Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on ipod right now): None.
Hey everyone. I was meaning to post up some more great stuff this week, but then we had a family emergency. I'm hoping to have it roll over into next week, but we'll see how it goes. Thanks for your patience guys!
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on ipod right now): None.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Use Somebody by 2CELLOS.
There is a fantastic, now long-buried series Sarah Beth Durst did when she was writing her Into the Woods & Out of the Woods books where she took obscure fairy tales and gave a dash of commonsense commentary to them. I highly recommend them. Who needs kittens when you can have a laugh out loud fairy tale story?
It has been so long since she had updated that I decided it was time to add to the menagerie. Bluebeard is both famous and at the same time really not. I was so creeped out as a child at finding the dead wives hanging up in the room like old coats. There was even a picture in my book, complete with trickles of blood running along the grout. Yeah, stuff for the not faint of heart. But is one that has stuck with me, so that is the one I want to do today...
Blue Beard (from Charles Perrault)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): When Can I See You Again by Owl City [Wreck It Ralph soundtrack].
Jim Henson is a master storyteller. There is no denying his revolutionizing work with puppetry, nor his iconic characters. But it seems few people know of his work outside of the Muppets.
Now, some are familiar with the Dark Crystal (a movie which I adore but still haunts my little child-memory to this day). More still are versed with the Labyrinth, a fantastic movie in its own right, and a fairy tale in its own way. I hadn't thought of doing a post just on that but perhaps…
The Labyrinth is quite arguably a modern fairy tale in its own right, and hints at Henson's love of those stories. Which brings me to perhaps one of his least-known works of all, outside of his commercials, that is - The Storyteller series.
Created back in 1988, it is a work that is both lovely and remarkable. Narrated by the excellent John Hurt (of the Ollivander from Harry Potter variety), as well as a talking dog, voiced by Brian Henson (of the Jim Henson variety), ;) it is a collection of 9 retold fairy tales. Some well known, others, less so. You'll remember from my last list of 10 Fantastic Unknown Fairy Tales - The Grimm's Edition, Allerleirauh, or "Sapsorrow" as it is known here, was first introduced to me through Jim Henson's Storyteller and is a far more rocking Cinderella than the usual version that is thrown around. There is an emotionally strong and clever girl in this one, that's for sure.
I didn't grasp the full awesome of this series until I was reading a book all about Jim Henson (I wanted to know how he got into being a puppeteer, and if a certain story I'd heard about him was true). It covered the gamut of his work, and I learned some things about the Dark Crystal I had not known before (those skekis things STILL freak me out). But I also gained a deeper understanding of this now-beloved fairy tale series.
Each story opens up with our storyteller, John Hurt. After a brief introduction and weaving of words that feels like magic itself we are thrown into the story at hand, often with a little help of some nifty camera work. I discovered that Jim Henson was intentional with every piece of magic he worked. He wanted to hearken back to the days of when these stories were first made real. When they were told orally. He wanted to make us feel like we were sitting right there beside our storyteller, and then as he delves into the story, as we are fully immersed and our imaginations are flung back, and it is as if we are actually there. Hence the tricky, sudden, and cool camerawork. It is quite effective, once you realize what is happening.
Of the nine stories told my favorites include:
The Three Ravens
A Story Short
"The True Bride," even though it has a very young Sean Bean in it (I squealed when I first recognized him), was not quite good enough to make my top three. But I love the white lion. :)
But there is still more. This was a brief series, and how I wish it had been longer. But there is a book, which came to me as a very startling birthday surprise to me one year. It is even written by the same man who penned the episodes they came from. And the clincher I love - the illustrations are done with the same visuals as the Storyteller series. It is wonderful to sit and read them as fairy tales as well as having our oral tradition, and I cannot recommend the book highly enough.
If you can, find a way to get hold of this hidden treasure of Jim Henson's. You'll learn to sit back, enjoy the fire, and always be prepared for a great story. :)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Video Killed the Radio Star by Amber Pacific.
The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.
What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.
Fairy Tales - One for Every Disney Princess :)
Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison.
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan.
Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose-- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire-- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes-- or be left without any future at all.
Ash by Malinda Lo.
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….
A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.
Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"
Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.
1001 Arabian Nights
Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher.
Every night, Shahrazad begins a story. And every morning, the Sultan lets her live another day -- providing the story is interesting enough to capture his attention. After almost one thousand nights, Shahrazad is running out of tales. And that is how Marjan's story begins....
It falls to Marjan to help Shahrazad find new stories -- ones the Sultan has never heard before. To do that, the girl is forced to undertake a dangerous and forbidden mission: sneak from the harem and travel the city, pulling tales from strangers and bringing them back to Shahrazad. But as she searches the city, a wonderful thing happens. From a quiet spinner of tales, Marjan suddenly becomes the center of a more surprising story than she ever could have imagined.
My Lady, Pocahontas by Kathleen Kudlinski.
Neetah, Pocahontas’s Pamunkey friend and servant, could hear the words princess and My Lady whispered from the lips of the white men who had settled in the colony they called Jamestown.
Pocahontas, the daughter of the Supreme Chief of the Confederacy, was important in their eyes, and Neetah, too, could see something special within her bold friend.
