Hearbreakers, Kerli , The Bunny The Bear, Avril Lavigne and others...here is the link to all these music videos: horroraddicts
Nonsense, Contradictions, and Queer Things
Alice's reaction to Tweedeldum, Tweedeldee and the White Knight's Dream
'Well, it's no use your talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, 'when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.'
'You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee remarked: 'there's nothing to cry about.'
'If I wasn't real,' Alice said—half-laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous—'I shouldn't be able to cry.'
'I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
'I know they're talking nonsense,' Alice thought to herself: 'and it's foolish to cry about it.' So she brushed away her tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could.
Alice's reaction after running faster and faster with the Red Queen: 'Well, in our country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'
'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'
Alice's reaction after reading the Jabberwocky poem: 'It seems very pretty,' she said when she had finished it, 'but it's rather hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess, ever to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) 'Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are!...
We Are In A Queer World Here
"In Wonderland, the word that expresses Alice's amazement at the world is the word 'queer'. Humpty Dumpty is, in her eyes, a 'queer creature', and when he attempts to do the arithmetic to discern just how many birthdays a person has in a year, he holds Alice's notebook upside down.
'That seems to be done right' -- he began.
'You're holding it upside down,' Alice interrupted.
...We are in a queer world here, and the word (and its variants) appears more than twenty times in Alice In Wonderland and through the Looking Glass. It is the defining word for the Carrollian experience, and it will become the term not just for eccentricity, but for the whole aesthetic experience of children's literary fantasy.
Queer comes from a word that originally meant off-center, diagonal, or askew. It appeared in the sixteenth century, denoting odd things or odd people, and by the nineteenth century it had become one of the most frequently deployed terms to define experience outside the strictures of Victorian propriety...Life lived on the diagonal or off-center, through the looking glass or upside down, is the world of nonsense imagination, and it is the world that so appeals to childhood."
Seth Lerer, in the chapter Ill-Tempered and Queer , from his History of Children's literature.
PBS is starting a new 24-hour channel dedicated solely to children’s programming.
The following is from a report by John Koblin in the NY Times
"The channel, which will be called PBS Kids will be free. It is expected to debut later this year — most likely in the fall. PBS Kids will also be available online with a live stream.
More children’s programming is available than ever, much of it being watched through streaming services and on-demand. Netflix has significantly increased its children’s offerings in recent years, and it is expected to have 35 original series for children by year’s end. Last month, HBO began broadcasting the latest season of “Sesame Street,” after it took over first-run rights for the series from PBS. HBO has said more children’s programming is coming, and Amazon has also produced shows aimed at that demographic.
PBS will use the channel to broadcast popular shows already on its stations, like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Dinosaur Train” and “Wild Kratts.”
Questions for Librarians About Reading Alice
Adults and children are both quite taken by the Alice books. However, if I was a librarian, I would want to ask myself...
Under what circumstances and at what age should a child, alone, read these books set in a rather dangerous, claustrophobic, and absurd wonderland? Why is this young girl of 7 1/2 years of age being scolded, yelled at, and contradicted? Is she frightened?...If not, why not? And what do I tell a child about the rude and sometimes cruel behavior of the extraordinary characters -- from the Mad Hatter and Humpty Dumpty to Tweedledum and Tweedledee? If I was a librarian, I would suggest that a parent could best answer all these questions; perhaps, when reading bedtime stories...
The photo of Alice Liddel, the inspiration for the Alice books, is by Lewis Carroll
Planet Dog is a company that sells top quality items for dogs. They give 2% of their sales to support the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF). PDF, in turn, supports organizations throughout the USA that train and support therapy dogs. Here is an excerpt about one of their many grantees America's VetDogs from the Planet Dog Blog.
"As we know, the unconditional love of a dog is unlike anything we have felt before and can change all of us. That love reminds us of hope, respect, and purpose. It is a blind love. Dogs want to please us. Consider for a moment what that love can do for a veteran and for a prisoner. Being a trainer in this program takes professionalism and discipline. It is intense work and a serious responsibility. It takes and fosters love and trust. The inmate trainers are proud of the work they do, they understand the ‘why’ of the program, where these dogs are going and who they will be helping, and that helps with the feelings of loss when it is time for these dogs to leave for their new homes.
America's VetDogs conducts prison programs wherein inmates train dogs. They then become partnered with a disabled veteran for a lifetime. There are benefits for all in these programs. And the vets receive a double benefit as bonding with their dog brings unconditional emotional support as well as physical support for disabilities..."
