Life and human beings are only an illusion, a phantom, a dream image -- August Strindberg 1901
The photo is by Gregory Crewdson
Virtual reality has been with us since humans first told stories.
Today, the term has become identified with the digital world and computer games.
Virtual Reality lives in the imagination.
Virtual reality lives in fairy tales...wonder tales.
Worlds of Wonder
Oz, Wonderland, Hogwarts. Middle Earth, Neverland, and The Hundred Acre Wood all offer worlds of wonder for young imaginations to explore. They are books for young minds and they inspire other forms of virtual reality...movies, theater, music, dance, television, digital games...
They have evolved, from centuries of adult oral tales and myths into stories and books for children, opening the doors to worlds of wonder.
"The serious point of children's books is not to improve behavior but to expand the imagination. Great children's literature creates new worlds that children enter with delight and perhaps with apprehension and from which they return with understandings that their own experience could not have produced and that give their lives new meaning."
The quotation by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. is taken from Maria Tatar's Enchanted Hunters, the power of stories in childhood.
The illustration of Alice in Wonderland is by Arthur Rackham.
Virtual Reality from the Past
" Wonder Tale...An alternative term for 'fairytale' is 'wonder tale', from the Germanwundermärchen, which catches a quality of the genre more eloquently than 'fairytale' or 'folk tale' because it acknowledges the defining activity of magic in the stories. The suspension of natural physical laws produces a heightened and impossible state of reality, which leads to wonder, astonishment, the ’ajaib (astonishing things) sought in Arabic literary ideas of fairytale...
Children around the world continue to grow up with the magic of fairytales in books, and to relish the multiple ways they are adapted, updated and put on to stage and screen. But the 'realisation of imagined wonder', which JRR Tolkien saw as the aim of the genre, isn’t always bright and shiny any more; its skies have clouded over."
The quote is an excerpt from How Fairy Tales Grew Up, by Marina Warner, author, critic, in the Guardian
The illustration of the Arabian Nights is by Kay Nielson.
Pinnochio...A Classic Emerges in 19th Century Italy
I have just completed a fantastic journey to another reality. I have read the 1883 version of Carlo Collidi's amazing book, The Adventures of Pinnochio, the story of the wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy. Hailed as a "vivacious masterpiece" by Ann Lawson Lucas, the book was an instant success and has been translated into over 120 languages.
Collodi, a hard working, multi-faceted and educated man, rose from poverty, worked as a civil servant in his native Florence, and became a respected writer and translator. His translations included the works of Perrault. Mme d'Aulnoy, and two works by Mme Leprince de Beaumont. He lived in a turbulent Italy, and twice fought in the cause of the Risorgemento for a independent and unified Italy.
The first version of The Adventures of Pinnochio appeared in serial form in 1881 over a 15 week period in a children's weekly paper, Il Giornale per i Baminino. Pinnochio was a mischievious rascal, and easily led astray by temptation. Woven into the story are lessons for the young reader on how to lead a responsible and productive life through school and good behavior. l found all the chapters to be lively, with many twists and turns.
Collodi was an very imaginative and creative writer. Alas, the first version of the tale ended with Pinnochio hanging by his neck and swinging in the breeze.
The illustration of Pinnochio is by Erico Mazzanti from the original edition.
Reprieved By Popular Demand
The story was so popular and sold so well that Collodi was commissioned to continue the serialization. In 1883, the serialized version of the extended story -- now 36 chapters -- was completed. It was then collected and published as a book with line illustrations by Enrico Mazantti (above). The first English version, translated by Mary Alice Murray, and published 1892, also found many enthusiastic readers.
Pinnochio survived his hanging and had many more trials and adventures Here is an excerpt regarding his lies and his nose...
"If you lost them in the near-by wood," said the Fairy, "we'll look for them and find them, for everything that is lost there is always found."
"Ah, now I remember," replied the Marionette, becoming more and more confused. "I did not lose the gold pieces, but I swallowed them when I drank the medicine."
At this third lie, his nose became longer than ever, so long that he could not even turn around. If he turned to the right, he knocked it against the bed or into the windowpanes; if he turned to the left, he struck the walls or the door; if he raised it a bit, he almost put the Fairy's eyes out.
The Fairy sat looking at him and laughing..."
The photo above by Elisabeth Careccio is from a highly regarded theatrical presentation by Joel Pommerat. Here is a link to a two minute highlight video from that production featuring the nose that grows with every lie he tells: Pinnochio by Pommerat.
More Tumultuous Adventures and a Happy Ending
Ultimately, however, Pinocchio becomes brave, responsible, and compassionate. In the course of things, he is helped by a lovely fairy with azure hair, and gets advice and forgiveness from a wise cricket. Animals and birds talk, transformations occur -- at one point Pinnochio becomes a donkey -- and after saving his father from the belly of monstrous shark, there is, in Chapter 36, a happy ending. In the words of Collodi....
