The Tinder Box
"'It is midnight,' said the soldier, 'yet I should very much like to see
the princess,if only for a moment.'
The dog disappeared instantly,and before the soldier could even look round,
he returned with the princess. She was lying on the dog's back asleep,
and looked so lovely,that every one who saw her would know she was
a real princess.The soldier could not help kissing her, true soldier as he was.
Then the dog ran back with the princess; but in the morning, while at breakfast
with the king and queen,she told them what a singular dream she had had
during the night, of a dog and a soldier, that she had ridden on the dog's
back, and been kissed by the soldier..."
Quoted from Hans Christian Andersen's The Tinder Box...
Illustration by Vladislav Erko
Old Legends Live On
"Denmark is rich in old legends of historical persons, churches, and manors, of hills, of fields, and bottomless moors; sayings from the days of the great plague, from the times of war and peace. The sayings live in books, and on the tongues of the people; they fly far about like a flock of birds, but still are as different from one another as the thrush is from the owl, as the wood-pigeon from the gull. Listen to me, and I will tell you some of them"...
Excerpted from Hans Christian Andersen, Danish Popular Legends
The Illustration of the Snow Queen is by Vladislav Erko
A Reflection of Myself...The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was an enigmatic man, a fertile writer, and a children's literature pioneer. He lived in a turbulent era of Danish and European history. His childhood was difficult and painful.
He was recognized as a fine writer of adult novels, plays, and poetry in Europe. His children's stories first became popular in England. His stories (168) are sweeping in their subject matter and often poignant. Scholars write that they have origins in fables; however, they were transposed by Andersen's imagination into wonderful new stories. "Most of what I have written is a reflection of myself. Every character is from life. I know and have known them all."
His stories have mixed messages about hope, and are often flavored with melancholy. They range from magical events -- as in The Tinder Box -- to those that evoke real life -- like the Little Match Seller. The titles, alone, of some of his best known works, evoke a dazzling array of images : The Little Mermaid, The Red Shoes, The Princess and the Pea, The Wild Swans, The Snow Queen,The Emperor's New Suit, The Nightingale...
Words Can Work Wonders
"Hans Christian Andersen's, The Emperor's New Clothes, famously punctures pomp and self-importance...The story has achieved a certain global currency, in part because it enacts in so appealing a fashion the cultural fantasy about innocence speaking truth to power. Anderson's story does much more than send life lessons about hypocrisy, vanity, pretentiousness, and conformity. This widely known fairy tale, I would argue, remains memorable not only because it implies that words can work wonders but also because it outlines a strategy for making that happen...It is not hard to imagine the invisible cloth used to make the emperor's new clothes, because we learn so much about it...until it finally nearly materializes before the mind's eye of the reader."
Maria Tatar -- Enchanted Hunters,The Power of Stories in Childhood
The illustration is by Munro S. Orr
The Emperor's New Clothes
The folly and arrogance of royalty, and the willingness of the ruled to indulge those in power, has never been better demonstrated than in Andersen's wonderful story of The Emperor's New Clothes. Andersen often read his stories to children while in the process of developing them. This must have been a great favorite. Here is an excerpt:
"The emperor marched in the procession under the beautiful canopy, and all all who saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: “Indeed, the emperor’s new suit is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!” Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never were emperor’s clothes more admired.
"But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist."
The illustration is by Edmund Dulac
Inspiration from the Little Match Girl
Composer David Lang was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in music for his composition The Little Match Girl Passion.
The piece, based on Hans Christian Andersen's story, The Little Match Girl, was inspired by Bach's St. Matthew Passion, The recording of The Little Match Girl on Harmonia Mundi received a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance.
Two recent highly regarded and imaginative theatrical interpretations of The Little Match Girl Passion were inspired by Lang's music. One version is the Arts West Production involving singers, actors and stylized staging. The other production involves the extraordinary puppets of Figures of Speech Theater
"No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not."
The illustration is a photo from the Figures of Speech Theater Production of The Little Match Girl Passion.
The Island of Innocence...the Private Life of Hans Christian Andersen
I am often disturbed by critics, media, and, sometimes, the academy, prying into the personal life of writers, artists and others in the public eye. Much has been written, based on speculation and second hand research about the private life of Hans Christian Andersen. Much of this speculation has been concerned with whether he was a closet homosexual. In this regard, I found a fascinating article in Welt by Elmar Krekeler (in an awkward Google translation from German) that places Andersen's sexuality in a much larger context. It was published on the occasion of the 200th anniversary (2005) of Anderson's birth and the publication of an authoritative biography by Jens Andersen. Here is an excerpt:
"He does not want to go beyond the ideal of Platonic friendship...He must be innocent, must remain a child. Because the paradise of the imagination is open to the naive. Inner sense, according to the biographer Jens Andersen, was "an existential and artistic necessity". An act of sublimation, certainly because the great Platonian Andersen simply was afraid. Fear of sexuality, and of being driven out of the "island of innocence" by the real execution of physical love, on which, according to Jens Andersen (biographer), he wanted to spend his life: 'Here he had free and unimpeded access to fantasy, wealth of ideas, play, and pleasure, which was absolutely necessary for an improviser like him.' Hans Christian Andersen - a Peter Pan long before his literary birth - refuses to grow up."