Here is a link to this informative and inspiring article on the Planet Dog Blog
Who Was Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Oxford don and acclaimed author of the life of Dickens, has written a very well received book, The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland. His book is both an insightful biography of Lewis Carroll, as well as an account of events surrounding the Wonderland books.
Anthony Lane, inspired by Douglas-Fairhurt's book, wrote an excellent article for the New Yorker: Go Ask Alice, What Really Went on in Wonderland. Here are excerpts:
"But who reads the Alice books nowadays? Everybody knows Alice, but that is not the same thing. There are countless ways to know something, or someone, without firsthand evidence, and Alice, as familiar as a household god and as remote as a child star, is a prime case of cultural osmosis. Having seeped through the membrane of the original books, she has spent the past century and a half infusing herself into the language, and the broader social discourse; as a result, we can all too easily picture her, quote her, or follow her example in the nonsense of our own lives without having read—or even feeling that we need to read—a word of Lewis Carroll.Yet the need is more urgent than ever. Carroll wrote with a peppery briskness, impatient of folly, and always alive to the squalls of emotion that we struggle to curb...Here is a link to read all of this insightful article: Anthony Lane
"These dream-books are hypnotically nostalgic. Virginia Woolf identified this when she observed that 'these are not books for children. They are the only books in which we become children'" --from the review of The Story Of Alice by Robert McCrum in the Guardian
The Planet Of The Dogs series...
Long ago there were no dogs on planet earth.
A time came when when invaders were taking over farmlands, villages and towns.
The dogs were able to communicate with children; and, through their actions, they were able to communicate with adults.
The dogs taught loyalty, courage, nonviolence, and peace to people. They worked together and found non-violent ways to overcome invaders.
The Planet of the Dogs Series tells the stories of these events.
The illustration, from Castle In The Mist, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
The Yelodoggie Book is Coming
The illustration on the left triggered something in my mind.
Where is Yelodoggie going? Why? What has happened?
The answers to these questions and the wonderful visual imagination of Ms Wulff will soon be found in...
A new creation -- the one and only Yelodoggie Book...
Here's a link to Wulff's Yeloddoggie paintings.
Here's a link to her Up On The Woof website.
Here is a link to The Lewis Carroll Society of North America, a fascinating oganization that opens the door for all who are interested in ongoing involvement in the world of Alice...
"The Lewis Carroll Society of North America (LCSNA), founded in 1974, is an organization of Carroll admirers of all ages and interests, as well as a virtual center for Carroll studies. The Society has members throughout the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, and the UK, with interests in virtually all of Lewis Carroll’s many pursuits and in his continuing impact on our current culture."
"Oh Grandmother, what a big gun you have: The NRA rewrites classic fairy tales...
That world now exists on the National Rifle Association’s NRA Family Website
website, which partnered with author Amelia Hamilton “to present her twist on those classic tales” — a series that has infuriated gun-control advocates, some of whom called it 'disgusting.' ”
The Three Little Pigs is to be the next NRA gun slinging tale.
Here is the link to read all of Lindsey Bever's article: WahingtonPostFairytales
The illustration is from the NRA version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Twitter parodies of gun slinging fairytales...
"Prince traveling kingdom 2 find owner of glass slipper shot dead by gun wielding evil stepmother," @SarahFMcD wrote.
"The porridge was too cold, the bed was too hard, but this AK47 is just right,"@Scott_Craven2 offered. "Who's up for some bearskln rugs?"
The illustration is from the NRA version of Hansel and Gretel.
Fewer Americans Are Visiting Local Libraries—and Technology Isn't to Blame
Here are excerpts from the article by Robinson Meyer in the Atlantic
"To the Pew, the decline in library use is driven by technological change, so the report implicitly recommends that more libraries publicize their non-print services. Ninety percent of U.S. local libraries offer ebook lending, for instance, but 38 percent of Americans either don’t know or don’t think that their local branch does so. What if they did?...
What do revenues have to do with declining use? Possibly everything. In 2012 the IMLS annual report examined whether more people use public libraries after they receive more public investment. In a word, yes ...
We found that as investments, such as revenue, staffing, and programs, increased, so did critical use measures, such as visitation and circulation. In the same way, as investments were reduced, mostly in reaction to post-recessionary budgetary reductions, we saw decreases in library use. Another important finding is that even though investments might have declined, any decreases in use did not drop by the same magnitude. People continue to use their local public libraries—for access to books and information and..."
