talent and imagination, Miyazaki created an anti-war film that is balanced by humor, wizardry, and romance.
"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."
…Fairy tales map out possible ways to attain happiness, to expose and resolve moral conflicts that have deep roots in our species. The effectiveness of fairy tales and other forms of fantastic literature depends on the innovative manner in which we make the information of the tales relevant for the listeners and receivers of the tales."
of the same name, published in 1986, by Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011). The prolific author of many books for children and adults (primarily fantasy), Wynne Jones said that the idea for the book came from a boy, Stephen, on one of her school visits. Stephen asked her to write a book about a moving castle. The book she wrote was very well received internationally and won several prizes.
Wynne Jones also said,"Things we are accustomed to regard as myth or fairy story are very much present in peoples lives."
When the film was completed, Miyazaki flew to England and arranged a private showing for Dianne Wynne Jones. Her comments: "It's fantastic. No, I have no input—I wriThe book cover is of Dianna Wynne Jones original version of Howl's Moving Castle. The photo is of Hayao Miyazake, courtesy of Ghibli Studios.te books, not films. Yes, it will be different from the book—in fact it's likely to be very different, but that's as it should be. It will still be a fantastic film."
"War was the weather system of my youth"...
The twentieth century was filled with upheaval and wars and millions of children today continue to face the chaos and pain of war.Alexandra Fuller, author of the very well received Leaving Before the Rains Come , published in January 2015, grew up in war-torn Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
In a fascinating interview with Simon Worrall (Book Talk) in the National Geographic, she speaks of the effects of growing up amidst "the traumas of war and the non-stop incidents and accidents where I was raised"...Here is an excerpt from the interview:
"But the biggest effect was that war was the weather system of my youth. The war was everywhere. And what came with that was death and the insanity of war, which leaks on even after a cease-fire has been declared. I think the hardest thing it did was to make childhood innocence, those precious years until you're about 11 or 12, not exist for us. War makes you cunning and a survivor. It can make you very damaged or very resilient. But it never leaves you.
You spend the rest of your life trying to redress what happened to you in those first years, even though it's not your fault. But your body doesn't know that, your limbic system doesn't know that. You're always waiting for the next trauma to happen—or drama. You're constantly on watch."
In her first book, the very well received bestseller, Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, Fuller wrote of her childhood in Rhodesia... a world where violent death was an everyday reality; where her family compound was surrounded by razor-wire, and where young Alexandra's father trained her in shooting a rifle. Alexandra Fuller now lives in Wyoming.
The photograph is of Alexandra (on the right) with her sister, Vanessa. It was taken in 1972, just before the family moved to the then Rhodesia. I don't know who the little girl is on the book cover.
Arleigh Burke Pavilion Nursing & Assisted Living, Arlington Central Library, Arlington Library-
Shirlington Branch, Arlington Library- Columbia Pike Branch, Arlington Library- Westover Branch, Alexandria Library- Beatley Branch, Alexandria Library- Duncan Branch, Armed Forces Retirement Home, Burnt Mills Elementary School, Capitol Hill Supportive Services, Chinn Park Regional Library, Culpepper Garden, Episcopal Center for Children, Goodwin House Alexandria, Goodwin House West, Grand Oaks, Heritage Hall Nursing & Rehab, Inova Behavioral Health, IONA Senior Services, Knollwood Retirement Home, Little Sisters of the Poor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Mount Pleasant Library, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, PAL Club at Stanton Elementary, Pohick Regional Library, Sibley Hospital Center, Specialty Hospital of Washington, Stoddard Baptist Home, St. Coletta's of Greater Washington, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Washington Home, Woodbine Rehab & Healthcare Center
The top photo is of PAL therapy dogs and their dedicated owners. The bottom photo below of two friends was taken in one of the facilities on the PAL list.
Do you think that it is possible for dogs to stop a war?
This was the lead-off sentence in Wayne Walker's review of Castle In The Mist. I was delighted to read it, for not only was it provocative, it went to the core of the story...
Castle in the Mist is an anti-war story. The Planet Of the Dogs series is anti-war. In each book, the dogs help humans to find non-violent solutions to ruthless rulers, invaders, and the abuse of power.
Here is more of what Wayne Walker wrote:
“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, and, as with Volume I, leads to a satisfying conclusion. You can learn more about the series and read sample chapters at www.planetofthedogs.net."
Wayne Walker's complete review appeared on the Home School Book Review; the Home School Buzz; and Stories fof Children Magazine.
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 your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more.
Planet Of The Dogs is now available in digital format at
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 by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty is from Castle In The Mist. The little girl reading Castle In The Mist is Jordan; the photograph is by Jennifer Wickham.
her own personal rescue stories. As is the case with animal rescue, some of these tales are funny and others are poignant. However, all of them are true.
"Fairy tale and film enjoy a profound affinity because the cinema animates
phenomena, no matter how inert; made of light and motion, its illusions match the enchanted animism of fairy tale; animals speak, carpets fly, objects move and act of their own accord."
Mami Sunada has created a fascinating documentary about the world of Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli studios. I highly recommend it for readers of this blog who want an in-depth picture of the complex nature of creating animation; and an intimate visit with Miyazake and the world of Ghibli.
Miyazaki storyboards every film from start to finish; he times every shot on the storyboard; yet he often doesn’t know where or how will end. He is very hard working, a perfectionist who pays attention to every detail; he is also a caring idealist.
Here are two of my favorite Miyazaki quotes from the film:
“The world isn’t simple enough to explain in words”….
