People around the world know this face and know her story.
She is Katniss Evergreen, heroine of The Hunger Games films, adapted from a series of very popular YA novels. Set in the future, they are stories of survival and danger.
The Hunger Games films, three at this point, have a huge worldwide audience with ticket sales approaching 2.5 billion dollars. This represents an incredible number of people -- young adults, adults, and, I fear, children. And like all successful films, their stories will live on, beyond the big screens, on CDs and TV. And the original novels will be read by still more young adults -- and adults.
Mockingjay 1, the third and latest in the series, is more mature in its content and execution (thankfully) as it portrays people trapped in a dystopian world dominated by an inhumane dictator -- not so far removed from real world events.
Today, it is the face of Disney's sugar-coated Cinderella reaching huge numbers of children and adults around the world with lovely color and costumes, sweeping music, and a happy ending to delight any little girl -- and apparently, the little girl's mother as well. Magic, and rags to riches are back in this sugar coated version adapted from the Cinderella wonder tales of the past. In the first two weeks following the film's opening, it has grossed over $330 million worldwide.
Disney Polishes Its Glass Slippers
"Why Cinderella, why now? If you’re the Walt Disney Company the answer can only be: Why not? She may not be a princess (yet!) and the story may have been told innumerable times, but there’s gold in those glass slippers no matter how many miles they have on them. The cinema pioneer Georges Méliès told her story in 1899, perhaps for the first time on screen, and she recently popped up in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” ...
In traditional iteration after iteration, the story of Cinderella is also that of mothers — dead, cruel and magical — who loom over this quintessential dutiful daughter far more than any man. One mother abandons Cinderella, leading the way for a second mother to torment her, who in turn opens the door for a third mother to come to the rescue with a wave of her wand. "
"Perky Pretty Cupcake of A Fairy Tale"
"Here’s a question for an enlightened-age Cinderella. If every woman in the land gets to try on one blasted glass slipper for a shot at Prince Charming’s hand in marriage, why does the wicked, widowed stepmother never have a go? Is she too old? Too ugly? Too imperfectly coiffed? None is an accusation you could fairly level against Cate Blanchett’s splendid Lady Tremaine. A tart-tongued beauty with a traffic-stopping wardrobe inherited from the personal archives of Edith Head – not to mention an evident knack for hosting a mean poker party – she’s plainly the biggest catch in the entire kingdom.
Blanchett is certainly the best thing in Kenneth Branagh’s perky, pretty, lavender-scented cupcake of a fairytale adaptation – the first in what looks to be a series of live-action Disney updates of their own animated classics. (Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as Belle, is already in the works.) "
To see the Disney world of Cinderella enchantment for young girls, click here: Cinderella ---
Personally, I much prefer films like Howl's Moving Castle, Coraline or Malificent.
Fairy Tales as Family Tales
"Now throughout history, parents no doubt have had affection for their children...But what has changed by the later eighteenth century is the idea of affection as a defining criterion for family goodness... Scholars have long recognized the ways in which the Grimms calibrated their tales for these emerging middle-class audiences; they pared away some of the coarseness of the folk idiom, shaped particular motifs to literary expectations, and added layers of Christian morality or proverbial wisdom to enhance their practical didactic value. Whatever rusticity remains in their tellings is a highly stylized one.
In such contexts of class and culture, fairy tales raised serious philosophical questions: was love something that you learned as a parent, or was it something inherent in giving birth? Could someone love a child that was not their own?..."
Seth Lerer: Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.
NPR's On Point, hosted by Tom Ashbrook, featured a very lively discussion of Cinderella and the staying power of the story. Ashbrook's guests included scholar/authors Maria Tatar and Jack Zipes, as well as Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter.
The DELMARVA Search and Rescue Group (SAR) is a "professional, volunteer organization comprised of military, fire/rescue, medical/EMS, police/corrections, and civilian trained responders all working towards one goal...to preserve life when the odds are stacked against the victim." The SAR volunteers practice and train in the woods, marshlands and on water. Dogs are an integral part of their search and rescue work.
The Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) recently gave $60,510 in grants to a variety of Assistance/Service Dog Organizations, Therapy Dog Organizations, and SAR Organizations.
The DELMARVA SAR was one of the organizations selected to receive a grant from the Planet Dog Foundation. Here is the PDF's description of the purpose of the grant:
"DELMARVA Search and Rescue Group is a professionally trained search and rescue team composed of thirty volunteers with ground, canine, and equine search and rescue management expertise. The PDF grant will fund the training of 7-10 of their dogs in advanced air-scenting capabilities. An air-scenting dog is called upon to search an area of 40-160 acres to either locate a missing individual or eliminate the territory from further search."
