Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows

As with most holidays, Halloween has arguably lost much of its original meaning and purpose with its primary emphasis one of playing dress-up and eating lots of candy. Of course, the day was never as important as All Soul's Day or Day of the Dead which occurs tomorrow.

Since SurLaLune is devoted to folklore beyond fairy tales, too, I wanted to share the following:

The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows by Jack Santino

Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The Celtic peoples, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons--all part of the dark and dread.

There's plenty more in this wonderful but not-too-long article, so click through to finish it.

Here's another older article about the holiday, some of it specific to the newspaper it was originally intended for, but still rich with information about the holiday in general: Day of Dead mix of folklore, church teachings by Beth Pratt.

And here's more:

Spooky Halloween: A Celebration of the Dark--Halloween History, Traditions, Customs and Folklore from Quest Magazine's Halloween Page (lots of great links)

Halloween History, Folklore, Phobias and Symbols by Brownielocks

Halloween Web's Urban Legends, Folklore and Myths

Scary Halloween Stories from American

How fitting that in most of the United States, Daylight Savings also ends tonight. Tomorrow the day will feel shorter with darkness coming an hour earlier by the clocks, especially after the celebrations planned by many tonight.

I wish you all a safe and fun Halloween as well as sweet remembrances of those who have passed before you...

Anastasia, Baba Yaga, and Fairy Tales

I had intended to write up this post yesterday as a companion to my post about A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka since both use Baba Yaga in their storytelling. But I never returned to my computer, so this becomes a Halloween post instead.

Dreaming Anastasia: A Novel of Love, Magic, and the Power of Dreams by Joy Preble was released in September of this year, so this is a little late. It only entered my radar when Publishers Weekly reviewed it a few weeks ago and then entered my queue of books to learn more about. Here's the publisher's description:

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

You can read more about the book on Preble's website, too.

Once again, I haven't read the book--don't own it yet either--but I am interested in the inclusion of Baba Yaga as one of the characters. I've been a fan ever since reading Orson Scott Card's Enchantment years ago which married the Sleeping Beauty story to Baba Yaga tales among others.

It can easily be argued that the tales of Anastasia's possible survival have taken on mythical qualities, especially with the help of several movies and various books over the years. The story, shrouded in the mystery of royalty, communist secrets, and a long and rich Russian folklore, easily eclipsed tales of the missing Dauphin or even the princes in the tower, mysteries that have diminished in popularity over time. After all, the story has even received the animated film treatment from Don Bluth, not from Disney, but Disneyesque all the same. Throw in the sensational qualities of Rasputin's character along with the photographs of the royal family in their fairy tale setting and the story is understandably irresistable in its tragic romance.

Of course, all tales of Anastasia's possible survival have now been discredited. Anastasia died with her family and was buried with her brother. Was anyone else saddened when Anastasia's body was finally found and identified near her family's mass grave last year? I was. The romance of her legend was moved permanently into the dark reality of murder and horror. Although there was little doubt previously, there was hope and there was storytelling to keep the fantasy alive. Still, with books like these, the story will remain a dark fairy tale with a sad coda in history's records.

But especially in light of last year's findings--and as proof perhaps of the slow churning of the publishing industry--it has been an interesting year for promoting Anastasia novels as fairy tales considering this book and Simon Pulse's offering Anastasia up as a "retelling" earlier this year in their Once Upon a Time Series with The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn. The timing is apropos as the tales are firmly settled into folklore by last year's events.

So I am sharing the image and description for this book, too, as a companion read. I am a compulsive reader myself and tend to look for similar books to read back-to-back. (Never would have guessed that with a site like SurLaLune, huh?)

A Retelling of "Anastasia"

Nadya is a mischievous kitchen girl in a Russian tavern. Having nearly drowned in the Iset River during the turmoil of the Revolution, she has no memory of her past and longs for the life she cannot remember.

Then two young men arrive at the tavern and announce that Nadya's long-lost grandmother has sent them to find her. Yearning for family and friendship, she agrees to accompany them to Paris for the joyful reunion. Nadya eagerly embarks on her journey, never dreaming it will be one of laughter, love -- and betrayal.

And that's all about fairy tales, Anastasia, and Baba Yaga for now...

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True came out in August, but I just learned about it this week. I don't have a copy but wanted to share the title with those who may be interested in this debut novel by Brigid Pasulka.

And why do I have it on the blog? Because it apparently makes use of Polish folklore and includes a character nicknamed Baba Yaga. Yes, Baba Yaga. (And Baba Yaga has been popular recently, relative to her usual level of exposure. Once Upon a Blog has had some great posts and I've been receiving email inquiries from students about her, most of which I have no answers for, alas and alack.)

Here's the publisher's description:

The novel opens on the eve of World War II. In the mountain village of Half-Village, a young man nicknamed the Pigeon, under the approving eyes of the entire village, courts the beautiful Anielica Hetmanska. But the war's arrival wreaks havoc in all their lives and delays their marriage for six long years. Nearly fifty years later, their granddaughter, Beata, leaves Half-Village for Krakow, the place where her grandparents lived as newlyweds after the war and the setting of her grandmother's most magical stories. Beata yearns to find her own place in this new city, one that is very different from her imagination and the past. Her first person insight into a country on the cusp of change--and the human toll of Poland's rapid-fire embrace of capitalism--transports readers to another world. When two unexpected events occur, one undeniably tragic, and the other a kind of miracle, Beata is given a fresh glimpse at her family's and her country's, history and a vision of her own essential role in the New Poland. With the effortless, accomplished grace of a gifted storyteller, Pasulka weaves together the two strands of her story, re-imagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one profound love affair--that of the Pigeon and Anielica--which readers won't soon forget.

Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review:

Pasulka's delightful debut braids together two tales of old and new Poland. The old is the fairy tale love story of the Pigeon, a young man so entranced by village beauty Anielica that he builds her family a house to prove his devotion. When war comes to Poland, the Pigeon works for the resistance, guarding the town and his Jewish sister-in-law with creativity and bravery. After the war, he and Anielica get engaged and the Pigeon brings his family to Kraków, but the fabled promises of the golden city and the glories of communism prove hollow. The new tale is about Anielica and the Pigeon's granddaughter, Beata, whose plainness has earned her the nickname Baba Yaga. Now living in a much-changed Kraków, Beata is a bar girl with no hopes of love or plans for the future. When tragedy strikes and Beata uncovers family secrets, she brings together the old and new to create her own bright future. Pasulka creates a world that's magical despite the absence of magical happenings, and where Poland's history is bound up in one family's story.

