Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Folklore

I almost forgot this! Sat down real quick to finish this post before heading off to New Year's celebrations...

New Year's Folklore from Farmer's Almanac

• One of the more popular beliefs is that kissing your beloved at the stroke of midnight ensures twelve months of continuing affection. Failing to do so is said to produce the opposite effect.

• Never begin the New Year with unpaid debts.

• Empty cupboards at the turn of the year foretell a year of poverty.

• The first person to enter your home after midnight foretells the kind of luck you'll have in the coming year. A tall, dark, handsome male bearing small gifts is said to bring the best luck. According to this same tradition, no one should leave the house until someone first enters from outside, and nothing should be removed from the house on New Year's Day.

• Opening all doors and windows at midnight lets the old year escape.

• Babies born on New Year's Day are said to have the best luck throughout their lives.

• A Polish tradition states that if you wake up early on New Year’s Day, you will wake up early for the rest of the year. And if you touch the floor with the right foot when getting up from bed, you could expect a lot of good luck for whole new year

The article also includes several food related folklore for the new year, including:

In the Southern U.S., it is believed that eating black-eyed peas, ham hocks, and collard greens or cabbage on New Year's Day will attract a financial windfall.

I've never followed that tradition, being first generation Southern, but I'm thinking of trying it out tomorrow. I'm rather in the mood for some good southern fare after all the holiday feasting.

New Year folklore from Wilson's Blogmanac:

Got new clothes on?

Many Londoners believe that on New Year's Day it is unlucky not to wear new clothes. Haitians also go out in new clothes, or at least in their very best, as an omen of how their year will go.

And this one makes me laugh since we are eating lasagna tonight. Too late now, perhaps we'll just skip the leftovers tomorrow...

Crappy noodles

A century ago the Sicilians on New Year’s Day ate lascagne cacate, or “crappy noodles”, a kind of lasagne. To eat any other sort of pasta today was considered bad luck. Their saying went “Whoever eats macaroni today will have a bad year”.

Lots of different information here at New Year Traditions And Lore by Phyllis Doyle Burns:

New Year's Day is one of the oldest holidays known to recorded history. The first known observance of this day was in ancient Babylon over 4000 years ago. It was, at that time, celebrated in March - signifying spring as the new beginning.

Until 46 BC, the Romans also celebrated New Year's in March. In that year Julius Caesar designated New Year's Day as January 1st to make sure the days were back in touch with the changes that the sun went through. After many changes of the Roman calendar, the days were so out of sync with the sun that order had to be restored, thus the January 1st date remained the first day of the New Year on the Roman calendar. The tradition was picked up and continued by Egyptian and Celtic cultures.

The tradition of making resolutions on New Year's Eve began with the ancient Babylonians. This, they felt was an excellent way to begin the New Year with a clear conscious, by returning items borrowed from each other. How the resolution making got from that to "I will lose weight," is anyone's guess - yet, over many centuries, this tradition has remained an important part of the celebration. The most modern version of this tradition seems to be to make resolutions that you can break!

And just to show that nothing is really new:
J.C. Leyendecker's December 28, 1907 cover of The Saturday Evening Post depicted a stork and Baby New Year. The myth associated with him is that he is a baby at the beginning of his year, but Baby New Year quickly grows up until he is an elderly bearded man like Father Time at the end of his year. At this point, he hands over his duties to the next Baby New Year. This custom of using a Baby to represent the New year began in Greece in 600 BC and is now a popular traditon with many countries.

Blue Moon Folklore

As you may have already read in the news, tonight's moon is a blue moon. Since it is an unusual event for the final night of the calendar year, I thought I would share some articles and folklore about blue moons.

New Year's Blue Moon: Grab Your Telescope and Vinyls by Heather Horn

Teddy Patridge at Firedoglake explains that a Blue Moon is "the second full moon in a calendar month," although it used to refer to "when a fourth full moon appeared in any season." This next one will be "the first time in 19 years [that] the Blue Moon will appear on December 31st, New Year's Eve." Diving into the particulars of Blue Moon definitions and folklore (the moon won't actually be blue), he adds: "One way to enjoy two successive Blue Moons very quickly, of course, would be to travel to Asia or Australia or New Zealand, as they have two full moons in January 2010, not December 2009."

