Folklore from Germany, Fairy Tales for the World
It was an era that began with the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars. The years that followed were marked by internal conflict and political disagreement.
Life was hard. Wealthy land owners and nobility controlled nearly all of the land. Most people were farmers, living in rural areas. Books were few and few people could read them. Serfdom kept many people poor.
This was the time of the cumbersome German Confederation, created by German princes to retain their control in a time of growing upheaval and conflict.
The shifting sands of power lay in 37 principalities and four cities. Uncertainty reigned.
Folklore and folk tales were an integral part of people's awareness. Forests played a major role in these stories. The forests were deep and often dangerous.
We know that stories -- folk tales -- were often told by country women when several
gathered together in a neighbor's farm home while sewing, weaving and cooking.This was their social life. Perhaps men told these stories in markets, or taverns, or around a campfire.
The stories that were told were collected by the Brothers Grimm and remain today the foundation of our children's fairy tale literature.
Next month, on February 24, we will see the publication in English of over 70 tales collected in Bavaria by a contempoary of the Grimm Brothers, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. The Grimm's admired Schönwerth and his work.
The collection is now entitled The Turnip Princess, The book has been translated by Maria Tatar, author of many books on children's literature, blogger (Breezes from Wonderland), and chair of the Program on Folklore and Mythology at Harvard.
The painting is by Jean- Francois Millet. The bookcover is by Walter Crane; the translation from German is by Lucy Crane.
The Stories Never End
“It has generally been assumed that fairy tales were first created for children and are largely the domain of children. But nothing could be further from the truth.
From the very beginning, thousands of years ago, when tales were told to create communal bonds in face of the inexplicable forces of nature, to the present, when fairy tales are written and told to provide hope in a world seemingly on the brink of catastrophe, mature men and women have been the creators and cultivators of the fairy tale tradition...."
Inevitably they find their way into the forest. It is there that they lose and find themselves. It is there that they gain a sense of what is to be done. The forest is always large, immense, great and mysterious. No one ever gains power over the forest, but the forest posses the power to change lives and alter destinies....”
The illustration is by Arthur Rackham
The above quotations are by Jack Zipes, the author of many books on myths, folklore, and children's literature including The Brothers Grimm, From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World.
Recognized as a pioneer in the field of children's literature, Zipes latest publication is a translation of the first edition (1812-1815) of the The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (see the Guardian article below). The first edition (Volumes One and Two), of 156 tales, had previously never before been translated into English. By the time of the Grimm's final edition in 1857, "immense changes had taken place".
The original edition of the Grimm's fairy tales incorporated oral tales, legends, myths, fables and pagan beliefs. The book was intended for adult readers. This edition is illustratrd by Andrea Dezso.
Writer for the Guardian create leading edge articles on fairy tales, folklore, and children's literature. Philip Oltermann recently wrote about von Schoenwerth, The Turnip Princess and Maria Tartar. Alison Flood wrote about Jack Zipe's translation of the first edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.
Both of these books are major events in the world of folklore, fairy tales, and children's literature..
Illustration by Alexander Zwick
Here is an excerpt from Oltermann's article:Forgotten Fairytales Slay the Cinderella Stereotype...
The stash of stories compiled by the 19th-century folklorist Franz Xaver von Schönwerth – recently rediscovered in an archive in Regensburg and now to be published in English for the first time this spring – challenges preconceptions about many of the most commonly known fairytales...
Harvard academic Maria Tatar argues that they reveal the extent to which the most influential collectors of fairytales, the Brothers Grimm, often purged their stories of surreal and risque elements to make them more palatable for children.
“Here at last is a transformation that promises real change in our understanding of fairytale magic,” says Tatar, who has translated Schönwerth’s stories for a new Penguin edition called The Turnip Princess. “Suddenly we discover that the divide between passive princesses and dragon-slaying heroes may be little more than a figment of the Grimm imagination.”
Here is the headline from Alison Flood's article: Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales Have Blood and Horror Restored in New Translation....
The original stories, according to the academic (Zipes), are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.
The Frog King or Iron Henry...an Excerpt from the new Jack Zipes translation of the Brothers Grimm...
