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Viewing Blog: The Giant Pie, Most Recent at Top
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*Pie Crust: childhood and imagination *Filling: children's literature, mythic literature, personal storytelling
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1. “Chandelier”

I’m not too old to be deeply moved by Sia’s “Chandelier.” It makes me think of someone I once knew well and lost, for various reasons, one of them being her lifestyle choices. She died before she could break free. Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler were outstanding in their Grammy performance piece of this song. … Continue reading “Chandelier”

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2. Salon.com on a “rediscovered stash” of fairy tales

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3. ADDitude Magazine Post

ADDitude Magazine provides “strategies and support for ADHD and LD.” They reprinted my Huffington Post essay about my daughter’s struggle with Tourette Syndrome. The magazine is a wonderful resource, and I hope you’ll pass it along to anyone you know who could benefit from it. Thank you! Move Therapy: How Frozen Gave My Daughter Hope

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4. For Better or for Wolf

My latest column is available at Luna Station Quarterly.

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5.

“The individual fairy tale is not itself a myth, but it presupposes a mythic framework of surprise, dependence or vulnerability, the balancing of anxiety with expectation: a thumbnail sketch of human experience in a bewildering natural and emotional environment.” (“why we need fairy tales now more than ever” by Rowan Williams, New Statesman, December 22, […]

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6. Ayn Rand reviews “Bambi,” “Willy Wonka,” and more (spoof)

  Click on the image below to read Mallory Ortberg’s adroit piece.

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7. Merry Christmas

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8. Michael Meade on stories

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9. Sisters and Brothers at Luna Station

“Sisters and Brothers,” my post in honor of the UN commemoration of the international day to end violence against women is up at Luna Station Quarterly.

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10. To grandmother’s house we go

Image by doodlemachine/iStockphoto What do Robin Hood, Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, The Wind in the Willows and countless other novels, legends, fairy tales, fables and myths have in common? They have woods, of course–deep, dark, primeval, archetypal woods. It’s where the heart and soul of the story reside, and, not coincidentally, it’s where our hearts […]

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11. LSQ News

I’m happy to announce that I’m one of the new assistant editors at Luna Station Quarterly, a speculative fiction zine for emerging women writers founded and headed by Jennifer Lyn Parsons. This is in addition to my LSQ column, “What’s in a Fairy Tale?” The LSQ Website offers daily features, including reviews and interviews, as […]

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12. “The top 10 fairytales”

Marina Warner’s new piece in The Guardian is a must read for fairy tale aficionados…

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13. Under My Bark

The second instalment of my fairy tale  column has just been posted at Luna Station Quarterly. I hope you’ll enjoy “Under My Bark.”

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14. Secret Doors and Other Wonders

One of the commenters following Mac Barnett’s Ted Talk “Why a good book is a secret door” quoted Antoine de Saint-Exupéry from The Little Prince: “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” The essence of this statement is a perfect way […]

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15.

Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told me in my childhood than in any truth that is taught in life. ~ Johann Christoph Friedrich v. Schiller, German Poet (1759-1805) Using fairy tales, fables, and other story forms to guide and nurture our children. I’m very excited to announce the launch of my publishing site […]

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16. Short and brief and to the point…

In truth, I have more time for writing right now than I have had in a long time. This scares me. It scares me because the more time I have for something, the more I fear wasting it. And the more I fear something, anything, the less productive I am. So instead of spinning off into […]

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17. Primal Questions, Uneasy Answers

Fairy tale author and scholar Kate Bernheimer on “Surviving An Adult World in Fairy Tales, and Real Life.”

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18. What’s in a Fairy Tale?

I’m very proud to announce the first instalment of my new column at Luna Station Quarterly. The column title is “What’s in a Fairy Tale.” My first essay is “Dark Side of the Fruit,” which takes a closer look at the evil queen’s poisoned apple. LSQ has a brand new format. I hope you’ll stop by […]

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19. Hair

crazy hair

Between the ages of five and ten my best friend was, compared to me, wealthy and sophisticated, fashionable, and fully aware of her superiority. But the worst of it was her beautiful, shiny, straight, long and, most importantly, manageable dark brown hair. Her hair looked good, smelled good, and was carefully tended by her doting mother. I, on the other hand, had hair that my mother referred to as “impossible.” The deeper problem was really that she thought I was impossible, but that’s a story for another day.