And another review: First novels from Brigid Pusalka, Brian DeLeeuw, Esther Vilar and Momus

This parallel narrative of Poland at two pivotal points in its recent history begins in a folksy, whimsical fashion which is soon dispensed with for something grittier. In 1939, the small, predominantly Catholic community of Half-Village is transfixed by the courtship between a man unkindly nicknamed the Pigeon and the beautiful but shy Anielica. Anielica's brother has caused a minor scandal by marrying a Jewish girl, but as the Germans advance the Half-Villagers unite to resist the enemy. In Krakow 50 years on, a woman unkindly nicknamed Baba Yaga, mourning the death of her grandmother, lodges at the house of Irena and her troubled daughter Magda. The miraculous links that connect Baba Yaga and Irena to Pigeon and Anielica are gradually exposed in this lively book which is part satire, part fairytale.

You can also read more at Pasulka's website, including her blog where she discusses the books long creation and her inspiration as well as provides a pronunciation guide for names and other Polish terms in the book.

Overall, the reader reviews are strong along with the professional ones. So this gets added to my list of books to eventually acquire and read. Perhaps it will appear on a few of your lists, too...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Book Release: Never After

I preordered Never After for my Kindle and downloaded it on Tuesday, its release day. I wasn't sure how well it would fit into the blog, but I discovered it fits well enough. I admit, fairy tale themes or no, I would have ordered this book just because I'm a diehard Sharon Shinn fan. Her world of Samaria hits my top ten fantasy vacation destinations from literature, even the top five, perhaps top three.

At this point, I have only read the Shinn story, more of a novella, which comprises 30-40% of the book and was worth the price of admission for me. Shinn subtly plays with fairy tale tropes--especially the princess's hand in marriage won through three tests--and then develops a story that is at times surprising considering the constraints of the premise and length. Yes, some plotting is predictable, but Shinn always throws in enough character development and plot twists to keep me guessing. She also offers up a beta male hero, something she excels at as well as alphas. Not my favorite of her works, but a nice coda after I devoured her new Quatrain earlier this month. And then reread her Twelve Houses books...but I've digressed too far, now.

Anyway, none of the stories are direct riffs on popular fairy tales, but all employ fairy tale tropes and characters on some level, from arranged marriages to selkies. Of course, bestseller Laurell K. Hamilton is the headliner author with Yasmine Galenorn and Marjorie M. Liu included.

There aren't many reviews up for the book yet--there might not be many since its being shelved under romance over fantasy, neither of which are widely reviewed--but I found one helpful one at Never After by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn review by Elena Nola

Never After is billed as a collection of “feminist fairy tales,” basically stories that take the idea of the fairy tale wedding and explore the possibility that it might, well, not be such a fairy tale. I will confess that my eyebrows arched pretty high when I read the list of established professionals contributing stories: Laurell K. Hamilton, Marjorie M. Liu, Yasmine Galenorn, and Sharon Shinn. I have read at least one novel from each of them, and my experience was that all but Shinn write novels that are too deeply entrenched in sex to be anything like what I would label feminist writing. However. I was very willing to be pleasantly surprised by this collection, and you know what? I was.

Nola's review is much longer and more informational than mine since I decided to write before finishing the book, so be sure to click through and read it. Once again, I aim to be more news source than judge, but for a light read, this book should fill a need as the nights grow longer.

Rotkäppchen: The Blood of Red Riding Hood

Okay, I personally don't touch horror nor erotica and I have kept it off the SurLaLune site since I want it to be family friendly as much as the old tales can be. However, this film falls into the fine line category for me on the blog--as much as I know since I will never watch it--but I know it will be of interest for some readers here. So no imagery beyond the cover, but I'm providing links for those who want to know more.

Here's an article with excerpt:

'Rotkäppchen: The Blood of Red Riding Hood' Unrated On DVD This Halloween

Just in time for Halloween, "Rotkäppchen: The Blood of Red Riding Hood" , the chilling and erotic epic will make its DVD debut on October 27, 2009 in a Special Unrated Edition available at Packed with non-stop chills, thrills and erotic romance, director Harry Sparks' visionary adult fairy tale was received with overwhelming enthusiasm and audience acclaim at its red carpet premiere at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in September.

"What makes this version of Red Riding Hood unique is that it stays faithful to the themes of the original classic story," says the movie's writer/director Harry Sparks. "Red Riding Hood has always been about sexual awakening. It's about this journey of a girl becoming a woman, and I did not water it down."

If you want to know more, here's the website: Rotkäppchen: The Blood of Red Riding Hood Official Website.

And here's the Amazon link for shopping if this is your thing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cinderella Shoe Champagne Flute

A champagne flute in shape of a heel? Louboutin must be over the recession

Stiletto designer Christian Louboutin has teamed up with champagne brand Piper-Heidsieck to create a luxurious holiday package, comprising a bottle of champagne and a crystal heel from which to drink it.

Inspired by a Russian 'ritual' after ballet performances, where the bubbly-filled slipper of the prima ballerina was raised to a toast by her admirers -- a ritual that was adopted in an even more frivolous way in Parisian cabarets during the Belle Epoque period -- the crystal stiletto comes with a translucent sole and heel, saturated with Louboutin's signature red.

The designer is currently on a promotional tour for the package and has directed a mini-movie that plays on the Cinderella theme, with actors Elisa Sednaoui and Rossif Sutherland playing a couple falling in love and having to part at midnight. Just as in the fairy tale, he finds the crystal shoe she lost hurrying down the steps, and holds on to it as the only memory of the evening.

Here's a link to the website: Le Rituel. This is the site that lets you order. Or there is a "watch only" link to this site which didn't work for me. It requires a birthdate but just freezes right now for me. So, of course, trusty YouTube has the video which I will embed here:

Here's a making of video which discusses Cinderella just a little bit. And, hey, Cinderella isn't a blonde!

Fascinating...This has been a popular theme this year if one remembers the Maison Martin Margiela Glass Slippers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waterville Valley Resort's Russian Fairy Tale Art Exhibit

Waterville Valley Resort's Russian Fairy Tale Art Exhibit

Master artists will bring magic of The Snow Maiden to Waterville Valley Resort this fall. Master decorative artists/teachers Tricia Joiner (Waterville Valley, NH) and Slava Letkov (Zhostovo, Russia), will demonstrate the creation of a series of fine art panels depicting episodes of the Russian fairy tale, "The Snow Maiden."

The panels are being painted by a group of Joiner's students from around the U.S. and Canada. The work is being done over the next month in the Town Square and the public is invited to stop by and observe the progress. The finished works will be unveiled at the Margret and H.A. Rey Center during the Thanksgiving weekend and on display during the winter holiday season in the Town Square shop windows. The panels will be featured at the Cookies, Snow, and Fairy Tales festival on December 12, 2009.

