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Perhaps the most famous example of this for a certain generation are the Harry Potter novels; many a child (and a fair few adults) grew up in parallel with the Harry Potter books as they each came out over a 10 year period. Other series which I know have done something similar for kids more recently are the Clarice Bean (and Ruby Redfort) stories by Lauren Child, the Claude stories by Alex T. Smith, the Captain Flinn books Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto and also the Albie books created by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves. For my kids the Findus and Pettson books by Sven Nordqvist and the Eddie books by Sarah Garland have done something similar.
Eddie’s Garden was first published in 2004, the year M (now 10) was born. I wish I remembered how we discovered it because it is one of those books which almost defines my early parenthood and time with my first child. The slightly chaotic home felt oh-so-recognisable. That Eddie’s messy but warm home was full of kindness and playfulness was something I aspired to as I tried to work out how to be a half-way ok parent. 2007 saw the arrival of Eddie’s Kitchen, followed by Eddie’s Toolbox in 2010, each book being greeted with glee by us all in the family.
Eddie and his family are off to the seaside for a short camping holiday. He has fun helping to set up their pitch, building a fire, tying guy ropes and making it homely. He even builds his own play tent out of branches and a blanket. As happens so often on family camping trips, the kids make friends with other children nearby, but when a pet dog goes missing, it looks like Eddie and his new friend Max could end up in trouble. Thanks, however, to Eddie’s ingenuity all ends well with new friendships formed and sausages eaten around the campfire.
Like all the Eddie stories, this one mixes very practical information – elements almost of non-fiction – with adventures any child could recognize from their own life. The mixture of fact (both in the illustrations and often in endnotes at the back of the book), with hugely reassuring and yet realistic family life experiences is a winning formula. Eddie’s Tent includes great advice on building campfires, cooking on them as well as how to tie useful knots. In many respects I think it pairs brilliantly with Mick Manning and Brita Granström’s (non-fiction title) Wild Adventures. What it offers, however, over and above anything any non-fiction book can do, is a cast of characters you care about, who make you smile, who you’re only too glad you know.
There’s lovable Lily, Eddie’s mischievous little sister, their Mum who hangs out in joggers and baggy jumpers and is immensely practical as well as kind (Hurrah for a fictional mum who can build and fix things as well as nurture and play with her kids.) By this fourth book, they’re joined by Eddie’s mum’s new partner Tom, and his lovely daughter Tilly (another Hurrah – for a mixed race family that’s just part of the mix). Down to earth, generous, relaxed and yet lively, they make a super family that’s a delight to read about.
Eddie’s Tent is a marvellous continuation of Eddie’s story, once again perfectly pitching learning hand-on skills with fun storytelling. Fingers crossed another Eddie story is in the pipeline – even if my kids are in their teens when it appears, I know we’ll be all reading it together!
Now, can you believe it – as a family we’ve barely ever camped. Our only time under canvas was a few years back in a rather luxurious yurt with futons and duvets and good coffee on tap nearby but with the arrival of Eddie’s Tent I was DETERMINED to give more traditional camping a go with the girls. They were extremely excited at the prospect, and with the wonderful support of their Grandparents we were able to spend a night camping last last month.
We pitched our tent where X marked the spot.
We did a bit of on location reading.
We made damper bread.
We baked cake in hollowed out orange skins (ready mix cake mixture poured into scooped out orange halves, re-assembled, wrapped in foil and then baked in the ashes for 20 minutes or so).
We had rather a lot of fun.
The three of us squeezed into the tent and our sleep was sweet (but short). Would we do it all again? Most definitely. Roll on the summer holidays I say!
Tent and camping themed music for a playlist could include:
Title: Good Morning to ME! Written and illustrated by: Lita Judge Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015 Themes/Topics: exuberance, indoor voices, pets, parrots Suitable for ages: 3-6 Opening: Early one morning in a little cottage, Beatrix was wide AWAKE. She knew it was … Continue reading →
"Wonder has no opposite; it springs up already doubled on itself, compounded of dread and desire at once, attraction and recall, producing a thrill, the shudder of pleasure and of fear...It's a useful term, it frees this kind of story from the miniaturized whimsy of fairyland to free the wilder air of the marvelous"... Maria Warner in the Introduction to her book Wonder Tales: Six Stories of Enchantment.
The essential strangeness of fairy tales
by Alec Nevala-Lee
"Over the last few months, I’ve been telling my daughter a lot of fairy tales. My approach has been largely shaped, for better or worse, by Bruno Bettelheim’sbook The Uses of Enchantment: I happened to read it last year as part of an unrelated writing project, but it also contained insights that I felt compelled to put to use almost at once in my own life. Bettelheim is a controversial figurefor good reason, and he’s not a writer whose ideas we need to accept at face value, but he makes several points that feel intuitively correct. When it comes to fairy tales, it seems best to tell the oldest versions of each storywe have, as refined through countless retellings, rather than a more modern interpretation that hasn’t been as thoroughly tested; and, when possible, it’s preferable to tell them without a book or pictures, which gets closer to the way in which they were originally transmitted. And the results have been really striking. Stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” have seized my daughter’s imagination, to the point where we’ll discuss them as if they happened to her personally, and she isn’t fazed by some of their darker aspects.(In “Hansel and Gretel,” when I tell her that the parents wanted to take their children into the woods and leave them there, she’ll cheerfully add: “And kill dem dere!”)...
The above is an excerpt from Alec Nevala-Lee's blog -- Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life. Nevala-Lee is also an author. His books include Icon Thief, City of Exiles and Eternal Empire.
Crossing the Avalanche of Time...Excerpts from Richard Marshall's in-depth article and review of Jack Zipes' current books
"...The Grimms have been appropriated by U.S. America because defying the inhuman is as urgent there as anywhere else and its unhinged power leaves behind the innocent and the beaten. What Zipes has done in these two books is remind us that there’s a need for the naked struggle of Kafka, where speech goes to extremes without strategy, without masks, without calculation. The tales of this first edition are as much a part of an old weird Americana as bluesman Howling Wolf singing ‘Going Down Slow’...
The Grimms have become as ancient a part of this old weird America as the other folk songs and tales that ship around, and though Zipes is right to decry their banalisation and Disneyfication they still remain underneath or behind, ready to be reeled in by alert souls..."
Here is another excerpt from this very heady article:
"From 'The Frog King' to 'The Golden Key,' wondrous worlds unfold—heroes and heroines are rewarded, weaker animals triumph over the strong, and simple bumpkins prove themselves not so simple after all. Esteemed fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes offers accessible translations that retain the spare description and engaging storytelling style of the originals. Indeed, this is what makes the tales from the 1812 and 1815 editions unique—they reflect diverse voices, rooted in oral traditions, that are absent from the Grimms’ later, more embellished collections of tales. Zipes’s introduction gives important historical context, and the book includes the Grimms’ prefaces and notes.
The original edition of Grimms’ tales read like once-familiar weirds, crossing the avalanche of time like hallucinatory figures, abrupt as thorns, troubling as a black hawthorn that won’t stop bleeding. They move in and out between long disconnected synapses, stirring up logics and memories that fill us up with dread and unease. Readers are Macbeth listening to the stories of the three weird women. Everything is laid out for us but we are dazzled by their dark intensity. What is needed to read them? Courage and an imminent doomsday."
Here is a link to all of Marshall's article, Curious Legacies of the BrothersGrimm:3:AM Magazine.
The illustration of Snow White is by Hermann Vogel. The photo is by Gregg McCarty.
Wonder has no opposite...
Cinderella has strayed from Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, but she has never left us.
In the Western World today, romantic fantasy appears to be the foundation for the popularity of this abandoned child story and sustains its huge popularity in the hearts of little girls, young girls, and many mommies.
The current worldwide box office results (as of May 31) of over $531,750,700attest to way the story continues to resonate around the world.
Cinderella Has Been Everywhere -- Forever. And Heidi Anne Heiner has written a book to prove it: Cinderella Tales From Around the World. Here is an excerpt from her introduction on the often overlooked dimensions of this timeless story:
" The quandary is that one version of Cinderella dominates all the others, so we assume we know her, this fairy tale celebrity, and many of us have grown bored with her to the point of relegating her to cliche and nothing else. But when we consider the hundreds of Cinderella variants from around the world, Cinderella becomes once again mysterious and lovely, active and vibrant, for she defies definition and understanding... "
Book Overview by Barnes and Noble: "Yeh-hsien. Cenerentola. Cendrillon. Ashenputtle. Chernuska. Cinderella.These are just a few of the names of one of the best known and most beloved fairy tale characters in the world. The tale is known in countless variations throughout Europe and Asia as well as Africa and the Americas. The tales share the familiar story of a persecuted heroine who finally triumphs over oppressed circumstances through her virtue and the assistance of a magical helper. "
Here is a sample from Heidi Anne Heiner's collection...
"WELL, my grandmother she told me that in them auld days a ewe might be your mother. It is a very lucky thing to have a black ewe. A man married again, and his daughter, Ashey Pelt, was unhappy. She cried alone, and the black ewe came to her from under the greystone in the field and said, “Don’t cry, go and find a rod behind the stone and strike it three times, and whatever you want will come.”
So she did as she was bid. She wanted to go to a party. Dress and horses and all came to her, but she was bound to be back before twelve o’clock or all the enchantment would go, all she had would vanish. The sisters they did na’ like her; she was so pretty, and the stepmother she kept her in wretchedness just.
She was most lovely. At the party the Prince fell in love with her, and she forgot to get back in time. In her speed a-running she dropped her silk slipper, and he sent and he went over all the country to find the lady it wad fit..." The story, Ashey Pelt, continues with a fine Irish ending.
"Have Courage and Be Kind"
Jack Zipes has written often of the hype that distorts the meaning of folk and fairy tales. I found a disturbing example in Kenneth Branagh's comments about the film quoted in Kate Connolly'sCinderella article in the Guardian . The comments were made at a press conference following the successful launch of the film at the Berlin Film Festival. Here is an excerpt:
"Branagh said though more used to directing Shakespeare, he had been struck by many of the similarities between those plays and the Brothers Grimm fairytale. “We have the line Cinderella is told by her mother: ‘Have courage and be kind’; some people thought it seemed trite, but I was reminding them of King Lear when Edgar says ‘Have patience and endure’ at the point he’s being put in the stocks and mocked. Patience to me equates to compassion, and endurance is a form of courage – it reminded me that these basic, human and fundamental situations get seized on by great storytellers and there are obvious resonances between all these stories.”