I’m going to talk about hair. I’m going to talk about girls’ and women’s hair because I have yet to read a fairy tale that mentions the prince’s hair, or the wizard’s hair, or the miller’s hair, etc. If you have heard of such a tale, please let me know. I know that boys today dye their hair and spend time styling it in a way that hasn’t been seen since, I don’t know, since the 18th century let’s say, for argument’s sake. But they aren’t really doing it for the girls in their lives, in my opinion. It’s more of a banner—an announcement and/or pronouncement for the benefit of other boys. Girls wear their hair as a banner, too, but it goes much deeper than that.

Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.

But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.

I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.

("For Anne Gregory" by W. B. Yeats)

In the years since I parted ways with my gloriously-haired friend I have learned that I do, indeed, have unmanageable hair. The color was, once upon a time, quite lovely, though I didn’t know until it snowed over prematurely. My hair grows forward, has a cowlick in the back (think Dennis the Menace), and is impossibly thick yet fine. If my friend’s hair was a perfectly tended rose garden, mine was the thatch of crab grass best annihilated with noxious chemicals. Rapunzel, I was not. Nor was I a Rapunzel wannabe. Though I tried to be fairly presentable, I was grunge long before it was a trend. And yet, to my surprise, even though I think I know better than to reduce a woman’s essential being to the state of her hair, when I set out to write a new fairy tale, I find that I am obsessed with the hair of my female characters.

When I say I am obsessed with the hair of my female characters, I don’t necessarily mean that I write about hair obsessively. But I do get excited when I imagine their hair and work to remind myself that I shouldn’t make a big deal of it (because I don’t want to consciously promote stereotypes). The point is that I want to make a big deal out of their hair and have to force myself not to do so. What is really going on here?

On a certain wall in my house hangs a framed print of a painting by Terri Windling. It is called “The Green Woman” and it shows a youngish woman with eyes cast downward. She has beautifully structured bones and a graceful neck. But her most striking feature is her hair, which is all plant matter: saplings, vines, and leaves. This image of hair so alive—it is alive!—thrills me. And because nearly every shampoo commercial has a woman whose hair is “alive” (moves supranaturally?), I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

I recently watched Disney’s Aladdin for the first time in a long time. It has a special place in my heart since it was the very first video I ever purchased. I watched it for the first time with my first-born child. When I realized that my final-born child had never seen it, I was aghast. As we watched Aladdin, I paid particular attention to Princess Jasmine’s hair. Her hair is alive! It has a mind of its own. The ponytail really is a pony’s tail. And Disney’s version of Pocahontas has hair that responds to the elements, even when the princess does not. Can you name a Disney princess whose hair is not fully alive, responsive, with a charisma all its own? (And in the case of Disney’s Tangled, the heroine’s hair is an adjunct character.)

Hair, especially female hair, isn’t just dead keratinized protein kicked to the curb to make room for living cells, it is “a source of magic power or mana.” (The Interpretation of Fairy Tales by Marie-Louise von Franz, p 179)

A check of mythology and folklore reveals the following: hair is 1) vitality (Samson), 2) transformation (Sif), 3) deadly power (Medusa), 4) life (Nisus, King of Megara), 5) sacrifice (Berenice and Ptolemy), 6) connection (calming the Inuit Sea Goddess Sedna by combing her hair), and 7) life-affirming power (Luthien, in a folktale created by J.R.R. Tolkien). I have no doubt this list is incomplete, but I do like the number seven.

There are far more examples of the significance of hair: it is sacrificed in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and E. Nesbit’s Melisande. Hair figures prominently in every version (direct and derived) of Rapunzel, of which there are more than can be listed here, though Zel by Donna Jo Napoli is one of my favorites.