Disney's Книга Мастеров [Book of Masters]

Here are some links and trailers for Disney's first foray into Russian filmmaking. Not too surprisingly, the movie uses Russian folklore for its inspiration.

Disney is aiming for a fairytale start in Russia

Disney releases Book of Masters, its first Russian film, this week as it ramps up its interest in one of the world's fastest growing cinema markets.

Based on a Russian fairy tale and produced in Russia using local talent, the film is the latest step in Disney's broad push into local language production.

First Russian Movie Made at Disney Studio Goes on General Release

The first Disney Studio’s Russian movie, namely the fairy tale The Book of Masters featuring Liya Akhedzhakova, Leonid Kuravlyov, Aleksandr Lenkov and other stars of Russian cinema goes on general release in Russia from October 29.

The Director General of Disney Studio in Russia Marina Zhigalova-Ozkan says that though it is the first Russian film by Disney Studio, it is “absolutely Russian”.

The Book of Masters is a sort of a potpourri, where characters from Russian folklore, and Pushkin’s and Bazhov’s fairy tales are brought together.

The action is ironical, supplemented with modern interpretation and, according to Disney’s requirements, changing the characters for the better.

Disney’s Russian Fantasy Film ‘Kniga Masterov’ Looks Impressive

Did the title throw you off a little? Don’t worry, it through me off as well. Yes, it would appear that Disney has produced a Russian-only fantasy movie called Kniga Masterov or in its native Russian Книга мастеров. The English translation is Book of Masters and it’s the first Russian movie Disney has made. It stars an all Russian cast and dang if it doesn’t look brilliant.

I could easily throw out the names of the director, writer, actors and producers but honestly, I doubt you have ever heard of them and they are all Russian. Even IMDB doesn’t have pictures to go with their names. The film is based on Russian folklore and fairy tales but the imagery from the trailer and video clip lean heavily on the Lord of the Rings films. That’s not a bad thing though. I’m all for a good fantasy film, in whatever language it may be in.

Here are some trailers:

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 2009: Fairy Tales on Stage Part 2

Once again, a mix of interesting productions of fairy tales around the world. This is not exhaustive, but representative of some of the more interesting productions.

CBT's 'Snow White' is in black and white

With the company’s opening shows this weekend, the contrast will be represented with “Snow White: An Unlikely Tale of Lasting Love and Friendship,” designed for afternoon performances, and “Mirror Mirror: A Wicked Take on the Classic Snow White,” the evening fare.

North Carolina Dance Theatre choreographer Mark Diamond says his “Snow White” is a family friendly take he originated for his Charlotte audiences. “It is the basic fairy tale what we’re used to,” says Diamond, who sprinkled his traditional version with lots of laughter and color – in two acts.

Justo’s choreography sets the tale – “Mirror Mirror” – in the highly competitive modern-day fashion industry (think “The Devil Wears Prada”). It’s a story that takes the audience into the mind of the wicked, narcissistic queen.

Children's theatre: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Wimbledon

Polka Theatre will be turned into fairy tale central from Wednesday as they perform a new multi-sensory reworking of the classic story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The venues adventure theatre space is to be magically transformed with leaves growing up from the floor and a stove glowing quietly in the corner, with lots of different sized houses for children to peer into.

With lots of exciting and familiar smells for audiences to enjoy, from damp leaves in the forest to the aroma of actual porridge being cooked, the show is a treat for all the senses and is particularly suitable for visually impaired children.

There will also be two versions of the show, the standard one for children between three and five and other special performances for toddlers between one and two years-old which will be shorter in length and much more tactile.

Theatre: Once Upon a Fairy Tale at Colour House Theatre, Colliers Wood

Disaster has struck in fairy tale land. The characters have escaped and if they don't return to their books by midnight they will be lost forever!

"It's a modern fairy tale about a little boy called Billy who wants to spend all his time on his computer and not read any books," says the company's owner and producer of the show Laura Page, who also stars in it alongside Orla Mullan and Craig Gordan.

"His mum sends him to his room and he knocks the bookshelf over and all the characters escape.

"The fairy godmother then comes to him and tells him he has to get them all back by midnight or the books will be erased from the shelves.

"He gives in and travels with her to fairy tale land and meets lots of the characters and tries to get them back."

Thursday in Vancouver: Fallen Princesses

They are fairy-tale princesses like you’ve never seen before: Snow White is juggling two babies while her Prince Charming watches television - or Rapunzel sitting forlornly in a hospital room with her long blond wig lying desolate in her lap. Dina Goldstein pokes fun at our love affair with Disney's princesses in Fallen Princesses – poor ladies, it looks like the fairy godmother just up and ditched you… Fallen Princesses at the Buschlen Mowatt Gallery opens tonight (Thursday, October 22) More on Fallen Princesses here.

The Olde World Theatre's Hansel and Gretel

The production also features thunder and lightning, dancing skeletons, atmospheric use of a black light and a general nod in the direction of Halloween by which audience members are encouraged to arrive in costume. Beneath the cottage-industry SFX is the essential tale of two kiddies lost in the woods, which Steine has expanded to include a back-story, plus a focus on family values and a “green” sensitivity about the balance of nature. Lest anyone think Steine’s gone soft on his penchant for tongue-in-cheek humor, he comes through himself in the original role of Baron von Lumber (aka Herr Schnitzel), and there are comic fillips in the script that recall the fun of PeeWee’s Playhouse.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Take a Ride in My Pumpkin

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere. It's the season for them, so I thought I'd share some pumpkin carriages, Cinderella-style for a lighthearted Monday entry. This was a quick entry, so no editorials, just imagery. Clicking on an image should take you to the origin sites, all of which I thank for the images.

Feel the Fear - and Read It to Your Children Anyway

Feel the Fear - and Read It to Your Children Anyway by Jane Ruffino

More about children and scary literature with discussions of Maurice Sendak and references to the CBeebies editing of Humpty Dumpty again. Nothing new, but definitely on the side of NOT editing for children to the point where I start to want to argue the other side.

For example, the extreme:

Earlier this month, US magazine Newsweekinterviewed author Maurice Sendak about the film adaptation of Sendak's classic story Where The Wild Things Are. When asked what he'd say to parents worried the movie might be too scary, Sendak said, "I would tell them to go to hell." Childhood is an exhilarating and bloodcurdling journey, and Sendak has no tolerance for parents who would pretend otherwise.

More moderate:

American author Michael Chabon has lamented the erosion of "the wilderness of childhood", where kids once explored dangers and delights without constant surveillance. Children are filled with fears of strangers, and then, paradoxically, subjected to stories with the danger edited out.

"Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be," says Chabon, "the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes calamity."

