Overcoming, Defeating, and Conquering -- The Giant(s)
Five thousand years ago, people were telling the story of a boy who overcame the ogre.
Ogres are all powerful, huge, and devour people -- much like giants.
In nineteenth century England, the boy, now known as Jack, became famous through chap books and story books. He was outwitting and killing giants.
And in our era, the giants have returned...this time through the movies.
The story that was told around campfires before the bronze age has endured through time, and continues to be told and even seen around the world -- in 3D movies with music and sounds.
Tales of wonder, indeed.
Fairy Tales Have Ancient Origins
From Africa and Asia to Europe and the Americas, anthropologists continue to uncover information about our past and our cultural history. Recently, Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, and folklorist Sara Graça da Silva, from New University of Lisbon, made a breakthrough in the world of wonder tales. Here are excerpts from an informative article about their discoveries written by Allison Flood in the Guardian.
"Analysis showed Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when eastern and western Indo-European languages split – more than 5,000 years ago. Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin were found to be about 4,000 years old. A folk tale called The Smith and the Devil was estimated to date back 6,000 years to the bronze age..."
"The author and academic Marina Warner, who has written a history of fairytales, called the paper 'fascinating'. 'What’s interesting to me is it shows how deeply this creative power of the imagination lies in the human being, how it’s about making sense of your world by inventing narratives that resist its difficulties..." -
Here is a link to the article by Allison Flood in the Guardian.
Here is a link to the original article, published by the researchers, in the Royal Society Open Science Journal The photo is of the Celtic Janus Stone, Boa Island, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Tales of Hope
People have always needed hope. Life was a constant struggle in the early days of fairy tales. Life expectancy was less than thirty years.
Fairy tales, with their happy endings, gave people hope. They helped people to cope with the wars, hunger, disease, poverty and religious conflicts that characterized their lives.
Fairy tales, tales of wonder, told of struggles to survive, of finding light in the darkness. They told tales where a brave boy, using his wits, could overcome evil forces, and destroy the ogres and giants.
Through the eons of time, stories of this boy were tales of hope.
The illustration is by Jean Francois Millet
Jack, A Quick-witted Cornish Farm Boy
Jack and the Gyants, published in 1708, was an immediate success and initiated a variety of tales where Jack, through quick-witted chicanery, good luck, and violent death overwhelms many giants. He also achieves wealth, and a noble wife. "An immediate success, Jack and his giants were frequently alluded to in familiar terms by eighteenth century writers lilke Henry Fielding, John Newberry, Dr Johnson and Boswell, and William Cowper...When Jack tales were rewritten for refined sensibilities in the 18th and 19th centuries, the cruelty of their gory killings disappeared...Jack became an earthy Everyboy, and the Giant a geographically unlocalizable married oaf, reachable only by the magic of a bean that grew endlessly heavenward."
Ruth B. Bottigheimer -- The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales
English Fairy Tales-Joseph Jacobs
" 'Who says that English folk have no fairy tales of their own?' Jacobs asked with a rhetorical flourish in the preface to English Fairy Tales (1890)...These collections were the British answer to Perrault in France, and to the Brothers Grimm in Germany, aiming to capture an oral tradition before it died out and to reveal that the British could pride themselves on a powerful, imaginative native lore...
'This book,' he wrote of English Fairy Tales, "is meant to be read aloud and not merely taken in by the eye' "...
Jack and the Beanstalk was one of the tales included in Jacob's book.
from Maria Tatar, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
..."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..." -
Jack Zipes, The Forgotten Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in the The Public Domain Review
The illustration is a detail from a painting by Peiter Bruegal
Centuries of Oral Tradition
"Our version of the 'Iliad' was composed toward the end of what we assume were centuries of oral tradition — the 'Iliad', like the 'Odyssey' and other oral poems, had a genetic ability to reproduce itself, changing with each recital, picking up new details even as old ones were discarded, but always remaining recognizable. Almost nothing material in the poem can be traced with certainty to the Mycenaean Greeks.." William Logan in his NY Times review of ‘Memorial,’ Alice Oswald’s Version of the ‘Iliad’
"For fantasy is true, of course. It isn't factual, but it's true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that's precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial in the life that they have let themselves be forced into living. They're afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom."
