Monday, May 13, 2019

New Book: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly is officially released this week. A Cinderella retelling with the focus obviously on one of the stepsisters.

Book description:

Don't just fracture the fairy tale. Shatter it.

Isabelle should be blissfully happy - she's about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn't the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince's heart. She's the ugly stepsister who's cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella's shoe . . . which is now filling with her blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle's deception, she's turned away in shame. It's no more than she deserves: she's a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a bold girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Evoking the original version of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption . . . and a new definition of beauty.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

New Book: Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power by Vita Murrow

Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power by Vita Murrow (Author) and Julia Bereciartu (Illustrator) was released late last year.

Book description:

What if princesses didn’t always marry Prince Charming and live happily ever after? In this stunning anthology—elegantly presented in a red, clothbound hard cover with gold-toned metallic debossing—15 favorite fairytales have been retold for a new generation. These princesses are smart, funny, and kind, and can do anything they set their minds to.

Focused on issues including self-image, confidence, LGBTQ, friendship, advocacy, and disability, these stories are perfect for sharing between parents and children, or for older princesses or princes to read by themselves. They teach that a princess is a person who seeks to help others, is open to learning new things, and looks for ways to add purpose to their lives and the lives of those around them.

Get reacquainted with these powerful princesses:

  • Snow White—champion of real beauty
  • Sleeping Beauty—specialist on sleeping disorders
  • Thumbelina—music producer and advocate
  • Rapunzel—world-famous architect
  • Belle the Brave—undercover agent
  • Elisabeth and the Wild Swans—fashion designer
  • Cinderella—prime minster and businesswoman
  • Star and the 12 Dancers—dancer
  • The Goose Girl—stand-up comedian
  • Princess Sevinah (and the Pea)—founder of the Fairyland Dating Service
  • The Snow Queen—winter sports coach
  • The Little Mermaid—advocate for peace between mer-people and humans
  • Zade—storyteller (of 1001 tales) and businesswoman
  • Evangeline (The Frog Princess)—natural historian
  • Little Red Riding Hood—environmentalist and Princess of the Wolves

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

New Book: 7 Dark Tales by Christine Grace

7 Dark Tales by Christine Grace (Author) and Wendy Straw (Illustrator) is officially released today.

Book description:

This collection of seven short stories is a startling and imaginative take on the fairytale form. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, each narrative gently unfolds, reminiscent of ancient, oral storytelling. The reader is constantly taken in unexpected directions as the tales explore contemporary themes of jealousy, relationships, and death. The beautiful presentation includes stunning full color illustrations and several black-and-white "woodcut-style" illustrations.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Bluebeard's Daughter by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Bluebeard's Daughter by Marion Zimmer Bradley is not a new book, but one I just recently discovered was available in ebook format (although it has been available for a while). Since Bluebeard always fascinates me, I wanted to share it with those who also find the tale fascinating.

Book description:

Sybil Ellis was a seventeen-year-old orphan with very few options: If she didn't want to be a governess or a companion--and she didn't, she had to marry. So she married Dr. Philip Maynard, who was old enough to be her grandfather and treated her like a daughter. In fact, he treated her like Judith, the daughter he had lost, even to calling her by that name and having all of his new servants do likewise. But eventually Sybil learned that there had been other "daughters" before her, and she realized that this was not just a harmless eccentricity.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Newish Book: The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson was released late last year. This is a fun one and a different twist on Baba Yaga.

Book description:

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.

But that's tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It's even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties -- and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.

So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Marinka to find her -- even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.

With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

LilRed Slippers by Spring Step

Now these are some of the cutest slippers I've seen in a while if you love Little Red Riding Hood. These the Lilred Slippers made by Spring Step and come in beige or grey. I have images of both colors below and you can shop the web for them but they are not cheap slippers being by Spring Step. Amazon is spot on in the competitive pricing on these.

I own several pairs of Spring Step and Spring Step L'Artiste shoes and I will warn you to ALWAYS size up. I wear 41 European (sometimes even 40) and always need 42 in Spring Step. Ditto if they are sized USA--I wear a 9.5 to 10 and need the 11 in Spring Step. I pretty much wear the largest size they make. I wear average width and the width is always fine for me but the length is always too short if I don't size up. If you actually wear a 10.5 or 11 or larger, you are unfortunately out of luck. But if you have a small, dainty foot, the smaller end of these should fit great even if you think they may be too big. You read enough reviews for this brand and you will see that sizing is a common complaint about Spring Step although the shoes are gorgeous and well made, some of my favorites after Rieker/Remonte (in which I do wear a 41!) for fun sophisticated shoes.