I write of children's wonder books, of extraordinary writers like Hans Christian Andersen, and stories that make a difference in children's imaginations.
I also see on TV and read in the media of the explosive events propelling hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to escape death and pain...trying to find food, shelter, safety and hope...trying to save their children and give them a life of promise.
It is often difficult to reconcile these different worlds.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing help to refugees and their children in multiple ways -- around the world. Here is an excerpt from their website:
"We strive to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home, integrate or resettle.
During times of displacement, we provide critical emergency assistance in the form of clean water, sanitation and healthcare, as well as shelter, blankets, household goods and sometimes food. We also arrange transport and assistance packages for people who return home, and income-generating projects for those who resettle."
"Our help transforms broken lives."
Here is a link, relevant to this blog, to the UNHCR website
“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.” -- Phillip Pullman
The illustration for Pullman's Northern Lights is by Marie Livingston
The Planet Of The Dogs series...Long ago there were no dogs on planet earth.
"There are so many stories about battles between good and evil, and at times it’s hard to know who’s on which side, when so many lives are lost. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see a book presenting a peaceful resolution. Planet Of The Dogs may be a fairy tale, but it gives us hope that peace may someday be restored on earth through kinder and gentler means. Dog lovers and those who love a nice story will really enjoy this book."
Reviewer: Alice Berger, Berger's Book Reviews
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.
The illustration from Planet Of The Dogs is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty
Born Without A Tail
C.A. Wulff is a lifetime animal advocate. Her books focus primarily on her caring relationships with dogs and the rewards that she receives in turn.Born Without a Tail ranges from her youth through maturity. A compelling memoir, it speaks to both children and adults. Rocket Boy, one of her current pack family, is on the left. Here is a review:
An energetic page-turner that catches the reader by surprise. What seems, at first, to be a simple memoir about pets becomes an astounding love story about commitment and responsibility in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Ironically, Cayr Ariel Wulff's riveting adventures with animals - some hilarious, some heartbreaking - become lessons in what it means to be truly human. -- Amazon reader Review by Marse
Fairy Faith...Exploring the Enchanted Realm
You Tube has a mixed bag of videos regarding fairies. Fairy Faith stands out as a responsible and intelligent documentary video by John Walker, (with support from the Canadian Film Board), that explores the known and the unknown. Walker travels to many places, including Ireland, Devon and the Isle of Skye, where people are interviewed regarding their experiences, beliefs, and ideas regarding the fairy world. There are people who have seen fairies and others who are quite articulate about the phenomenon.
It seems that in the Victorian era, fairies were homogenized with romantic simplification and turned into all sweetness and light. In the past, especially in the countryside, there were all kinds of fairies, and many were far from benign.
The personalities and experiences of those interviewed vary a great deal: there are at least two PhD's, a carpenter, an artist, a harpist, a retired school teacher, scholars and more than one person who has seen, or still sees, fairies.
The illustration is of The Large Ring, Kerry, Ireland.
Children and Adults Alike
"Andersen combined humor, Christian sentiments, folklore, and original plots to form tales which amused and instructed old and young readers at the same time. More than any other writer of the 19th century, he fulfilled what Perrault had begun: to write tales such as 'The Ugly Duckling', 'The Little Mermaid', and the 'Princess and the Pea' which could be readily grasped by children and adults alike."
-- Jack Zipes... Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales
The illustration from the Snow Queen is by A.W. Bayes.
NRA Markets Guns To Children with Rewritten Fairy Tales
For National Rifle Association (NRA) families there are children's fairy tale books where Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother all use guns: Here is an excerpt from the NRA version of Little Red Riding...
"The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun’s safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. He realized that Grandmother hadn’t been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home.
'I don't think I’ll be eaten today,' said Grandma, 'and you won't be eating anyone again.' ”
If you want to read more, here's a link to the NRA Family website.
The photo is of a home town memorial to the 20 children, between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members who were shot dead in the Sandy Hook school shootings.
The power, financially and culturally, of Disney is difficult to comprehend. They continue to produce and release more films for the children's and YA marketplace than any other entity. Their 2015 release, "The Force Awakens", the Disney sequel to the Star Wars series, grossed over 2 billion dollars worldwide.
