Thursday, June 28, 2012

Graham Joyce's Top 10 Fairy Fictions


So what do all of these titles have in common? They are on Graham Joyce's top 10 fairy fictions. Well, I'm missing one for which I couldn't find a good image and link.


From the article:

I'm very careful to avoid the "F" word. They don't like it. And anyway, I've stepped away from the obvious "retelling of fairytale" candidates. Recasting fairytales has become a publishing sub-genre in itself, and has been done both well and to the point of entropy. More interesting are those works where the structures of fairytales are abandoned but the world of "fairy" is imported as a delicate spice. In these fictions, magical and impossible content tends to be offered in a more naturalistic mode of storytelling. The effect for the reader is that of riding a shuttle between natural scepticism and open credulity. If there were a film paradigm it would start with Pan's Labyrinth. All of these authors are rule-breakers. I'd call them "fantasists" except that it's a word with an unstable currency; but a sense of awe and dislocation is upheld here, and a new way of knowing is always the prize.

You'll have to click through to read about each title. I can't copy the entire article! But here are US covers and links--and I was happy to see that I already owned several of these. My wishlist is thankful.

And I like that he breaks his own rules. No retellings, he says? But then we are offered Briar Rose. What titles about fairy/faerie would you put on the list? My first thought was Pamela Dean's Tam Lin. Then Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock and Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard and Franny Billingsley's The Folk Keeper and MOST DEFINITELY War for the Oaks by Emma Bull and The Grey Horse by R. A. MacAvoy. And probably about 20 others I will remember when I walk away from my computer. Because my brain does that... (And, yes, I have already noticed my list is dominated by Tam Lin. I'm not surprised. Are you?)

Okay, I should do my own post with my titles--and yours--so comment away and we'll try to make a nice, long list! Why should we stop with 10?


Fiat Bravo and Snow White and the Huntsman

Okay, so it's been a year for fairy tales and car commercials, too, apparently.

I have to admit I prefer the "Little Red" Volvo Commercial.

Bargain Book: Mythology by Edith Hamilton

Mythology by Edith Hamilton had a price drop this week in ebook format--it may only be temporary as many of these are--and so I myself snatched up a copy. Of course, I own it in paper, but an edition for traveling is always nice!

Book description:

The world-renowned classic that has enthralled and delighted millions of readers with its timeless tales of gods and heroes.

Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture--the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present.
And off topic, but any fans of Patrick O'Brian have the opportunity to pick up many of his titles for $3.99 right now, too. That's more than half off their previous list price and for some reason about one or two of his titles drop each day, but I imagine these will go up again sooner than later.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Book: Fairytale Food: Enchanting Recipes to Bring a Little Magic to your Cooking by Lucie Cash

Fairytale Food: Enchanting Recipes to Bring a Little Magic to your Cooking by Lucie Cash was released earlier this year in the UK--here's the Amazon UK link--but can be bought through independent sellers on the US Amazon site. I have several preview pages below so you can see the style of the recipes as well as the table of contents which is always one of the most important elements for evaluating a book like this, of course.

I am not sure if this will get a US edition--it would definitely be edited for US cooking measurements if it were--so this will be unique either way if you enjoy collecting fairy tale inspired cookbooks. (Yes, there have been a few! And there will hopefully be more in the future!) The recipes are not for the kiddie cooking set without lots of assistance from a grown-up--I've included an image of one below.

Book description from the publisher:

If you fancy tucking into a steaming hot bowl of Princess & the Pea Soup, curling up by the fire with a cup of tea and a slab of Hansel & Gretel's House Gingerbread or tickling your taste-buds with a dollop of Tinkerbell's Trifle, then Fairytale Food is for you ...

... Once upon a time, a young(-ish) maiden decided she was fed up with cooking the same old beans on toast and pasta bakes every night; she longed for some magic in her cooking. So she left her cosy cottage (flat in West London), pen and paper in hand and set off to find inspiration in the land of fairytales. For months and months she toiled visiting our best-loved characters; some were wonderfully sweet and generous, others were a bit grumpy and a little scary, but they all gave her ideas, tips and the confidence to create her very own delicious recipes.