Little Red Riding Hood isn't even my personal favorite fairy tale, but I have to admit I want these. I've had tile floors for a year now and need shoes/slippers around the house year round. I just may be able to justify these for myself. :)

Friday, April 26, 2019

New Book: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer was released earlier this year. It is a definite catnip book for many of us with inspiration drawing from East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Beauty and the Beast, Tam Lin, and Cupid and Psyche.

Book description:

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf―the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: if she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books- turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

New Book: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer was released earlier this year. A sequel will be released in January 2020. It is a Beauty and the Beast retelling which is catnip for many of you, I know, because it is for me, too.

Book description:

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

New Book: The Surface Breaks: A Reimagining of The Little Mermaid by Louise O'Neill

The Surface Breaks: A Reimagining of The Little Mermaid by Louise O'Neill was released this past January.

Book description:

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans in the UK. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

New Book: A Crystal of Time by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil #5: A Crystal of Time by Soman Chainani was released last month.

Book description:

In this fifth installment in Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling School for Good and Evil fantasy series, the past will come back to haunt the present.

A false king has seized Camelot’s throne, sentencing Tedros, the true king, to death. While Agatha, narrowly escapes the same fate, Sophie is caught in King Rhian’s trap. With her wedding to Rhian approaching, she’s forced to play a dangerous game as her friends’ lives hang in the balance.

All the while, King Rhian’s dark plans for Camelot are taking shape. Now the students of the School for Good and Evil must find a way to restore Tedros to the throne before their stories—and the future of the Endless Woods—are rewritten . . . forever.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bargain Ebook: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer for $1.99

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer is on sale in ebook format for $1.99. This one is a Sleeping Beauty inspired novel. It features two sisters, an unusual construct in Sleeping Beauty tales, but a fascinating way to deal with the sleep curse.

Book description:

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken. As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls: and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire is a lush fantasy set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.

Friday, March 22, 2019

New Book: Teaching Fairy Tales (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies) by Nancy L Canepa

Teaching Fairy Tales (Series in Fairy-Tale Studies) by Nancy L Canepa (Editor, Contributor) was released this month. I received a review copy and it is an interesting read. And yes, SurLaLune does get mentioned in one article as a good source to use for one recommended exercise.

I couldn't find an easy to copy text version of the Table of Contents but you can view it at Google Books preview. I recommend looking at that to see the wide range of articles and syllabai examples included. A great resource for inspiring different ways to use fairy tales across many disciplines.

Book description:

Teaching Fairy Tales edited by Nancy L. Canepa brings together scholars who have contributed to the field of fairy-tale studies since its origins. This collection offers information on materials, critical approaches and ideas, and pedagogical resources for the teaching of fairy tales in one comprehensive source that will further help bring fairy-tale studies into the academic mainstream.

The volume begins by posing some of the big questions that stand at the forefront of fairy-tale studies: How should we define the fairy tale? What is the "classic" fairy tale? Does it make sense to talk about a fairy-tale canon? The first chapter includes close readings of tales and their variants, in order to show how fairy tales aren't simple, moralizing, and/or static narratives. The second chapter focuses on essential moments and documents in fairy-tale history, investigating how we gain unique perspectives on cultural history through reading fairy tales. Contributors to chapter 3 argue that encouraging students to approach fairy tales critically, either through well-established lenses or newer ways of thinking, enables them to engage actively with material that can otherwise seem over-familiar. Chapter 4 makes a case for using fairy tales to help students learn a foreign language. Teaching Fairy Tales also includes authors' experiences of successful hands-on classroom activities with fairy tales, syllabi samples from a range of courses, and testimonies from storytellers that inspire students to reflect on the construction and transmission of narrative by becoming tale-tellers themselves.

Teaching Fairy Tales crosses disciplinary, historical, and national boundaries to consider the fairy-tale corpus integrally and from a variety of perspectives. Scholars from many different academic areas will use this volume to explore and implement new aspects of the field of fairy-tale studies in their teaching and research.

Nancy Canepa is associate professor of Italian at Dartmouth College. Her publications include From Court to Forest: Giambattista Basile and the Birth of the Literary Fairy Tale (Wayne State University Press, 1999), Out of the Woods: The Origins of the Literary Fairy Tale in Italy and France (Wayne State University Press, 1997), and the translation of Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales (Wayne State University Press, 2007).

