Thursday, February 28, 2019

New Book: Cendrillon illustrated by Anna Griot

Cendrillon de Anna Griot (Illustrations) et Charles Perrault (Avec la contribution de) was released this month in France. It's not readily available in the United States. It is such a different take on the tale while still attributing it to Perrault that I wanted to be sure to share it here. It is set in New York and the heroine is decidedly not blonde. You can click on the images to see them a little larger. The fairy godmother particularly fascinates me, too.

Here are images from Anna Griot's website:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How Do You Use the SurLaLune Site?

My question for you is--especially if you are an educator that uses the SurLaLune Fairy Tales site--what pages are important to you? 

The SurLaLune Fairy Tales site turned 20 years old this past December. It has been lying fallow for about two years as I have been pulled in several directions both personal and business. SurLaLune is not how I support myself. I am lucky that I can pretty much call it self-sustaining, but that's it, and all of my work on it is pretty much in the status of "voluntary." So if I have to step away so I can pay bills, I do. I wish it sustained me, but as many authors know, that would put me firmly at poverty level of living. All the same, SurLaLune is my passion and I plan for it to live at least as long as I do.

Behind the scenes, during the past year, the site has been going through a redesign that if all goes well will launch in the next month or so. It was supposed to happen end of 2018 but I lost my primary developer and have been recovering ever since.

For a preview, the Annotated Cinderella page is going to look like this (click on the image to see it larger):

Instead of this:

The site will be mobile responsive. It will be modernized. It will have somewhat different navigation and features. Some will come with the new launch. Some will hopefully comes in the months to come.

This also means some areas will be going away. My question for you is--especially if you are an educator that uses the site--what pages are important to you? 

Please comment here, Tweet, email, whatever and let me know how the site is used in your classroom. And please don't expect direct replies from me, especially if the overall response is large enough. I am going to read every response and take it all into consideration but being only me, with lots on my plate, I am going to spend more of the time trying to figure out how to get the site launched and still the most viable for its visitors. With thousands of pages on the site, it is impossible to recode all of them. I plan to archive the current site online in some way but it will not be readily promoted. I hope the new site will fulfill most needs.

And on that note, the new feature will be a Folklore tales database--the site will launch with over 5,000 tales in a database that will have classifications by ATU Classification, Author, Country of Origin, Title, etc. More on that in future days since I am debating volunteer work to help grow the database into at least 10,000 tales. 

And yes, the 49 Annotated Tales are not going away. The Illustration Galleries are on the brink of the chopping block for more reasons than I can enumerate here today. But the rest of the Annotated sections will be intact. So will the Introductory section.

Thanks for the feedback ahead of time! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

New Book: Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems by Theodora Goss

Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems by Theodora Goss was released this month. It is getting great reviews including at The New York Times.

Book description:

A young woman hunts for her wayward shadow at the school where she first learned magic--while another faces a test she never studied for as ice envelopes the world. The tasks assigned a bookish boy lead him to fateful encounters with lizards, owls, trolls and a feisty, sarcastic cat. A bear wedding is cause for celebration, the spinning wheel and the tower in the briar hedge get to tell their own stories, and a kitchenmaid finds out that a lost princess is more than she seems. The sea witch reveals what she hoped to gain when she took the mermaid's voice. A wiser Snow White sets out to craft herself a new tale.

In these eight stories and twenty-three poems, World Fantasy Award winner Theodora Goss retells and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, the works gathered in Snow White Learns Witchcraft re-center and empower the women at the heart of these timeless narratives.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Jane Yolen, in her introduction, proclaims that Goss "transposes, transforms, and transcends times, eras, and old tales with ease. But also there is a core of tough magic that runs through all her pieces like a river through Faerie . . . I am ready to reread some of my new favorites."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Newish Book: Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin

Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin was published in September 2018 in the United States and the UK in English translation of the original French edition of À l'intérieur des méchants published in 2016. I got to peruse it in a small independent bookstore and was intrigued by it. There are not many pages, just three spreads devoted to the Wolf, Giant, and Witch. But this is an interactive book where you lift flaps, explore the text, and find surprises. It's not technically a pop-up book but it fits in the general category that way.

The book has a very French sensibility and some elements may be deemed too disturbing for some kids by some parents while others will adore it. There are kids in my life I would show this to without qualms and others will be waiting a few years.

The grotesque is accepted just a little bit more for French kids in their published literature in my experience. After all, France still embraces Donkeyskin, too, yay for them. From what I can see from the online images of the French version, the English translation is pretty literal of the original. But even the French reader reviews have a few warnings of the book being not suitable for the youngest kids. So I'm not trying to stereotype too much here either. Let's just say I was not surprised to see that this was a book in translation after my experiences with international fairy tale publishing...