Ursula Le Guin (The Language of the Night) as quoted by Terri Windling's Myth and Moor.
The sculpture of Spider Maman is by Louise Bourgeois
Castle In The Mist
Author Robert J. McCarty has created a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two different levels. Children will enjoy the story about dogs who come from another planet to help people on earth. But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and how to overcome evil with good.” The same things are true as the story continues in Castle in the Mist. The book is well written and easy to read. It will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next..."
From a review by Wayne Walker -- Stories for Children Magazine, Home School Book Review, and Home School Buzz
The illustration from Castle In The Mist is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
"John Matthews writes in Taliessin, Shamanism and the Bardic Mysteries of Britain & Ireland (1992) that giants are very common throughout British folklore, and often represent the "original" inhabitants, ancestors, or gods of the island before the coming of "civilized man", their gigantic stature reflecting their otherworldly nature. Giants figure prominently in Cornish, Breton and Welsh folklore..." from Wikipedia
The illustration of the giant is from Game Of Thrones
National Rifle Association (NRA) Adds Guns to Fairytales.
Maria Tatar, in her Breezes from Wonderland blog, has joined those protesting or questioning the NRA's insidious
publication of revised fairy tale violence. In the NRA's versions, both Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel use rifles to destroy their enemies. Tatar's post is entitled, I Finally Met Some Fairy Tales I Do Not Like.
John Schwartz interviewed Ms Tatar for an article he wrote about the NRA in the NYTimes. Here's an excerpt:
"I got in touch with Professor Tatar, because how often do you get an excuse to talk with a professor of Germanic folklore and mythology? She said that one of the problems with these gun-toting, sanitized tales was that they missed the point of Grimm. Success in fairy tales, she explained, comes down to more than tight shot grouping. 'They are very much about problem-solving, using your wits and courage to get out of trouble,' she said. 'Unfortunately, because they take up very basic cultural contradictions and are supremely malleable, they can also be harnessed for almost any purpose. The Nazis recast Little Red Riding Hood as the innocent Aryan victim of a Jewish wolf.' "
The illustration is by Henry Justice Ford
The New York Times posted a report on children killed in the USA from Gun Deaths in 2015
23 age 13-17
Children Injured/wounded by guns in the USA in 2015
36 age 12 and under
77 age 13-17
Here is a link to the article: Untold Damage,
The photo is by Phillip Townsend/WFAA
Breezes from Wonderland
Once again, I have had a very rewarding visit to Maria Tatar's blog. Currently, in addition to her criticism of the NRA's gun-toting fairy tales, she writes about the impact of story, fairy tales, and animated film in a complex family situation..."It’s a film that ends up animating us, rewiring our brains and rearranging our senses. And it lets us look inside the minds of others in compelling ways–suddenly we see what they see, feel what they feel as we discover how the symbolic helps us navigate reality."
Her current blog also has fascinating and provocative insights on women, Game of Thrones, our fairy tale heritage, and the outrageous graphic violence of TV and film..."Our on-screen entertainments rarely replay real-life anxieties. Instead they haunt us in ways that are often errant and unpredictable. In a culture that has renounced the ideal of beauty, the beautiful dead woman of Edgar Allan Poe’s fantasies may now have moved into middle age..."
The illustration is of Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
The New Yelodoggie Book Is Coming
If so, why is Yelodoggie yelo?
Yelodoggie must find the answer.
This is the story in the new book.
Yelodoggie is a creation of C.A. Wulff. Here's a link to Wulff's Yeloddoggie paintings.