Edited to add a link to this article, too: Commentary: 'Where the Wild Things Are' is scary, but so is life by Ruben Navarrette Jr

I get it. We really, really, really like our children. In fact, we love our children and we think they're the most precious little darlings ever created, and so naturally we want to protect them. And we should protect them from some things -- predators, disease, abuse, etc. But we shouldn't protect them from all things. And we certainly can't protect them from life. And part of life is getting scared now and then. In time, we learn to separate reality from fantasy.

And yet, while one infamous set of parents could face criminal charges for pretending their son was in a balloon, other parents think nothing of keeping their kids in a bubble.

And that is that...a lot of arguments against creating tea-cup children...with this movie release.

All a little on the slant and over a movie I'm not that interested in seeing, I must admit. And after attending a Halloween party with 80+ kids last night, the majority dressed in scary costumes, all rather interesting for consideration and debate.

And it's all generalized, too, for I think in the end it depends on the kids and their individual personalities to a great extent. I hate horror movies and always have but I immerse myself daily in rather terrifying fairy tales...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Disney's Fairy Tale Rings

The "Kirstie Kelly for Disney by Mouwad" collection of rings was just unveiled at Bridal Week in New York...

One of the biggest fairy tale related stories of the week is Disney's new foray into engagement rings named for the fairy tale princesses. So now you can own a ring officially named for a fairy tale princess if you like. I finally found images of all six rings instead of the random unnamed ones found in the countless articles from this week about this line. Didn't expect MTV to be one of the more helpful articles, but it was!

I admit I'm not seeing much of a correlation between design and princess, but the rings are attractive. A simple internet search will help you find retail locations but they won't be available until Spring 2010.

I like these three below better than the ones pictured above...I'm tied between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty for my favorites. You can also see images of the related gowns at this gallery.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love

So the first issue of the six part series, Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, a Fables spin-off is due out on November 4. Here's more information below. I'm sure this will be collected into another collection issue (which is how I get my Fables and Jack of Fables, I admit) after all six issues have been released although I haven't seen an announcement yet.

And here's more to help you read all about it:

Written by Chris Roberson Art by Shawn McManus Cover by Chrissie Zullo When supernatural artifacts from the Homelands begin surfacing in the modern world, it falls to Cinderella, Fabletown's best kept (and best dressed) secret agent to stop the illegal trafficking. But can Cindy foil the dark plot before Fabletown and its hidden, exiled inhabitants are exposed once and for all? And how does her long lost Fairy Godmother factor into the equation? Whether she's soaring through clouds, deep-sea diving, or cracking jaws, Cindy travels from Manhattan to Dubai and hooks up with a handsome, familiar accomplice who may be harboring secret motives of his own. Meanwhile, trouble brews back home in Fabletown when Cindy's overworked, underappreciated assistant decides to seize control of The Glass Slipper, Cindy's exclusive shoe boutique. Writer Chris Roberson (occasional contributor to HOUSE OF MYSTERY and JACK OF FABLES), artist Shawn McManus (SANDMAN, THESSALY: WITCH FOR HIRE) and evocative new cover painter Chrissie Zullo deliver Cindy's first major solo adventure replete with sex, spies and magical shoes in the 6-issue CINDERELLA: FROM FABLETOWN WITH LOVE.

Cinderella: Superspy: Writer Talks 'Fables' Spin-off

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love, next month's six-issue mini-series by writer Chris Roberson and artist Shawn McManus, will show the kick-ass side of Cindy as she faces a formidable foe from the Fable lands.

The mini-series is a spin-off from the ongoing Vertigo series Fables, the comic by Bill Willingham that follows the adventures of fairy tale characters who escaped from an invasion of their magical world to form a secret community in the heart of New York City. The almost-immortal "fables," as they're called, still hold somewhat true to their histories, but have evolved over the hundreds of years that they've been walking around our "mundane" world.

Fables has been one of the publisher's more successful titles, currently on issue #90 with a spin-off series, Jack of Fables already over 30 issues strong. Fables is also being translated for television as ABC has ordered a pilot for an hour-long drama series based on the series.

And another Newsarama article: Cinderella, Super-Spy: Roberson on the Fables Spin-Off

You can read Chris Roberson's announcement about the series on his site.

You can also read posts about the series on the Vertigo blog.

And another article: Willingham Expands the Fables Universe:Fables creator Bill Willingham discusses the state of Fables, his new novel, and the upcoming Cinderella mini-series

So either head to your favorite bookstore or order online or wait for the compilation issue sometime next year. The images are for the first three issues, due out in November, December and January, respectively.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shrek Closing on Broadway

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg Comments on SHREK Closing

SHREK THE MUSICAL®, the Tony Award®-winning production, will play its final performance on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway) on Sunday, January 3rd, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. following 441 performances and 37 previews. SHREK THE MUSICAL® will launch a national tour at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre for a limited engagement, July 13 - September 5, 2010.

The musical may end up somewhere near you with the tour around the U.S. so if you were interested in seeing it, you still might be able to do so.

You can read more about the production at Shrek the Musical.

Princess and the Frog Recent Articles

Here's some interesting articles about the making of the film as well as the music:Interview: Princess And The Frog Directors John Musker And Ron Clements. Plus 7 Brand New Images!

Can you talk about how you guys came onboard to this movie and the genesis of the project and why New Orleans versus other parts of the country?

Clements: Sure. The history of this project is a little more complicated than some movies, but obviously this is very loosely based on the Grimm fairy tale 'The Frog Prince' which is a very short little story. Disney actually has been trying to do something with that story for years and years, going all the way back to the time of 'Beauty and the Beast' that I remember. They had versions in the works. More recently, in I think 2003, Disney bought the rights to a children's book called 'The Frog Princess' by an author named E.D. Baker and in that story, it was basically a kind of fairy tale with a twist. In that story the princess kissed the frog and instead of him turning into a prince she turned into a frog and then the two sort of went on an adventure together. It doesn't really bear a lot of resemblance to our movie except for that basic thing within that. Then Disney explored in the earlier part of this decade, I think, versions of that with some writers and some treatments.

Musker: Parallel to that Pixar had been exploring 'The Frog Princess' as a possible CG film and at first it was set in Chicago in the 1930's and then I think John Lasseter suggested New Orleans to Pixar and their development because he loves New Orleans. It's his favorite city and I think being frogs and all of that which made him go, 'Why don't you set this in New Orleans. It's a great locale and a cool place.'

And here's the one about the music:

Oscar Contender: 'The Princess and the Frog' is a music frontrunner

"Friends On the Other Side"
This scene finds the human Naveen and his valet Lawrence seduced by the story's villain, Dr. Facilier in the fantastic song "Friends on the Other Side." A big musical number in the vein of "Under the Sea" and "Be Our Guest," it is one of the most artistically daring animated sequences shown so far. In fact, you wish the song would go on a bit longer.