Folklore of the "Blue Moon" by Philip Hiscock

Meaning is a slippery substance. The phrase "blue moon" has been around a long time, well over 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted. I have counted six different meanings which have been carried by the term, and at least four of them are still current today. That makes discussion of the term a little complicated.

The earliest references to a blue moon are in a phrase remarkably like early references to the moon's "green cheese." Both phrases were used as examples of obvious absurdities about which there could be no argument. Four hundred years ago, if someone said, "He would argue the moon was blue," the average sixteenth century man would take it the way we understand, "He'd argue that black is white." This understanding of a blue moon being absurd (the first meaning) led eventually to a second meaning, that of "never." To say that something would happen when the moon turned blue was like saying that it would happen on Tib's Eve (at least before Tib got a day near Christmas assigned to her). Or that it would be on the Twelfth of Never.

But of course we all know there are examples of the moon actually turning blue; that's the third meaning--the moon visually appearing blue. When the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded in 1883, its dust turned sunsets green and the moon blue all around the world for the best part of two years. In 1927 a late monsoon in India set up conditions for a blue moon. And the moon here in Newfoundland was turned blue in 1951 when huge forest fires in Alberta threw smoke particles up into the sky. Even by the mid-nineteenth century it was clear that although visually blue moons were rare, they did happen from time to time. So the phrase "once in a blue moon" came about. It meant then exactly what it means today--that an event was fairly infrequent, but not quite regular enough to pinpoint. That's meaning number four, and today it is still the main one.

From InfoPlease:

"Blue moon" appears to have been a colloquial expression long before it developed its calendrical senses. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first reference to a blue moon comes from a proverb recorded in 1528:

If they say the moon is blue,
We must believe that it is true.

Saying the moon was blue was equivalent to saying the moon was made of green (or cream) cheese; it indicated an obvious absurdity. In the 19th century, the phrase until a blue moon developed, meaning "never." The phrase, once in a blue moon today has come to mean "every now and then" or "rarely"—whether it gained that meaning through association with the lunar event remains uncertain.

And of course, Wikipedia has a somewhat informative article about Blue Moons, too.

And final question: What earworm starts in your ear when you hear the phrase "Blue Moon?" And which version? I'm tied between The Marcels and Ella Fitzgerald and The Mavericks. They keep alternating in my head because I love them all although I know some of you perhaps prefer Frank Sinatra.

Robin Hood Trailer (and some Great Big Sea)

While I'm sharing movie trailers today, I'll add in the somewhat disappointing one for Robin Hood. Loving most things fairy tale and folklore, Robin Hood has long been one of my favorite legends.

I'm not saying the film will be disappointing, just that this first trailer pushes none of my buttons, assuring me that I'm not in the primary target audience. Of course, it has almost no dialogue and is mostly full of gritty, violent imagery, rather a thrown together effort. So I'll reserve judgment, just admit to some trepidation. And I am admittedly a character-driven person when it comes to my entertainment choices.

Then again, I can't imagine anything much worse than Kevin Costner's version or the final third season of the recent BBC series starring Jonas Armstrong and Richard Armitage. We enjoyed the first two seasons as reasonable campy fun, but this last season was brutally bad, watched more in fast forward when we bothered to watch it at all. Killing off Maid Marian was a bad mistake among many others...not even adding an interesting Father Tuck helped.

I admit I am most excited about the movie for a reason shared by few. Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea plays Allan A'Dayle in the film. Granted, it's a smaller role, but I'm an unabashed fan and that's enough to woo my interest in the movie, too. Great Big Sea is the one band guaranteed to improve my spirits, make me happy and cause me to bruise my hands from clapping when I see them live. Yes, my left hand was a big purple bruise for days after the last time I saw them.

And in looking up their stuff, I noticed that several of their songs are currently available for free download as MP3s on Amazon. Not sure how long the deals will last, but one really can't argue with free. See:

When I'm Up (I Can't Get Down)

Excursion Around The Bay

Mari Mac (Live)

Feel It Turn (Live)

I love all their work, but one of their most popular is The Hard and the Easy which is all interpretations of older music, not their usual mix of old and new compositions that appear on their other albums. It is one of my favorites although I can't pick a favorite Great Big Sea album for myself.