Put a bit of magic into your cooking with these recipes inspired by some of our most-loved fairytales.

Preview for CW's Beauty and the Beast

Oh, yes, I am behind on this. Other bloggers have already covered this on their blogs. And I don't have much to say about it. So I've kept putting it off. But I don't want to any longer and I did want it here on the blog.

It has been so long since I've watched the "inspiration" series for this series and I admit the preview inspired me to want to watch the pilot to that series more than this one.

Then there's the poster. Which really disappoints me--and I think misses the mark on the Beast--since I know for a fact that many fan of the original series adored the makeup and beastliness the makeup chair gave Ron Perlman. (And also have affection for his times as Hellboy, too.) This new beast is not a beast! It is rather laughable, actually. Someone has forgotten that a good actor with a great character to play will appeal more to the women viewers than a pretty face that is a dime a dozen on police dramas.

Is anyone else interested in an online viewing party of the original Hamilton/Perlman pilot episode sometime before this new one premieres?

Now I am even more curious about the ABC iteration we will also be treated to. The only recent news on it is that the star, Ruth Bradley, has been retained with ABC on a holding contract--if the series doesn't get picked up or renewed, she can be hired by them for another series, so they are hopeful at that studio.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Treasury of American Folklore by B. A. Botkin: A Book That Shaped America

The Library of Congress recently released a list of Books That Shaped America.

The Library of Congress, the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information, began a multiyear “Celebration of the Book” with an exhibition on “Books That Shaped America.” The initial books in the exhibition are displayed below.

“This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.”

Well, imagine my surprise to find a folklore book on the list! That was unexpected. Folklore titles are so often overlooked on lists like these. It is A Treasury of American Folklore by B. A. Botkin. The book is currently out of print--although it has been reprinted a few times since its original 1944 publication.

From the Library of Congress:

Benjamin Botkin headed the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folksong (now the American Folklife Center) between 1943 and 1945 and previously served as national folklore editor of the Federal Writers’ Project (1938–39), a program of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Depression. Botkin was one of the New Deal folklorists who persuasively argued that folklore was relevant in the present and that it was not something that should be studied merely for its historical value. This book features illustrations by Andrew Wyeth, one of America’s foremost realist painters.
So is anyone here familiar with this title and do you think it belongs on the list? I have to admit my personal library doesn't have this particular title, although I own a few American folklore titles. I have ordered a copy so I can explore it since it certainly sounds like an excellent addition to my collection. With 500 tales and 100 songs, it is an excellent resource although I am sure most of the material is repeated in other books I own.

Someday I will focus a little more on American folklore beyond my somewhat cursory knowledge. Although it is much wider than the average person on the street, I couldn't necessarily teach an hour long class off the cuff--yes, that's rather my own litmus test for how well I know a subject. Nevermind a whole semester--could I stand up in front of a group of people and teach an hour long class with little or no preparation? And be accurate and entertaining?

The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Ross and illustrated by Sue deGennaro

The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Ross and illustrated by Sue deGennaro was released earlier this year in the US. The concept on this one--and the riff on Princess and the Pea--is rather cute and fun. This was originally published in Australia in 2009 and has made its way to other countries this year thanks to Scholastic.

Book description from publisher:

After tiring of the needs of overly demanding princesses, Prince Henrik devises a test to find a girl who is not so sensitive, using a very thin mattress and an entire packet of frozen peas. His dream girl shows up unexpectedly in the form of his old friend Pippa, who is all too happy to pitch a tent or play a hard game of hockey, after which she finds the perfect use for that packet of peas! In this twist on the fairy tale, Tony Wilson and Sue DeGenarro deliver a freshly humorous take on one prince's search for the just-right girl of his dreams.

And here are some illustrations:

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Photo by Mike Jones

From Stacey Comerford Kleine-Levin Syndrome: British Teen With 'Sleeping Beauty Syndrome' Sleeps For Two Months:

A 15-year-old British girl fell asleep in April. But when she woke up, it was June.