Contributors Include:
Graham Anderson, Cristina Bacchilega, Benjamin Balak, Faith E. Beasley, Elio Brancaforte, Nancy L. Canepa, Anne E. Duggan, Donald Haase, Christine A. Jones, Maria Kaliambou, Julie L. J. Koehler, Charlotte Trinquet du Lys, Suzanne Magnanini, Cristina Mazzoni, Gina Miele, William Moebius, Maria Nikolajeva, Jennifer Schacker, Ann Schmiesing, Lewis C. Seifert, Victoria Somoff, Allison Stedman, Kay Stone, Maria Tatar, Gioia Timpanelli, Linda Kraus Worley, Jack Zipes

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Newish Book: How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen was released in November 2018. This collects many of Yolen's previously published fairy tale retellings and includes her notes on the tales, too. Some are short stories, others are poems. A very handy collection of Yolen's short fairy tale works.

Book description:

“This collection is Jane Yolen at her best. This is magic.”―Patricia C. Wrede, author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Fantasy icon Jane Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic, Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Lightship) is adored by generations of readers of all ages. Now she triumphantly returns with this inspired gathering of fractured fairy tales and legends. Yolen breaks open the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets: a philosophical bridge that misses its troll, a spinner of straw as a falsely accused moneylender, the villainous wolf adjusting poorly to retirement. Each of these offerings features a new author note and original poem, illuminating tales that are old, new, and brilliantly refined.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Newish Book: Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen

Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen was released in late 2018. The ebook version is available for $3.99, a technical bargain ebook to SurLaLune blog standards.

Book description:

Finding Baba Yaga is a mythic yet timely novel-in-verse by the beloved and prolific New York Times bestselling author and poet Jane Yolen, “the Hans Christian Andersen of America” (Newsweek).

A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate―a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…

You think you know this story.
You do not.

A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself....

"Jane Yolen is a phenomenon: a poet and a mythmaker, who understands how old stories can tell us new things. We are lucky to have her."―Neil Gaiman

Bargain Ebook: Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore

Not One Damsel in Distress: Heroic Girls from World Folklore by Jane Yolen (Author), Susan Guevara (Illustrator) is on sale this month for $2.99 for ebook format. This is an expanded second edition if you own the first edition in paper like I do.

Book description:

From celebrated author Jane Yolen comes this inspiring collection of folktales from around the world, all featuring strong female heroes.

These fifteen folktales have one thing in common: brainy, bold, brave women—and not one damsel in distress! There is Bradamante, the fierce medieval knight; Li Chi, the Chinese girl who slays a dreaded serpent and saves her town; Makhta, a female warrior who leads her Sioux tribe into battle; and many more women who use their cunning, wisdom, and strength to succeed.

Drawing from diverse cultures around the world, renowned author Jane Yolen celebrates the female heroes of legend and lore in a collection that will empower every reader. This new edition features two brand-new stories from Azerbaijan and Indonesia, and enhanced illustrations.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Newish Book: White as Milk, Red as Blood: The Forgotten Fairy Tales of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

White as Milk, Red as Blood: The Forgotten Fairy Tales of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth (Author), Willow Dawson (Illustrator), Shelley Tanaka (Translator), Philip Pullman (Foreword) was released last year. Not to be confused with the previously published The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, this is an alternate translation of tales by Schönwerth. I have posted previously about other books and articles about Schönwerth--you can find those posts here including one about the discovery of the "lost" tales--a romantic marketing notion when "semi-forgotten" and "previously neglected" would be more accurate. But I am all for whatever it takes to get fairy tale collections supported and readily available for new audiences, especially new translations. This newest collection contains fewer tales and is less academic in nature but offers lush illustrations instead.

Book description:

This striking, richly illustrated edition of long-lost German fairy tales is not a book for children. It is a book for adults. Or for adults to frighten children into behaving...whichever you prefer.

In 2009, a trove of lost fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth--a 19th-century collector of Bavarian folk tales and contemporary of the Brothers Grimm--was unearthed in a municipal archive in Germany. Unlike the Grimms, who polished the stories they collected, adapting to contemporary tastes, von Schönwerth recorded the stories as they were told, plucking them directly from the living, breathing tree of oral storytelling, retaining their darker themes and sometimes shocking violence. Von Schönwerth published a single volume of these tales in his lifetime, but the vast majority languished and were forgotten over the years, effectively frozen in time until their recent rediscovery.