I foresee a Robin Hood Week on this blog sometime near the release date of the movie.

Shrek Forever After Trailer

I'm a week behind on this apparently, but the first long trailer for Shrek Forever After due out in May 2010 is now available for viewing. I've embedded it below.

This trailer is more appealing to me personally than any of the ones I saw for the third installment. Hopefully it will also be better than that one! Supposedly this will be the last Shrek movie although a Puss in Boots spin-off is still on the docket.

European Fairy Tales in Japanese

My browsing in the Kinokuniya Bookstore (see yesterday's Otogicco post) also discovered a rounder full of picture books. I couldn't read the titles, but the illustrations were easy enough to interpret.

Once again, these were taken with my iPhone so they are not the best quality photos, but I am am showing them anyway.

There were many more titles, many that were Japanese tales, too, but the number of European tales was surprising.

This photo is the worst, but I can't exclude Cinderella...

Wouldn't it be fun to read what the literal translations of the names and stories are when translated into English?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Disney's Rapunzel: New Image

Courtesy of Disney Pixar France, a scan of a new image from Disney's Rapunzel currently scheduled for a November 24, 2010 release in the U.S. Of course, in France she will be Raiponce.

Most of the artwork currently on the web is from concept development work while this appears to be more of the official look and feel of the final film--hopefully so with less than 11 months until release date.

Little Red Riding Hood Birthday Party

Before I lose this in my long lists, here's a quick link to an adorable birthday party with a Little Red Riding Hood theme at Puddin Pop Designs.

I don't see many parties like these--usually it's just the standard princess party. Click through to see several more images, especially of the cake and a lot of happy little girls. There are ideas for activities, too, in case you have a young one who would like a similar party.

Looks like some little brothers had fun being wolves, too. And the cake is great, too. Loved it all and wanted to share...

And the empowerment of beating a wolf head pinata--wouldn't Bettelheim have had a party with that one? (Pun fully intended!)

Whimsy: Otogicco (Little Red Riding Hood)

You may remember a few weeks ago I traveled to San Francisco to visit a dear friend. One of our adventures was a trip to Japantown where we ate and shopped for a few hours. One of my favorite stops was Kinokuniya Bookstore where the hubby found a satisfactory graphic design section and I was happy to look for books.

Afterall, bookstores, libraries and all other buildings that house books are my natural habitat.

Then I walked around an endcap and discovered this display. All of the images are mine, taken by my iPhone camera, since I didn't anticipate needing a camera while shopping there. One advantage to a cellphone camera is the ability to take surreptitious pictures without many people gawking at the crazy woman snapping copious photos of dishes and knick knacks.

Although I admit I did receive a few strange looks, mostly because I was having fun looking over everything.

In the end, I let sanity reign and didn't purchase any of these items. I don't drink tea but the teapot and tea mug with strainer (the one with the umbrella lid) were my favorite pieces. I decided pictures were better for sharing than more clutter for my desk.

But, oh, I was sorely tempted.

The tape dispenser was the most practical for sitting at my desk, but it was also the most fragile, not made very sturdy. The rest was all high quality though. The bento box was also cute, but the dishes were my favorites.

I searched for Otogicco online and there are many more pieces available at shops online. Just do an image search on Google to find more images that aren't mine. If some of these other items had been at the bookstore, I'm afraid they would have made my wallet lighter and my luggage heavier. There are some fun things available in this line! You can see some of them on Miss Thundercat's Flickr Page or visit the Decole website (in Japanese).

I found a few other smaller fairy tale related items in Japantown, too, but will save those for the next few days.

Who knew LRRH was so popular in Japan, too? Or that European fairy tales are for that matter. I knew, but hadn't really explored before.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Whimsical Moment: Cinderella at Tiffany's

While Christmas shopping last week, I detoured past the windows at Tiffany's (my usual homage to Audrey Hepburn if I'm nearby) and discovered this window. All I had was my iPhone camera, but the image turned out well enough to share.