“Children are what keeps me going”
― Neil Gaiman, M Is for Magic
Michael Cunningham, is an acclaimed American author of seven books. His novel, The Hours, won a Pulitzer prize and a PEN/Faulkner Award. He has now reimagined several fairy tales from the past in a new book, A Wild Swan: And Other Tales, to be published November 10, 2015). One story from the book,Little Man, published in the New Yorker, is a wonderful retelling
"Having a child is not, however, anything like ordering a pizza. Even less so if you’re
a malformed, dwarfish man whose occupation, were you forced to name one, would be . . . What would you call yourself? A goblin? An imp? Adoption agencies are reluctant about doctors and lawyers if they’re single and over forty. So go ahead. Apply to adopt an infant as a two-hundred-year-old gnome.
You are driven slightly insane—you try to talk yourself down; it works some nights better than others—by the fact that, for so much of the population, children simply . . . appear. Bing bang boom. A single act of love and, nine months later, this flowering, as mindless and senseless as a crocus bursting out of a bulb.
It’s one thing to envy wealth and beauty and other gifts that seem to have been granted to others, but not to you, by obscure but undeniable givers. It’s another thing entirely to yearn for what’s so readily available to any drunk and barmaid who link up for three minutes in a dark corner of any dank and scrofulous pub.
You listen carefully, then, when you hear the rumor. Some impoverished miller—a man whose business is going under (the small-mill owners, the ones who grind by hand, are vanishing; their flour and meal cost twice as much as the big-brand products, which are free of the gritty bits that can find their way into a sack of flour no matter how careful you are), a man who has no health insurance or investments or pension plan (he’s needed every cent just to keep the mill open)—that man has told the King that his daughter can spin straw into gold..."
Read it all: The New Yorker
The illustration is by Anne Anderson
harmony with the story as reimagined by Michael Cunningham in Little Man.
"Here is an excerpt: (Rumpelstiltskin is) "a misshapen gnome of questionable origins, who is probably one of the least attractive of fairy-tale figures.Yet Rumpelstilskin come off rather well in a world where fathers tell brazen lies about their daughters, marriages are based on greed, and young women agree to give up a firstborn child. He works hard to hold up his end of the bargain made with the miller's daughter, shows genuine compassion when the queen regrets the agreement into which she has entered, and is prepared to add an escape clause to their contract even though he stands to gain nothing from it."
"The letters of the day on “Sesame Street” are H, B and O.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind the children’s television program, has struck a five-year deal with HBO, the premium cable network, that will bring first-run episodes of “Sesame Street” exclusively to HBO and its streaming outlets starting in the fall.
The partnership, announced Thursday, will allow the financially challenged Sesame Workshop to significantly increase its production of “Sesame Street” episodes and other new programming. The group will produce 35 new “Sesame Street” episodes a year, up from the 18 it now produces..."
Here is a link to read it all: Sesame Street.
Turning Point for Young American Readers
"The rise of American children's literature is, to a large degree, inseparable from the rise of the public lending library, and by the 1870's librarians had become the guardians of children's reading. The fact that it is the American Library Association that gives the major children's book awards makes clear that in this country, there is a unique relationship between the worlds of children's reading, and the structures of the library...The first children's room in any public library opened in Brookline , Massachusettes, in 1890... (and librarians) made the library a place of imagination..."
Seth Lerer, Children's Literature, A Readers History from Aesop to Harry Potter
The photo is of the Brookline Public Library built in 1899 with a new children's room.
I nominate The Guardian, always vigilant, to be welcomed as an honorary member of BARCA, Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors. Here is an excerpt from an article written by Tom Lamont and Robert Muchamore when Russel Brand announced that he was writing children's books...
"A celebrity – Kylie, Sting – announces his or her intention to write for children, and I instinctively feel for the career-pledged writers who have been huffing away with their thesaurus and watercolour brushes for years. Beneath them, the hopefuls with worthwhile manuscripts hustle for interest... And, uh oh, here's another celebrity, lolloping into the game. They've noodled out an idea on a Groucho Club napkin. Their agent has swivelled at the bar to arrange a six-figure deal. The published result, you can bet, will absorb more than its share of publicity budgets, review space, shelf space.
Given the subject under discussion, I'll express this in short sentences. Stop it, celebrities. Go away, celebrities"...Here is the link to read all of this article: Guardian
The photo is of the well known children's book celebrity author, Madonna.
I happen to be a Yelodoggie fan.
Have you seen the delightful yelodoggie artwork video celebrating dogs? Here is the You Tube link.
There are birthday cards, cups, clocks, shirts, mouse pads, and a multitude of other delightful Yelodoggie designs at Cafe Press.
New paintings are appearing in the Yelodoggie etsy shop. These are original watercolors and a great bargain.
Yelodoggie is joyous.
Anna Nirva is the guiding light at Sunbear Squad, a leading source for information and guidance in dog rescue and care. Here is an excerpt from their site about the rescue of abandoned hunting hounds.
Anna has found that abandoned hunting dogs perish daily of exposure and starvation all across America. Here is an excerpt from a Sunbear Squad rescue story: "An ice storm was bearing down in the southern United States and a pack of 3 adult Beagles and 5 puppies were sighted in a rural Arkansas forest. Concerned animal lovers sent numerous emails to locate a rescuer who could take immediate action to save the dogs, and two compassionate women rose to the challenge.
It's not like they didn't have anything else to do that day. Desiree had successfully lobbied for felony animal cruelty laws and had just been informed of the law's passing, and Carol worked full-time. But later in the afternoon, after learning of the ice storm coming, they gathered their gear and drove 45 miles to the woods where the dogs had been sighted." Here is a link to read all of this story: Rescue