The Disney box office results for 2016 are staggering: Rogue One, the latest Star Wars spinoff has already grossed over 363 million dollars in only 3 weeks. Moana, an imaginative animated story of good vs bad set in the Pacific islands, has grossed over 350 hundred million dollars since opening in late November. Also, in 2016: Zootopia grossed over a billion dollars and The Jungle Book has brought in over 900 million dollars.
The box office results represent only the beginning of Disney's cultural impact. Theatrical releases are followed by TV, the Internet, DVDs, books, merchandise, digital games..
And -- coming in March is what promises to be another hit: Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson.
The illustration is from The Force Awakens.
Disney paid Lucas film 4 billion dollars for the rights to the Star Wars films and franchise. Four billion! Disney previously bought Pixar for $9 billion in 2006, and Marvel for $4 billion in 2009...
Jim Mclauchlin, In an excellent article article in Wired makes sense of the Lucas purchase and how it ties in with Disney's total operation. Here is the opening of his article:
"DISNEY’S PURCHASE OF Lucasfilm, and by extension Star Wars, in 2012 wasn’t cheap. At least, not on the face of it. But once you add up all those movie tickets, action figures, and limited-edition Coffee-mate creamers, billions will come back to replace the billions spent. Just how do those billions stack up, though? While the exact math is fuzzy, the long-term picture is clear. Disney immediately started making money on an investment that will continue to pay off in a huge way—likely for years to come..."
Here's a link to read all of Mclauchlin's article about Disney movies, power, money, marketing, and merchandising: Wired.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them -- A personal report
J.K. Rowling has again opened up the world of magic for all who have a mind open to the world of fantasy and imagination. I had a delightful and entertaining visit to her word of Fantastic Creatures. Once again, I admired Ms. Rowling's ability to create a fully realized alternate reality filled with surprises. My one caveat: as I sat in the theater toward the end of the film, I questioned the heavy hand of special effects mayhem (including the sound) and the impact this might have on children. However, Fantastic Beasts is a wonderful journey of the imagination for older children, the YA audience, and adults who enjoy fantasy.
Here's a link to the trailer: Fantastic Beasts
The illustration is from Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
The Power Of Story
“I do believe in the power of story. I believe that stories have an important role to play in the formation of human beings, that they can stimulate, amaze and inspire their listeners.”
"Carterhaugh is an online center for classes on folk narrative and fantastic literature created in 2016 by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman. We both hold Masters degrees in Folklore from George Mason University and are currently completing PhDs in English and Folklore at the Ohio State University.
At OSU we have taught courses on folklore, fairy tales, folk narrative, nineteenth-century to contemporary British literature, fantastic literature, and composition, earning nominations for teaching awards and commendations from both supervisors and students."
Here is a link to their website: Carterhaugh
There are two things that stand out for me as I read about Fences for Fido. One, is the wonderful, tangible result of giving a new life to chained dogs(and their owners), secondly, the wonderful positive energy that the volunteers bring to their work...and the reward they get when their work is done as they witness the joy of the dog's new-found freedom.
In nearly 8 years, the volunteers of Fences For Fido have unchained almost 1500 dogs in NW Oregon, central Oregon and SW Washington. Here are excerpts from their website:
"Fences for Fido is an award-winning, non-profit organization that builds fences free of charge for families who keep their dogs on chains, tethers and in small enclosures. (and much more)...There are many testimonials on their site. I chose this one..."
“I just wanted to thank your organization again for all the work and effort that was put into building a fence for Gunnar last weekend. I couldn't believe it when I looked in my backyard and saw about 20 people, in the rain, ready to work! Not only all of that, but the kindness and understanding about the challenges a pit bull can sometimes present was also just awesome. Suffice it to say, Gunnar LOVES his new yard, is off the chain, and doing great!”
--Laurie, Gunnar’s Family, Amity
Here's a link to their site with several excellent documentary videos Fences For Fido
Why Am I ?, is coming out this year.
Yelodoggie's book will help open the imagination and perspective of children to the world around them.
It will help children to recognize and appreciate differences and to embrace that which is unique in each of us.
The Planet Of The Dogs Series
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 suitable for any device at: .Barnes&Noble, Amazon, Powell's, Kobo, Inktera, Scribd, and Tolino.
Librarians, teachers and bookstores ..the Planet Of The Dogs series is available through Ingram with a full professional discount.
To read sample chapters of any book in the series, visit PlanetOfTheDogs
" Labradors are lousy watchdogs. They usually bark when there is a stranger about, but it is an expression of unmitigated joy at the chance to meet somebody new, not a warning."
-- Norman Strung