"The princess became terrified when she heard this, for she was afraid of the cold frog. She didn't dare to touch him, and now he was to lie in her bed next to her. She began to weep and didn't want to comply with his wishes at all. But the king became angry and ordered her to do what she had promised, or she'd be held in disgrace. Nothing helped. She had to do what her father wanted, but she was bitterly angry in her heart. So she picked up the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs into her room, lay down in her bed, and instead of setting him down next to her, she threw him crash! against the wall. "Now you'll leave me in peace, you nasty frog!"
"The fairy tale is in a perpetual state of becoming and alteration. To keep to one version or one translation alone is to put a robin redbreast in a cage. A fairy tale is not a text..."- Author Phillip Pullman
Wonder Tale...An alternative term for “fairytale” is “wonder tale”, from the Germanwundermärchen, which catches a quality of the genre more eloquently than “fairytale” or “folk tale” because it acknowledges the defining activity of magic in the stories. The suspension of natural physical laws produces a heightened and impossible state of reality, which leads to wonder, astonishment, the ’ajaib(astonishing things) sought in Arabic literary ideas of fairytale... An excerpt from How Fairy Tales Grew Up, by Marina Warner, author, critic, in the Guardian
"31% of New York City youth are living in poverty - often facing challenges of inadequate housing, under-performing schools, violence and fractured families. Many kids see few possibilities for the future...
A Fair Shake for Youth partners with schools and community organizations to bring therapy dog teams to disadvantaged and vulnerable middle school-aged youth...The kids discover (the) social tools and build a view of themselves that enables them to envision greater possibilities for their lives...
Hands On and a Curriculum that Resonates
The Fair Shake program can be integrated into the school day, after school, weekend or summer camp programming. The ten-week curriculum includes hands-on work with the dogs and dog-related topics covered by speakers, demonstrations"...read more about this excellent, results-oriented program at Fair Shake
Video: See Fair Shake in action when Isabella and Samantha, two young girls, tell us, in their own words, of their experiences with the dogs and the Fair Shake for Youth program.
A Fair Shake for Youth has been the recipient of a grant from the Planet Dog Foundation
The following is by librarian Liz Burns, excerpted from her outstanding blog, A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
"I read for fun. Not for enlightenment, not to be a better person, not to learn about the universal human experience. I read to get scared, I read to fall in love, I read to feel less alone, I read for adventure, I read for so many reasons that all fall under.... because I want to.
And if that's why I read, why shouldn't that be OK for teens and kids?
Oh, I get that just like I have things to read with a purpose for work, they have things they have to read with a purpose for school.
But that's not the only way or reason to read. And, especially outside the school environment, reading for fun, rather than reading "because", should be championed.
It shouldn't be a guilty pleasure.
It should just be ... a pleasure."
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy was founded on April 2, 2005 with a welcome post that set forth a mission statement: to write about "story. Because it's all about story: the stories we tell, the ones we believe, the ones we read, the ones we watch. The ones we want to believe in; the ones we're afraid of. The stories we tell because we're afraid. While the majority of my posts are about children's and young adult books, I also write about television and film, sometimes adult books, as well as publishing and library news." - Liz Burns
In the photo by Susan Purser, Chase reads with his friend, therapy dog Rose
Aesop's Fables Never End
"No author has been so intimately and extensively associated with children's literature as Aesop. His fables have been accepted as the core of childhood reading and instruction since Plato, and they have found their place in political and social satire and moral teaching throughout medieval, Renaissance, and modern cultures...
...Fables have long ago escaped the confines of the nursery and the schoolroom. Their readerships have included parents as well as children, masters as well as slaves. rulers as well as subjects..."
Seth Lerer writing on Aesop's Fables and Their Afterlives in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History From Aesop to Harry Potter
Ann Staub, a former vet tech, caring person, mother, and blogger on Pawsitively Pets (dedicated to all things animal), wrote a touching account of finding a lost dog, and the sad aftermath. Here is an excertpt and link:
My hopes and dreams of a spectacular reunion were destroyed with what I learned next. The family member I was helping didn't want the dog back. He "wanted his friends to adopt her from where ever she was at"...
There would be no reunion between loyal dog and not-so-loyal owner. And I find it both depressing and infuriating.
I'm not an emotional person. I don't get teary-eyed over things that most people do. Perhaps this is one of the "strengths" that allowed me to become a good veterinary technician. This, however, made me cry.