In this scene, Naveen, changed into a frog by Dr. Facilier, attempts to break his curse by kissing "Princess" Tiana. They both quickly learn what happens when you fool with magic. It's a little slapstick, but charmingly played out. Watch it embedded in this post or watch a larger version here.

"When We're Human"
This was probably the most disappointing scene we were shown. With Naveen and Tiana trapped both as frogs and in the Louisiana Bayou, they meet a jazz trumpet playing and friendly alligator named Louis (as in Louis Armstrong, get it?) who knows where the Voodoo priestess Mama Odie lives. It turns out Odie might be the key to transforming our hero and heroine back into human beings again. And for Louis, who just wants to play jazz with a real band, she might make him human too. The song is intriguing, but boy is it hard for the word "human" to flow lyrically.

"Dig A Little Deeper"
A great surprise, this rousing, gospel-inspired song is a solo for Jennifer Lewis' Mama Odie and the one completely new scene we were previewed. It’s a fun tune that will be one of the most memorable tracks after moviegoers leave the theater.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Statistically six out of seven Dwarfs are not Happy

From The Spoof, which of course means that this is a completely fabricated "news" story:

Statistically six out of seven Dwarfs are not Happy by Seb 'ODriscoll

Studies have shown that six out of seven dwarfs are not Happy. Literary experts announced their findings after three years of painstakingly analysis of children's classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Master Antonio Cherry, who led the research, said: "We assiduously studied every aspect of the fairy tale and have concluded that of the seven dwarfs, only one was Happy. Of course there was only one Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful and Dopey too. We are still trying to penetrate the meaning of Doc though."

There's some more on the article page, but this was the funniest part. The rest gets political, too, if that matters to you.

But this made me smile so I thought I would share...

And here are more along the same lines--I didn't read all of these so I'm not vouching for good taste--read at your own risk...

Snow White says drink was spiked

Sneezy From Seven Dwarves Dies Of Swine Flu

Scientists Find Snow White's Dwarf Happy Had the Happiness Gene; So Did Dopey

Snow White charged in "Dumpty" murder

Snow White's Doc Discredited

Snow White Arrested in Texas

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Changing Endings...

Found this article at the Telegraph about changing the endings of traditional children's stories: BBC gives nursery rhymes a fairytale ending by Paul Stokes

According to recent broadcasts, Humpty Dumpty was not irreparably damaged in his great fall and Little Miss Muffet has no particular fear of spiders.

The examples have been picked up in recent programmes on the network's CBeebies children's channel.

Last Friday's Something Special, aimed at children with special needs but popular with all under-fives, included a singalong feature in which the lyrics were changed.

Instead of all the King's horses and all the King's men being unable to put him together again, they "made Humpty happy again".

Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow South, who watched the show with his sons aged five and three, described the re-worked version as "pathetic".

He was also critical of a previous episode of Big Cook Little Cook in which Little Miss Muffet welcomes a spider that sits down beside her.

And this is the BBC's response also from the article:

The BBC defended its decision to change the words which it says was for "creative" reasons and not to sanitise the rhymes.

A spokeswoman pointed out that the nursery rhymes in their original form were maintained in full on the CBeebies website.

The article also linked back to a January 2009 article: Traditional fairytales 'not PC enough': Parents have stopped reading traditional fairytales to their children because they are too scary and not politically correct, according to research.

Favourites such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Rapunzel are being dropped by some families who fear children are being emotionally damaged.

A third of parents refused to read Little Red Riding Hood because she walks through woods alone and finds her grandmother eaten by a wolf.

One in 10 said Snow White should be re-named because "the dwarf reference is not PC".

Rapunzel was considered "too dark" and Cinderella has been dumped amid fears she is treated like a slave and forced to do all the housework.

The poll of 3,000 British parents - by - revealed a quarter of mothers now rejected some classic fairy tales.

And the article ends with:

Top 10 fairy tales we no longer read:

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

2. Hansel and Gretel

3. Cinderella

4. Little Red Riding Hood

5. The Gingerbread Man

6. Jack and the Beanstalk

7. Sleeping Beauty

8. Beauty and the Beast

9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears

10. The Emperor's New Clothes

So where do you fall in the controversy? There is definitely no simple answer, to put it mildly. I'm not very upset with rewriting endings. It's been done for hundreds of years in oral tradition.

And don't we all adapt our stories to fit the needs or desires of our audience? I used to regularly drive a carpool of four girls ages 8-11 and they BEGGED me to share the "scary" versions of fairy tales each and every time they got in my car. I think one of the issues is that once children start reading on their own, they don't have family storytimes anymore. I don't read Hansel and Gretel to toddlers, but I think it's a story with a lot of discussion value for the five and older set.

And I see fairy tales as valuable in providing a common experience. With the internet and other medias, so many interests are getting split and splintered over and over again. Pop music isn't as widely spread with the increase of genres, for example, or the explosion of media outlets of all forms. We're losing other common experiences like tv show theme songs. We are inundated with book titles so that only the bestsellers have a chance of being known by a decent portion of the population. Fairy tales, however, can still be part of the common experience and thus common reference. Observe their constant usage in advertising and elsewhere to see their power. Of course I think children should learn about fairy tales, but at appropriate ages and times, not the scariest ones at a 2-year-old's bedtime.

Exhibit: Fairy Tales: From The Dark Wood to Happily Ever After

Here's the press release for this upcoming exhibit in Brooklyn, NY.

Fairy tales have a special place in our childhood memories. But did you know that these beloved stories were originally written for an adult audience? Fairy Tales: From The Dark Wood to Happily Ever After is an art exhibit which explores this surprising duality. It presents a wide variety of visual responses to fairy tales — from children's book illustration to fine art; from fantasy to graphic novels. The exhibit opens Friday, October 23 at Kris Waldherr Art and Words gallery in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Kris Waldherr, owner and curator of the Brooklyn studio-gallery, says “This exhibit goes way beyond Disney to explore the rich complexity of fairy tales. I'm very excited to bring together such an illustrious group of artists for it." Waldherr is also an author-illustrator of many books, including Doomed Queens and The Book of Goddesses; she will have paintings from her picture books The Firebird and Rapunzel on display in the exhibit. Other artists in the exhibit include Kristina Carroll, Leela Corman, Mary Louise Geering, Lisa Hunt, Aram Kim, Amy Saidens, Carisa Swenson, and Karen Zuegner. All are Brooklyn residents except for Hunt, who lives and works in Florida.