This was supposed to be a detail image, but once it was shrunk down for web size, it doesn't really work well as a close-up of Cinderella in the carriage. Oh well. I tried! Certainly not a strict interpretation of Cinderella, but we aren't very picky here, are we?

As I said, these were up last week and may be somewhere in your area, too, if you have a Tiffany's nearby. (We only have one here in Nashville.) Not worth a trip just to see, especially with the images here, but always fun to see the details in person if you are nearby as I was.

Ded Moroz and Santa Claus: 10 Differences

I found the above in an article just posted yesterday on the Moscow News at Pay a visit to Grandfather Frost. It was a nice image and chart so I wanted to share although many of you are done with Santa for another year.

Ded Moroz is Grandfather Frost, Russia's version of Santa Claus, or sort of, if you look at the chart.

From the article:

Even on the coldest winter days, the Moscow residence of Ded Moroz isn't deserted. Children come to play and to see the main magician of New Year's in Russia, Ded Moroz.

Although Ded Moroz's main residence is situated in the northern town of Veliky Ustyug, he often comes to Moscow's Kuzminki Park where he has a house in traditional "terem" style. It was built six years ago along with the terem house of his granddaughter and companion, Snegurochka the Snow Maiden.

Visiting the residence can be fun for adults as well, mostly because the idea behind it is to recreate a fairy tale - and fairy tale elements are recognised and loved not only by children.

This place resembles a theme park in an Old Russian style. Besides the houses of the main New Year's holiday characters, there are slides, a skating rink, a theatre and other fun objects.

In the house of Ded Moroz, you can see his bedroom and dining room, his magical staff and other attributes of his power - not to mention having an opportunity to meet Ded Moroz in person.

Snegurochka's separate house has a traditional Russian stove, a magical mirror and other fancy things which she will tell you about. On the second floor is a peculiar exhibition of New Year's trees decorated in the styles of different epochs. To view tree decorations as a reflection of time is an interesting way to learn about history, and children tend to like it.

Visiting the post office of Ded Moroz, where all the children's requests are gathered and read, is exciting as well.

"We get letters from all over the world," said Ded Moroz's mail keeper, Galina Lyubimova. "Of course the majority of mail comes from Russia, especially from Moscow and the Moscow region. But lots of people from the provinces also write to Ded Moroz and hope he will drop them a few lines in reply. Last year we got more than 20,000 letters, 15,000 of which were answered. The rest of them simply didn't have a return address.

You can also see more at Moscow Residence of Ded Moroz. The website is colorful but it certainly helps to read Russian to enjoy it. And I don't read Russian...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, SurLaLune!

Today SurLaLune Fairy Tales turns 11 years old. I launched the site in late December 1998, shortly after I graduated with my Master of Information Science. As the story goes, I had annotated a fairy tale--Bluebeard--for an HTML programming project in an extra class I took that last semester. I had wanted to learn more about my new husband's work, he being a graphic designer specializing in web work.

Well, the project was supposed to be more about my programming skills and not so much about the content. I, being me, spent more time on the content--although the basic HTML did get me an A. I wanted to annotate more tales, so using my knowledge and the materials I had, I added a few more and then launched the site on my free AOL hosting space at that time--which is how SurLaLune got its name--it was my screen name from years earlier.

I eventually bought a domain name, of course, as the site began to pay for itself through Amazon links although my original intent (and still somewhat now) is the free usage of Amazon images as an associate. I wanted lots of imagery and then people kept asking where they could find the books so links solved that type of email usually.

A year later, we added a scanner to our household which meant the addition of many illustrations and as I learned to use OCR technology, old texts of fairy tales, too. Then there has been more annotated tales themselves and the constant upkeep of new releases, be they books, movies or other media.

Eleven years later, the site has grown by leaps and bounds.

I still have the husband, too. His support--both emotional and financial with a little bit of programming help at times--has kept the site going, too. He'd love to help me move over to an even snazzier design and newer programming codes, but the backlog makes me dizzy. So for now SurLaLune stays mostly as it is with a blog added this year and regular content updates. It has visitors from over 160 countries around the world each year, many of whom don't have access to the materials otherwise. I'm perhaps most proud of that as well as how much I've learned and the friendships I've made over the years.