Photo: Northmont Library in Englewood, Ohio
Relief & Reconciliation, a small, hands-on NGO, is making a big difference and changing the lives of displaced Syrian Refugee children...I learned of this dedicated organization through the unique newsletter, Syria Comment, written and published by Joshua Landis a dynamic and caring Middle East expert and activist (Director: Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma).
"According to UNICEF, about 440,000 of the officially registered 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon alone are school-aged children. Only 40,000 of them could access regular schools in 2014.
The small international non-profit, Relief and Reconciliation for Syria (R&R), provides support to the most in need. In 2014 in northern Lebanon, R&R provided schooling to 240 children as well as language courses and tutoring for many more."
What is the impact if a child has no school, no books, and cannot read?
In their struggle for survival, what is their tomorrow, their future?
I am grateful for the dedicated people working to bring some relief and some hope to these children.
The photo is of Zahra, a five year old Syrian refugee; photo taken by Muhammed Muheisen/AP
Scathing Reviews of The Huntsman: Winter's War
"It’s everything wrong with Hollywood today stuffed into a little less than two hours."
...said A.O. Scott's review of this sorry special effects movie by Universal Pictures. Here are excerpts:
"Is The Huntsman: Winter’s War the worst movie of the year? It’s too early to say, of course, and it’s a complicated question, since there are so many varieties of bad movie. There are grandiose failures driven by overreaching ambition. There are spectacles of stupefying incompetence...Its badness is not extreme, but exemplary: It’s everything wrong with Hollywood today stuffed into a little less than two hours...Every resonant theme or intriguing story possibility is stripped away and replaced with a ready-made franchise-movie conceit. The filmmakers compensate for emptiness with redundancy.
Here it is: the least keenly anticipated prequel-slash-sequel of the year. It is the follow-up that nobody much wanted to the film that nobody much liked, resulting in something even more visually elaborate and boring, and about which the number of tosses that can be reasonably given is lower than ever."
And here are excerpts from Peter Bradshaw's review in the Guardian
Four years ago, Snow White and the Huntsman was a unimaginative reimagining of the Snow White legend which comprehensively misunderstood its delicacy, charm and mythic power, wasting the talents of Charlize Theron as the wicked queen, and promoting the huntsman (the guy who passes off an animal heart as Snow White’s heart) to a fully hunky romantic lead, played by Chris Hemsworth. It’s a film which played up a Twilight-y implied contest between two suitors and in fact owed its commercial existence to the presence of Kristen Stewart as Snow White."
The Huntsman: Winter's War, is a Universal Pictures release with a budget of $115 million.
To feel better about movies and fairy tales, I recommend : The Essence of Humanity; (17 minutes, YouTube) a loving montage of compelling moments from the wonderful films of Hayao Miyazaki Films...included are scenes with Miyazaki, himself. Written and narrated by Lewis Bond
The Door Seems Always Open for The Season of the Witch
The musical,Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, has been playing on Broadway for thirteen years; The Witch, the new low budget movie, is still playing in New York and over 50 other theaters, grossing over $25 million to date; and Ben Brantley, in the NY Times, had high praise in his recent review of the revival of the Crucible, Arthur Miller's classic play about the Salem witch trials. Here are excerpts:
Opening Doors for Kids and Dogs
Paulina Turkanova posted on Bored Panda about an excellent program being run by the Missouri Humane Society; here are excerpts:
" At this Missouri Humane Society, the Shelter Buddies Reading Program pairs kids age 6 to 15 with fearful dogs to prepare them for life in a forever home. After completing a 10 hour training program, the kids sit in front of a shelter dog’s kennel and read to them from a book..."
Here are comments from the Missouri Humane Society website:
"The Shelter Buddies Reading Program was designed to help our shelter dogs become more adoptable. Reading to the dogs helps to bring comfort to and reduce the anxiety of shelter pets, and it nurtures empathy in children. Participants sit outside of the dog's kennel and read to them..."
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
"Who was Sunbear?...He was a young dog who died tragically of neglect in an empty townhouse in 2002 even though there were neighbors on both sides. Sunbear's highly-publicized case had a huge effect on humane laws in West Virginia, and his story inspires thousands worldwide to help save animals in distress today. Read his true story here."