The opening reception for Fairy Tales: From The Dark Wood to Happily Ever After takes place on Friday, October 23, 7 - 10 pm. Admission is free and children are welcome. The exhibit will be up through the holidays. Books and prints featuring art from the exhibit will also be available for sale.

Kris Waldherr Art and Words gallery is located at 1501 Newkirk Avenue, one block from the Q and B subway station. To learn more about this event and others, visit or call 347-406-5811.

And here are examples of a few pieces on exhibit. There are a few more on the press release page linked above.

Puss in Boots by Lisa Hunt ( Hunt is a world-renowned tarot artist who won the COVR Interactive Sideline Award for her Animals Divine Tarot. Her most recent publication is The Fairy Tale Tarot.

The Frog Prince by Kris Waldherr ( Waldherr is an author, illustrator, and designer whose art has been exhibited in the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She is the author-illustrator of Doomed Queens, The Lover’s Path, and The Book of Goddesses.

Thanks to Lisa Stock for sharing this information with me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Lyndon Wicked Tale: Red Rage

Okay, I admit it. I'm ready for a new fairy tale based video game that DOESN'T feature Little Red Riding Hood. I don't even play them, but this girl has a monopoly that needs some competition.

But while we're waiting for that to happen, this one is available for iPhones for 99 cents.

A Lyndon Wicked Tale: Red Rage

Little Red Riding Hood is a familiar story told to children at an early age. While it may be a child's tale, nothing can mask the adult tones and the deep-seeded darkness it embodies. Little Red Riding Hood is about a girl in peril being stalked by a cunning and conniving wolf. Family members get eaten, the villain tricks the heroine, and the wolf is ultimately eviscerated.

A Lyndon Wicked Tale: Red Rage

As is the case with all fairy stories, there are various versions of Little Red Riding Hood.

Sometimes granny hides in the cupboard, sometimes the woodsman has to slice open the wolf pull out granny's corpse.

There's probably even some exotic versions in which the wolf and Red Riding Hood live happily ever after by continuing to claim granny's pension.

We've yet to hear to a version where Red tools up with axes and dynamite and takes on the wolves, before moving on to wipe out various forms of vampires though.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tales from My Grandmother: Man is Priceless

Column: Tales from my grandmother [Part 1] by Brooke Nuwati has been a regular feature on My Joy Online the past several weeks. Nuwati explains the premise here:

Grandma encouraged me to be confident, resilient, assertive, tolerant, faithful, modest and patient. All these and many more virtues she imbibed in me in a most natural and unforced manner. I picked them (oh, I hope) without knowing that I was being groomed or tutored. I grew up thinking people grow naturally with these things. Maybe that explains why I’m often too sympathetic towards others, trusting them too much, thinking that they would equally see the beauty in others too while appreciating their differences. I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have been so blessed. So blessed I didn’t even know!

These virtues continue to guide me, assuring me that hard work and patience are virtues worth pursuing and that there are so many more things to recover and discover in life – life is a lesson; keep learning as much as you can. Most importantly, do practice what you learn, for knowledge acquired and stored only without its application is as good as nothing.

Let’s take this journey happily together as I share with you in the coming weeks, some other interesting tales from my grandmother.

Why am I sharing this here? Because I found this tale from a few weeks ago: Tales from my grandmother: Man is priceless. Don't be fooled by the title. This is a straight forward Cinderella story with some modern trappings.

I'm *spoiling* this time, sharing most of the ending--I didn't include the very last paragraph so click through to read it all--but it is where the Cinderella qualities are the most modern. The fairy godmother becomes godparents who provide an education instead of a ball gown. The heroine becomes the first lady of the nation after much persecution from a stepmother endured with hardworking patience. The story is self-aware of it's fairy tale qualities, but never calls itself a Cinderella tale.

As in a fairytale, Emefa remained sober and polite and went about her duties while praying to God for a lot of patience. Unknown to her she had won the admiration and love of a childless couple who had seen the hardworking dirty-looking girl running in the neighbourhood on one errand or the other. The couple contacted Emefa’s father and requested that Emefa came to stay with them while they assume every responsibility of her including her education.

Mrs. Alele was all-joy as she couldn’t wait to get rid of the bug in her cloth, Emefa. She gladly threw her out the moment the couple expressed their interest, for it was overdue! She wished the couple a happy time with the pack of trouble they are rushing for. “If only they knew what they were in for?” she muttered to herself as the couple left happily with Emefa.

It so happened that Emefa was sent to school where she excelled and came out with a Masters degree in Business Administration. She later married a young man she graduated with who later became the President making Emefa the first lady … mother of a whole nation.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the Slant: International Kindle

Since I ended up reading about academic fairy tale studies on the Wall Street Journal this morning, I also came across this lucid article about the International Kindle:

The Book That Contains All Books: The globally available Kindle could mark as big a shift for reading as the printing press and the codex

I've been an enthusiastic Kindle user since last year when I bought it as merely a convenience for traveling. To not have a supply of books to read at hand is the height of misery for me. I have well over a 1,000 titles on my Kindle now and find I prefer reading with it. And I was a diehard book person previously, a librarian, a woman who has hauled thousands of books back and forth across the country in moves. Books define much of my existence.

Now I find most of my book purchases are for the Kindle, at least my entertainment reading. I prefer reading on my Kindle since I can do it one handed at various print sizes. I read while exercising on my elliptical now. I've even formatted my first three SurLaLune anthologies for the Kindle before anything else since that is how I wanted to read them myself.

Of course, book readers are horrible for illustrated books. The technology is working on that. They are not replacements for books. But they are complements, improving portability, access and ease of use in many ways.

I'm not here to debate Digital Rights Management. All e-readers, including the Kindle, can support books not sold by their distributors. Most of the books on mine were accessed for free and added at no cost to me by me. They are out-of-copyright titles, of course, but I read and study classics. Those can also be shared with other device owners. I've also bought many current titles and spared my groaning shelves over the past year.

And I wish this technology had been available when I was a student, lugging books around that I may or may not need around campus! I am curious to see where the trend goes. I rolled my eyes at the technology a few years ago and now I'm converted. No, it's not the same sensual experience as holding a book. I've heard that complaint over and over again. But when I'm reading novels and unillustrated books, that doesn't matter.

With my reader, I get a book that is lightweight no matter the page length, one that isn't yellowing or giving me allergy issues, one that has the exact same text as the printed version. Reading for me is strictly about the words in about 90% of the materials I read. I find myself picking books to read on the Kindle before the ones laying on the TBR stack next to my bed. Overall, I prefer the reading experience. And I'm not even into reading glasses yet, but choosing a slightly larger text size is wonderful, too. My grandmother suffered from macular degeneration. Her family was always seeking large print books for her, limited to heavy, often irrelevant titles for her. If I am someday afflicted with the same condition, I am thrilled to think virtually no book will be unavailable to me.