More Movies -- dystopia returns with Insurgent
Insurgent, the second movie -- and book -- in the very successful Divergent Series is big at the box office, if not with the critics. With worldwide box office sales of more than $112 Million in the first two weeks of its release, the film may well equal or surpass the $288 million to date of Divergent (released in March 2014).
Movie Talk Jason Best:
"There’s a tad more visual flair and a tad more violence in the second installment of The Divergent Series based on young adult novelist Veronica Roth’s bestselling trilogy, yet Insurgent still looks like an anemic Hunger Games clone...Roth’s Divergent world is so ridiculously complicated and unconvincing that the plot becomes snagged at every turn, the characters tangled in knotty exposition. "
NY Times Manohla Dargis
"Tighter, tougher and every bit as witless as its predecessor, 'The Divergent Series: Insurgent' — the second segment in the cycle — arrives with a yawn and ends with a bang. In between, bodies run, leap and fall amid nuzzling lips, blasting bullets and periodic story turns that make the movie a modest cultural artifact if one largely devoid of aesthetic interest."
Here is the trailer for Insurgent
You Tube carries a video series entitled Everything Wrong... Everything Wrong With Divergent In 16 Minutes Or Less is a video satirizing the original Divergent using scenes from the movie and ironical humor.
The Power of Film...The Power of Music in Film
When reading a book, a child's imagination is stimulated by the words, the descriptions and ideas that come from the words -- and perhaps some illustrations. When a child enters a movie theater, and experiences a movie, they are enveloped by images (many from computer animation), sound effects, and music. The power of music in films is extremely important in the total impression made on the child and their imagination.
Here are links to music tracks that quickly illustrate the power of music in film. They are quite different in approach.
The White God
Dog Lovers...I haven't seen the film White God -- but I will...
"The hand that feeds — and also brutalizes — is righteously bitten in “White God,” a Hungarian revenge fantasy that’s like nothing you’ve seen on screen before. The story is as simple as a parable, a campfire story, a children’s book: A faithful animal, separated from its loving owner, endures, suffers, struggles and resists while trying to transcend its brutal fate. The director, Kornel Mundruczo, has said that he was partly inspired by J. M. Coetzee’s devastating novel “Disgrace,” but the movie also invokes haunting animal classics like 'Black Beauty' and 'The Call of the Wild'.”
C.A. Wulffs updated version of this wonderful book is now available on Amazon
When your home has a revolving door for abused and abandoned animals, keeping pets takes on a whole new dimension! Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, this is the account of one woman's journey with an ever-changing
house full of pets that led her to animal advocacy. These true-life tales, (mis)adventures and insights garnered from a lifetime of animal encounters from childhood through adulthood, will warm your heart.
"Those of us who have taken in unwanted or neglected/abused animals know the satisfaction of helping innocents have safe and fulfilling lives, but not everybody is able to articulate the trials and tribulations, the frustrations and the joy associated with such efforts. The author does a good job of relating her experiences with animals in need in a way that captures a reader's interest, expresses her emotional investment in the animals and somehow avoids sanctimony..."
Look Inside the Book on Amazon and see for yourself...
Hopeful News for Shelter Dogs
Adopt a Pet is a non-profit organization that has over 1,000 people per hour running a search on their site while looking for a pet. Their site offers a wide range of information, sourced for practical guidance and pet health care.
Books Will Open A Child's Mind -- If They Can Read.
LitWorld has the Passion, Experience, Programs and People to bring reading to children around the world. Here are a few facts from their website
"Reading is a basic human right that belongs to all people. The mission of LitWorld is to empower children to reach their full potential...Today one in ten people around the world cannot read or write and 57 million children never have the chance to go to school....LitWorld keeps growing. We serve only the most underserved in the poorest communities around the world, from the United States to Kenya, from the Philippines to Haiti..".
Reading...what was reading, what is reading to all of us? Here is a link to a heartening LitWorld video that made me aware and grateful for the gift of reading: LitWorld
The top photo was taken in Nepal. The photo on the bottom is from New York City.
Dogs in the Legendary Kathmandu
Kathmandu , Nepal, was once the place to go for young alternate lifestyle backpackers. Times have changed, and although the city remains a center for ancient spiritual traditions, it is also the densely populated capital of an extremely poor country. A few years ago, there were 20,000 street dogs living in this city of one million people. Street dogs with rabies had become an enormous problem, with over 200 deaths a year, many of them children.
The Kat Centre
A dedicated dog lover, Jan Salter, has made huge progress in solving the street dog problem by establishing and operating the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre, known locally as the the KAT Center, where dogs are rescued; and The KAT Centre's staff spays and vaccinates them and provides treatment for injured and sick animals. They also have educational programs that teach children and adults about animal welfare. For more information about the dedicated workers at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre, and the wonderful changes that have taken place, take a look at these well done videos:
Here is Video of the KAT Centre founder Jan Salter , taking you to see the Centre and the rescue operation facility and explaining the many facets of their work.