This dog was adopted from the animal shelter about 3 years ago. After about a year, those people no longer wanted her so my family member took her in. Now, he no longer wants her so someone else will take her. How many more times will she face this same situation? Will she be thrown out like trash again when she's old and sick?...This is a good dog and she deserves so much better than this.
So I guess it's up to the people who know better to educate those who don't. If you have a friend or family member that wants to get a new pet, tell them that pets are a lifelong commitment. Ask them if they are prepared to care for that animal during the entire duration of their life.
Here is a link to read the entire article and see photos...Ann Staub
Stories Never End -- If You Can Read
World Read Aloud Day is coming this year on March 5, 2015
LitWorld celebrated World Read Aloud Day with disadvantaged children in over 75 countries last year..." motivating children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creating communities of readers...showing the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people."
The photo was taken in Suriname.
"Some of the best books being published today are children’s and young adult titles, well-written and engaging books that capture the imagination. Many of us can enjoy them as adults, but more importantly, can pass along our appreciation for books to the next generation by helping parents, teachers, librarians and others to find wonderful books, promote lifelong reading, and present literacy ideas." Here is a link to Kidlitosphere.
The illustration from Planet Of The Dogs is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
Our story begins long, long ago, before there were dogs on Planet Earth.
There was plenty of space in those days for people to settle and grow things. Many of the places where people lived were very beautiful. There were clear lakes and cool streams with lots of fish. There were fields and woods with game to hunt. And there were rolling hills and open plains with plants growing everywhere. Many people settled in these places of abundance and prospered.
And then, invaders came. Where once there had been harmony and friendship, there was now fear, anger, and unhappiness. Something had to be done -- but what could anybody do? No one knew it at that time, but help would come from the Planet of the Dogs.
Read Sample Chapters of the Planet Of The Dogs Series.
Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.
Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs...
The map of Green Vally and the illustration of Stone City are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
"Any one of these books would make for a delightful—and one would assume cherished—gift for any child. All three would be an amazing reading adventure." Darlene Arden, educator, dog expert, and author of Small Dogs Big Hearts.
A Master of Childhood Dreams...His Stories never End Miyazaki Wins Again, After 11 Animated Features
What makes his films so memorable — from the great ones, like “Spirited Away,” which is a coming-of-age tale, and the ecological fables “Princess Mononoke” and “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” to less profound but still captivating works like“Kiki’s Delivery Service” and the mesmerizing “My Neighbor Totoro” — is something that’s harder to label. You know it when you feel it: the mastery of tone and emotion, embodied in every gesture, expression, movement and setting, that give the films a watchfulness, a thoughtfulness, an unaffected gravity. To watch a Miyazaki movie is to remember what it was like to be a smart and curious child..."
The Hunger Games-Mockingjay Part One
This third episode of Hunger Games is relevant to disturbing real world events. Like like the to
earlier films it is entertaining . However, this episode has more substance as Andrew Lapin writes in his excellent and thoughtful review for NPR, "all of these images have resonance in real events of this year." The film has grossed over $700 million worldwide thus far and still drawing audiences. Here is an excerpt from his Andrew Lapin's review:
"When producers were laying track for the Hunger Games series years ago, they couldn't have foreseen how discomforting author Suzanne Collins' descriptions of a war-torn authoritarian state would look on the big screen in 2014. In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One, Jennifer Lawrence witnesses and/or learns of: towns reduced to rubble, refugee camps next to mass graves, public executions of innocents with burlap sacks over their heads, law enforcement gunning down protesters in the street, and a military bombing a hospital filled with civilians. All of these images have resonance in real events of this year, generations before Collins predicted civilization would devolve into a regime that maintains control over its citizens with televised death matches..."
Here is a link to this insightful review:Andrew Lapin's review for NPR
Into The Woods:
Fairy tales are combined in this Walt Disney adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's broadway musical hit...71% of the critics (Rotten Tomatoes) wrote favorable reviews. However, there were often reservations in the reviewer's responses.