"After that he went to bed and fell asleep. As he slept, he dreamed of his Fairy, beautiful, smiling, and happy, who kissed him and said to him, "Bravo, Pinocchio! In reward for your kind heart, I forgive you for all your old mischief. Boys who love and take good care of their parents when they are old and sick, deserve praise even though they may not be held up as models of obedience and good behavior. Keep on doing so well, and you will be happy."
At that very moment, Pinocchio awoke and opened wide his eyes.
What was his surprise and his joy when, on looking himself over, he saw that he was no longer a Marionette, but that he had become a real live boy!"
The illustration of Gepetto and Pinnochio escaping from the monster shark is by Carlo Chiostri.
Pinnochio was developed and revised during the depression over a seven year period. It was Disney's second animated feature film, the cost of which was paid for by its very successful predecessor, Snow White. The film was a great critical success, but a financial failure because of WW2. After the war, the film was reissued several times. Ultimately, Pinnocchio found a world-wide audience and was a financial success.
The story in the movie version remained much the same, but was softened and made more palatable for children by the colorful animation. The literary academy has deservedly been critical of Disney's sweetening of most of the fairy tales he has adopted for the screen. However, when I saw Pinnochio as a child, I found it to be quite wonderful.
Ann Lawson Lucas is the translator and editor of The Adventures of Pinnochio (1996), editor of the very well regarded The Presence of the Past in Children's Literature (2003), and lecturer in Italian at the University of Hull. I found her contributions to The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales clear and informative.
Here is an online link to the original Pinnochio, translated from the Italian by Carol Della Chiesa
Yelodoggie Is Coming
Yelodoggie will also address issues of belonging, acceptance, and being different.
After all, Yelodoggie isn't quite like other dogs.
Yelodoggie will have the potential to open a child's imagination and perceptions of the world around them.
Here's a link to C.A. Wulff's original Yeloddoggie paintings.
Here's a link to her Up On The Woof website.
Save the Children works to benefit the lives of children in need in 120 countries. Save the children brings assistance and hope.
Here are excerpts from their website:
Save The Children .
"More than half of the world's refugees are under the age of 18. They have had their childhoods interrupted, and half of all refugee children are out of school. Save the Children calls on the international community to ensure that every refugee child has access to education and is learning. No refugee child should be without education for more than one month after being displaced."
"Education sets children up for success, provides hope and opportunities for the future, as well as a sense of stability and normalcy for those who are overcoming traumatic events. It also prepares children with the skills needed to rebuild and help develop their home countries if and when they return."
The photo of the young girl above is a capture from an exceptional video (under 2 minutes duration), guaranteed to move you. The video is entitled, Still the Most Shocking Second a Day. Click this link to see this important video of a young refugee girl: Save The Children Video.
Can Dogs Prevent War?
Prince Ukko, the ruthless leader of the Blackhawk tribe, has kidnapped the two children of his rival, the Warrior Chief of Stone City. There will be war unless the dogs can free the children from The Castle In The Mist.
" I feel Castle in the Mist is also a beautifully-crafted tale. This particular book has a slightly darker tone, but is still completely readable by children. As a matter-of-fact my 10-year-old son, Michael, says the book is “great” and thinks: 'it is cool that the dogs come from their own planet.' As well, the illustrations really give depth and visual characterization to the manuscript."
Charyl Miller Pingleton -- The Uncommon Review
Read sample chapters on our website: Planet Of The Dogs
Art Auction for Valley Save-a-Pet...Online at FB...Donated by Pet Loving Artists
Artwork for every budget...originals & prints, ceramics & jewelry, landscapes, wildlife, florals, comic book art...from August 1 at 10 AM to August 13 at 10 PM
need, and helps with emergency vet bills.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The new play has opened in London to excellent reviews and a plea to not reveal the plot. It apparently doesn't require being very knowledgeable about the world of Harry Potter, but it enhances the experience if one has prior Potter knowledge. Here is an excerpt from Michael Billington's review in the Guardian.
"Keep the Secrets” is the injunction on badges handed out as we leave the theatre. It’s a motto that makes life hard for us hacks, but I am happy to divulge that John Tiffamny as director of this pair of two-and-a-half-hour plays, has masterminded a thrilling theatrical spectacle.
It is also one that will make much more sense to hardened Potterheads than to anyone who is not a member of the global cult. What we have is a brand new work by Jack Thorne based on an original story by himself, Tiffany and JK Rowling: a venture that I approached in a state of benign semi-innocence. I’ve read one of the seven Potter books and seen a couple of the eight films, and enjoyed them without becoming an addict... But, while it helps to be a paid-up Potterhead, Tiffany and his team stage the piece with such dazzling assurance that I finally began to see the point of being wild about Harry."
Photo by Manuel Harlan in the Guardian.
The Little Prince Movie is Wonderful
The book is a classic. We wondered how it could become a film that does justice to the book. We have seen it and we found it marvelous; as in the book, a tone of wonder prevails throughout. The result is a seamless film within a film, created by director Mark Osborne and writers Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti.