I find it difficult to see the "obvious resonance" that exists in Mr Branagh's sugar-coated Cinderella and the tortured story of King Lear. I do see hype. Disney is not Shakespeare. ..............................
Never mind Branagh – my mother wrote a Cinderella story you can believe in...
Here is an excerpt from a saucy article by EdVulliamy in the Guardianabout a retold version of the Cinderella story with a very different setting, and a totally different ending.
The actor-cum-fairy-storyteller – and his critics, to cheer them – would have done well to heed an acclaimed retelling of Cinderella in a book of more than a decade ago, which won the Kate Greenaway medal, the highest honour in illustrated children’s books, for 2003.
It was entitled Ella’s Big Chance: A Fairy Tale Retold, by the author and illustrator ShirleyHughes, serial award-winning doyenne of children’s books, described by Philip Pullman as “a national treasure” (I should declare an interest here: Shirley Hughesis my mother). She retells the famous and primal story of the persecuted seamstress: the ball, prince (a duke in this version) and shoe – set in the roaring 1920s on what seems to be the Mediterranean coast – with two big differences..."
Read more about this award winning book where Cinderella chooses not to marry the prince -- in the Guardian.
Reading programs with therapy dogs that support kids and open the doors to the world of reading, have been spreading throughout the US and the Western world.
READing Paws is opening the doors to reading for kids in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Tennessee. READing Paws is a recipient of a Planet Dog Foundation grant.
"The mission of READing Paws is to improve the literacy skills of children...READing Paws utilizes nationally registered animal-owner/handler Therapy Teams who volunteer to go to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children. The utilization of registered therapy teams is the foundation of READing Paws, in order to ensure that the animals have been trained and tested for health and safety, appropriate skills and temperament, and have been insured for liability."
READing Paws is proud to be an Affiliate of R.E.A.D.® (Reading Education Assistance Dogs®), a program of Intermountain Therapy Animals ® (ITA) of Salt Lake City, Utah" R.E.A.D. has affiliates throughout the USA and in fourteen foreign countries, from Spain to Finland, and Canada to Australia.
The Last Echoes of Pagan Myths
"These were the 'last echoes of pagan myths...A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children...(Fairy tales) have existed among the people for several centuries.' And what we find inside those secret forests, caves and seas...(are) fairy tales full of families, full of parents whobequeath a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from its childhood to maturity."
Wilheim Grimmas quoted by Seth Lerer in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.
Entering a World of Long Ago...
Castle in the Mist
When the dogs first came down to planet Earth, great forests were found in many lands.
The Castle In The Mist was located on lake Ladok in the land of the Forest People. It is here that the Black Hawk Warriors, under Prince Ukko's command, brought the kidnapped children. And it is this act that brought the threat of war.
Forests play a major role in all of the books in the Planet of the Dogs Series. The forests frustrate invaders. What does conquest mean when people can disappear by going to places in the forest unknown to the invaders -- or beyond the forest and into the mountains.
Stories and fairy tales about the forests and the deep woods have always stimulated children's imagination. In the Castle In The Mist, the dogs love the forests and use them to frustrate the Black Hawk Warriors. The dogs follow a non-violent path until their courage, loyalty and cleverness cause Prince Ukko to free the children and bring peace to the land of the Forest People.
Castle In The Mist Is the second book in the Planet Of The Dogs Series
"...the McCarty's again succeeded in bringing archetypal themes such as good vs evil, man vs nature, love, faith and faithfulness into the story without being overly teachy or preachy. We were riveted by the story and its main characters (both human and canine); we shared in their challenges and celebrated their victories. Melinda Gates, Reading Mother
We have free reader copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at email@example.com and we will send you the books.
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...Librarians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
The illustration by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty is from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale
KidLitoSphereis a very special website that connects kid lit bloggers to the world of readers. Librarian MotherReader (Pam Coughlin), who describes herself in this way -- "The heart of a mother. The soul of a reader. The mouth of a smartass" -- is president. Among her achievements as a passionate advocate of children's books is the founding of Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors. Here's a sample...
"AsBloggers Against Celebrity Authors founder and let’s say president, I see it as the kid lit equivalent of the four horsemen of the apocalypsewhen the Children's Choice Book Awards Author of the Year is Rush Limbaugh. I'm sure that there are and will be many thoughtful articles about what happened to make the winner of a prestigious children's literature award for Rush Revere and The Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans. But all I can say is,"Dear God, what have we done?"
The power of the bestseller was a slippery slope for children's literature awards. Certainly the power of the celebrity author - with their top budget promotions and guaranteed WalMart shelf space - was enough for a snarky online cause like Bloggers Against CelebrityAuthors. But now, we've added to this mixture the nebulous and sometimes nefarious power of the Internet, which allows anyone to vote for this now-less-prestigious award. There is no way - NO WAY! - that children voted for Rush Limbaugh over Rick Riordan or Veronica Roth...
Read more from MotherReader-cast your vote at BACA
Aaron Fowler wrote a profile of C.A. Wulff forAkron Life....Here are excerpts...
..."For the last 26 years, Wulff has volunteered in animal rescue. In 2007, she released her first book, “Born Without a Tail,” which chronicles the true-life adventures of two animal rescuers living with an ever-changing house full of pets.
This past year she unveiled the sequel, “Circling the Waggins: How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness,” which follows Wulff and her companion, Dalene, as they maneuver through one unexpected pet incident after another while living in a cabin in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Although both books are memoirs, she explains that they are very different. “Born Without a Tail” tells the stories of 20 animals who have shared her life. While it’s chronological, each chapter stands alone and is devoted to a single animal.
‘Circling the Waggins’ is more of a story with a beginning and an ending. It tells the story of some 27 animals over the course of two years, who lived in our home and took root in our hearts,” she says...'
Like her first book, “Circling the Waggins” is an incredibly personal story. Its depiction of the ups and downs of sharing your life with animals has reached out to those who have experienced the same heartache and joy... "
Nancy Segovia,Amazon reviewer and author of Dragon Tears, wrote this:
" I am not really sure what it is about these books by Wulff, but I simply love them. The story telling and commentaries are engaging, honest and sincere. And, her love of animals shouts out from every page."
In lieu of actually reviewing the newly translated (by Maria Tatar) Turnip Princess, Slatepublished one on the stories,Tricking the Witch. It has magic, transformations, twists and turns and a princess heroine -- not a prince -- who saves the day.
Here is an excerpt...
..."It looked as if the two were about to be caught, when the princess said: “I’m going to change into a rosebush, and I’ll turn you into a rose. My sister is chasing us, and she won’t be able to do a thing because she can’t stand the smell of roses.” Just when the girl was closing in on them, a fragrant rosebush sprang up right in her path with a magnificent rose in bloom. The girl had been tricked, and she had to turn back. The witch scolded her to no end. “You stupid girl,” she grumbled angrily. “If you had just plucked the rose, the bush would have followed.” And then she sent the eldest of the three to find the two fugitives.
In the meantime the couple returned to their human shapes, and they continued on their way. Reinhilda turned around at one point, and she saw that they were still being pursued. She decided to take advantage of her magic powers again, and she said to the prince: “I’m going to turn myself into a church, and you are going to climb up into the pulpit and hold a stern sermon about witches and their sinister magic...”
Nancy Houser has written an informed article, based on research and experience, about the effects of age on dogs and parallels with the aging experience of humans. Here are excerpts:
"The more we are around the old dogs on our rescue farm, the more we see similar characteristics between human dementia and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. To tell the truth, there is not a whole lot of difference. The health care field is one I have been involved with throughout most of my life – dementia and Alzheimer’s were my specialties. The very first job I had was at a care-home in Lexington, Nebraska, when I was 16-years old.''"
We rarely post book reviews. However, our respect for Kaitlin Jenkins -- She Speaks Bark -and Pet Parent-- is such that we were drawn to her review of My Apolloand wanted to share excepts here:
"Nina Huang wrote ‘My Apollo‘ after being inspired by her own experiences in rescuing companion dogs. ‘My Apollo‘ is a gorgeous book, full of beautiful hand-illustrated drawings that are absolutely lovely. The watercolor images are done by the author herself, and the book is hardbound on durable, heavyweight paper. ‘My Apollo’ features the story of a young boy who is struggling at school. His family adopts a rescue greyhound, Apollo, and the book follows along as the two of them begin a healing journey together. The great thing is, Apollo the dog actually exists- Nina and her family adopted him and have helped him overcome his shy nature and fear of new things."
The photo of Scooter, the dog, and the book, my Apollo, is by Kaitlin Jenkins.
"Grownups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Antoine de Saint-Exuprey, The Little Prince
The weather is bad. You're tired. You want to get home -- at that moment, you see an injured dog, a dog in distress. What can you do? What should you do? For answers, examples, true stories and more, visit Sunbear Squad...Let the experience of compassionate dog lovers guide you...free Wallet Cards & Pocket Posters, Informative and practical guidance...
Happy Feline Friday! Feline Friday is fun meme my friend Sandee at Comedy Plus posts every Friday. The meme was created by Sandee's buddy Steve, at Burnt Food Dude because he wanted his friends and readers to know he likes cats. I'm not sure why everyone thought Steve disliked cats, but it's been my experience that you have to own a cat to understand them. I've always been a dog lover, and never expected to own a cat, not because I disliked them, I just preferred dogs, and had never raised a cat. If you have never owned a cat this video will give you an idea about how cats and dogs love and learn to trust in their own way, plus it's fun to watch.
Thank you for visiting, and feel free to leave a comment, or check your "Reaction" in one of the boxes below this post. To participate in this meme, just read Sandee's post at Comedy Plus for more information and fun.
Oh, and if you have time, let me know "What Song Is In Your Head Today," the song in my head is posted on the sidebar.