Book description:

An extraordinary lift-the-flaps book that reveals the secrets of the most famous fairy-tale villains--the giant, the wolf and the witch--with interactive flaps, a twist on well-known tales, and personality cards for each villain. Lift the flaps to see the diabolical thoughts inside the villains' heads, what hides beneath their disguises, or the victims of their last meals (now comfortably settled inside their stomachs!).

Read all about each villain on their personality card, which shows strengths and weaknesses, pastimes, physical characteristics, their best meal and--of course--their favorite books.

And if the wolf bites your fingers while you're reading, you can always pull his tail...

In France, there is also the companion book, A l'intérieur des gentils published in 2017. It has not been translated into English. See a few pages from it at Seuil Jeunesse.

For online viewing, a video is a better way to comprehend the book. So I am sharing this video from Gecko Press which shows the French text and the book "in action":

Friday, February 22, 2019

Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles

Once upon a time, I lived in Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to see "Into the Woods" at the Ahmanson Theatre many moons ago. If I still lived there, I would have loved to see this current production of a WWII era Cinderella. The costuming alone is enticing from the promotional images. There are more images on Facebook.

From the promotional email:

Matthew Bourne transforms the classic fairy tale into a wartime romance with a twist of Hollywood glamour. A chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the Blitz.

Performed to Prokofiev’s magnificent score, this new production comes alive with heart-stopping choreography, vivid theatrical storytelling, and sumptuous award-winning scenic and costume designs that will transport audiences to the heart of war-torn London for a timeless story of the power of love.

You can get some glimpses of the production in this promotional video where the dancing looks exquisite, too.

New Book: Rosa's Einstein: Poems by Jennifer Givhan

Rosa's Einstein: Poems (Camino del Sol) by Jennifer Givhan was released this week. A poetry cycle drawing inspiration from Snow White and Rose Red with a Latinx flare? That is new! Haven't seen a description quite like this one before in 20+ years of watching and reading.

Book description:

Rosa’s Einstein is a Latinx retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s Snow-White and Rose-Red, reevaluating border, identity, and immigration narratives through the unlikely amalgamation of physics and fairy tale.

In this full-length poetry collection, the girls of Rosa’s Einstein embark on a quest to discover what is real and what is possible in the realms of imagination, spurred on by scientific curiosity and emotional resilience. Following a structural narrative arc inspired by the archetypal hero’s journey, sisters Rosa and Nieve descend into the desert borderlands of New Mexico to find resolution and healing through a bold and fearless examination of the past, meeting ghostly helpers and hinderers along the way. These metaphorical spirits take the shape of circus performers, scientists, and Lieserl, the lost daughter Albert Einstein gave away.

Poet Jennifer Givhan reimagines the life of Lieserl, weaving her search for her scientist father with Rosa and Nieve’s own search for theirs. Using details both from Einstein’s known life and from quantum physics, Givhan imagines Lieserl in a circus-like landscape of childhood trauma and survival, guided by Rosa and Nieve.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

New Book: The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine

The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine was released this month. The fourth book in her Ravenspire series, this title draws inspiration from Cinderella. The first book in the series is currently on sale for $1.99 in ebook format if you are interested, too: The Shadow Queen.

Book description:

A dark and romantic epic fantasy retelling of the Cinderella story, about a girl who must team up with the prince she despises to defeat an evil creature threatening their kingdom. The fourth standalone novel in the New York Times bestselling Ravenspire series by C. J. Redwine.

Blue de la Cour has her life planned: hide the magic in her blood and continue trying to turn metal into gold so she can help her city’s homeless. But when her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her—and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan.

Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata, is walking a thin line between political success and devastating violence. Newly returned from boarding school, he must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal—but escalating violence among the families makes the search nearly impossible. He’s surprised to discover that the one person who makes him feel like he can breathe is Blue, the girl who once ruined all his best adventures.

When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together to find the truth. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts.

When romance is forbidden and evil is rising, can Blue save those she loves, even if it costs her everything?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

New Book: Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-spun by Hilary McKay and Sarah Gibb

Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-spun by Hilary McKay (Author) and Sarah Gibb (Illustrator) was released this month. Gibb has illustrated several romantic fairy tale picture books that SurLaLune readers have enjoyed over the years. Hilary McKay has a loyal following in YA and is better known in the UK than the US. Her Casson family series has been highly recommended to me by several YA professionals over the years but I've yet to encounter a casual reader who has read her work in the states. An oddity but I am sharing to let you know she is well-liked, even beloved by many readers, even if you are not familiar with her work. What fascinated me was that the Wall Street Journal has reviewed the book for its United States release this month.