So thanks for coming along on the journey. I hope to add several more years to the site and I wouldn't have a purpose for it all without visitors and readers like you. Thanks for stopping by...

PS: I have finally completed the final edits on my draft entries for last week's Snow Queen Week. I have pushed the posts to live for their original dates, so please page down on the blog if you want to see them. (It's far from all I had planned, but perhaps I'll do another week sometime in January.)

We had a few family concerns and other demands over the holidays--including an unexpected death--which have kept me rather tied up and unable to do my usual posting and news searching. I doubt many of you have noticed with your own celebrations and distractions the past several days. This week may be unpredictable on my posting, but I plan to be back to full speed by January 4th when we all supposedly resume "normal" lifestyles again. And, despite the sadness, I had a wonderful Christmas, so all is well, just stressful at the moment!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Snow Queen Week: P. J. Lynch

I skipped to Golden Age illustrators the last few days, but was determined to also share P.J. Lynch's illustrations for The Snow Queen. Like so many others, Lynch is experienced with illustrating fairy tales and has many beautiful picture books. While the book was first published many years ago, a new edition (pictured above) was released this year. Or so it was if you live in the UK, for it was not rereleased in the U.S. Perhaps next year...for now, you can order from or order used editions (or should we call them collectables?) from and other used booksellers.

P.J. Lynch also has a wonderful online gallery with images from many of his books available on his website. See The Snow Queen Gallery. And isn't that image from the original cover above very reminiscent of one by Dulac? Well, for that matter the new one is reminiscent of another Dulac, too.

And here are the requisite images of Gerda and the Reindeer.

And because it is that time of year, I also can't recommend highly enough Lynch's illustrations for O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi, my favorite picture book version of the story. And his East o' The Sun, West o' The Moon is one of my favorites, too. (Here's an Amazon link for that one, also out of print, alas.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Snow Queen Week: Honor Appleton

Merry Christmas!

I had the opportunity to travel to London in November of 2006. When I was perusing the items in the gift shop at the V&A Museum, I looked down and discovered holidays cards with the above image on the front. I did a doubletake and realized it was one of Honor Appleton's illustrations for The Snow Queen, one that had been on SurLaLune for several years. I was delighted to see it and realized once again how popular images of Gerda and the Reindeer are. Note to illustrators: ALWAYS include the image of Gerda and the Reindeer if you are illustrating this tale.

And that is why this one greets you on Christmas, because it reminds me of Christmas and shopping in London, not something I have done much in my life. I am happily home with family and loved ones this holiday after a frantic month. I hope all of you enjoy this time of year and enjoy some of the magic of the season, whichever holiday you choose to celebrate.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snow Queen Week: Edmund Dulac

My first taste of illustrations for the Snow Queen were those by Edmund Dulac. I'm sharing three in this post, but there are seven in total by Dulac for the fairy tale, all of which are available on SurLaLune at Dulac's Snow Queen.

I've been looking at these for so many years now that I notice Dulac's influence on other illustrators of the tale, most often in composition, which I think is a compliment to the master Dulac was. I don't consider his Snow Queen overall his best work, but one of my favorite images is the one at the top of the page of Gerda and the Reindeer. This image receives a lot of traffic and was requested for SurLaLune's Snow Queen shop on CafePress years ago. It is also popular this time of year since so many want illustrations of reindeer. Tomorrow I will share Honor Appleton's image of Gerda and the Reindeer, another popular image.

What interests me most about Dulac's illustrations is that Kay is nowhere to be seen in the paintings. His portrayals center around the Snow Queen and Gerda and the supporting characters. Where is Kay? Why no Kay? Oh well, some questions can't be answered.

Finally, Dulac's books are long out of print, of course, and very costly collectables. However, many of his illustrations are available in Dulac's Fairy Tale Illustrations in Full Color compiled by Jeff A. Menges. Only five of the Snow Queen illustrations are included in the collection.