I love Donna Alward’s writing, but I haven’t read much of her work outside of her Harlequins. When I saw that Into the Fire had an animal shelter, I had to read it. This is a quick read, with a hero who isn’t afraid to admit that he has made some mistakes, and a heroine with self-esteem issues. I really enjoyed it.
Ally and Chris are brought back together after a fire destroys her animal shelter. She is mourning the loss of the animals she couldn’t save, and isn’t ready to head home to her demanding parents yet. Chris, her ex, offers to take her to his place, where she can take a shower and get herself back together. Because Chris is being so kind, and because she’s in shock, she agrees to go with him.
Ally broke up with Chris three years before, and she never really got over him. She felt pressured into marrying him, though, and she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. When she learns that he’s become a volunteer fireman, and that he’s purchased a house of his own, she feels even more upset with herself. While Chris has moved forward with his life and achieved some of his goals, she feels as though she hasn’t accomplished anything. She still lives at home, her parents are disappointed with her, and she’s just lost the only thing that mattered to her. While she wasn’t make any money running the shelter, it gave her a reason to get up every day. She knows that working part time, for minimum wage, at the local drug store isn’t a career, but it allowed her to keep the shelter going. Now that it’s gone, she’s at lose ends.
I liked both Ally and Chris. Ally is consumed with self-doubt, thinking that she’s disappointed her parents and that she isn’t doing anything worthwhile with her life. Chris understands that he did push her three years ago, and now he’s willing to give her the space and time she needs if it means that they can get back together again. What he doesn’t count on is Ally’s opposition to his job as a fire fighter. After losing her sister, Ally is terrified of losing someone else close to her, and Chris’s job puts him in harm’s way every time he responds to an emergency call.
The conflict was believable, as Ally grappled for an identity for herself, as well as a way to reconcile herself to the danger presented by Chris’s job. It’s easier for her to run away again, however, than it is for her to deal with her problems. She did frustrate me when she refused to compromise, and I thought that Chris did all of the giving at first, which made Ally seem selfish and unworthy of his love. She turns it around by the end, earning this a solid B.
Review copy obtained from my local library
The heat is on…
First Responders, Book 3
The last person firefighter Chris Jackson expects to rescue from a burning animal shelter is Ally Gallant—his ex-fiancée. Even though three years have passed since she gave him back his ring, one look at her frightened face in the haze of a smoky building is all it takes for him to realize he’ll still do anything to protect her.
Ally’s put her heart and soul into the shelter, and she’s devastated when it’s destroyed. What’s more, Chris is suddenly there for her in ways she doesn’t expect—ways she’s sure she doesn’t deserve—as she makes decisions about her future. Then there’s the not-so-small matter of the blazing passion between them that refuses to be extinguished.
But when Chris is injured while on a call, Ally’s reminded of all the reasons she walked away. Now she must look deep within herself to find the courage to put fear on the back burner and step into the fire—into love.
Warning: Adorable dogs, a hot firefighter and five-alarm passion. Fire extinguisher (or cold shower) highly recommended.
Written by Stacy Nyikos Illustrated by Tamara Anegόn Publisher: Sky Pony Press 12/02/2014 978-1-62914-629-4 32 pages Age 4—8 .
“WAGGERS TRIED TO BE GOOD. HE TRIED REALLY HARD. BUT HIS TAIL GOT IN THE WAY!
“Waggers is so happy to be adopted by his new family and all he wants is to be good—he really does! But it isn’t Waggers fault that his tail goes crazy when he gets exited. How much harm can a tail do, anyway? Well, his new family is about to find out. In the kitchen, Moni’s cookies smell so good that Waggers’s tail makes the dough hit the ceiling. And when Waggers helps Michael defeat a monster in the living room, there may be a sofa casualty. After his tail accidentally scratches the paint off the car in the garage, Mom and Dad aren’t so sure their home is the right fit for such an excitable pup. Could this be the last straw, or can Waggers and his family find a way to stay together?” [book jacket]
Review If you like dogs, or stories about dogs, you’ll like Waggers. Waggers is available for adoption—free—from a litter of five puppies. It always makes me a little suspicious when purebreds are given away free. Waggers is a Razortail Whippet. This may sound like a legitimate breed, yet there is no such breed, but the name fits Waggers perfectly. It would be so much fun if there were. Mom and Dad wonder how much trouble a little pup like Waggers can cause. Their son tries to pick up Waggers and the pup gets so excited his tail twirls the other four puppies into the air.
Unlike his littermates, Waggers has an exceptional tail. An exceptionally long tail. How long is an exceptional tail? Waggers’ four littermates have tails approximately six-times shorter than their bodies. Waggers’ tail is also approximately six-times . . . longer. So when Waggers wags his tail it acts like a whip, mowing down everything in its extensive path. If Waggers were a superhero, his special powers would be inside his tail. It could upturn furniture, fling cookie dough into the air, and take paint right off a car. Oh, wait, Waggers DID do all those things.
Waggers, is a cute dog with a big head, long body, and constantly protruding tongue. He loves to show affection, which makes Waggers happy, and when he is happy Waggers gets excited, and when he gets excited Waggers’ tail starts twirling, and THAT is what gets Waggers into so much trouble. Picture a cat-hating dog determined to get a hissing, clawing, and course-changing feline out of the house. Waggers doesn’t need a cat to cause such a mess, just his tail.
The illustrations are by first-time children’s book illustrator and graduate student Tamar Anegόn. I find her art to be a feast for the eyes. She brings Waggers to life with the use of bright colors, expressive eyes, extensively patterned clothing, and lots and lots of details.
Mom and dad have had enough of Waggers’s tail-caused wreckage and decide he needs a new home. On Waggers’s last night the kids camp outside with their soon-to-be-gone dog. Waggers is overcome with an insatiable, interminable, and inaccessible itch. His tail begins to twirl and . . . there goes Mom’s bushes and Dad’s lawn. Waggers tries to be good. He really does try. Still, despite all his destruction, Waggers’s tail, in the end, might just be his salvation.
Waggers is a fun, humorous book young children will love at home or during a story hour at school or the library. Put a bunch of youngsters in one room, read Waggers, and then plug your ears. The laughter will be deafening.
Series: When I Grow Up Written and illustrated by WIGU Publishing WIGU Publishing 12/08/2014 978-1-93997314-6 56 pages Age 7—12 . . “Sofia wants to care for all the animals in the world. But Mom does not think Sofia is ready for the responsibility of even one pet. Ready or not, when a hungry and sick-looking cat appears at the family’s back doorstep, Sofia takes action. When Sofia is found feeding the cat, Mom gives in and agrees that a trip to the vet will tell them if the cat is healthy and not someone’s lost pet. As the veterinarian introduces Sofia and readers to the important and wide-ranging work of animal doctors, Sofia learns how she might help all kinds of animals, including a little stray cat!” [back cover]
Review Like every kid, at some time in his or her life, Sofia desperately wants a pet. Mom sternly responds, “No,” after every plea. I suspect many kids will relate to this situation. Dad tells Sofia gets her love of animals from Mom, which made mom’s stern and resolute rejections surprising to me,
“. . . the answer was always ‘No. And I mean it, Sofia!’ . . . and she meant it.”
Mom’s reluctance must be due to something she went through as she has some definite opinions about caring for pets. While looking outside at the soaking wet cat, mom says:
“People should be more responsible about animals.” “There are too many unwanted animals running around.”
Veterinarian does not delve into the reasons behind the above statements; instead letting Sofia remark that she cannot believe any pet could be unwanted. I agree with Mom and Sofia. Bringing a pet into the family is a big decision, and includes much more than housing and feeding. But Veterinarian is about the career, not the social issues. Continuing with the story, mom finally tells Sofia her reasons for saying no: she does not think the family is ready for a pet. But then it rained.
“It rained cats and dogs.”
That night it really did rain cats . . . one little, hungry, “sorry-looking,” water-soaked cat. To Sofia’s amazement, her mother was also upset and concerned about the cat. With dad taking the lead, mom agrees to take the cat—now called Samantha—to Dr. Helen, a veterinarian.
Dr. Helen looks for a microchip, listens to Samantha’s heart, weighs her, and then tells Sofia, there are an estimated 10 million different kinds of animal species on Earth . . . that we know of. Much of our planet is unexplored—mostly underwater—and there are animals we have not seen, and some we never will. I did not know this, which is why I love the WIGU series—I learn something with each edition.
Dr. Helen gives a short history of cats and dogs. Cats first became household “pets” 3,000 years ago in Egypt, where they were worship (cats kept rodents out of the grain and hunted dangerous snakes, including cobras). Dogs, as pets, began roughly 33,000 years ago. Dogs were valued for their companionship and keen senses—hearing, sight, smell—that helped protect humans. Dr. Helen told Sofia cats are the most popular pet (2:1 dogs), yet veterinarians treat more dogs than they do cats. No explanations are given.
As with the other When I Grow Up editions, Veterinarian is loaded with useful information kids will enjoy reading, can use as a reference, or when exploring possible careers. Teachers can use this series as adjunct texts. In Veterinarian, Dr. Helen describes many areas of specialization and the road to becoming a veterinarian. The illustrations are a combination of actual photographs and digital images. On the cover, I adore Samantha’s contented look on her face as Sofia hugs her.
In the end, Sofia decides she wants to become a veterinarian. The family decides to keep Samantha, even with the funny, unexpected twist. Veterinarian’s tone is positive and it highlights the best about being a vet. This is my favorite edition thus far. Wigu Publishing is planning to explore more careers for the When I Grow Up series and is working on Spanish versions. Every school should have this series, keeping room for new editions. The When I Grow Up series might go on forever.
Out in the depths of the Spooniverse Space Dog is getting read to return home following a long mission sorting out planetary problems in the Dairy Quadrant. Just as he starts to unwind a distress call comes through on his Laser Display Screen. Without a moment’s hesitation our super hero, Space Dog, jumps to and rescues the occupant of a flying saucer drowning in an thick ocean of cream on a nearby planet. But what’s this?
It turns out he’s saved his sworn enemy: Astrocat.
Will they be able to put aside their differences as another cry for help comes in over the space ship tannoy? Will teamwork triumph as they face terror together?