Now, award-winning illustrator Willow Dawson, in collaboration with translator Shelley Tanaka, has brought these long-lost tales unforgettably to life, illuminating with striking woodcut-style illustrations a spectacular collection that will change the way you look at fairy tales forever. Paired with Dawson's arresting artwork, the stories in White as Milk, Red as Blood race with palpable energy through fantasy landscapes darker, bawdier and racier than anything we find in Disney or the Grimms.

Following the tradition of illustrated fairy-tale collections, White as Milk, Red as Blood is the very first fully illustrated, full-colour edition of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's work. It is a timeless tome of enchantment and foreboding: tales--as haunting as they are profound--of powerful princesses, helpless men, lecherous villains, virtuous girls, witches, giants, at least one female serial killer, mer-people, shape-shifters and talking beasts--a kaleidoscope of wonders both familiar and entirely new; rich and strange.

Dawson and Tanaka's dark and lively take on von Schönwerth's collected tales will appeal to fans of Mike Mignola's classic fantasy comic-book series Hellboy.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Newish Book: Fashion in the Fairy Tale Tradition: What Cinderella Wore by Rebecca-Anne C. Do Rozario

Fashion in the Fairy Tale Tradition: What Cinderella Wore by Rebecca-Anne C. Do Rozario was released last year but I just discovered it myself. I've not seen more than the preview pages available online but what I've seen is very interesting!

Book Description:

Examines well-known fairy tales from the Grimm brothers and Perrault
Reveals a critical nexus of fairy tale and fashion that sheds light upon constructs of privilege with ramifications for class and gender studies of the genre
Covers early modern tales and the gradual decline of fashion-orientated fairy tales as well as identifing a resurgence in the twentieth century, when the stage and screen revived the glamour of fairy tale to appeal to the masses, culminating in the phenomenon of Disney princesses.

This book is a journey through the fairy-tale wardrobe, explaining how the mercurial nature of fashion has shaped and transformed the Western fairy-tale tradition. Many of fairy tale’s most iconic images are items of dress: the glass slippers, the red capes, the gowns shining like the sun, and the red shoes. The material cultures from which these items have been conjured reveal the histories of patronage, political intrigue, class privilege, and sexual politics behind the most famous fairy tales. The book not only reveals the sartorial truths behind Cinderella’s lost slippers, but reveals the networks of female power woven into fairy tale itself.

From a review of the book:

“This book seeks to investigate the role clothing and fashion plays in fairy tales and how fashion has actively shaped fairy-tale traditions, revealing the material cultures behind the most sartorial gestures. … The book is a useful addition to this expanding area of literature. It is well referenced and highlights a novel aspect of the fairy-tale tradition.” (B.C. Kennedy, Gramarye, Issue 14, 2018)

Friday, March 8, 2019

International Women's Day 2019 and Women in Folklore: Leonora Lang

Hello dear readers,

I didn't want to miss acknowledging International Women's Day on the SurLaLune Blog today but my time is short. So this will be quick and sloppy. One of the many things I love about fairy tales and folklore is how much they represent women's voices over the centuries. I have spent thousands of hours reading folklore collections and studies over the years. During these experiences, I have been impressed over and over with how often the folklorists involved were women. My sloppiness is my lack of time to compile the list of so many women past and present whose work I value in the field.

I was raised by a strong woman who taught and gave me so much, especially a value for education and continued learning, which has fueled my passion for SurLaLune. March this year began with the news that my mother has terminal cancer. As I cope with the process of saying good-bye to her for now, I am even more aware than usual of those precious gifts and legacies she made possible for me. Another gift was her awareness of women's issues and acknowledging the challenges that come with being a woman past and present, too, on this earth.

As I work on SurLaLune projects, I am also reminded of the work of so many women who are lesser known, whose work I build upon in this field, and whose work I try to keep visible for others to discover and enjoy as they delve into reading fairy tales and folklore.

If time allows, I will share more names and work of some of those women this month and in the months to come. Many will have their work represented in the forthcoming SurLaLune Tales Database.

Today, on the quick and sloppy note, I wanted to highlight Leonora Blanche "Nora" Lang (née Alleyne), wife of Andrew Lang, whose work is often overshadowed by her husband's name. The Lang Colored Fairy Books are more her work than that of her accredited husband--something he freely stated in his introductions. If you want to read more about her, visit the Wikipedia entry devoted to her.

In his introduction to The Lilac Fairy Book, Andrew Lang writes:

The fairy books have been almost wholly the work of Mrs. Lang, who has translated and adapted them from the French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, and other languages.
The failure to put her name on the cover appears to be more marketing issues than not in this instance, still not acceptable in this day and age, and it shouldn't have been then. Her husband was famous. The publishers wanted his name on the cover and they did publish other books with her name on the cover. Which begs as to why they didn't add hers to the fairy books, too. But it is the past and we cannot change it.

