Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hansel and Gretel by Will Moses

Hansel & Gretel

Hansel & Gretel as illustrated by Will Moses (yes, he is the grandson of Grandma Moses) offers a very American folk artist rendition of the classic tale. And it works well enough. I find this version quite charming because it is more unusual, but not drastically so. This isn't the book for introducing the tale. I think Zelinsky's Hansel and Gretel is best for that. But this one makes the tale interesting to look at again and a little safer since the terror elements are downplayed somewhat.

Here are some illustrations:

Old Stuff: Dakota Fanning and Vanity Fair

I admit it. I am not a Vanity Fair reader. Not usually. I doubt many of you are surprised by this. However, on occasion Vanity Fair and others mags in its genre do spreads with fairy tale themes. I recently discovered these images from a shoot/article in the January 2007 issue featuring a younger Dakota Fanning in fairy tale settings. The photos are by Karl Lagerfeld. The Rapunzel is a little too precious but I like the Red Riding Hood and others. I am relieved they kept th fairy tales sweeter and not sexualized and think the right tone was achieved for a young star.

Donkeyskin at Tales of Faerie

by Kay Nielsen

Kristin posted a short piece about Donkeyskin on her blog at Tales of Faerie this week titled Donkeyskin: The reality of child abuse. She shares her thoguhts about the tale and its difficulties, especially in American culture where it is virtually unknown, thanks to its uncomfortably incestuous theme. It is a nice piece and worth a quick read if you are interested in the tale. I have been rather knee deep in it and its variants for several months thanks to the upcoming SurLaLune Cinderella collection so it certainly was pertinent to me. But that's neither here nor there. I enjoyed reading her experiences with the tale and thought you might, too.

Here's her first paragraph:

I've always been a fan of fairy tales, but especially since starting this blog I've been more aware of how people use the phrase "fairy tale," and it is nearly always condescending, no matter who it comes from. This is truly unfortunate-even in the "dumbed down" versions, of such as Disney is always accused, there are still horrific elements (abuse and murder attempts); not to mention the even darker historical versions. And even aside from these well-known American tales, Bluebeard and Donkeyskin, which deal more specifically with murder and incest, are considered not to be random fairy tales pulled out only to defend their mature content, but part of the basic fairy tale canon (Donkeyskin is apparently more well-known in France and other parts of Europe, where children's toys and picture books are given this dark theme).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Start Over by MC Frontalot

I am still busily translating and editing intensely for upcoming SurLaLune releases. So my brain is sprained. I am also on a news media blackout. First, it's a time issue. Second, if one more "fairy tale" news search comes up with a glut of sports articles, I am going to, well, I can't think of anything that isn't a cliche right now. But it won't be pretty. Cinderella seasons and such don't even refer to weddings this time of year, just sports dreams. Why don't they get their own metaphors and similes? And why do they love fairy tale references so much. Someone should really jump on that and write a paper. Is there a class in journalism school about fairy tale metaphors?

So until after March Madness and is all over and the sports metaphors are reduced to one per page of search results instead of nine out of ten, I won't know if interesting events are happening with fairy tales. If you know of any yourself, please send.

But I did smile today over a song, one I had forgotten existed. I think I heard it once a few years ago. I will embed a video and share some of the lyrics. Oh, the song is a rap of Start Over by MC Frontalot. It's a fun retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. If you want it, it is a free download on the website. You can preview it below with the video.

This is actually part of the third verse, but you can read all the lyrics here:

All right, grama was hanging alone,
cultivating the medicine for the glaucoma.
She paid rent in the forest. It was inexpensive.
Grama's house was in the intensively
wolf-rife section of town.
She didn't mind, she liked a wild hound.
Sound at the door: an intruder.
"Is that you, red? You brought food for
me to eat?" "Nope, the opposite.
No hard candy, so soft chocolate.
Just a wolf belly for you to inhabit
and I'm going to need your nightshirt for the next gambit."
Clandestinely reclining in bed,
the wolf awaits (for red!),
expecting their usual banter:
"How's school?" "Fine, grama,
here's food." "Thanks dear."
Instead it's all: "What's up with the ears?"
Eyes. Nose. Throat. Teeth.
"Little Red Riding Hood, why you giving me grief?
bodies change as the years advance
soft features grow unkind to the glance
and hairs sprout.

Thumbelina illustrated by Susan Jeffers

Thumbelina Thumbelina (Picture Puffin)

Thumbelina retold by Amy Ehrlich and illustrated by Susan Jeffers has been released in a few editions and it is a lovely rendition of Andersen's tale. As I was preparing this post, I berated myself for how often I neglect Thumbelina. I have to admit it has never been a favorite, but I think it is because I came to late for it. And, it is no secret, that many of Andersen's tales don't jibe well with my personal tastes although there are definite exceptions. Then I look at illustrations like these and others and think I need to get over myself and do more work with Thumbelina.

What I like best about Jeffers's version beyond the obvious artistry is that Thumbelina is older. I like that she is closer to a better age for marriage. Andersen, if he marries off his heroines, makes them rather young. That said, perhaps my favorite Thumbelina illustrations of all are Margaret Tarrant's. For some reason, they capture the whimsy of the tale for me and forego much of the darkness so I am happy with their simplicity.

That said, I love Jeffers' version as I do so many of her fairy tale illustrations. She has illustrated several. And now here are some of images for Thumbelina:

And more of Jeffers' work:

The Nutcracker The Snow Queen Brother Eagle, Sister Sky

Cinderella Hansel and Gretel (Puffin Pied Piper) Hansel and Gretel

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beastly on DVD

Beastly Beastly [Blu-ray]

Beastly and Beastly [Blu-ray] are now available for preorder on Amazon. The prices are $19.99 and $24.99 but I am sure they will go down at least $3-4 and the preorder price guarantee means I'll get the best price. The release date isn't listed, but I imagine it won't be before June, perhaps July.

I already ordered mine since I no longer anticipate getting to a movie theatre to see it. I will be thrilled if I get to see the new Jane Eyre which is finally opening in Nashville this weekend. I don't know how every weekend in April and the first half of May is already booked, but my upcoming schedule makes my head spin and want to crawl under the covers with my Kindle and hide. I'll probably have to sneak away some weekday afternoon for a few hours next week but if the reviews are accurate, Jane Eyre is worth it.

Rumpelstiltskin at Enchanted Conversation

The newest issue of Enchanted Conversation at is up. Here is the direct link to the table of contents. The theme for the issue is Rumpelstiltskin.

This is old news since it went up last Friday actually, but I've been head down in translating tales for upcoming SurLaLune collections which makes my brain go splat when I read other things remotely fairy tale related right now.

My good intentions were to preread and comment, but it just won't be happening for several more days as I deal with heavy, heavy editing and some final translating. But new books will be coming soon. Bluebeard, my friends, is huge at well over 700 pages. More about that later... (And my punchiness has probably shown through on the blog recently, too. It's subtle, but I see it at least, after all I'm experiencing it firsthand.)

Here's a glance at that Table of Contents:

1) Welcome!

2) Little Rattle Belly

3) The Other End of The Tale

4) Rumpelstiltskin (Burns)

5) The Queen's Child Comes In

6) Garbage-To-Gold Spindle

7) He Tore Himself In Two

8) Batul and the Rumpel

9) The Name of the Helper

10) Straw Into Gold

11) The Duchess's Boy

Congrats to KateW and company for achieving another issue...

Twisted Tales by Maureen McGowan

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer (Twisted Tales) Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Twisted Tales)

These are two new books by Maureen McGowan that are apparently Choose Your Own Adventure types of books. Do you remember Choose Your Own Adventure? That is one book fad I was just at the right age for, in other words, I was smack dab in its target audience when it reached its heydey in the 80s. I owned a few but I have to admit I wasn't a big fan since I reached an ending so quickly that I was bored and would read through the book straight to see what options and endings were present. And I bought most of my books back then (still do) and I didn't feel like I got much bang for my buck with those since they ended in a few minutes. So says the girl who would devour a Nancy Drew in an average of 2.5 hours. I think I still own an official Star Trek edition in which you end up being a red shirt ensign judging from how many times you end up dead from your choices, that's all I really remember of it. It was rather disconcerting to my tween fandom to "die" while reading a Star Trek novel. Oh my, I found it: Star Trek: Voyage to Adventure (Which Way Books No 15).

But back to these books. I only know they are Choose Your Own Adventure/Which Way from the reader reviews. I don't know much more about these, but they may be fun. I imagine I would have loved them if they had been among my options in 1984. I'd probably have fun with them now, too, since just reminiscing is making me smile...and they are fun takes on fairy tales, to boot.

Here are the official descriptions:

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer (Twisted Tales) by Maureen McGowan

In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is an entirely new type of fairy tale–one that will keep today's kids guessing and offer them hours of magical fun.

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Twisted Tales) by Maureen McGowan

In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince—she's a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!