Space Dog by Mini Grey is an anarchic, adrenalin-packed adventure of The Highest Order. Utterly and joyously playful, wildly and lavishly imaginative, this dynamic and delightful journey exploring space and friendship is sublime.
Grey’s witty language, from the hilarious exclamations made by Space Dog (“Thundering milkswamps!”, “Shivering Stilton!”) to the deliciously outlandish names of rare alien life forms (the Cruets of West Cutlery, the Fruitons of Crumble Major) has had us all giggling time and again, even on the 15th reading of Space Dog. Her pacing is timed to perfection, with dramatic stretches interspersed with moments of great relief and humour, drawing readers, listeners, grown-ups, children ever more closely in to Grey’s fantastic, phenomenal universe Spooniverse.
Grey’s illustrations are equally packed with panache. From the detailing given to brand labels and packaging (whether on space food or game boxes) to her powerful use of suggestion (look out for what is almost missing off the page on the spread immediately before Space Dog and Astrocat land on Cheesoid 12, or the shadow redolent with threat as they turn to leave the Cheesy planet), Grey’s illustrations richly illuminate the world she has built to share with us, giving enormous pleasure every time they are returned to.
Although there are echoes of super hero comic strips and silent movies with their intertitles, dramatic soundtracks and expressive emotions theatrically mimed, Mini Grey’s visual and verbal style is truly unique. Spirited and inventive, Space Dog is an outstanding book and fortunately you can find it right here right now in our very own universe.
Every single page turn of Space Dog was met with “Mummy, can we do that??!!”, whether it was making a planet out of cereal packets, coming up with a recipe for supper based on the Spaghetti Entity in the Pastaroid Belt, designing our own version of Dogopoly, rustling up Astrocat’s cake, making spewing tomato ketchup volcanoes, or playing with fondue. In the end we settled for making spaceships for the characters in the book, and flying them over our patio.
We dressed up as astronauts ourselves, making space suits from disposable painting overalls, decorated with electrical tape and completed with control panels from cardboard.
Once appropriately attired we were ready to launch our space ships. Unlike Pop Goes the Page we used nylon bead thread rather than wire to make a zip line, partly because this is what we had to hand, but also because it’s extremely smooth and there are no issues with kinking. One end was tied to the bathroom window, the other to the end of the washing line in the garden.
Soon spaceships were zooming all over our patio…
Later we turned our hand to making hats for a fruit and vegetable parade, inspired by the hat competition which Space Dog has to judge:
Other activities you could try inspired by Space Dog include:
Making space ships big enough for kids (and their grownups?) to fit in. A large cardboard box, a roll of tin foil and some plastic lids or moulded plastic from biscuit boxes is all you need to get you started. (Here’s one we made earlier).
Reading the extraordinary graphic novel Laika by Nick Abadzis. This is more for us grown ups than the kids (though my 10 year old has read it) but I can’t resist recommending it whilst I’ve got a chance.
Would you like to go into space if you had the chance?
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Space Dog by the book’s publisher.
Sophie and The Finn: Secret of the Box is the second book in author J. Peter Clifford’s mystery series about Erica Stafford—a spunky seventh grader who has premonitions and often finds herself embroiled in risky adventures—and her two loyal dogs, Sophie and The Finn.
An 8 year old girl, after reading the first chapter in a manuscript, helped convince her father, the CEO of Bloomsbury, to publish Harry Potter. It had previously been rejected by eight publishers.
The Harry Potter book series that followed has found an enormous and passionate following around the world. The seven books in the series have been published in sixtyseven languages. The books have taken readers to Hogwarts and beyond, to a world of wizards, flying broomsticks, and magic wands ...a world of the imagination. There are over 450 million books in print. There are eight movies that have translated the the books into fantasy adventure films with a worldwide gross of over seven and a half billion dollars... there are websites, games, theme parks, as well as a wide variety of merchandise.
The Harry Potter books were the catalyst for the major cross-over phenomenon of adults reading YA books, a change in the book buying marketplace that continues to this day.
And it all started with the imagination of J.K. Rowling -- and an 8 year old girl who liked to read, who helped open the doors to a world wonder, a world of fantasy, magic and imagination for millions of children, teenagers, moms and dads around the world.
The centaurs in the Forbidden Forest and the Hogwarts school are from the Harry Potter movies.
"Many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are". J.K. Rowling, Harvard Commencement Speech, 2008
The Courage to Love...
Lev Grossman, journalist, critic, and best selling author -- Warp, Codex, and the Magicians series -- wrote a very personal, insightful and in-depth appreciation of the legacy of J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series, and the Deathly Hallows. It was published inTimeHere are excerpts...
"Deathly Hallows is of course not merely the tying up of plot-threads, it's the final iteration of Rowling's abiding thematic concern: the overwhelming importance of continuing to love in the face of death....
So we have known for a while that Voldemort cannot love, that he has been spiritually ruined by his parents' deaths, and he will kill anyone to stave off his own death. Harry, though also an orphan, has found the courage to love. "Do not pity the dead, Harry," a wise man tells Harry in Deathly Hallows. "Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love." Characterologically speaking, the greatest question that remains in Hallows might be whether Harry can do this — that is, whether Harry can find it in himself to pity the man who killed his parents..."
Grossman then writes of mixed feelings, including sadness, following the completion of DeathlyHallows, the final book in the series...
The sadness is more an instant nostalgia for the unironic, whole-hearted unanimity with which readers embraced the story of Harry. We did something very rare for Harry Potter: we lost our cool. There is nothing particularly hip about loving Harry. He's not sexy or dangerous the way, say, Tony Soprano was. He's not an anti-hero, he's just a hero, but we fell for him anyway. It's a small sacrifice to the one that Harry makes, of course, but it's what we, as self-conscious, status-conscious modern readers, have to give, and we gave it. We did and do love Harry. We couldn't help ourselves."
Reading... "Losing one’s self is, after all, one of the rewards of reading. The opportunity to inhabit another self, to experience another consciousness, is perhaps the most profound trespass a work of literature can allow." - Eula Biss
Opening the Door for Hermione
"You really are the cleverest witch of your age"
These are the words of Sirius Black, at the close of the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
In the book, at this same moment, Sirius spoke to Harry, and says,"We'll see each other again. You are -- truly your father's son, Harry."
Seth Lerer, writing about Theaters of Girlhoodin his history of Children's Literature, cites this telling movie moment as a "benediction of female accomplishment"... "this movie takes as its telos the authority of girlhood. It makes Hermione the real performer of the story: the stage manager of magic; the director of its time shifts, costume, and control.The film becomes a girl's film, one in which the female audience can find their affirmation. Yet the book remains, despite Hermione's obvious centrality, a story about men and boys: about Harry's search forfor his relationship to his dead father; about his need to find surrogates in Black, or Dumbledore."
"J.K. Rowling never shies away from the great existential mysteries: death and loss, cruelty and compassion, desire and depression. Harry is anything but sheltered and protected from the evils of Voldermort. Think of those fiendish Dementors who are experts in making you lose hope...The presence of loss and the threat of death perpetually hover over the boy magician and he becomes heroic precisely because. like his literary predecessors, he is destined for greatness even though he also possesses the weaknesses, failings, and vulnerabilities of all humans." -- Maria Tatar, writing about Theaters For The Imagination, in her book, Enchanted Hunters, The Power of Stories in Childhood.
The Mind of the Dog
Dog lovers find dogs to be quite special. Dogs are forgiving, affectionate, helpful, and unconditionally loyal.
Therapy dogs help people to heal from emotional problems and support people with physical problems. And they enable kids, helping them to learn to read.
Dog owners often feel that their dogs know what they are thinking.
How much of this is instinct, intuition, or conditioning? What is going on in the dog's mind? What are they thinking?
Yale Universityhas established a Canine Cognition Center to better understand the dog's mind.Here is an excerpt from their website:
"The Canine Cognition Center at Yale is a new research facility in the Psychology Department at Yale University. Our team of Yale scientists studies how dogs think about the world. Our center is devoted to learning more about canine psychology—how dogs perceive their environment, solve problems, and make decisions. Our findings teach us how the dog mind works, which can help us to better develop programs to improve how we train and work with our canine friends."
Here is a link to an informative CBS documentary news broadcast on the research and goals of the Yale Canine Center : Studying the Brain of Man's Best Fried.This video includes scenes where the research tests with the dogs is taking place.
Castle in the Mist is the second book in the Planet Of The Dogs Series...Here is an excerpt... "The trail became rougher and then, through the trees, they saw the ancient castle of the Black Hawk warriors. It was an awesome sight. It had been built as a fortress castle long ago – before the memory of people could recall. It was later abandoned and lay empty for hundreds of years until the forest people began to use it once again. It was a large, solid structure with two towers rising above the walls. The ancient stones rested on granite bedrock, and the back wall rose straight up from the vast waters of the lake. As they approached, the sun was setting and mist was rising over the waters. Soon, the mist would move over the land."
To read more, and for sample chapters from all the books in the series,visit our Planet Of The Dogs website.
We have free reader copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, librarians and teachers...simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. and we will send you the books,.
Our books are available through your favorite independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...Librarians, teachers, bookstores...You can also order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
The illustration from Castle In The Mist is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty. The photo is by C.A.Wulff.
An Alternate Universe... The Harry Potter Legacy
Michiko Kakutaniis a highly regarded book critic for the New York Times. Following the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final book in the series, she wrote a review of the book and an affirmation of the Harry Potter Legacy.
Here are excerpts:
"It is Ms. Rowling’s achievement in this series that she manages to make Harry both a familiar adolescent — coping with the banal frustrations of school and dating — and an epic hero, kin to everyone from the young King Arthur to Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker. This same magpie talent has enabled her to create a narrative that effortlessly mixes up allusions to Homer, Milton, Shakespeare and Kafka, with silly kid jokes about vomit-flavored candies, a narrative that fuses a plethora of genres (from the boarding-school novel to the detective story to the epic quest) into a story that could be Exhibit A in a Joseph Campbell survey of mythic archetypes.
In doing so, J. K. Rowling has created a world as fully detailed as L. Frank Baum’s Oz or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, a world so minutely imagined in terms of its history and rituals and rules that it qualifies as an alternate universe, which may be one reason the “Potter” books have spawned such a passionate following and such fervent exegesis.
The world of Harry Potter is a place where the mundane and the marvelous, the ordinary and the surreal coexist. It’s a place where cars can fly and owls can deliver the mail, a place where paintings talk and a mirror reflects people’s innermost desires. It’s also a place utterly recognizable to readers, a place where death and the catastrophes of daily life are inevitable, and people’s lives are defined by love and loss and hope — the same way they are in our own mortal world."
Liz Burns, activist librarian, blogger ("its all about story"), book reviewer (YA and chhildren's books), and author (PoP Goes the Library) wrote a post about libraries and reading. Here is an excerpt:
"As libraries, especially public libraries, take a look at programs and resources and books within the context of the Common Core -- Remember. We are more than the Common Core. We are also about escaping into literature. We are about the joys of getting lost in a book. We are about celebrating the act of readingfor the sole reason that some of us like to read. Or, rather, love to read.
And that simple pleasure, well, sometimes, it does get attacked. Is the person reading the right books? What are they learning from those books? Is it making them a better person? Is it uplifting? Does it have a moral? Is deep reading going on? Is the reading being done the "right" way? Will this make someone a better employee? Is reading too passive? Isn't it better to be making something than reading? Isn't it better to be talking to people? Don't people have better things to do than read? Than read that book? I think one of the wonders of libraries is that it is still a place for the person who loves reading. Libraries are more -- we are the sum of our parts, more than any one part of our mission. And part of that more is, and should continue to be, celebrating reading and being there for readers."
Chicago's Canine Therapy Corps was one of the recipient organizations.
The Canine Therapy Corps (CTC), with over 100 volunteers, helps to heal and bring hope to children and adults with a wide range of difficult and painful problems including autism, cancer, PTSD, addiction recovery problems, emotional behavioral problems, rehabilitation and senior issues and more.
The kids and therapy dogs in this excellent CTC video will touch your heart...the video includes interactions and healing moments with kids, dogs, therapists, parents and volunteers.
Here is their Mission Statement:
TheCanine Therapy Corps...
Empowers and motivates individuals to improve their physical and psychological health and well-being by harnessing the human-animal bond; Provides goal-directed, interactive animal-assisted therapy services, free of charge, using volunteers and certified therapy dogs; Advances animal-assisted interventions through research and collaboration.
The group photo of CTC dogs is courtesy of Steve Grubman
An Interview with Jack Zipes, By the Editors of Interstitial Journal, on how media and marketing have reduced the cultural value of Fairy Tales...
Here are excerpts:
..."The nineteenth century, especially in Europe and North America, became the golden age of fairy tale collecting that led to the foundation of folklore societies. By the twentieth century, the fairy tale and other simple folk genres began to thrive not only by word of mouth and through print, as they had for centuries, but were also transformed, adapted, and disseminated through radio, postcards, greeting cards, comics, cinema, fine arts, performing arts, wedding ceremonies, television, dolls, toys, games, theme parks, clothes, the Internet, university courses, and numerous other media and objects. Among the modes of hyped advertising were posters, billboards, interviews, window dressings, department store shows, radio, tv, and Internet interviews, ads in newspapers, magazines, and journals, and all the other kinds of paratexts that accompany a cultural product. As I argued in my book Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre... Hyping is the exact opposite of preservation and involves, as I have argued, conning consumers and selling products that have a meager cultural value and will not last. Some recent fairy tale films produced by the mainstream culture industry reveal how filmmakers and producers hype to sell shallow products geared primarily to make money. They use the mass media to exploit the widespread and constant interest in fairy tales that has actually deepened since the nineteenth century..."
The interview continues with examples of marketing compromises made to achieve financial success that blur or change the integrity of the original tales.
A fairytale doesn’t exist in a fixed form...
"Like a mother tongue, the stories are acquired, early, to become part of our mental furniture (think of the first books you absorbed as a child). The shared language is pictorial as well as verbal, and international, too. Such language – Jung called it archetypal – has been growing into a common vernacular since the romances of classical antiquity and the middle ages – Circe from the Odyssey and Vivienne from Morte d’Arthur are recognisable forerunners of fairy queens and witches, and the sleeping beauty herself first appears in a long medieval chivalric tale, Perceforest. A fairytale doesn’t exist in a fixed form; it’s something like a tune that can migrate from a symphony to a penny whistle."
This is an excerpt from Marina Warner’s Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale
In her original book, Born Without a Tail, C.A. Wulff chronicles the true-life adventures of two animal rescuers living with an ever-changing house full of pets. She takes us on a journey from childhood through adulthood, sharing tales, (mis)adventures and insights garnered from a lifetime of encounters with a menagerie of twenty remarkable animals.
The new edition also has a prologue about Wulff's journey into advocacy; and, it also has several additional photos. Here’s what some readers have said about it:
“I can’t say too much about this book, it’s more than a ‘dog book’ it’s a people, animals, life book. I was hooked from the first page and read it straight through, and have re read it since, enjoying it just as much the second time around. Anyone who’s ever had a heart dog, a misfit cat, ever been touched by the love of an animal should enjoy this book. It’s a keeper. “
“A collection of funny and heartwarming tales that shaped the life of a young animal advocate. Inspiring and written from the heart.“I was touched by this account of love, friendship, responsibility and true selflessness. If you love animals you will not be able to put this book down.“ .
The book covers and the photo of Rocket are by C.A. Wulff.
Lumosis part of J.K. Rowling's effort to make the world a better place. Her focus is on children and poverty. She is the founder of Lumos, one of several charities she supports. Here are excerpts from the Lumos website:
Across the globe 8 million children are living in institutions that deny them individual love and care. More than 80% are not orphans. They are separated from their families because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. As a result, many suffer lifelong physical and emotional harm.
Meanwhile, the numbers of children in so-called orphanages continues to rise in areas outside Europe. Lumos has now begun work in the Latin American and Caribbean region. We have started in Haiti, where approximately 30,000 children are currently living in almost entirely privately funded orphanages. Once again, we find the familiar ratio of 80% non-orphans, and recognize the driving force of poverty.
Lumos has a single, simple goal: to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050. This is ambitious, but achievable. It is also essential. Eight million voiceless children are currently suffering globally under a system that, according to all credible research, is indefensible. We owe them far, far better. We owe them families.
Nancy Hauser'sWay Cool Dogshas two new articles with excellent guidelines for people thinking of getting a dog. One article is an overview, dealing primarily with breed and size...Here is an excerpt from the second article:
"All dogs need a certain amount of affection, attention, grooming, mental stimulation and physical activity. But different dogs need different levels of each, and should match that of their owner. For example, do you want to brush your dog or have the time? Are you going to be at work most of the day, and have a dog sitter rounded up to care for your pet while you are gone? These things all need to be well-thought out at all dogs are different with different needs."
Way Cool Dogs also offers: ABC Animals-Animated Flashcards where you can record your own voice or sounds. This is from their site:
"It’s finally here – our ABC Animals – Animated Flashcards mobile app for iOS!Image is in WCD folder in Blog Material)
ABC Animals – Animated Flashcards is an animated flashcard app for iPhone and iPod with 52 beautifully illustrated animations of adult and baby animals. Featuring phonics and a slideshow! Record you own voice and sounds and download free coloring pages!"
The Power of Illustration at the Eric Carle Museum
If you have an interest in the power of illustration to ignite children's imagination, and you'll be in New England in the coming months, consider visiting the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA. where multiple exhibits are taking place.
Children's memories of early books have often been enhanced by illustrations of worlds of wonder. As an adult, the mind still carries images from these early journeys. Historians attribute much of the great success of Taylor's versions of the Grimm's Tales in early nineteenth century England to the illustrations of George Cruikshank.
The Eric Carle Museum is featuring exhibits by four outstanding artist/illustrators: AliceBolam Preston (1888-1958); Eric Carle ; Uli Shurevitz; and Gustav Dore.
Many of Dore'sillustrations are considered to be pioneering classics. Here is an excerpt from the museum's website regarding Dore and his influence on modern illustrators:
"Sleeping Beauty,' 'Little Red Riding Hood,' and 'Beauty and the Beast.' Doré’s timeless illustrations are presented in this exhibition along with the works of contemporary children’s-book illustrators. Allowing for a side-by-side comparison, the influence of Doré becomes apparent in the works of famous contemporary illustrators like Jerry Pinkney, James Marshall, and Fred Marcellino..."
The Eric Carle catipillar logo is by Eric Carle; the flying boat illustration is by Uli Shurevitz; the fairy in the garden illustration is by Alice Bolam Preston; and the Little Red Riding Hood illustration is by Gustav Dore. They are all part of the Eric Carle Museum exhibits.
The Planet Of The Dogs series is in China
TheChongxianguan Book Companyin Beijing has published the completePlanet Of The Dogs series in China. They have translated the text and produced new illustrations (above) and covers. On the left, are illustrations from the Chinese books. On the right are illustrations from the English version. Deanna Leah of HBG productions introduced the books to our Chinese publishers.You can visit the Chinese web page forPlanet Of The Dogsthrough this link:CHINA
New York City R.E.A.D. Update
Intermountain Therapy Animals have been responsible for developing R.E.A.D. programs and training more than 3000 registered therapy reading dog teams in the USA, Canada, Europe and beyond to South Africa. European countries include Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, Slovenia and Spain. All of this since 1999.
New York City has a growing and vital program, New York Therapy Dogs R.E.A.D.®,under the direction of Nancy George-Michalson. Here, in her words, is a brief summary of their activities ...
"Our ITA R.E.A.D. teams are being placed in a variety of schools and the NY Public Libraries working with children with Autism, ESL students and developmentally and emotionally challenged children as well as children who are just curious about reading to a therapy dog. The response from the staff and families has been remarkable."
If you have a dog, live in the NYC area, and have considered therapy reading dog work, click the link above. Or, you can write directly to Nancy at NGM-ART@nyc.rr.com
"If you must keep your dog outdoors, construct an excellent dog house and kennel based on considerations of your dog’s breed, age, health status, your climate and environment, and safety and health features. Schedule daily activities so that your dog doesn’t become depressed or frustrated, leading to difficult behaviors. Never chain your dog.