The Sun reports on the curious case of Stacey Comerford, who has Kleine-Levin Syndrome, or Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. People with the condition have "episodes" where they sleep for as long as 20 hours a day for periods of time, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Comerford's latest period of time with the conditionlasted two months, The Sun reported.

"When she's in an episode, she might get up to go to the toilet or get a drink but she's not awake. I call it sleep mode," Comerford's mother, Bernie, told The Sun, adding that she feeds her when she's in this trance-like state. "When she wakes, she thinks it's the following day. She doesn't have any memory of it."

There's more in the article. And I've featured this on the blog before--the syndrome that is--but it always fascinates me and makes me wonder how common it was in centuries past.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Disney's The 7D

Coming to Disney Junior in 2014. From The 'Seven Dwarves' get a new look at CNN:

In case the two recent Snow White movies and "Once Upon a Time" weren't enough for you, Snow White is even having a moment on children's television.

The recently launched Disney Junior channel announced on Tuesday that they've started production on "The 7D," a reboot of Snow White's "Seven Dwarves."

Designed by Noah Z. Jones of the popular Disney series "Fish Hooks," "The 7D" look quite different from how we're used to seeing them.

"Our goal for Disney Junior is to engage kids with stories and characters that represent the very best of Disney storytelling," said Disney Junior Senior Vice President Nancy Kanter in a release.

"With 'The 7D,' we look to continue Walt Disney's legacy of reinterpreting classic folk and fairy tales in ways that delight new audiences. We're excited to re-imagine these familiar characters and put them in a new humorous setting that we think will entertain kids and parents alike."

So how about that, folks? There's a little more on the CNN site. You can also learn more at the Disney Wiki, like this:

The series takes place in the whimsical world of Jollywood, where Queen Delightful relies on the 7D – Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Doc – to keep the kingdom in order. Standing in their way are two laughably evil villains, Grim and Hildy Gloom, who plot to take over the kingdom by stealing the magical jewels in the 7D's mine. With seven very distinct personalities, the 7D always manage to save the day and send Grim and Hildy running back to their evil lair to try another day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Image of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent

She's everywhere the last few days--timed to ride the wave of the sucess of Snow White and the Huntsman, I think. I got to talk to a friend who has read the script and I won't say much--I don't know much--but the horns are real in the film--not Maleficent's own styling choice--so the costuming will be interesting throughout, methinks.

This won't be released until March 2014 although we all know that is always subject to change. It will be 3D, too. So the fairy tale trend will continue for a while yet!

Here's Disney's synopsis:

Directed by two-time Oscar®-winning production designer Robert Stromberg ("Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland"), in his directorial debut, and produced by Joe Roth, "Maleficent" is written by Linda Woolverton ("The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast") and executive produced by Angelina Jolie, Don Hahn, Matt Smith and Palak Patel. Co-starring in the film are Sharlto Copley ("District 9"), Elle Fanning ("Super 8"), Sam Riley ("On the Road"), Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake"), Miranda Richardson ("The Hours"), Juno Temple ("Atonement") and Lesley Manville ("Secrets & Lies").

This is the untold story of Disney's most beloved villain, Maleficent, from the 1959 classic "Sleeping Beauty." The film reveals the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora. Behind-the-scenes talent includes Academy Award®–winning cinematographer Dean Semler ("Dances with Wolves," "In the Land of Blood and Honey"), production designer Gary Freeman ("Saving Private Ryan," "The Bourne Supremacy"), two-time Oscar® nominated costume designer Anna B. Sheppard ("Schindler's List," "The Pianist") and seven-time Academy Award–winning makeup artist Rick Baker ("Planet of the Apes," "Men in Black").

Here's an excerpt of an interview with Jolie about the film from EW:

In this version, Sleeping Beauty is the nemesis instead of the good guy?

It’s not anti-princess, but it’s the first time they’re looking at this epic woman.

Is it sympathetic to her, or is she a straight-up villain?

It’s both. I hope in the end you see a woman who is capable of being many things, and just because she protects herself and is aggressive, it doesn’t mean she can’t have other [warmer] qualities. You have to figure out the puzzle of what she is.

So there are some redeeming qualities to Maleficent the witch?