I haven't read the book myself yet take joy in that there are retellings of Princess and the Pea, The Swan Brothers and The Twelve Dancing Princesses among the other more usual suspects.

Book description:

Award-winning author Hilary McKay reimagines your favorite fairy tales with humorous and heartfelt twists in this beautifully illustrated collection of short stories.

Imagine Hansel and Gretel’s story from their teacher’s point of view, when Gretel submits her report of, “What I Did in the Holidays, and Why Hansel’s Jacket Is So Tight.” Learn the story of how Rumpelstiltskin was used by a greedy girl who wanted to marry a prince in “Straw into Gold.” Find out what was really underneath all those mattresses the unlucky princess had to sleep on in “The Prince and the Problem.”

Award-winning author Hilary McKay brings a modern sensibility and inventive quirkiness to this beautiful collection of ten classic fairy tales, reimagining them with emotional depth and lighthearted humor. Each story is also accompanied by black and white illustrations and includes fresh perspectives with hilarious new twists.

Using details never revealed before, this sure-to-be treasured collection includes: 
The Princess and the Pea
The Pied Piper
The Swan Brothers
Snow White
Red Riding Hood
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Hansel and Gretel

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New Book: Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Between Before and After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry was released this month. This one stands out due to the setting and the fairy tale involved--the Spanish Flu Epidemic in 1918 and Hansel and Gretel.

Book description:

“The carnage began with the roses. She hacked at their ruffled blooms until they dropped into monstrous drifts of red on the parched yellow lawn … Only two things kept my mother grounded to us: my uncle Stephen and stories.”

Fourteen-year-old Molly worries about school, friends, and her parents’ failed marriage, but mostly about her mother’s growing depression. Molly knows her mother is nursing a carefully-kept secret. A writer with an obsession for other people’s life stories, Elaine Donnelly is the poster child of repressed emotions.

Molly spends her California summer alternately watching out for her little brother Angus and tip-toeing around her mother’s raw feelings. Molly needs her mother more than ever, but Elaine shuts herself off from real human connections and buries herself in the lives and deaths of the strangers she writes about. When Uncle Stephen is pressed into the limelight because of his miracle cure of a young man, Elaine can no longer hide behind other people’s stories. And as Molly digs into her mother’s past, she finds a secret hidden in her mother’s dresser that may be the key to unlocking a family mystery dating to 1918 New York—a secret that could destroy or save their future.

Told in dual narratives between 1918 New York City and 1955 San Jose, California, Between Before and After, by award-winning author Maureen McQuerry, explores the nature of family secrets, resiliency, and redemption. This is an historical coming-of-age Young Adult story about the complex bonds between mothers and daughters.

A great article about the book can be read at This Tri-City author’s family loss to Spanish flu inspired her new young adult novel by Sara Schilling.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Fairy Tale Sticky Page Flags: Little Red Riding Hood and Little Mermaid

While most of my reading is now done digitally, my folklore library is still primarily paper. And I often need to mark pages to return to notes and references. The usual flags, post-its, junk mail, etc. serve as my usual bookmarks, but I admit I couldn't resist these particular page flags which are the best way to mark research with a low paper profile as well as stickiness. I admit, I like the Fairy Tale Collection Sticky Flags for obvious reasons. It's fun to have Little Red Riding Hood represented and Little Mermaid is fine, too. I would have loved some Beauty and the Beast, of course, but I'm not complaining. These are just fun no matter what.


I was even more excited by the Romance Collection Sticky Flags and the Young Ladies Collection Sticky Flags. Because I am very typical with my classics books adorations. Which means I still regularly reread Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. (All of those book links go to annotated versions that I actually own. Are you surprised I'd like annotated versions? Probably not.)

These were correctly bundled together for me, even if Austen and Bronte would disagree on the pairing themselves. Side note, these books still hold up for me through decades of rereading. So many books don't. Little Women has suffered the most of the four for me but I still enjoy it despite a few pangs and I admire Louisa May Alcott for countless reasons, too. I've been rereading some other teenaged favorites lately. Daddy-Long-Legs entertained me greatly a few weeks ago. But a few years ago, Rebecca went on my never again pile.

Fortunately, I am personally able to resist the Love Story Collection Sticky Flags which feature Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. I'd call that the tragic, unhealthy love collection myself. No thanks. These titles have never been on my regular comfort reread piles. They make Jane Eyre and Rochester look healthy.

