"Anyone who returns to the original Grimms after their modern saccharinization sees the deep horror in the tales, the gruesomeness, the tragedy, the dark beliefs and practices."
Seth Lerer: Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Harry Potter to Aesop
The illustration is by Pieter Bruegel.
The Juniper Tree...a fearful tale
This is one of the original Grimm stories that Seth Lerer refers to above. I first read the Juniper Tree some time ago and I still find it disturbing, made somewhat more palatable because of the unadorned, matter-of-fact style and also because I know it is a mirror of history, of life in times gone by. Like many of the tales written down in France and Italy in previous centuries, it deals with horrible behaviors and events. However, this tale compounds dark actions in a way that makes Snow White's stepmother, the queen, by comparison, seem less evil.
The irony of having a pretty little bird sing in the voice of the dead son (below) is a fascinating aspect of this gruesome tale with a deceptive title..."The bird flew away and alighted on the house of a goldsmith and began to sing:
’My mother killed her little son; My father grieved when I was gone; My sister loved me best of all; She laid her kerchief over me, And took my bones that they might lie Underneath the juniper-tree Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!’"
The illustration is by bluucat.
Evil spirits, mysteries, and the unknown were part of daily life.
Stories helped relieve fear and stress.
They were told where people gathered -- in the spinning rooms, the taverns, the market square, in the fields.
In the oral tales that have been written down and preserved, no matter how dark, there is always hope.
The illustration of Mother Goose reading to the children is by Gustav Dore for Perrault's book of fairy tales.
"At their best, the storytelling of fairy tales constitute the most profound articulation of the human struggle to form and maintain a civilizing process. They depict metaphorically the opportunities for human adaptation to our environment and reflect the conflicts that arise when we fail to establish civilizing codes commensurate with the self-interests of large groups within the human population. The more we give into base instincts – base in the sense of basic and depraved – the more criminal and destructive we become. The more we learn to relate to other groups of people and realize that their survival and the fulfillment of their interests is related to ours, the more we might construct social codes that guarantee humane relationships. Fairy tales are uncanny because they tell us what we need and they unsettle us by showing what we lack and how we might compensate for lack." - Jack Zipes
The above is an excerpt from an interview with Jack Zipes on the Art of Storytelling Show:
The illustration is by Hugo Simberg
The Secret Garden...An Enduring Children's Classic
In the bleak distance, over the moors, lies Misselthwaite Manor, a place of sadness and mourning, and the new home of the unloved orphan girl, Mary Lennox. The scene is from Agnieszka Holland's 1993 film of The Secret Garden.
Here is the trailer for the film of the Secret Garden directed by Agnieszka Holland.
The Known and the Unknown in the Secret Garden
Mary, an unhappy, orphan girl, filled with curiosity, will find a way, with the help of a robin, to enter the garden.
She will find delight working in the garden, and creating life and beauty. Mary and the garden will both be transformed. In turn, she will help to heal and transform Colin, the sickly son of the unhappy absentee owner. Colin is a cripple who has been living a lonely and unhappy existence, alone except for servants, shut off from the world in this manor of over 100 darkened rooms.
In the course of the story, the abandoned garden is transformed and becomes a place of beauty, healing, and hope.
The illustration is by Julie Sarda.
The Secret Garden Is A Catalyst
The secret garden is a catalyst for healing in the characters who see it, and with Colin the effect is literal. Unable to walk when we meet him, he discovers in the garden that he can stand. He secretly practices until he is able to shock his father by getting out his wheelchair and walking...
In The Secret Garden, the orphan Mary's rightful inheritance is ultimately herself and the natural world, the ability to speak truth to others and to have it spoken back to her – to live a full life of both the body and the imagination."
The excerpts above are from The Secret Garden's Hidden Depths by Anna Clark in the Guardian.
The illustration is by Inga Moore.
The Role of Positive Thinking In American Children's Books
"In the variations that American authors play on this ur-story (The Secret Garden), a distinctive national characteristic is the advocacy of positive thinking. For the most part, this feature seems largely absent from Children's Literature of other countries; it would be difficult to say for example that the aim of Peter Rabbit or the Wind in the Willows or Pinocchio is to open a clarion call for mental optimism...
The mental nature of American children's books is signaled in their preoccupation with feelings...And more than the Children's Literature of other countries, it seems, American children's books tell us of the inner lives of children...Bad feelings, negative emotions, "bosom enemies", wrong thoughts -- these are the problems in such books as Toby Tyler, Hans Brinker, Little Women, and The Secret Garden. Not surprisingly, positive thinking is their cure. 'Believe in yourself!' -- that is the lesson that the Wizard gives to Dorothy and her three companions..."
The excerpts above are from Jerry Griswald's 2014 version of Audacious Kids, A History of American Children's Books.
The illustration is by Inga Moore.
Lost and Found: The Orphaned Hero in Myth, Folklore, and Fantasy
"We find them everywhere in fantasy fiction: the 'orphaned heroes', young men and women whose parents are dead, absent, or unknown, who turn out to be the heirs to the kingdom, the destined pullers of swords from stones, the keys to the riddles, the prophesies' answers, the bearers of powerful magic.