Better yet, you can choose a recent reprint of the original, published by Calla Editions: Stories from Hans Christian Andersen illustrated by Edmund Dulac. It was printed just over a year ago and also includes The Nightingale, The Real Princess, The Garden of Paradise, The Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Wind's Tale. The edition is a facsimile of the original edition and quite lovely, imitating the tipped in type of plates (although they aren't tipped in). The colors aren't as vibrant as the original plates, but they are more than satisfactory and it's lovely to have the book at a reasonable price. (My allergies also prefer the new paper.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow Queen Week: Vladyslav Yerko

Vladyslav Yerko has illustrated the Snow Queen and the book has appeared in several editions, most in Europe. The book appears to be out of print in the U.S., but it is available used or through the website designed to promote the book,

Here's some information about the book and its sales from the site:

Anderson House Foundation is proud to present one of the best fairy tales of all time, The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

This collectible children's book, richly illustrated by award winning Ukrainian artist Vladyslav Yerko, also well known for his illustrations of the Harry Potter books, is a unique Holiday gift for children of all ages.

AHF has exclusive rights to distribute
a special art edition of this children's bestseller across the US and Canada.

The quantity is limited.

All collected funds are used for AHF charitable projects.

Yerko's work is quite lovely and can be found around the internet. Of course, he is well-known for his Harry Potter illustrations as stated above, just not in the U.S. once again. (The wonderful Mary GrandPré is the illustrator known in the U.S. for Harry Potter.)

I only hope his work becomes more prominent in the U.S. as well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fairy Tales and Children

This one came up in my searches yesterday despite a very slow fairy tale news week: Fairy Tales, Child Development, And Unconscious Learning by Susan Kim, author of Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation with Elissa Stein.

Most of the fairy tale referencing is in conjunction to Bettelheim, whom folklorists all take with a big salt lick. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales is currently out-of-print which shocks me no end considering its classroom use, but is still available in many used editions. It won't be out-of-print for much longer since a new edition is due out in May 2010.

And here's an excerpt from the article, too:

This doesn't mean it's overt; trust me, you'll be searching the Brothers Grimm until hell freezes over if you're looking for specific references to the endometrium, follicle-stimulating hormones, or Fallopian tubes. But even the most metaphor-challenged can't help but notice how many times the color red plays an important role in a fairy tale involving a young girl, or how often blood is a significant part of the plot: Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty ... even Cinderella and that weird little bird singing "there's blood in the shoe".

Fairy tales communicate strong, unconscious messages to children in terms they can grasp and even carry into adulthood. This is because these stories possess genuine resonance and dreamlike power, the kind you're just not going to find, say, on your average TV sitcom. As for sitcoms, I've found that literal references to menstruation in film and on television, while more common than you might think, are singularly underwhelming. Even when a woman's period isn't treated as the eye-rolling punchline to another sophomoric joke, the best-intentioned references tend to be bland and safe, with a distinct lack of resonance or importance attached to the process. Nothing I've seen as an adult even hints at the mystery and potential psychological power of menstruation the way fairy tales do... with the possible exception of one movie.

Snow Queen Week: Read More About It

I'm at the point of December when I realize not everything I planned or hoped to accomplish is going to happen. The critical stuff is done, but the extras are now demanding prioritization. I'm so happy my traveling is done for the month. I planned and planned but the trip earlier this month still brought me home way behind.

I confess at this point one of the lower priorities is the blog but I am still committed to daily posts, especially since I have already gathered materials for Snow Queen Week. I just haven't had much time to sort and edit very well.

Then today when I checked my blog roll, I discovered that The Fairy Tale Cupboard has a lovely entry about the Snow Queen, discussing its history and relation to other stories, such as Father Frost, the Snow Maiden and even C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the the Wardrobe. To read it yourself, see Queens of snow and ice. So I don't have to worry about writing something similar during the holiday crunch. Thanks!

That said, I myself came to The Snow Queen late in life. I had never read it until I started SurLaLune years ago. It wasn't included in my Andersen's tales growing up and it escaped my notice consequently. As a child I loved fairy tales and fantasy books, but I had no one guiding my steps beyond what I discovered on my own--my visits to the library were infrequent and no one explained the 398 call number to me. (Fairy tales in the nonfiction section? Never imagined it! I thought there were so few because they were considered childish and thus ignored, not because they had their own section in the library.) My fairy tale reading was consequently quite limited to a few volumes at home but I read through quite a bit of the fiction stacks. And now you know another reason for SurLaLune--I have not just rediscovered but discovered many tales during my voracious research over the years. Needless to say, Snow Queen was a revelation to me.