It is now a well-established fact that dogs are social, pack-oriented animals who thrive onhuman companionship and are happiest while living indoors as part of the family. When you bring a new dog into your family, the dog learns to view your family members and your other pets as his or her pack.
Everything proceeds well as long as your dog is content with his or her place in the pack. Many behavior problems can be avoided with a little extra effort or training to make the dog comfortable with this position.
The most devastating thing the leader of a pack can do is to isolate an individual from the pack to solve a problem; different problem behaviors will likely arise. The dog might become profoundly depressed or anxious. Nuisance barking is common among dogs kept outdoors. Also, a lonely, isolated dog might disassociate from the family pack and cease to be watchful or protective of the family. You must schedule daily play time or take daily walks. Engage in a new activity with your dog such as nose work."
Anna Nirva, editor and prime mover on Sunbear Squad, continues this post with detailed, comprehensive considerations and guidelines for creating a Humane Dog House.
The illustration, from Castle In The Mist, of the children and the dog, is by Stella Mustanoja Mccarty.
"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without doubt the best deal man has ever made." -- Roger Caras ..........................................................................................................
Ginger Pye is a book that I never would have read as a child. Why? Well, for the simple reason that there is a dog on the cover. Why risk reading a book if there's a chance that the dog could die? Safer to read other books perhaps. Is it for the better that I didn't read this one until I was an adult? Probably. Though I should add that Ginger Pye, the dog on the cover, does NOT die. The book would have been sad enough for me as a child.
As an adult there were quite a few things about the book that I enjoyed. Not that I loved, loved, loved it. Readers meet Rachel Pye and her brother Jerry. Jerry, we learn, really, really, REALLY wants to buy a puppy. He needs a dollar, and he needs it NOW. There is someone else who wants to buy "his" puppy, and, he'll need to hurry to get his pick. Fortunately, at just the right time, he's offered an opportunity to dust the church. What a relief! Rachel helps him clean, and they get there just in time it seems. They buy the dog, name him Ginger, and all is well...or is it?!
For they are not the only ones who think that Ginger is the best dog ever. Never forget that someone else wanted Ginger. (They do forget.)
Title: Won Ton and Chopstick – A Cat and Dog tale Told in Haiku Written by: Lee Wardlaw Illustrated by: Eugene Yelchin Published by: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2015 Themes/Topics: cats, dogs, haiku, pets, friends Suitable for ages: 7-11 Hardcover, 40 pages Opening: It’s … Continue reading →
Lee Wardlaw is the author of 30 books for young readers, including Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Children’s Poetry Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, and the Purina/Fancy Feast “Love Story” Award.
Barcelona-born Marta Altés is a graduate of one of the most fertile courses in the UK when it comes to producing fabulous illustrators – the MA Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. She originally trained and worked in Spain as a graphic designer before taking the plunge to follow her childhood dreams, move country and retrain as an illustrator. “I think it was the BEST decision I have ever made,” says Marta, and with nine books already to her name and more following later this year (noting Marta graduated only four years ago) her success speaks for itself. Her latest book in English is The King Cat, a lovely story about friendship, negotiations and adjusting to change, especially in families welcoming a new arrival.
I recently caught up with Marta and asked her about The King Cat, her love of dogs, chocolate and more. Here’s how our conversation went:
Playing by the book: I know you sometimes include secret details in your illustrations – images of friends and family for example. Can you share a secret about your new book, ‘The King Cat’ – something we should look out for in the illustrations?
Marta Altés: Yes I do that! But I don’t always do it on purpose… It just happens. I start drawing a character and it ends up looking like somebody I know. In this case, I think, somehow I ended up illustrating the house that I would like to live in. Walls full of different sized frames (not with cat photos!), old and nice furniture, a sofa full of cushions with different patterns…
Also… Even though the story was VERY different when I started it, now it is the story of any person who has a young sibling (including me). My brother is 4 years younger than me, so I guess I was “king cat”. Although I don’t think I had his strong personality (a part from the times he broke my toys… of course)
Another thing that you can look out for in the illustrations is the little joke on the endpapers. On the first one we see a little basket full of wool balls and knitting needles on a table. Check out what’s on the last endpaper Both cat and dog don’t know yet, but they are about to deal with the arrival of a new member to this family.
Playing by the book: I’m guessing you’re quite a dog person given your very funny book No! and your new book – what dog books (for kids) have made you laugh or nod in recognition of your life with dogs?
Marta Altés: You got me! Yes I am! I dogs make me laugh… My mum is taking care of my dog in Barcelona, and I miss him very much. Dog books that have made me laugh recently are:
Playing by the book: What aspects of being a graphic designer (in an earlier life) have helped in your career as an illustrator?
Marta Altés: I think having been a graphic designer has definitely influenced the way I work as an illustrator. Mostly in the way I use colour (always a very limited palette), the use of white space, the compositions of the illustrations on the page and knowing how to use some software like Photoshop.
I also enjoy hand-lettering quite a lot, and the importance I give to the fonts is probably because of my graphic design background.
I suffered a lot when it came the time to write our final dissertation in the MA, my English wasn’t the best, and it was a big effort. But I learned a lot. I wrote about Graphic Design in Picture Books, and since then, I try to take all the elements that you have in a book to communicate the main idea (Cover, endpapers, title page, font, colour, where the text is placed…).
Playing by the book: What was hard to “unlearn” when moving from graphic design to illustration?
Marta Altés: It was difficult but at the same time one of the most exciting things was to try not to use the computer too much. And another thing was to not be afraid of trying new things, like – for example – watercolours! I hadn’t used them before joining the MA, and I’m so glad our tutors were always encouraging us to try new techniques.
Playing by the book: Do you see differences in illustration styles favoured in the UK as compared to in Spain? If so, what are they?
Marta Altés: I don’t like to generalize and I think each illustrator has a different way of seeing life and working, no matter where they live. There are English illustrators working for Spanish publishers and vice versa.
A couple of years ago at the Bologna Book Fair, I started talking to a Spanish art director that was there seeking talent at the MA Children’s Book illustration stand. And she pointed out how the main characters of many English picture books were animals, and that it is something that usually doesn’t happen there. I thought that it was a very interesting thing!
Playing by the book: What Catalan children’s books do you wish were translated into English so a wider audience could enjoy them?
Marta Altés: Probably all the ones I use to read when I was a kid (although I’ve just checked and many of them have already been translated!). One of my favourite ones is “El Patufet” a very surreal story about a little boy that was veeeeery tiny (and I won’t spoil the ending because is one of the most surreal endings ever!)
There are also many small Spanish publishers doing very interesting things.
Playing by the book: Could you share some of the illustrations you made for the Catalan/Spanish/Galician chapter books/poetry you’ve illustrated?
Marta Altés: I really enjoy working on different projects at the same time as working on picture books. It gives me the opportunity to experiment with new techniques. Illustrating a text that is not yours is lots of fun because you can give your vision of the story through your drawings. But is a completely different approach to when you illustrate your own text. In the latter case, you keep editing text and image to make them work together, almost until the day you send the files to print!
A very challenging project I’ve just illustrated is this Catalan Poetry book for kids (‘Tan Petita i ja saps‘ written by Maria Mercè Marçal). I hadn’t illustrated poetry before, and it was quite difficult. Also, I was told there had to be something that graphically linked together all the pages of the book. That made me go and do some research on the symbology of the author and I ended up using the night, stars and sea as the main elements of the book. The idea of the darkness of the night sky made me try to use brush and black ink. And I coloured things digitally.
The chapter book I’ve just illustrated for a Spanish publisher talks about the story of a little mouse meeting a girl who has just moved into a new house. I thought it would be fun to play with shadows and lights. Something that I’m not very good at but I wanted to give it a try. So I did try, and it was lots of fun. Again it was a mix between digital colouring, pencil and millions of layers of photoshop.
Playing by the book: I believe you work as a part time lecturer in the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. What’s your role on the course?
Marta Altés: Studying in the MA was one of the best experiences ever! I met so many nice people and it was very sad when it was over. So I felt over the moon when Martin Salisbury offered me the opportunity to go back and work there.
What I enjoy the most is working with the students on the sequences, storyboards and story lines of their projects. Each project is very different from the other so going there is very challenging but also very exciting!
I’m so happy to still be involved with the MA. I get to meet lots of lovely people and I’m super lucky to be working there along with amazing illustrators like James Mayhew, David Hughes, Pam Smy, Alexis Deacon, Paula Metcalf and Hannah Webb!
Playing by the book: If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you like to be?
Marta Altés: I’ve been a full time illustrator just for the past 4 years, so this is a difficult question to answer… 5 years ago I was a graphic designer that wanted to be an illustrator (my dream came true). Now… If I weren’t an illustrator, I guess I would like to be a dancer (I know it’s WAY too late). I’ve danced since I was little and it’s something that I love doing.
Playing by the book: I hear you like chocolate. What sort of chocolate is your favourite?
Marta Altés: I loooove chocolate. All sorts of chocolate… But if I had to pick one it would be dark chocolate. Or triple chocolate covered with a layer of double chocolate with chocolate sprinkles to top.
Playing by the book: Many thanks Marta – it’s been great fun interviewing you. I hope you enjoy the virtual chocolate I’ve found for you
Supplementing real dogs with digital animation produces performances that have benefits on many different levels. Firstly, they are much more effective dramatically because they can become more anthropomorphically expressive to suit the needs of the story. Economically they are less time-consuming and therefore less expensive because the performance is no longer determined by the unpredictable or intractable volition of real animals, however ‘well-trained’. The problems that arise even when working with ‘professional’ dog actors can be exasperating.