..."The book is filled with funny animal stories... The book also includes many sad times when one pet after another made the sad journey to the Rainbow Bridge. I highly recommend this book to animal lovers. You will definitely laugh and cry. You may even learn a few things about animal care and the treatment of various health issues pet owners often face. I enjoyed this book so much that I am now reading another of this author's pet tales."
Circling the Waggins is also an Amazon Kindle Book
Here is a link to a touching 30 second video reaffirming the hope engendered by the human canine bond...Every Thursday, Jacob, a 6-year-old boy with autism brings a small mat to the Carson Animal Shelter and sits down in front of Pirate the pit bull's cage to read to him. "If I read to the dogs, they will come out of their cages and find homes," says Jacob.
Stephen Spielberg, the gifted director of films ranging from Schindler's List to Indiana Jones, and The Color Purple to Saving Private Ryan, has a new film, the BFG, opening on July1. The man who gave us E.T., has now made a film based on Roald Dahl's book, the BFG (the Big Friendly Giant). Disney, a co-producer with Amblin Entertainment and others, will distribute the film in 3D. The writer is the late Melissa Mathison, who also wrote E.T..
Here's a wikipedia link regarding Dahl's book,the BFG.
Here is a link to the trailer for the BFG.
Movies That Are Good For The Soul
Stephen Spielberg was interviewed by Manhola Dargis of the New York Times. Here is an excerpt from a Spielberg reply:
" My only advice — and I don’t have a studio, I have a very small company — is that there needs to be a good balance of crowd-pleasers and movies that are good for the soul, that get us to dwell in the aftertaste of an experience that is so far-fetched or out of the box, but three days later we realize that we saw something that might change our lives..."
Here is a link to this excellent Manohla Dargis interview with Stephen Spielberg
Disney has announced that Gigantic is coming in 2018... a 3D musical loosely based on Jack and the Beanstalk. The story includes a young girl giant inspired by Gulliver's Travels. (More news on this next month)
This is a link to a video of children from war ravaged Syria who tell us what they have experienced. It is a moving experience to witness this brief (2:18) video. It is frustrating and sad to know that this continues.
It was produced by the wonderful Save The Children organization. The following information is from their website:
Approximately half of the 19.5 million registered refugees globally are children and youth. Their number is growing dramatically as a result of escalating crises in places where violence, persecution and conflict are uprooting entire populations.
Children and families are fleeing out of fear for their lives and embarking on perilous journeys. Many hope for the chance of a better life and the opportunity for asylum. But while they are on the move, they are extremely vulnerable...
- Here is a link to their website. Save The Children
- Photo by Behal Halebi Anadolu, Agy/Getty Images
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...".
The illustration of "We Wish for Wings" is by Lucy Campbell
Congratulations to Nancy Houser, Sandra Marquiss, and Marita Megan on their 1,000 blog posts dedicated to helping dogs and dog lovers. Here is an excerpt from their website based in their home and rescue center in Wilcox, Nebraska...
"We’ve created WayCoolDogs.com about seven years ago, in March of 2009, with the purpose of helping dog owners understand their dogs better so they can provide quality care for them.
We have worked very hard ever since to provide you with the best information about dog health, dog insurance, breeds, the latest in dog research, dog worms, military dogs, therapy dogs and lots of how-to articles on many other topics!
Here's a link to WayCoolDogs
For the same reason that I think it's important that they breathe, eat, drink, sleep, run about, fool around, and have people who love and look after them. It's part of what makes us fully human. Some people manage to get through life without reading; but I know that if I'd had to do that, an enormous part of my mind, or my soul if you like, would be missing. No one should be without the chance to let their soul grow.
Phillip Pullman in the Guardian. The question was asked by Luke, 13 years old.
The illustration is from Pullman's book, Northern Lights.
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
If you see a dog in trouble or encounter a lost dog and you are uncertain as to what to do, you'll find the information on Sunbear Squad..."Transforming animal lovers into welfare defenders with knowledge, tools, and inspiration."