Here is an insightful excerpt from Jerry Griswold's article on Maria Tartar's Breezes from Wonderland blog:
"It is rated PG. But kids watching the film in my local theater seemed dampened by the mopey second half. They laughed at the cleverness of the first act, as well known storybook characters crossed into each other’s stories and interacted; still, it should be said that when it comes to clever fairy-tale mash-ups, “Shrek” does it better. But as for the second act’s dreary sharing of existential facts (regarding mortality, adultery, etc.), all in the name of growing-up and becoming undeceived, well, kids aren’t big on Weltschmerz. And that’s because, as James Barrie complained in “Peter Pan,” the young are gay and heartless."
Here is a link to the trailer:Into The Woods
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Peter Jackson has had enormous box office success with films inspired by Tolkien's Middle Earth books. It seems, however, that Tolkien's ideas have again been overcome by Jackson's computer generated violence. Here is the opening of Andrew O'Hehir's review in Salon...
"Presumably everyone now understands that Peter Jackson’s bloated “Hobbit” trilogy has only an arm’s-length, tangential relationship with the classic children’s novel that J.R.R. Tolkien first published in 1937, essentially launching the epic fantasy genre that now dominates so much of popular culture...
And here is an excerpt from Nicolas Rapold's review in the New York Times....
"What this adaptation of “The Hobbit” can’t avoid by its final installment is its predictability and hollow foundations. It’s been said before, but Mr. Jackson himself is still haunted by the past: For all the craft, there’s nothing here like the unity and force of “The Lord of the Rings,” which is positively steeped in mythology and features (wonder of wonders) rounder characterization than the scheduled revelations on display here..."
Here is a link to the trailer: Five Armies
Nancy Houser, has several posts on her Way Cool Dogs blog about puppies, from "Taming Puppy Aggresion" to "Wonderful Small Puppies for Children". Here is an excerpt and link from : 6 Incredible Reasons to Get a Rescue Puppy
"When you save a rescue puppy, you are saving its life. Many shelters have to put dogs to sleep because they can’t afford to keep them. When you decide to take a rescue animal home with you, you are giving it a second chance in life. Many rescue dogs used to have owners, but their owners treated them poorly or abandoned them. Pets deserve better than that. You have a chance to make a real difference to an animal’s life, and so you should take it..."
Read more: http://www.waycooldogs.com#ixzz3OW6latfA
I haven't seen The Giver (released in theaters last year) nor read Lois Lowry's YA book, The Giver (1993). However, it was favorably cited by Jerry Griswold, Director of the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, and author of Feeling Like a Kid, Childhood and Children's Literature. Therefore, I did some research...
I found enough information on the internet to be intrigued. The Giver is a different take on a dystopian future; relying more on concept than violence. The trailer and descriptions/synopsis provide a provocative look at a different approach to dystopia, quite at variance from the strife ridden simplicity of YA films like Divergent and the Labyrinth.
The book of The Giver was well received as a young adult book, winning a Newberry Award in 1994 as well as awards from the ALA, the NEA, and the School Library Journal. It has sold over 10,000 copies. The film, however, didn't fare well at the box office and has already been released as a DVD. Here is the Film Critics Consensus according to Rotten Tomatoes: "Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas."
Here is the trailer forThe Giver...
Empowerment for Animal Advocates in C.A. Wulff's Book
How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds, is empowering...it's the internet
made easy, the internet as a tool, the internet as a dog's best friend... a book and a way to make a difference... for dog lovers, animal advocates and anyone who wants to make the world a better place.
Here is an unedited Amazon review excerpt by Johanna:"This is probably the best "how-to" book I have ever seen. It is written in a very conversational manner while being extremely educational. Along with giving step-by-step instructions on how to use each advocacy tool, Cayr gives some background on each website, organization, and group, and explains how each is set up and how the different helping processes work. She walks you through the necessary steps and gives tips...
Rocket Boy, the dog in the photo by C.A. Wulff, one of her pack of rescued dogs.
YA Book Preview of The Motherless Child Project by Janie McQeen and Robin Karr.
I don't often discuss YA books. However, I have long admired Janie McQueen's previous Magic Bookshelf books and I am currently reading (report coming in my next blog) her poignant new book The Motherless Child Project.
Meanwhile, I am posting an excerpt from Midwest Book Review:
Jingles...a book, a toy, and dog rescue
The Story of Jingles is the first book in the newly launched Operation ResCUTE series. Each Book comes with a Stuffed Animal Set. And each purchase helps to rescue a dog!