The orphaned hero is not, however, a mere fantasy cliché; it's a mythic archetype, springing from some of the oldest stories of the world. This archetype includes not only those characters who are literally orphaned by the death of their parents, but also children who are lost, abandoned, cast out, disinherited by evil step–parents, raised in supernatural captivity, or reared by wild animals. We can trace the archetype back ... to a world–wide body of folk tales and myths about children orphaned and abandoned. Alongside these stories is another deep cache of tales on the "stolen child" theme..." --Terri Windling
Here is a link to read all of this fascinating article: Terry Windling-JoMA Archives
The cover illustration is by Inga Moore.
Beyond The Garden Door
"Wonder is the chief affect aroused by the discovery of the secret garden at Misselthwaite, which owes much to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's educational tract Emile and to contemporary British efforts to deploy gardens as sites of therapeutic benefit for children (the kindergarten was all the rage), as well as to Burnett's own love of gardening. Pointing to the pastoral as well as to the utopian,the enclosed space at Misselthwaite is discovered when nature 'speaks' to Mary in the form of a chirping robin and leads her to both the door and the key. Fitting the rusty old key into the keyhole of the once hidden door: 'Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement, wonder, and delight.'" -- Maria Tatar
The above is an excerpt from Maria Tatar's Enchanted Hunters, The Power of Stories in Childhood.
The illustration is by Inga Moore.
From Jana Prikryl's book of poems, The After Party
Yelodoggie will help open the imagination and perspective of children to the world around them. It will help them to recognize and appreciate differences.
After all, Yelodoggie isn't quite like other dogs.
The joyous new Yelodoggie book, Why Am I ?, addresses issues of belonging, acceptance, inclusion, and embracing that which is unique in each of us.
The Yelodoggie spirit is all about celebrating life — events both big and small.
Save The Children
The presidential election race in the USA has diverted media attention from the pain, fear, and chaos driving refugees to flee for their lives. Save The Children is working in 120 countries around the world. Last year they helped a staggering 185 million children.
"Approximately nine 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..."
A person not allowed to board a plane because Homeland Security has found them to be a dangerous threat and capable of violence, can buy a military assault weapon without a background check.
Even fairy tales will never be the same...Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and soon, the Three Little Pigs, all use guns in the NRA rewritten versions of these children's stories.
Here is a link to an excellent New York Times article about gun death and damage to children in the USA: Untold Damage.
The illustration is by Laura Zombie.
"According to my present theme, the writer of imagination would attain closest to the conditions of music not when his words are disassociated from natural objects and specified meanings, but when they are liberated from the usual quality of that meaning by transportation into another medium, the imagination.”
Slowa the Bear
How The Dogs Saved Christmas
Who were the Snow Valley Heroes? Did they really save Christmas? Children and adults have asked these questions for many years, and there have been many who tried to answer them. The confusion and uncertainty is because the Snow Valley Heroes came from the Planet of the Dogs long, long ago. This is the true story of how the dogs saved Christmas.
Review: "This is a great fantasy/holiday book for children and adults alike...Additionally, the author has done a great job of making the children and dogs the heroes of the story, and adding little bits of responsibility throughout the book. Read the book over and over to peel back the layers and see something new!" -- Wendi Barker, Wendi's Book Corner
Click here to read Sample Chapters of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale.
For The Dog Lovers on Your Holiday List
For Dog Lovers of All Ages
The long awaited -- especially by Potter fans -- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the new J.K. Rowling fantasy drama will open in movie theaters worldwide on November 18th in 3D, IMAX, and 4K Laser. It stars Eddie Redmayne.
prolific; his films include Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and now, Miss Perregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. An excellent video interview with the charismatic Burton is on the Guardian Review Page. Produced by the Guardian (Andrew Pulver and Gary Marshall), Burton's candid interview offers insights into his imagination and creativity, particularly regarding Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Mobility impairments (wheelchair, unstable walking, balance difficulty)
Medical Response (Seizures, Epilepsy, Diabetes)
Visual impairment (Partial sight)
Other physical/mental disabilities"
- If you haven't seen a service dog in action, PGI has made several basic documentaries of the dogs in action with their owners. Here is a link that will show you two young people and their devoted dogs: PGI Demo Video
In real life, Mardi is a Shi Tzu-Poodle, and a therapy dog at St John's Hospital in Santa Monica, CA. His owner, author Linda Dembo, has written a sweet book for young children about a puppy who likes to play, and his journey to a new life. Published by the Independent Press, Mascot Books, the book is filled with illustrations by Romney Vasquez of this endearing puppy.
"Although it sold well enough at first, The Secret Garden lapsed into a kind of near oblivion for many decades. Critics ignored or disparaged it, even at a time when children’s literature began receiving more and more critical and scholarly attention. It was the children, along with librarians, who saved it, passing on the book to readers and friends, and creating a special place in their hearts for the story. By the 1960s, its fortunes began to revive, and when the book went out of copyright in 1986, dozens of illustrators and publishers rushed to reproduce it."
The above is an excerpt from an informative article by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina in the PublicDomain Review
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 email@example.com 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 any book in the series, visit PlanetOfTheDogs
“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart..."
--John Grogan, Marley and Me, Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog