Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From Cynsations: Interview with Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs, a Snow Queen retelling, has a compelling interview at Cynsations today.

Here's the beginning:

In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” Gerda and Kai are best friends until the day a shard of magic mirror falls into Kai’s eye and he’s cruel to Gerda.

In Breadcrumbs (HarperCollins, 2011), the same thing happens to Minneapolis fifth-graders Hazel and Jack. They’re best friends in the world, until one day Jack just changes. And then he disappears. Hazel learns he’s been taken into the woods by a witch-like woman in white. Her plan is simple: go into the woods, save her friend, and they can all live happily ever after.

But the fairytale woods in Breadcrumbs are not a happily-ever-after kind of place. Really, fairytale woods rarely are. The Cinderella-type stories that end with palace weddings and promises of eternal bliss are the succulent gingerbread houses that lure us into the fey world of mischief, vendettas, curses, and cruelty, where children are neglected, orphaned, abandoned—and that’s just at the beginning.

Child readers devour the tales, knowing full well what really lurks inside gingerbread houses. I think the idea that fairy tales are happy comes from adults, from a wish they have for kids and for the stories they love.

It’s easy to be so dazzled by fairy-godmother glass slippers that you forget a pair of shoes can just as easily make a girl dance herself to death.

And more that simply shouldn't be missed:

That's it. The truth is not so terrible that it can't be told. Sometimes the world is completely outside of the child's control. Growing up is a process of change, all the time, and the rules change too. Friends fall away, people get sick, families break apart, other kids are cruel. Nothing is assured, least of all happy endings. But that doesn't mean the world isn't so terrible you can’t live in it. That you can’t thrive in it.

The trick is simply figuring out how. And this is what stories help kids do.

I haven't read Breadcrumbs yet, but I am drawn to it even more after reading this interview, so hopefully soon. I have to admit the primary problem is that I don't have it in ebook format which is how I read most of my fiction these days....

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