Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Back in August when I was introducing myself on one of the panels at Faerie Escape, I mentioned that Twelve Dancing Princesses Tales From Around the World would be one of the next books in the SurLaLune series. I usually flounder through those moments and was surprised when there was an audible audience reaction over this title, definitely from more than one person, of excitement. The hubby was in the audience and has referenced that moment several times.
To be truthful, I don't expect this title to ever sell as well as Sleeping Beauties or Rapunzel and especially the upcoming Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast titles. It's a much more obscure fairy tale, after all. I'm more surprised when the average person on the street is familiar with it than not. After all, the Barbie movie didn't increase its visibility that much a few years ago.
But I wanted to do this collection as much for me as anything else. And for all of its fans I've met over the years. I first added it to SurLaLune out of my own curiosity and due to reader requests. The research for the book was not easy going since the scholarship is almost nonexistent, especially in English. And what there is is quite derivative. Granted, this is a tale that is not nearly as widespread as others, but it has been fascinating to dig deeper into it. And it doesn't help that almost all of the online searches lead me back to myself. Really. Quite flattering of Google to do that, but I don't want to read what I have already published online. I wanted more breadth and depth. Then there's the challenge of the tale names which are rather generic word searches when you break them down. Oh, the woes of the researcher...
So over the next few weeks I will post several times about what I learned while researching and editing the book. There is more breadth and depth and much more than can be found on the SurLaLune site. I ended up translating three tales for the collection, one I didn't find in any English version at all. I also received permission to reprint three tales from rare sources, including the one with my favorite title, "The Hell-Bent Misses." Isn't that delicious?
So my question today is why do you enjoy Twelve Dancing Princesses, if you do? Is it the locked door mystery? The journey to beautiful and exotic locations? The cold-hearted princesses in the most popular versions? The cloak of invisibility? The humble hero? Why do you think this tale is so popular as a "second string" fairy tale? It is in the top twenty of the most recognized fairy tales, just not the top ten. Why did the room gasp in excitement at the thought of a book about this tale?
Betsy Red Hoodie by Gail Carson Levine with illustrations by Scott Nash was released a few weeks ago. A few days ago, a review copy of it appeared on my doorstep, reminding me of that. I really do try to remember all these books! Receiving review copies is really nice, too.
Here's the book description from the publisher:
Betsy is finally old enough to take cupcakes to Grandma all by herself—with the company of her faithful sheep, of course. And although wolves aren’t good for grandmas, Betsy lets her best friend, Zimmo, come along too. But will Zimmo’s wolfish instincts make Grandma the tasty treat instead?
In her second picture book starring the feisty young shepherd Betsy, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine teams up once again with Scott Nash to put a hilarious twist on an old favorite. This reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood is sure to delight readers from little lambs to cupcake-loving grandmas.
Anyway, this is a "sequel" to Levine's previous book, Betsy Who Cried Wolf. Both books are quite cute. Betsy and Zimmo and all the sheep are back, this time with a take on Little Red Riding Hood, as the description says.
"You have to stay home," Betsy said. "Wolves aren't good for grandmas." Long ago a wolf had eaten a grandma."
That's the tone, right there in those few lines.
I have to admit my favorite characters are the sheep. They get to participate mostly through balloon bubble comments throughout the book. The have more fun and get to deliver the "big eyes" and "big teeth" lines this time. There's plenty of direct nods for the kids to understand and enough subtlety to amuse adults, too, such as sheep "tumbling" after her (Jack and Jill of course) and wool that needs dry cleaning.
Anyway, it's a fun book and great for lapsitting although the nature of the talk bubbles and side comments don't make it an ideal group storytime read--although I don't do many storytimes anymore, I can't help evaluating all books for the needed qualities--it's still a great book to add to any library: home, school or public.
And, please, although I am preaching to the choir, if you have never read Levine's Ella Enchanted, please do. I try to push it at almost every middle reader I meet--at least twice this month and I don't talk books with children in person that often anymore--but that darn movie has ruined it for so many readers. All of these current 8-11 year old girls grew up with the movie on the tv or on DVD and they think it is the book, especially since the current paperback still sports the Anne Hathaway cover. They think they won't like it or that they already know it. It is still one of my favorite Cinderella versions and that is not a light statement from me. I have never been so disappointed as when it didn't win the Newbery. Honor, yes, gold, no. If it had more kids would be reading it for classrooms at least and seeing that Cinderella and assigned reading can both be entertaining...
(stepping off my soapbox now...)
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales edited by Kate Berheimer is officially released today. My copy should be arriving by UPS sometime today--I preordered it, of course--being a fan of Bernheimer's previous work. Needless to say I haven't read this one yet, but I plan to.
Here's the publisher's book description:
The fairy tale lives again in these forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction
Neil Gaiman, Michael Cunningham, Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, Lydia Millet, and more than thirty other extraordinary writers celebrate fairy tales in this thrilling volume-the ultimate literary costume party.