Here is another perspective on Katmandu and the KAT Center from 2011, featuring many street scenes.
To see the unromantic busy urban life: Central Kathmandu 2013
Castle In The Mist is the second book in the Planet Of The Dogs Series...Here is an excerpt...
He pointed to a dense cluster of tall pines on the edge of the forest. Walking slowly out of the mist was Tok, a son of Rex, and the biggest dog to come down to planet Earth. His long winter fur of brown and white made him appear even bigger. His head was raised. He looked directly at Prince Ukko as he slowly walked to the center of the open space in front of the castle. There he stopped, raised his head and howled. And when he did, the voices of all the dogs from Snow Valley, hidden in the misty forest, howled at the same time.
Ukko, watching in horror, turned to Narro, and growled, “Stop them. They must be stopped.”
To read more, and for sample chapters from the series -- Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale -- and for more information about all of our books -- visit our Planet Of The Dogs website.
We have free copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, and librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs...simply send us an email at email@example.com. and we will send you the books.
Far from Bedtime Reading
More from Mary Leland's excellent, informed article/review in the Irish Examiner regarding the themes and significance of Jack Zipes recent translation of the Grimm's Original Fairy Tales and Zipes' Grimm Legacies. The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales, Princeton 2014
"Ancient as they may be, many of the stories we still relish today took as their themes the abiding issues of parent and child disputes, social inequalities, hidden talents, sibling rivalry, the defeat of evil and the reward of virtue, malice and its unmasking, the helplessness of the young — especially young women — the abuse of power and the triumph of kindness.
When such ingredients of mysticism, of animal transformation, of witchcraft, sorcery and miracle and even in some charming cases a strong sense of fun are added to this catalogue of recognisable conflicts. the unifying purpose behind the work of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm becomes more obvious.
These topics in one way or another are common to mankind’s experience of life: they unite us all. Or they did so once...
So be warned: adults who remember their own affection for fairytales will enjoy this book, but its contents are often far from bed-time reading and very far from Disney, Pixar and Ladybird."
Dog Lovers -Have you heard of 3 million dogs?
Their site looks lively, diverse, and rather unusual in content.
Check out this video ...
The Arne Nixon Center explores Censorship in young peoples books, April 10-12, seeking to explore the many ways in which censorship affects reading choices for young people.
"The Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in the Madden Library at Fresno State will conduct a conference on censorship April 10 -12, 2015. “Outlawed: The Naked Truth About Censored Literature for Young People”
Terrific Line Up Of Speakers at this Free Event at the New School, New York City
If you are interested in children's literature and will be in the New York City area April 18, check out this link: Where the Wild Books Are
"Join critics, authors, illustrators, publishing professionals, and educators from Europe, the United States, and beyond as they introduce audience members to a diverse array of important picture books published in France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Japan. Take part in a lively exchange on the ethical, commercial, and aesthetic dimensions of the evolving global publishing scene."
Location:The Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011
Dogs, Humans and Health
"How to recognize the benefits of the dog-human relationship offers-up more and more information on how to make humans healthier. The following infographic shows what areas are involved in this bonding relationship between dogs and humans (cancer, lower blood sugar, reduce anxiety, etc.)."
Read more: Way Cool Dogs
The illustration by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty is from Castle In The Mist.
The Painted Pilgrim
A new children’s book, The Painted Pilgrim, shines a light on the dog adoption process and shows us why we should take care of dogs of all sizes, shapes, colors, and breeds.
“Some five million dogs will enter a shelter this year and 3.5 million will not make it out,” notes author and animal photographer Ms. Dale Ryan. “I hope my book inspires more dog adoptions, especially of dogs that aren’t perfect or pure breeds, such as mutts, less favored breeds, or those with a disability or perceived shortcoming.”
C.A. Wulff reviewed the Painted Pilgrim in the Examiner under the title, Would You Adopt a Pink Dog?. Here is an excerpt from her review:
"For animal rescuers who wonder where the next generation of animal advocates and activists will come from, books like Dale Ryan’s The Painted Pilgrim may be the answer. Education is the key to ensuring that the message of responsibility and compassion stays alive. Pellegrino is a pink dog who finds himself in the care of the Give Me Shelter animal rescue. Zuki is the shelter director, and she recognizes how special Pellegrino is immediately..."
Read all of Wullf's review in the Examiner
“When we get to the end of the story, you will know more than you do now...”
Hans Christian Anderson
There is a largely unsung group of dedicated animal lovers who are saving dogs as you are reading these words...Volunteer Animal Rescue Drivers... Sunbear has all the information on what is happening in volunteering, what it takes to qualify and more...
To read this engaging and informative article follow this link: Rescue
"Ever wonder where you'd end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash?"-- Robert Brault