The illustration above is by Milo Winter for the tale. Excepting images of Gerda with the reindeer by other illustrators, it is one of the most popular images for the tale on SurLaLune and one of my personal favorites, too. It is also available on several items in SurLaLune's CafePress Shop.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Queen Week: Susan Jeffers

Another picture book of the Snow Queen, this time with illustrations by Susan Jeffers, another illustrator who has applied her talent to many fairy tale renderings. The text in this one is retold from Andersen's tale by Amy Ehrlich.

The book has been reprinted with a few covers. The one at the top of the post is from 2006. The original cover from 1983 is below:

Jeffers has also illustrated The Wild Swans, Thumbelina, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel. I also shared her Nutcracker earlier this month. Her picture book version of Silent Night is my personal favorite of all her work.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Queen Week: Christian Birmingham

I didn't realize when I planned this week as Snow Queen Week that so much of the world would already be buried under record amounts of snow. I hope my readers are warm, cozy and safe and that the weather clears soon enough to make holiday travel possible. I merely think the tale is a wonderful companion to tomorrow's Winter Solstice. I try to offer a balanced blog, too, for those with other belief systems who don't celebrate Christmas (although I do!).

Unlike last week when I offered so many novelty items for Frog Prince Week, this week will have an abundance of books. The last few years have produced a few absolutely beautiful renditions of the tale by modern artists. One of my favorites is Christian Birmingham, who is more readily available in the UK and usually published a year earlier there than here in the states. He is also fortunately a prolific illustrator and some of his projects are fairy tales, such as Snow Queen.

Birmingham's work is impressionistic and he uses light beautifully. He has illustrated many Christmas stories, including Wenceslas: The Eternal Christmas Story, The Night Before Christmas and Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. (He seems to pick a lot of stories with snow in them.)

He has also illustrated Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid and The Classic Treasury of Hans Christian Andersen.

The images came from Books Illustrated Ltd: The Fine Art of Illustration, the gallery that sells Birmingham's original works.

For those of us for whom original artwork is out of the budget, the Snow Queen book is affordable and available at the Amazon US and the Amazon.UK stores.

Cinderella in Autumn at the Guardian

Cinderella in Autumn: A new short story by Hilary Mantel, illustrated by Posy Simmonds is a holiday gift from The Guardian.

Mantel also wrote Wicked parents in fairytales for the Guardian back in October, a nice companion piece to her story.

I love the Guardian. And someone or someones there loves fairy tales, bless them.

Edit: The Fairy Tale Cupboard-another great fairy tale blog that focuses on happenings and things in the UK--also shared links to the story today. See What happened to Cinderella?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Frog Prince Week: For the Kitchen

For the kitchen this time. All but the shakers are pricey. The Herends make heirlooms, perhaps. For your beloved toddler's fine dining, I think not, once you see the price. I admit I'm more fond of the shakers than the expensive dinnerware, a surprise to my usually expensive tastes.

Green Prince Frogs Salt & Pepper Shakers Set

Plate with Frog Prince (Frog Prince Set) Herend Children's Collection

Bowl with Frog Prince (Frog Prince Set) Herend Children's Collection

Mug with Frog Prince (Frog Prince Set) Herend Children's Collection

Frog Prince Week: For the Wedding

Because nothing says love like comparing your groom to a frog. (Which I think is fine if he is in on the joke.)

Princess Bride Kissing Frog Prince Figurine: Every girl loves a fairytale wedding and this is the perfect cake topper to top it off.

Almost Perfect . . . Frog Prince Groom Figurine: Here is a slightly quirky twist on the classic Fairytale story about the Princess who kissed the frog. Still with the tell-tale lipstick on his cheek, our Prince Charming is almost perfect except for two little green feet" that reveal his true origins. Oh well . . . you love him just the same!

.Set of 12 Frog Prince Favors Premium Glycerin Soaps: These are marketed primarily as wedding favors.

At Last I Found My Prince Collection Frog Votive Candle Holders: More wedding party favors. Also available as bookmarks and keychains.