Spinning houses and talking birds. Whispered secrets and borrowed hope. Here are new stories sewn from old skins, gathered from around the world by visionary editor Kate Bernheimer and inspired by everything from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" and "The Little Match Girl" to Charles Perrault's "Bluebeard" and "Cinderella" to the Brothers Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" and "Rumpelstiltskin" to fairy tales by Goethe and Calvino.
Fairy tales are our oldest literary tradition, and yet they chart the imaginative frontiers of the twenty-first century as powerfully as they evoke our earliest encounters with literature. This exhilarating collection restores their place in the literary canon.
And some of the advance praise:
"The fairy tale is not dead. This wonderful collection brings together some of our best contemporary writers and some of our most beloved (and even feared) old stories. Rumplestiltskin, Bluebeard, the Earl-King, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White-all come alive again in vivid and colloquial prose. This is a book of brilliant dreams and dazzling nightmares: perfect fare for imaginative readers of any age."
-Seth Lerer, author of Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter and dean of arts and humanities at the University of California, San Diego
"I cannot remember a time I had more fun reading a book! Many of these contemporary tales rival the originals in creepiness, joy, and impact."
-Darcey Steinke, author of Easter Everywhere
"Let's open the door to the green room and peek to see who is waiting. A bevy of beauties . . . an evanescence of sprites . . . an abundance of adversaries . . . a passel of princes . . . Maybe we should have brought that bubbly; but there's something being served here more deeply inebriating than champagne. Hush."
-Gregory Maguire, from the Foreword
And here's the Facebook page for the book.
And it is 608 pages long, so that's a lot of book for the price. Go find you a copy...show the authors and publishers we want more books like this one. :)
And if you don't own Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales or Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men on Fairy Tales (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies) go ahead and order those, too. These will all look pretty on your shelf together after you read them.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Twelve Dancing Princesses Tales From Around the World is now available for ordering on Amazon. It will start appearing in Baker and Taylor and other bookseller sources over the next several weeks.
I will be discussing it more over the next few weeks, but for now you can read more about it on the SurLaLune Press: Twelve Dancing Princesses Page.
Grimm's Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham is a new release from Calla Editions (part of Dover). This is a reproduction of the original 1909 release by Rackham and a great, inexpensive way to own a beautiful collection of Rackham's work with the tales. It has an October release date but is already shipping from Amazon. Dover rarely has firm pub dates and they are usually bumped later than earlier, so I am happy this one is earlier.
Edited to make corrections and additions based on Jeff's comments, HAH. Thanks, Jeff!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
So you probably already know that Disney is rereleasing Beauty and the Beast to DVD and Blu-Ray with a release date of October 5. Yes, this is the Diamond edition this time since there has already been a Platinum edition. (Don't try to figure it out. I just wonder if the next time they release it it will be plutonium or titanium or something else.)
Either way, this is its first release to Blu-ray to those of you using that platform now. And just to make it more confusing, it is available in at least three versions.
Beauty and the Beast (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in DVD Packaging). This one includes DVD and Blu-ray. I recommend this one if you haven't converted to Blu-ray yet. This way you will have both. This one comes in DVD sized and styled packaging.
Beauty and the Beast (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging). This one includes DVD and Blu-ray, too. I recommend this one the most if you haven't converted to Blu-ray yet. This way you will have both. This one comes in Blu-ray sized and styled packaging. If you prefer your shelves to have this style of packaging, pick this one. It's the same price as the one above at this time.
Sleeping Beauty (Two-Disc Platinum Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live) [Blu-ray]
Also, FYI, there is a coupon offer if you already own some iteration of the film and want to upgrade:
Beauty and the Beast Upgrade Offer
Do you own Beauty And The Beast on DVD or VHS? Save $10 when you upgrade to the new Diamond Edition Blu-ray™ Combo Pack.
Friday, September 24, 2010
If you also believe challenged and banned books are worth reading, here's another fun tidbit for today from 10 surprisingly banned books by Pam Gaulin, here is number 10:
Grimm's Fairy TalesAnd, really, with the fairy tales I read every day it is really not surprising that more fairy tales aren't banned. Murder, incest, abuse, etc. I wouldn't watch movies of most of this stuff, but I've made a life out of reading it all the time. :) Wine in the wicker basket is the least of the issues...and I don't drink myself.
Fairy tales have always clung to their precarious place in children's literature. On one side, readers have fairy-tale purists who lament the morals lost in fairy tales that have been too cleaned up. Others object to any violence in fairy tales. A couple of California school districts found a whole new reason to ban "Grimm's Fairy Tales" in 1989: misuse of alcohol. Little Red Riding Hood's basket for her grandmother includes wine. Maybe it wasn't a California red.
I inwardly cringe a little when casual acquaintances think my books are for their young children's reading. Sleeping Beauties: Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Tales From Around the World has many tales I wouldn't share with anyone under eight at the minimum.