Rain Reign. Ann M. Martin. 2014. Feiwel & Friends. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
Rose Howard loves her dog Rain. She probably loves Rain more than homonyms and prime numbers. Maybe. It would be hard to know for sure. These are just a few of the things readers should know about Rose. Oh, I almost forgot rules. Rose Howard loves rules, loves living by rules, loves holding other people to high standards of abiding by rules. Which doesn't make her many friends among her peers, or, even the adults in her life. For example, she's no longer allowed on the bus because the bus driver couldn't take it anymore--the constant criticism of her driving. To help facilitate her needs in the classroom, she has an aide assigned to her. This helps. It may even help a great deal. Rose has worked with an aide for a year or two, I believe, but even so Rose's behavior in and out of the classroom is far from perfect. I'll qualify that. Her behavior is still not good enough, not perfect enough, not "normal" enough to please her father. I think there are enough indicators in the text that show that others in Rose's life are more forgiving and accepting. (Rose has Asperger's syndrome and OCD.)
So what is Rain Reign about? It's a story about a girl, a dog, a hurricane, and a brave act on Rose's part. There are some things Rose will tell readers from the start. I don't consider these facts to be spoilers. 1) There is a storm, a hurricane. 2) Rose's Dad puts the dog out of the house in the midst of the storm. 3) Rose doesn't know why her Dad did this.
I liked Rose well enough as a narrator. I did. But I think for me, the big surprise perhaps, was how much I loved her uncle. I think Uncle Weldon was my favorite part of this novel.
Life was harsh for the country people who told this story to relieve the cruel reality of their daily existence.
Hansel and Gretel encounter abandonment, fear, hunger, cannibalism, and magic...they are lost in a cruel world of kill or be killed.
The children must rely on their own courage and ingenuity to survive and prevail.
Welcome to the world of the wonder tale.
Wonder Tales before the Grimms
During the reign of Louis XIV, cultural endeavors in all the arts were encouraged and highly regarded in the court of Versailles. Writers, including Moliere, Racine and Marais, were respected and often admired. Ideas were in the air in the salons of Paris and in the court itself.
Marina Warner, edited The Wonder Tales, Six French Stories of Enchantment, introducing the reader to the European birth of the fairy tale and making a case for calling then tales of wonder. Among the writers with stories included are Charles Perrault, Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy and Henriette- Julie De Murat. Perrault was perhaps the most influential, if one considers the stories (from folk tales) he published under the title, The Tales of Mother Goose. These eight stories included Cinderella, Blue Beard, Little Red Riding hood, and the Sleeping Beauty in the Woods.
Here are excerpts from the Oxford University Press overview of the book...
"Once upon a time, in the Paris of Louis XIV, five ladies and one gentleman-- all of them aristocrats-- seized on the new enthusiasm for "Mother Goose Stories" and decided to write some of them down. Telling stories resourcefully and artfully was a key social grace, and when they recorded these elegant narratives they consciously invented the modern fairy tale as we still know it today."
Heroes and heroines are put to mischievous tests, and their quest for love is confounded when their objects of desire change into beasts or monsters. Still, true understanding and recognition of the person beneath the spell wins in the end, for after wonder comes consolation, and after strange setbacks comes a happy ending. In Wonder Tales, a magical world awaits all who dare to enter."
The illustration of Blue Beard is by Gustav Dore.
Good but Grimm Bedtime Reading
Mary Leland, in theIrish Examiner, has written a most insightful and interesting article on folktales and myths and the life and times of the Brothers Grimm. She also writes about Jack Zipes and the significance of his recent translation of the original version of Children's and Household Talesby the Brothers Grimm.
Here is an excerpt from the beginning of her excellent article:
"Many readers may argue with the poet Schiller’s assertion that ‘Deeper meaning resides in the fair tales told to me in my childhood that in the truth that is taught by life.’ Even so, perhaps those same readers will admit that the belief, quoted in Bruno Bettelheim’s master-work ‘The Uses of Enchantment’ (1976) has some validity.
They will certainly do so if they acknowledge the staying power of the fairytales told or read to them in childhood, and if they remember that strange hinterland in which mystery, search, loss, redemption and triumph still bring some imaginative consolation to the perceived injustices of the very young.
The fact is, as Jack Zipes discusses in his fascinating anthology, fairy tales incorporate the truth that is taught by life...."
The illustration of the Elves and the Shoemaker is by George Cruickshank.
The Grimm's Wonder Tales Sweep England in the Nineteenth Century
David Blamires, in a very comprehensive and rather scholarly article for Open Book Publishers, details the impact on readers in England of the Edgar Taylor translation (1823) of the Grimm's original Childrens and Household Tales. The article provides both overview and details of the English versions throughout the 18th Century. Blamires credits the illustrations by George Cruikshank as being very important to to wide popular acceptance.
"Without a shadow of doubt the single most important German contribution to world literature is the collection of traditional tales made by the Brothers Grimm and first published in two small volumes in 1812-15. It outshines Goethe’s Faust and such twentieth-century classics as Mann’s Death in Venice or Kafka’s The Trial by virtue of an infinitely greater readership. Not only have the tales been translated in whole or in part into virtually every major language in the world, but they have generated countless new editions and adaptations and become the cornerstone of the study of folktales not only in Germany, but throughout the world...
When Edgar Taylor made the first translation of the Grimms into English as German Popular Stories, translated from the Kinder und Haus Märchen, collected by M.M. Grimm, from oral tradition (London: C. Baldwyn, 1823), the fairytale as a genre was very much in the grip of the French. Of course, such truly English fairytales as ’Jack the Giant-killer’, ’Whittington and his Cat’, ’Tom Hickathrift’, ’Tom Thumb’ and ’Jack and the Beanstalk’ had circulated in chapbooks, but English tales were not systematically collected until later. It was the fairytales of Charles Perrault, Madame d’Aulnoy and Madame Leprince de Beaumont that dominated the scene..." The illustrations of Rapunzel and Cinderella are by George Cruickshank.
Born Without A Tail Returns
The enhanced second edition of Born Without A Tale, by C.A. Wulff will be published later this month by Barking Planet Productions. The book is a heartwarming life journey memoir by of Wulff's never ending rescues, healings, and adventures with a melange of dogs and cats.
Here's a description of the first edition from Amazon:
When your home has a revolving door for abused and abandoned animals, keeping pets takes on a whole new dimension! Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-rending, Born Without a Tail chronicles the true-life adventures of two animal rescuers living with an ever-changing house full of pets. The author takes us on a journey from childhood through adulthood, sharing tales, (mis)adventures and insights garnered from a lifetime of encounters with a menagerie of twenty remarkable animals.--
And here is an abridged sample of a review...there are many more on Amazon :
"I can't say too much about this book, it's more than a 'dog book' it's a people, animals, life book. I was hooked from the first page and read it straight through... The writer has a great way of drawing you in, making you at home in her world. Anyone who's ever had a heart dog, a misfit cat, ever been touched by the love of an animal should enjoy this book. It's a keeper." -- Bookpleasures.com
Lost Wonders Found In An Immersive Theatrical Experience
Imagine walking into a warehouse converted into an environment of wonder where you find clairvoyant ravens, a runaway princess, and elves with magic powers. I discovered all of this is happening in London when I read a recent post by Kristenin her Tales of Faerieblog. Here is an excerpt...
Reviewers seem overall very impressed with the play, especially the format. Instead of an audience sitting in chairs in an auditorium, they follow the characters through a large warehouse with different sections set up as each fairy tale. Props to the creators of this play for not only staying faithful to the Grimm fairy tales, but introducing audiences to lesser known tales, such as "Faithful Johannes" and "The Three Little Men in the Woods" (which seems to be the audience favorite)."
In the words of Philip Wilson (Director & Adapter) of this theater piece:
"I love the fact that, in German, these are known as 'wonder tales' rather than the more twee term 'fairy tales': and so audiences coming to the Bargehouse will find themselves plunged into a parallel universein which extraordinary adventures happen - and the darker side of these stories will come to light..."
Paws Giving Independence (PGI) is a multi-faceted, grass roots organization, located in Peoria, Illinois, that does wonderful work in providing service dogs for people with disabilities. Their dogs serve people ranging from the Jesse Brown Veteran's Hospital in Chicago to the Peoria Children's Home Youth Farm.
The photo on the left is of Monty, who recently had his first day of school with his new friend, the young girl in the photo. They are both in fourth grade. Monty now lives with her in her home, and they go everywhere, including the school bus, together.
Monty was trained by a Bradley University student as part of the Wags for Mags program, initiated by Paws Giving Independence (photo on the right).This ongoing program of student volunteers works directly with people and training the dogs for service. Anyone with a disability can apply for a PGI service dog. Saturday, June 6, 2015, is the day for PGI's Running With The Dogs Day.
Dogs As Healers in the Planet Of The Dogs Series
In the first book in the Planet Of The Dogs we are introduced to Bella, the healer lady of Green Valley. And it is through Bella that people have their first experience with dogs as healers...the first Therapy Dogs. Here is an excerpt...
"The next morning, just as daylight brightened their home, Tomas and his family had another visitor, Bella, the healer lady. Bella helped the people of Green Valley when they were having babies, or when they were sick. She had a large garden of flowers and herbs that she used when healing people. All the people in Lake Village, including Omeg, liked her and respected her. Bella had been dreaming of the dogs and understood the reason they had come to Planet Earth.
Before Bella reached the house, Robbie and Buddy, who now slept in the barn, sensed her arrival and ran up the road to greet her. The family was happy to see her and to find that she welcomed the dogs. They were surprised that Bella was so comfortable with Buddy, who lay at her feet while she sat at the table drinking a refreshing cup of mint tea. Bella had an even bigger surprise for everyone. She said, “From my dreams, I have learned that the dogs can help me in my work. I know they have the power of love and the power to help people heal,” she said. Tomas and Sara looked at her in amazement. Daisy and Bean were not so surprised. Then Bella said, “I want to take the little dog to visit Delia, the sad one...”
For sample chaptersfrom Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale -- and more information about all of our Barking Planet books -- visit our Planet Of The Dogs website.
Free copies of the Planet of The Dogs book series for therapy dog organizations, individual therapy dog owners, and librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs...simply send us an email at email@example.com.
"In PLANET OF THE DOGS, Robert McCarty weaves an enchanting story that will delight the young reader as well as the young reader's parents or grandparents. Parents and grandparents should be forewarned, however, that their young readers will be pleading with them unrlentingly for a visit to Green Valley." Warner V. Slack MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Father, Grandfather ..............................