In WSJ: Academic Studies of Fairy Tales

Today, the Wall Street Journal offers us:

Academic Studies of Fairy Tales: Holly Tucker selects revelatory studies of fairy tales

I've only seen the online version of the article and it appears rather arbitrary without any explanation beyond the title. Why was this included in today's issue?

Anyway, the article consists of five books which each receive a paragraph length's explanation of their content. A fine list offered by Holly Tucker, herself the author of Pregnant Fictions: Childbirth and the Fairy Tale in Early Modern France (pictured above) and the head editor/inspiration for Wonders and Marvels website which I have been saving for an "on the slant" post. She also teaches a class on fairy tales at Vanderbilt in my hometown.

If you want to read Tucker's recommendations, please click through to the article. I'm posting the titles here with Amazon links since I believe WSJ articles tend to not be free after a period of time and I want to at least let the titles remain public. It's a mix of titles by some of the field's heaviest hitters (Zipes, Tatar and Bottigheimer) as well as the ubiquitious Bettelheim.

1. The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim (Can you believe this is out of print? I guess there are enough used copies floating around to fufill the curiosty for this somewhat debunked but influential book.)

2. Off With Their Heads! by Maria Tatar

3. Grimms' Bad Girls and Bold Boys by Ruth B. Bottigheimer

4. Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion by Jack Zipes

5. Red Riding Hood for All Ages by Sandra L. Beckett

This Beckett title is confusing and has been on my list to investigate further. Published last year, I believe it is an updated version of Beckett's earlier Recycling Red Riding Hood, but Amazon has a new version of that title listed for this year, too. So perhaps not. The Wonders and Marvels site actually calls the book Recycling Red Riding Hood to confuse the issue more although the cover image doesn't correlate. I'll clear up the confusion when I learn more.

Either way, here's Wayne State Press's description for Red Riding for All Ages:

Red Riding Hood for All Ages investigates the modern recasting of one of the world’s most beloved and frequently told tales. Author Sandra L. Beckett examines an international selection of contemporary fiction for children, adolescents, and adults to find a wide range of narrative and interpretive perspectives in the tale and its revisions. Beckett shows how authors and illustrators from around the globe have renewed the age-old tale in a range of multilayered, sophisticated, and complex textual and visual Red Riding Hood narratives.

With a child protagonist who confronts grown-up issues of sexuality, violence, and death, the Red Riding Hood story appeals to readers of all age groups and is often presented in crossover texts that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Beckett presents a wide selection of retellings, many of which have been never translated into English. Texts come from a variety of countries in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia and date from the early twentieth to the twenty-first century. This wealth of stories and illustrations is organized thematically into sections that consider Little Red Riding Hood alternately as a cautionary tale, an initiation story, a story focused on the wolf, a tale inspired by the wolf within, and a story of an unconventional girl who runs with wolves.

This volume provides a global survey of Red Riding Hood’s story in contemporary culture, proving that the character is omnipresent in modern literature and that the universal appeal of her story knows no age boundaries. Red Riding Hood for All Ages will be of interest to scholars of folklore, gender studies, and literature, as well as librarians, educators, parents, and all those interested in the many interpretations of the Red Riding Hood tale.

Sounds like a great book (or both are), especially for Red Riding Hood studies.

In contrast, here's a review for Recycling Red Riding Hood originally published in Marvels and Tales.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Guardian: 'Animals'

Today's fairy tale booklet (Day 7 and the last one!) at The Guardian is themed 'Animals'. You can read more about the seven part series at my previous post.

Animals in fairytales: Marina Warner looks at the role animals play in fairytales. Warner is the author of From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, an excellent book I can't recommend highly enough.

Here's an excerpt:

The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss commented that animals were "bons à penser" (good to think with), and fairytales speak through beasts to explore common experiences – fear of sexual intimacy, terror and violence and injustice, struggles for survival. A tradition of articulate, anthropomorphised creatures of every kind is as old as literature itself: animal fables and beast fairytales are found in ancient Egypt and Greece and India, and the legendary Aesop of the classics has his storytelling counterparts all over the world, who use crows and ants, lions and monkeys, ravens and donkeys to satirise the follies and vices of human beings and display along the way the effervescent cunning and high spirits of the fairytale genre.

Today's theme also gives us another three fairy tales to read:

The fairytale of Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont

The fairytale of the Heart of a Monkey retold by Andrew Lang

The fairytale of Hans My Hedgehog by the Brothers Grimm, translated by Jack Zipes

The illustrations for this set are by Eleanor Davis.

There is also an extra article on the site today:

Get off of my tuffet, Muffet by John Harris: I can't lament the demise of nursery rhymes when my three-year-old sings rock'n'roll classics instead

Last week, a survey by the reading charity Booktrust decisively revealed the tragic fate of our old friend the nursery rhyme. Of 2,500 parents, only 36% regularly used such folk poetry with their kids, and over 20% said they never bothered at all. Among younger parents, things were even worse: 33% of mums and dads aged between 16 and 24 reckoned nursery rhymes were "too old-fashioned" to interest their offspring,and 20% of the same cohort questioned their educational value. Somewhat predictably, there was also a gender fault-line within the research: whereas, for example, 78% of women knew all the words to Incy Wincy Spider, the figure among men was a miserable 45%.

And don't miss the reader comments on the last one! Many opinions there...

Andersen's Fairy Park

People's Daily Online posted this shortly before I retired for the evening:

World's first Andersen's fairy park will be built in Shanghai

"Andersen's Fairy Park", the world's first large-scale children's outdoor theme park, will be built in Shanghai before the opening of the Expo 2010 Shanghai.

According to investors, covering an area of more than 80,000 square meters, the park is expected to open in May, 2010.

"Andersen's Fairy Park" will lead the children into the world of fairy tale. A science museum, with theme of Andersen's fairy tales, is planned to be built to popularize humanity and natural science knowledge.

That is all the information I could find so far. It's on several sites so this must be directly from the press release. Thus my quoting of the entire article....

This is also where the Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen is going to be loaned, at least to the expo.

October 2009: Fairy Tales on Stage

Time for some more recent and/or upcoming theatrical interpretations of fairy tales:

The Nightingale And Other Short Fables: Robert Lepage makes water music

How about this for starters: the action of the second act (The Nightingale) takes place in the orchestra pit, which has been flooded with 67 tonnes of water. You won’t, though, see bass fiddles doubling as lifeboats or violins as paddles – the orchestra and chorus will be onstage.