Ironically, while preparing this piece, a member of my family cut nine inches from her gorgeous ginger hair and donated it to the Canadian Cancer Society wig banks via Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths” program. I’m very proud of her, but I sure do miss her hair. When did I become Mother Gothel? I must have skipped that memo.

Lest, dear reader, you believe this to have been a pointless exercise, I offer you this: self-proclaimed hair shaman Anthony Morrocco, “…after more than four decades of travel, research, and experimentation…”, developed the Morrocco Method natural hair care system. On whether or not one should blow dry hair, Morrocco advised the following:

If we compare our hair to the leaves on a tree, the sprigs on a bush or the petals on a flower, we can easily understand the sometimes fragile yet also resilient thing that our hair is. Petals, sprigs and leaves are strong enough to withstand weather such as pounding rain and windstorms…but apply concentrated blasts of hot air to any one of them and they will wither and NOT return to their original state. Dear friends, consider your hair to be the living thing it is…much like the flower petal and leaves you see in nature, and treat it as you would them.

The Hair Shaman meets the Green Woman. I sense a fairy tale coming on, through my roots.

flowing hair

 

 

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20. The Secret Life of Trees

Photo By Janice Hagey-Schmidt

Photo By Janice Hagey-Schmidt

I had to share this amazing photo of a rather surprised looking tree growing in Placerita State Canyon, California. It was sent to me by my sister who is a regular hiker there.

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21. Lots of News

I have two new publications, two days in a row! And some wonderful news about a good friend.

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The first is an article about my fantastically courageous daughter and her struggle with Tourette Syndrome. Just click on the image below to read the article at Huffington Post.
Photo by Tyne Hagey

Photo by Tyne Hagey

Adults and children with TS have an everyday kind of courage that is usually only found in fairy tales. For more information about Tourette Syndrome, please visit the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada.

 

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My short story “Fire and Ice” has just been released at Luna Station Quarterly. Click on the image below to read this story about an elderly woman whose accident launches her into another realm.

Luna Station Quarterly

 

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 Dianne Young’s wonderful picture book Dear Flyary is a whimsical window into the life of Frazzle Patzer, a being from the Glank Quadrant of Merfatil who speaks English sprinkled with a patois of made-up words direct from the author’s quirky imagination. It is the most fun reading aloud you will ever have. Dear Flyary has been nominated for a Saskatchewan Book Award. Congratulations, Dianne!

DEAR FLYARY by Dianne Young

 

 

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22. “No Sidekick Gets Left Behind”

 

 

Photo by maria17/istockphotoIf you read my Huffington Post article “Unfrozen: How a Disney Movie Gave My Daughter Hope,” then you know that I have no prejudice against Disney movies. Indeed, I love a great story whether in book, ebook, or movie form, and the great Disney movies have as much power to heal or inspire as any other.

Thank you to Maria Tatar, John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard for posting a link to Ron Suskind’s astonishing story of his autistic son Owen’s journey back to the land of neurotypicals through speech development and emotional resonance as learned by watching his favourite Disney movies, repeatedly, over many years. “No sidekick gets left behind” is a quote from Owen, an example of one of the first sentences he ever spoke. Suskind has a book coming out and the linked article is an excerpt. I promise that if you read this article, you will feel better for having done so. If not, write me and we’ll talk.

“Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney”

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23. Pure Joy

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24. Wee folk, not twee folk

From the wee folk of long ago (fairies, leprechauns, pixies…) to Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina, and to Mary Norton’s The Borrowers, sentient beings of very small size have fascinated, delighted, and horrified us, but they never fail to capture our attention. In writing this piece I discovered there are far more books about wee folk […]

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25. Wild At Heart

The sentimentalization of bears began with “Teddy’s Bear,” that cute and cuddly version of the powerful predator that was first manufactured following President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a malnourished and frightened she-bear who had been tied to a tree for him to “hunt” at his leisure. It’s a fascinating story, one that I […]

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