However, when the SurLaLune Tales Database launches, I have decided to include Mrs. Lang's name in the bibliographic information for the fairy books and their respective tales. Those books have already been added and here is a screen shot of the decision I made last year on how to give some of the credit back to her for this series that has influenced countless people for many generations already.

Finally, to see my past posts about Women and Folklore just follow that link.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

New Book: Gingerbread: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi is a new book released this week. Oyeyemi is marketed more under literary fiction than genre fiction although she uses fairy tales to inspire her novels.

You can read an interview with Oyeyemi about the book on Vulture at Helen Oyeyemi at Gingerbread, Her Twist on Hansel and Gretel, and Reading Amazon Reviews.

Book description:

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and imaginative novel.

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. The world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Bremen Town Musicians by Krista Baumgaertel in Riga, Latvia

Nearly two years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a Baltic cruise with my husband and parents. I shared some of my adventures on the blog then, but then life distracted me again. I still have several treasures from the trip to share here. 

One of our ports of call was Riga, Latvia. There were other discoveries that day but this one merits its own post. A sighting of the Bremen Town Musicians near St Peter's Church in the Old Town. I had a few sightings of this tale on the trip as I recall, but this was a favorite.

As always, you can click on these images to see them larger. 

At the time, I didn't understand that this statue was politically inspired. I just thought it was another instance of affection for the tale--which it is--but deeper meaning was also intended here. After all, Riga was once behind the Iron Curtain. Here's what I discovered when I sought more information about the statue:

From the Live Riga site:

The political monument "Bremen Town Musicians" was created by Bremen artist Krista Baumgaertel. The sculpture is based on a fairy tail by the Brothers Grimm, but created with a political subtext as it was inspired by Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika. The sculpture, a gift from Riga's sister city Bremen, was made in 1990. It's a humorous approach towards previous political stereotypes. The bronze figures are not staring through the window at the robbers' feast at a table full of drinks and food; they are peering through the Iron Curtain on a completely new world where they had thought to find a bone or a piece of meat. Come see the musicians - an ironic view at sudden independence.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Fairy Tales in Advertising: Health Insurance in Brazil

I'm still always fascinated by the many ways fairy tales are used to promote products all over the world.

Here are two commercials created by Draftz, Brazil for Unimed Araçatuba for health insurance. Rapunzel and Snow White get happy endings earlier than expected with the help of some insurance cards. There is a third in the series that uses Romeo and Juliet but I decided I wouldn't include it here since that's not a fairy tale.

Friday, March 1, 2019

New Book: Workers' Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain

Workers' Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain (Oddly Modern Fairy Tales) by Michael Rosen was released in late 2018. I just received a review copy in the last week which is how it came to my attention.

I love books that explore an unusual but fascinating theme for fairy tale studies. Collections like this show the universality of fairy tales and their adaptability, once again demonstrating why fairy tales and folklore are fascinating in general. The Oddly Modern Fairy Tales series continues to be a fascinating theme from Princeton University Press.

Book description:

A collection of political tales―first published in British workers’ magazines―selected and introduced by acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, unique tales inspired by traditional literary forms appeared frequently in socialist-leaning British periodicals, such as the Clarion, Labour Leader, and Social Democrat. Based on familiar genres―the fairy tale, fable, allegory, parable, and moral tale―and penned by a range of lesser-known and celebrated authors, including Schalom Asch, Charles Allen Clarke, Frederick James Gould, and William Morris, these stories were meant to entertain readers of all ages―and some challenged the conventional values promoted in children’s literature for the middle class. In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than forty of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume.

Throughout, the tales in this collection exemplify themes and ideas related to work and the class system, sometimes in wish-fulfilling ways. In “Tom Hickathrift,” a little, poor person gets the better of a gigantic, wealthy one. In “The Man Without a Heart,” a man learns about the value of basic labor after testing out more privileged lives. And in “The Political Economist and the Flowers,” two contrasting gardeners highlight the cold heart of Darwinian competition. Rosen’s informative introduction describes how such tales advocated for contemporary progressive causes and countered the dominant celebration of Britain’s imperial values. The book includes archival illustrations, biographical notes about the writers, and details about the periodicals where the tales first appeared.

Provocative and enlightening, Workers’ Tales presents voices of resistance that are more relevant than ever before.