In the pit’s waist-deep pool, singers will manipulate puppets to tell Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a nightingale that stops Death from claiming the Chinese emperor.

Cinderella in spikes NEYT throws a screwball at a familiar fairy tale

NEYT presents "Cinderella at the Ballgame," a wildly comic story featuring princesses, fairy godmothers and godfathers, as well as the Boys of Summer, Mel Allen, Bleacher Bums and even the Green Monster.

Driving Cinderella with artistic license: Director Todd Robinson puts '50s spin on classic tale in opera adaptation

What do early 19th-century Italian classical music, a childhood fairy tale, over-the-top humor and references to 1950s-era America have in common? In short, Gioacchino Rossini's classic opera, "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella), as revised and performed by Opera Coeur d'Alene.

MVC Theatre presents 'The Robber Bridegroom' October 7-10 in the Eckilson-Mabee Theatre

The Missouri Valley College Department Of Theatre, Music and Dance will present "The Robber Bridegroom," a musical by Robert Waldman and Alfred Uhry, at 7:30 p.m. nightly from Oct. 7-10 in the Eckilson-Mabee Theatre on the MVC campus. A rousing, bawdy Southern fairy tale based on a Eudora Welty story, set in eighteenth century Mississippi, "The Robber Bridegroom" is the story of the courting of Rosamund, the only daughter of the richest planter in the country, by Jamie Lockhart, a rascally robber of the woods.

The Three Pigs

The three pigs are trying to make it onto America’s Barnyard Idol, but that big, bad Elvis-loving wolf has stolen their ticket to the big audition! Can they get their ticket back in time? There's lots of music and laughter in this original take on The Three Pigs – tons of fun for everyone!

Piwacket Children's Theatre Opens Season with CINDERBOTTOM

Piwacket Children's Theatre begins their 2009-2010 season with a retelling of the familiar Cinderella story, here called CinderBottom. Like all of their productions, there's a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor that makes it palatable for both children and adults, and there are a number of cute little catchy singalong type tunes interspersed as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snow White Beer Ad

'Ho White' Beer Ad Incurs Disney's Wrath

A beer advertisement featuring Snow White blowing smoke rings while lying in bed with seven semi-naked dwarves has reportedly left Disney fuming.

I'm not sharing imagery but pictures are available through the link. I swerve away from the tasteless and possible copyright infringements on the blog. This one definitely plays very closely with Disney's imagery for the characters. And you don't mess with Disney copyrights. That is a very dangerous proposition. Generic versions of fairy tales: safe. Disney's fairy tales: Not ever safe.

But this is news, so I share it with you...

The Guardian: 'Justice and Punishment'

Today's fairy tale booklet (Day 6) at The Guardian is themed 'Justice and Punishment'. You can read more about the seven part series at my previous post.

Justice and punishment in fairytales: Sarah Churchwell looks at the consequences of fairytale sins. Here's an excerpt:

What constitutes transgression changes as much as what constitutes morality. Little Red Riding Hood, in the earliest version, doesn't disobey, she errs, in the most literal sense, wandering away from the path. But in Perrault's tale she isn't warned not to, and so is not punished for heedlessness. She is simply too innocent to know better, and gobbled up by the wolf, without the last-minute rescue by a huntsman to soften the blow for the children listening. The cautionary tale is simple, its lesson clear. The Red Shoes punishes internal transgressions, otherwise known as sins – although Andersen can't tell the difference between venial and mortal sins. But Little Red Riding Hood cautions innocence from the perspective of experience, warning of external dangers. There be wolves. Duly noted.

Today's theme also gives us another four fairy tales to read:

The fairytale of the one-handed murderer by Italo Calvino

The fairytale of Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault, translated by AE Johnson

The fairytale of the Fisherman and Ifrit from the Arabian Nights, translated by Malcom C Lyons

The fairytale of the Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Naomi Lewis

The illustrations for this set are by Tyler Garrison.

Three Billy Goats Pub

Now this is fun! Kudos to Ron Smits for using a fairy tale in a clever way.

Three Billy Goats Pub finds home below Mason Street bridge

Smits said he chose the name because the pub is under the bridge, referring to the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" fairy tale. It also fits nicely with one of the bar's main beer suppliers: Horny Goat Brewing Co. of Milwaukee.

Not the way I usually think of The Three Billy Goats Gruff but it really works well in this scenario. I wonder how many patrons will realize the name is based on a fairy tale?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Guardian: 'Wisdom and Folly'

Today's fairy tale booklet (Day 5) at The Guardian is themed 'Wisdom and Folly'. You can read more about the seven part series at my previous post.

Wisdom and Folly in Fairytales: Alison Lurie looks at wisdom and folly. Here's an excerpt:

Once upon a time most people in Europe could not read or write. They got their stories, and their rules for living, from two main sources: Sunday sermons given by men, and tales told round the kitchen fire by women. The storytellers that the Brothers Grimm and other folklorists collected their material from were almost always women. For hundreds of years, while men were writing books and preaching sermons, women were creating a parallel oral tradition.

One lesson that these old stories taught was what it means to be intelligent, and what it means to be stupid. Both men and women in folktales may be wise, or they may be foolish. They may also start out clueless and gradually gain wisdom.

Today's theme also gives us another four fairy tales to read:

The fairytale of the Mixed-Up Feet and the Silly Bridgegroom, by Isaac Bashevis Singer, retold by Elizabeth Shub

The fairytale of clever Gretchen retold by Alison Lurie

The fairytale of the Black Geese retold by Alison Lurie

The fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk by Joseph Jacobs

The illustrations for this set are by Pietari Posti.

Inspired by Fairy Tales: Mary Ann Hoberman

In the news last week: National children's poet laureate shares pizza, advice with students from her hometown by Lauren Mylo. The article is about Mary Ann Hoberman. I'm a fan of her picture books of children's songs illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott. I've used them over and over in storytimes and had page turns memorized with Skip to My Lou from constant rereads to my niece. The Lady With the Alligator Purse is my personal favorite although Michael Finnegan is a close second.

The article had this fun bit about fairy tales:

Lauren Cunningham, 13, asked what inspired Hoberman to begin writing. The children's poet laureate said she grew up during the depression and her family didn't have many books, but three that remained with her were "Told Again" by Walter De La Mare and fairy tale collections from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

"A lot of fairy tales, they've sort of come down to us and we don't know who wrote them," said Hoberman. "But Hans Christian Andersen wrote his own, and I loved them. So when I realized -- and I was tiny, probably four years old -- but when I realized someone had written them, that's when I realized I wanted to be a writer."

So add another author to the list of those inspired by fairy tales. Not a surprise with Hoberman--she's also responsible for You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together--but I like reading the proof.