Chris Knight, in his excellent review in the National Post, said it so well..." If what is essential is invisible to the eye, then The Little Prince has accomplished the impossible; it has made the invisible visible, and in 3D no less."
Here is a link to the trailer for The Little Prince.
The BFG is Gentle, Funny, and Truly Spectacular
Virtual Reality Today... Do Ogres die or just find new homes?
Ogres have apparently evolved into Orcs. Orcs have found many homes in the internet's Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). The games are a form of today's virtual reality and are based on technology and computer generated imagery (CGI). There are also Warcraft books.
Volunteers and their therapy dogs from People Animals Love (PAL) bring bring love, support, and peace to people...
They bring the human-canine connection and all its benefits to a very large number of people in the greater Washington, D.C. area. This includes Maryland and Northern Virginia. Here is an excerpt from their site:
"In the Pet Visit Program, extraordinary dogs give love to all sorts of people in all sorts of places — the elderly in nursing homes, families grieving in hospice, children frightened in the hospital, and military veterans recovering from injury.
Pet therapy dogs help kids learn to read because they simply listen. Dogs do not try to correct your spelling or pronunciation, they simply smile and wait patiently for the next part of the story. They visit schools serving children with disabilities and mental illness and low-income communities, providing confidence to students who are lacking the ability to feel comfortable.
Visit the PAL Facebook page, where hundreds of volunteers share their pictures and warm stories."
PAL also runs an ongoing school program for disadvantaged kids in the Washington area that continues in the summer. They have made a delightful video with music sung by a man who reminded me of Bobby McFarrin. Here is a link to the video: PAL Club
Here is a link to the PAL website
Gun Sales Are Breaking Records
"More American civilians have died by gunfire in the past decade than all the Americans who were killed in combat in the Second World War...In recent years, in response to three kinds of events—mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and talk of additional gun control—gun sales have broken records. “You know that every time a bomb goes off somewhere, every time there’s a shooting somewhere, sales spike like crazy,” Paul Jannuzzo, a former chief of American operations for Glock, the Austrian gun company, told me."...
This is an excerpt from Making a Killing, by Evan Osnos in the New Yorker, an outstanding article on the business and politics of selling guns.
Here's a link to read all of this awsome article: Evan Osnos
Here is a mission statement from the vital Gun Violence Archive; MISSION..."Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. GVA will collect and check for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then post and disseminate it online."
An Alternate Reality Where Struggling People Find Happiness
"The reason we have always been attracted to fairy tales is because of their reassurance. They offer counter worlds to our real world; counter worlds in which there is always justice. The nasty queens and the nasty kings are always punished by the ‘small’ people in fairy tales and folk tales; those who come from the lower classes and generally strive to better their situation, and quite often succeed in doing so. There are some fairy tales that end tragically, but for the most part they end on a note that provides happiness to the people that have been struggling, and they also provide social justice. You can understand why people want to escape into the worlds of fairy tales, because they can see alternatives to the bleak conditions in which we’re living today."
Jack Zipes in an interview with James Gracey. Here is a link to James Gracey's interview.
The illustration is by Paul Hey for the Grimm's story, The Six Who Made Their Way In The World.
Soviet Russia Cleaned Up Children's Book Illustrations
Removing the past and changing it to conform to politician's orders, a new virtual reality -- just as they do with history -- is a disturbing practice of contemporary Russia. This fascinating Guardian article by Stuart Jeffries, Out with bourgeois crocodiles! How the Soviets rewrote children's books, offers background, history, and examples from an earlier era. Here is an excerpt:
"This call to revolutionize children’s illustration was part of socialism’s bigger political struggle. 'In the great arsenal with which the bourgeoisie fought against socialism, children’s books occupied a prominent role,' wrote one L Kormchii in the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda in 1918, 'The bourgeoisie, well aware of the force of children’s books, took advantage of them to strengthen their own power … We struggle and we die, but before we drown in our own blood, we must seize these weapons from enemy hands.'
'The idea was to abolish fantasy literature and illustration because they were seen as bourgeois and unhelpful to the revolution,' says Olivia Ahmad, curator of A New Childhood: Picture Books from Soviet Russia. Imagine if Harry Potter or Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's Room on the Broom were deemed unacceptably counter revolutionary."
Here is a link to the article Soviet Children's Books
A New Childhood is at the House of Illustration in London until September 11, 2016.
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 and 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
Sunbear Squad is a primary source of information for dog lovers...filled with information and guidelines, ranging from helping an abandoned dog to building a proper doghouse. Here is an excerpt from an article on Traveling By Car Or Truck With Pets by Edward Green, TruckersReport.com...
Taking the family pet along for the ride is a part of the vacation plans of families across the nation. These trips can be quite memorable and enjoyable—but only if you take the proper safety precautions for your animals. This guide will help you travel safely and comfortably with your favorite pet...Link to Read the rest of this entry »
" A dog can express more with his tail in seconds than his owner can express with his tongue in hours." -- Author Unknown