The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of the Ballad of Mulan by Cameron Dokey.
Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight. Tomboyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.
But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?
The Frog Prince
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.
It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, & Nathan Hale.
Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.
And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.
Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you’ve never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Lighthouse by Max and the Moon.
A fun teaser for what's coming next week. :)
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Kiriki by Danny Elfman [IRIS soundtrack].
Now we've got the meek variety covering the gamut of fairy tale fiction from The Fisherman's Wife to the dear father in Hansel and Gretel--talk about messed up. Agrees to leave his kids in the woods so that they, the adults, won't starve. Because his wife thinks it's a dandy idea. There may be some huffing and hesitation in some versions, but it really doesn't take long on his part to cave. That plus eating children--why is this in our commonly-read cannon again? I'm still trying to figure out what the warning is, other than… seriously don't trust the adults in your life? Two want to abandon you to save their own skin and the other wants to eat you. At least Gretel is smart enough to get them out of all their scrapes.
Then we just have the moronic. The miller in Rumpelstiltskin. He loudly (very loudly) proclaims his daughter can spin straw into gold. Uhhh… why? This isn't the kind of little white lie you can fake for very long. And when the king calls him on it, doesn't change his answer at all. Unbelievable. And the cherry on top? This man is never blamed for his imbecilic boasting. I've even read versions where he gets his land back or even comes to live at the palace.
Now for the creme de la creme. Have you ever heard of a fairy tale called The Girl without Hands? No? Oh, are you in for a treat. So get this. This father goes into the woods to fetch some wood and who but the devil shows up. So this guy makes a deal with the devil that he will get untold wealth if the man (devil in disguise) can but have what is behind his shed. And lo and behold what else could it be but his daughter? Silly man thought he was giving up an apple tree. So when judgement day comes and the devil comes by to pick the poor girl up, does good old dad fight for his daughter, say "take me instead?" Oh no. In fact he is absent for this part of the story. The girl draws a circle of chalk around herself and washes herself clean so the devil can't touch her.
"'How can I cut off my own child's hands?"
Then the Evil One threatened him and said: "If you do not do it you are mine, and I will take you for myself."
The father became alarmed, and promised to obey him. So he went to the girl and said: "My child, if I do not cut off both your hands, the Devil will carry me away, and in my terror I have promised to do it. Help me in my need, and forgive me the harm I do you."
Because he promised the devil? Holy [insert your own word here]. Forget saying "Oh, this was the deal I made, let me own up to it." And never mind the daughter actually lets him DO IT. That is a whole different post entirely. So she cries on her stumps again and the devil can't take her. AND THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY. Don't worry, she gets hands of silver later, and also a stepmother that wants to cut out her heart. You knew it was coming. :) And hey, at least the spineless sap offered to take care of her for what he did to her, but she said she could not stay there. DARN RIGHT YOU SHOULDN'T! RUN AS FAST AND FAR AS YOU CAN. And as far as anyone knows, he and his wife live in wealth to the end of their days. This kind of father is seen again in "Hans My Hedgehog" (actually, two horrible fathers. One of the kings, and Hans own father who gets welcomed with open arms at the end of the story. Gag me). Beauty's dad in Beauty and the Beast isn't much better. At least he protests and doesn't want her to go, but he still lets her go into what is by all appearances a free meal ticket.
But hey! We have at least one good father of the lot! The king in The Frog Prince. You teach that girl to keep her promises! Being a princess doesn't get you out of it, little snob! (Note: there is a *major* difference between keeping a promise to a frog who did you a favor and a promise to the devil, especially when it's someone else's LIFE is on the line). This is one kingdom where its subjects may actually fare decently because of their royalty. Good job, dad.
It is really sad that in a tradition of often vilifying the women who either gave birth or another who stole their father's affections, we often give a free "pass" to the men who just stands by and lets it happen or even encourages it. That is its own kind of disturbing. So in my book stepmothers get an unduly bad rap in fiction. There are a lot of horrible fathers out there in fairy tales too that go unnoticed.
Can you think of any other good or bad dads in fairy tales? These were just off the top of my head.
Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Doll House by Simon Caby/Cécile Corbel [The Secret World of Arrietty soundtrack].
Last week an avalanche decided to take up residence at my house (I wish I had taken pictures. It was awful), so hence the lack of postage last week. Every spare second I had was dedicated to extracating myself from a frighteningly accumulating mini Mt. Everest. Because of that I wasn't able to properly hype up what I am doing this month.
February is going to be completely and wholly dedicated to fairy tales.
*fanfare and music. And drums.* ^_^
Not only is "fairy tales" one of the top ten most search-for terms to get to my blog STILL since my last one in 2010, but looking at that date also makes me think it has been entirely too long. Indeed.
Also, apparently I need a whole slew more of baby otters on here.
And I decided to do it in February, well because it is February, and, happy endings and all that. :) Though as we go through this month you will see there aren't nearly so happy endings for some people.
I am *so* excited to be doing this again! And even though I have a ton of ideas in the docket, is there anything in particular you would like to see on here? I'll do my best to accomodate.
Happy February, everyone!