It sounds really crazy to say that there will be something that’s good for young girls in this, because it sounds like you’re saying they should be a villain. [Maleficent] is actually a great person. But she’s not perfect. She’s far from perfect.

There’s a tradition of taking a classic character who is a villain and telling the story from his or her perspective. John Gardner did it with the 1971 novel Grendel, and more recently we got the witch’s story in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, and the musical it inspired. We like it when the bad guy is deeper than we thought.

In general, it’s a very good message to say, “Let’s look at something from the other side.” But then also, what our challenge will be — and the script writer [The Lion King and Alice in Wonderland’s Linda Woolverton] has already cracked it — is not to simplify it, not to just reverse the story but tell a bigger story that doesn’t point the finger [at Princess Aurora] either. It doesn’t flip it.

Since it’s a Disney film, will this version of Maleficent be close to the one we know from their 1959 animated film?

We’re still figuring out the look. We’re experimenting with different things. But the horns are the horns — you can’t deny them. You have to have horns.

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Book: Home From the Sea: An Elemental Masters Novel by Mercedes Lackey

Home From the Sea: An Elemental Masters Novel by Mercedes Lackey was released earlier this month. This is the latest book in her Elemental Masters series. It is inspired by selkie tales with perhaps a touch of The Little Mermaid (not sure about that) instead of the more usual fairy tales the series has drawn from previously.

Book description:

In Edwardian Britain, magic is real. And Masters of the Elements control Fire, Water, Air, and Earth...

Mari Prothero has lived all her life with her father, Daffyd, in a tiny fishing village on the coast of Wales. Though Daffyd takes his boat out on the sea regardless of weather, Mari has learned not to fear for his safety, for her father is a Water mage, and always comes home safely with a large catch. Mari knows that in her family, children are expected to marry at eighteen, to an appropriate stranger. However, Mari is a fledgling Water Master with a rebellious nature. She has no intention of agreeing to any arranged marriage. But Mari has yet to learn the truth of the magical heritage that must be protected by these very marriages. For the Protheros are descended from Selkies—magical beings who are able to change from seals to humans—and to continue her line, she must marry a full-blooded Selkie...

So is anyone a fan of this series? I enjoyed the first books of this series but my affection has waned with the later books although I haven't read this one or last year's release, Unnatural Issue: An Elemental Masters Novel, which interests me with its Donkeyskin and Lord Peter Wimsey inspirations. With the price drop in ebook to correspond to the paperback release, I guess it's time I move it up my TBR list!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lucy Palmer Fairy Tale Jewelry

Here are some jewelry pieces designed by Lucy Palmer with fairy tales as inspiration. My favorites are the East of the Sun and West of the Moon pendants above and below, but the Firebird, Hansel and Gretel, Mermaid, wolf and Little House in the Woods are all lovely. More items for the wishlist! I'd love to wear one of these when I am presenting fairy tales...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bargain Ebook: A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James is currently bargain priced at 99 cents in ebook format. The next book in this series--The Ugly Duchess--is due out in August, so this bargain price is promotional in anticipation of that book.

Book description:

Miss Kate Daltry doesn't believe in fairy tales . . . or happily ever after.

Forced by her stepmother to attend a ball, Kate meets a prince . . . and decides he's anything but charming. A clash of wits and wills ensues, but they both know their irresistible attraction will lead nowhere. For Gabriel is promised to another woman—a princess whose hand in marriage will fulfill his ruthless ambitions.

Gabriel likes his fiancÉe, which is a welcome turn of events, but he doesn't love her. Obviously, he should be wooing his bride-to-be, not the witty, impoverished beauty who refuses to fawn over him.

Godmothers and glass slippers notwithstanding, this is one fairy tale in which destiny conspires to destroy any chance that Kate and Gabriel might have a happily ever after.

Unless a prince throws away everything that makes him noble . . .

Unless a dowry of an unruly heart trumps a fortune . . .

Unless one kiss at the stroke of midnight changes everything.

The other two novels in the series so far are When Beauty Tamed the Beast and The Duke Is Mine (Happily Ever After). The latter draws inspiration from Princess and the Pea, more unusual for a romance novel or any novel for that matter.