You can also see the Enchanted Sea Mermaid Collection Sticky Flags which is really mermaids and ocean critters. There is also the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland Storybook Collection Sticky Flags if you're a fan of these stories.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Cinderella Pudding Recipe

As so often happens, this came to me through an unusual path. I am not a baker. I cook quite competently but the science of baking has always been more of a nuisance than joy to me. Heresy to some of my friends and family who love to bake, but that's me. I hate to follow recipes and baking really requires more exact measuring than I like to be beholden to.

To cover that lack, I have what I consider my "fake out" dessert making stand-by for the times when I must produce a dessert without the help of my favorite bakeries. It's quite simple but impressive. I use a Maryann cake pan.

I use a cake box mix and then take inspiration from the chosen cake mix flavor (I usually choose white, chocolate or carrot) to fill the well that the cake pan leaves behind. Pudding, jams, sauces, fruit, cookies, candy--the possibilities are endless and pretty much always a hit. And the well when filled with pudding type mix keeps the cake moist in the fridge for leftovers, too, rather a simple version of a poke cake. Win, win, win. Plus it tastes and looks like I did something special. Nope. I just own a wonderful cake pan and quite frankly filling that well is MUCH easier than frosting a cake and the presentation is gorgeous. I pretend to be a baker but I am anything but. And the family likes it enough that they still ask me to bring desserts when they know they will either get a version of a Maryann cake depending on the seasonal inspiration or a Publix bakery offering. Cause I do like cakes overall, I just don't want to actually make one from scratch. See some Maryann cake pictures to see what I mean at Pinterest.

So when people see these cakes they all want to know about the cake pan. One of my besties, Valerie, is a baker extraordinaire and she uses the pan with from scratch recipes that are divine but beyond my desire or skill level. We've both been fascinated by the pan's history since I discovered it several years ago--and it is pretty much the only time I introduced something baking related to Valerie's wide range of knowledge and skill. The pan has gone in and out of production since I bought my first one years ago but seems to have made a steady resurgence of late. Valerie recently discovered an antique version and was determined to learn its history when she realized its history was much longer than expected.

She didn't learn much, but along the way, she found this recipe for a Maryann style cake with a fitting title for the SurLaLune blog. I was tickled by it because I haven't read the word "syllabub" in all too long I realized. A very English recipe but found in Florida in 1914 since pudding as a synonym for dessert (a pudding that isn't American pudding a la tapioca or such) is even rarer these days, but perhaps more common than I realized in the United States in 1914. 

Source: The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida, United States of America) · 30 Oct 1914, Fri · Page 13

If you're curious, Val says:

I can't find out who Mary Ann was! But I did discover that women had been making this type of cake but having to scoop out the extra cake. The pan seems to have come on the scene in 1921.

As for me, scooping out cake just means you get a preview that's even better than licking the mixing spoon. Clever bakers getting to make their cake and eat it, too!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Beauty and the East - A Short Film by Dhruv Uday Singh

Content Warning: Strong Language

The above film has strong language which I usually avoid sharing since SurLaLune is for all ages.

The gist of the film is what Belle's reaction is when the beast is disenchanted and ends up being Indian--and a different race from her--not the blonde white prince she imagined.

The film provides a good opportunity to explore expectations when reading or watching fairy tales. Or discuss how much appearance fuels love and its expectations. Many of the bases are covered here of previous discussions I've read, witnessed, etc. over the years of disenchanted princes. Even the fact that many would be happier with the Beast instead no matter what his human appearance is! "Change him back!" I've heard people demand. This adds an additional spin to that desire.

My favorite line: “Belle, the whole time you’ve known me, I’ve been a very hairy brown guy. I didn’t transform from a polar bear or a … a @#*&@ swan!”

The film's primary info:

A short film about the intersection of race, gender, and fairytale dog-men.

Written, Edited, and Directed by Dhruv Uday Singh
with Contributions by Jason M. Palmer

Produced by Tayler Vee Robinson

Cate Scott Campbell as Belle
Dhruv Uday Singh as the Prince

Cardi B, Fashion and Fairy Tales with Harper's Bazaar

The March 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine features Cardi B in some fairy tale and folklore inspired settings. We have Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sword in the Stone (King Arthur) and a fire breathing dragon apparently. Cardi B was photographed by Mariano Vivanco and styled by fashion editor Kollin Carter.

You can read the accompanying story "Cardi B Opens Up About Her 'Rags to Riches' Cinderella Story" on the magazine's website.