All Barking Planet Productions Books are available on the internet at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other booksellers -- as well as your local independent bookstore.
LitWorld and World Read Aloud Day
LitWorld brings literacy, reading, books, and empowerment to disadvantaged children.
LitWorld celebrated their annual World Read Aloud Dayon March 5th.
"World Read Aloud Day allows members of our year-round programs to invite more people into their literacy community and brings LitWorld’s messages to the rest of the world. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 80 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. The growth of our movement can be attributed in large part to our network of partner organizations and “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters taking action in their communities and on social media."
Visit their website and learn more about their wonderful work: LitWorld
The Wind In The Willows
"But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties."--Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows; Illustration, E.H. Shephard
I was drawn to read this book.
TheMotherless Child Projectis terrific and timely. The central character, Emily Amber Ross, a 16 year old girl, is bright, interesting, conflicted, and very likable. The fact that she lives in a home where there can be no mention of her mother and her childhood becomes a driving force in her life. The story builds into a suspenseful, compelling, poignant rush of events. The ending is exciting and satisfying. I would think that word of mouth will be significant. In addition to being an excellent, and meaningful read -- The Motherless Child Project would make a great YA crossover movie.
Laura Miller, in Salon, conducted an excellent interview with Maria Tatar on the occasion of the publication of The Turnip Princess. Here is an excerpt:
What do you in particular find so compelling about this form?
"What I really love about fairy tales is that they get us talking about matters that are just so vital to us. I think about the story of Little Red Riding Hood and how originally it was about the predator-prey relationship, and then it becomes a story about innocence and seduction for us. We use that story again and again to work out these very tough issues that we have to face. My hope is that this volume will get people talking about not just the stories and the plot but the underlying issues.
Milan Kundera has this quote in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” about painting that goes something like: Painting is an intelligible lie on the surface, but underneath is the unintelligible truth. Folktales are lies, they misrepresent things, and they seem so straightforward and so deceptively simple in a way. It’s the unintelligible truth beneath that’s so powerful, and that’s why we keep talking about them. They’re so complicated. We have a cultural compulsion about folklore. We keep retelling the stories because we can never get them right." Illustration by Lancelot Speed
"He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him;”
“It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, for the most essential things are invisible to the eye.” ― Hans Christian Anderson, The Ugly Duckling
Animated Movies and Inspiration from Tales of Wonder
Last year (2014), the Oscarfor the best animated film -- Frozen -- was "inspired" by Hans Christian Anderson's classic story, The Snow Queen. In addition to substantive story changes, this Disneyfantasy removes the dark fear and danger of the original and substitutes dazzling animation, fast pacing, and romantic gloss. Frozen has a sound track of soaring romantic music. the film also won an Oscar for best song:Let It Go.
Disney achieved their goal. In addition to recognition by their peers in winning the Oscars, the film has been extremely popular and made a great deal of money, grossing $1,274,219,009. That figure represents an incredible number of children and adults experiencing the Disney version of the story.
Here is an excerpt from Anderson'soriginal Snow Queen, which, unlike the film, I find permeated by a sense of the ominous, of danger and events beyond control...
"There stood poor Gerda, without shoes, without gloves, in the midst of cold, dreary, ice-bound Finland. She ran forwards as quickly as she could, when a whole regiment of snow-flakes came round her; they did not, however, fall from the sky, which was quite clear and glittering with the northern lights. The snow-flakes ran along the ground, and the nearer they came to her, the larger they appeared. Gerda remembered how large and beautiful they looked through the burning-glass. But these were really larger, and much more terrible, for they were alive, and were the guards of the Snow Queen... but all were dazzlingly white, and all were living snow-flakes."
Hopefully, many more children, having experienced the Disney version, will be drawn to read the original.
Illustration of the original Snow Queen is by Vilhelm Pedersen.
Little Red Riding Hood...There are many versions and many interpretations in film, TV, theater and illustration of Little Red Riding Hood. The story had a major role last year in Disney'sproduction of Into The Woods, a film inspired by a popular Broadway musical.
On a more modest scale, Cale Atkinson, a talented young Canadian illustrator, created a delightful short animated version (1:37) of Red Riding Hood on Vimeo.
Disney's Big Hero
This year, Big Hero 6 , also a Disney film, has won the Oscar for best animated film. This time , inspiration for the film was inspired by a Marvel comic story. The film is a significant departure from the original. Humor, imagination and outstanding animation bring Hiro, a brilliant teenage robotics inventor, Baymax his robot, and the fantasy future world of San Fransokyo to fun-filled life.
Disney, through the collaboration between Winnie the Pooh director Don Hall, and Chris Williams,director of Bolt, succeeded in adding charm and fun to the original premise; as a result, Big Hero 6 found a large audience worldwide: $546,225,000 (this figure will grow with winning the Oscar).
Cinderellaback and, once again, has a cruel stepmother ... If Kate Blanchett was my cruel stepmother, I would be most grateful if Helena Bonham Carter was my fairy godmother -- especially if Kenneth Branagh was my director. This comment is based on watching the trailer for Cinderella - the next Disney movie.
See for yourself: Cinderella Trailer...and listen to the soaring music.
The advance reviews suggest this Cinderella will please and delight young girls and their families. Personally, I'm still marveling at the movie created by Linda Woolverton, Robert Stromberg, and Angelina Jolie in Malificent, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.
Alison Flood writes about the drop in popularity of JRR Tolkien'sbooks in the UK in an article for the Guardian. The article suggest that movies have been a primary influence in the reading choices of UK students. Perhaps Peter Jackson's Tolkien-based films don't inspire readers. Here are excerpts...
"Annual What Kids Are Reading report sees dystopian fantasy and larger-than-life comedies dominate...
JRR Tolkien’sfantasy novels have been elbowed out of the annual lineup of the most popular books for schoolchildren by a deluge of dark dystopias and urban fantasies.
The seventh What Kids Are Reading report, which analyses the reading habits of over half a million children in over 2,700 UK schools, revealed today that Tolkien’s books have dropped out of the overall most popular list for the first time since the report began six years ago. In previous years, Tolkien’s titles have featured within the chart’s top 10 places, mostly among secondary-school children.
Instead, this year in secondary schools the most popular title was John Green’s tale of a heartbreaking teenage romance, The Fault in Our Stars, followed by two dystopian stories: Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games series, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, set in a world where people are classified according to their personality traits...."
Nancy Houser posted an informative article in Way Cool Dogs on Separation Anxiety in Dogs. To people who don't know dogs, this may sound a bit over the top. Dog owners, however, will appreciate this fact-filled article.
"Separation anxiety in dogs is that dreadful moment as they fall apart in front of our eyes as we walk out the door, leaving them … alone. We could be be having a medical emergency, a day of shopping, a day of hard work, an exhausting afternoon at the grocery store … or maybe even a quick trip outside to check our mail. And truthfully, it does not matter. Every situation becomes a period of hell for dogs with separation anxiety, an animal who is a social animal that needs a lot of companionship.
Where and when we go does not matter; what matters is the fact that we are gone and they are not. They are at home, and alone. Mother Teresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” She was speaking of humanity, of course, but current dog studies are proving that dogs not only have intelligence but similar emotions and emotional disorders as we do, and should be treated as such.
What is canine separation disorder?
According to dog experts, canine anxiety is divided into three different categories:
Canine separation disorder is considered to be one of the most common causes of behavioral problems in dogs..."
The article continues to analyze of canine anxiety disorders; Read more:Separation Anxiety. The illustration is by Nancy Houser
The Wonders of Reading for Children
An excerpt from Neil Gaimon's impassioned presentation on the importance of libraries, books and reading:
"There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.
Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant..."
This link, Neil Gaimon, will take you to all of this excellent presentation as reprinted in the Guardian. Illustration of Tom Thumb by Alexander Zick.
“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin
How To Greet A Dog...and How Not To Greet A Dog (or cat)....
Unlearn polite human greeting behaviors … greet a dog or cat safely...Here is an excerpt and link to an article by Anna Nirva...
Yesterday at the shelter where I volunteer, a group of new volunteers were being led through the dog kennel room as part of a shelter volunteer orientation tour. I was returning a dog to a kennel after a walk, and several of the volunteers left the group to investigate the dog as I was leading him toward his enclosure. Two well-meaning people quickly approached the young dog straight-on, with hands outstretched, staring directly into the eyes of the shelter dog. Chief, the dog, a young, sensitive coonhound mix, feeling threatened, immediately moved through the open gate to the back of the kennel with his tail tucked and head lowered. “What’s wrong with him?” one of the new volunteers asked.
I had just found the topic for my weekly post...
In the western world, we are taught at an early age to greet new people by approaching them with upright posture, looking directly into their eyes and offering a hand to shake or squeeze. It becomes second nature to us, so as a result, many of us animal lovers greet every living thing–except bugs–using those same “good manners.”...
We must UNLEARN that set of social rules to avoid frightening dogs, cats, and other animals... read it all on SunBear Squad
The illustration from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
" You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us." -- Robert Louis Stevenson
If You Plant a Seed is a brilliantly written and exquisitely illustrated book about kindness. Sparse but meaningful text, combined with joyfully detailed illustrations of plants, birds, and animals. I love it!
MacIntyre, Sarah and David O'Connell. 2015. Jampires. New York: David Fickling (Scholastic)
Who could be sucking all the jamminess out of the doughnuts? Jampires! Will Sam find jam? Will the Jampires find their nest? If you like funny, this is the best!
Bee, William. 2015. Stanley the Farmer. New York: Peachtree.
Stanley is a hardworking hamster. Illustrations and text are bright and simple, making Stanley a perfect choice for very young listeners. Along the lines of Maisy, but with a crisper, cleaner interface. Nice size, sturdy construction.
The Wimbledons can't sleep. What IS all that noise? It's only Stanley, the dog. He's howling at the moon, fixing the oil tank, making catfish stew, ...? Hey, something's fishy here! Classic Jon Agee - droll humor at its best.
Review copies of Jampires, Stanley the Farmer, and It's Only Stanley were provided by the publisher.