Here's the review by C.A. Wulff in the Examiner...
"The book, authored by Jingles, is 24 pages long, with full color illustrations. It comes adorably packaged in a window box with a stuffed animal of Jingles and an “I am a ResCuter!” Operation ResCute sticker for the child. The second book in the series will feature a rescue dog named Tanner. Operation ResCute has a contest underway to find a third dog and his/her story.
Kids will love the book and the toy, and parents will love the message. Giving this as a gift will make you feel great, too, because 100% of the proceeds go directly to animal rescues."
The Hugging Bears (from the Guardian)
"Inspired by the delightful statue of two bears on display in Kensington Gardens in London, "The Hugging Bears" is the story of two bear cubs, Ruggley and Teddi, who live with their mother in the wintry wilderness. A sudden and violent encounter with humankind changes the cubs' lives forever.
Told with great simplicity and much heart by Carol Butcher, and featuring charming colour illustrations by Sue Turner, "The Hugging Bears" will be enjoyed by young children everywhere. The book also has a useful message about human's often unkind treatment of wild animals."
The profits from this book will go to the charity Happy Child International, which supports the street children of Brazil.
"Fences for Fido is a group of volunteers who get together to build fences for dogs in Oregon who are currently living out their lives on a chain. They do fundraisers and accept donations in order to make this work possible. On their facebook page, Fences for Fido share many inspirational photos and videos of the building process, and especially the happy dogs taking their first off-chain run in their brand new yard- always great! I love how this organization focuses on the positive aspects of what they are doing, and come from a non-judgmental approach. I believe these two things are the key to their success so far..."
The above information is from She Speaks Bark, Kaitlin Jenkins dog-loving blog. Kaitlin wrote about this being National Unchain a Dog month; as part of the article, she wrote about Fences for Fido. I, too, much admire the work they do, having previously written about them in this blog. Here is the link to read more of her excellent post about the wonderful work of Fences For Fido: KaitlinJenkins
When Library Time Means Screen Time
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Today we look at the work of Stéphane Kardos, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!Add a Comment
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The Very Short Film competition was launched in partnership with The Guardian in October 2012. The longlisted entries are now available for the public vote which will produce four finalists. After a live final in March, the winner will receive £9000 towards their university education.
By Chloe Foster
After more than three months of students carefully planning and creating their entries, the Very Short Film competition has closed and the longlisted submissions have been announced.
The competition asked entrants to create a short film which would inform and inspire us. Students were free to base their entry on any subject they were passionate about. There was just one rule: films could be no longer than 60 seconds in length.
We certainly had many who managed to do this. The standard of films was impressive. How were we to whittle down the entries and choose just 12 for the longlist?
We received a real range of films from a variety of ages, characters and subjects — everything from scuba diving to the economic state of the housing market. It was great to see a mixture of academic subjects and topics of personal interest.
It must be said that the quality of the filmmaking itself was very high in some entries. However not all of these could be put through to the longlist; although artistic and clever, they didn’t inform us in the way our criteria specified.
When choosing the longlisted entries, judges looked for students who were clearly on top of their subject. We were most impressed by films that conveyed a topic’s key information in a concise way, were delivered with passion and verve, and left us wanting to find out more. By the end of our selection process, we felt that each of the films had taught us something new or made us think about a subject in a way we hadn’t before.
The sheer amount of information filmmakers managed to convey was astounding. As the Very Short Introductions editor Andrea Keegan says: “I thought condensing a large topic into 35,000 words, as we do in the Very Short Introductions books was difficult enough, but I think that this challenge was even harder. I was very impressed with the quality and variety of videos which were submitted.
“Ranging from artistic to zany, I learned a lot, and had lots of fun watching them. The longlist represents both a wide range of subjects — from the history of film to quantum locking — and a huge range in the approaches taken to get the subjects across in just one minute.”
We hope the entrants enjoyed thinking about and creating their films as much as we enjoyed watching them. We asked a few of the longlisted students what they made of the experience. Mahshad Torkan, studying at the London School of Film, tackled the political power of film: “I am very thankful for this amazing opportunity that has allowed me to reflect my values and beliefs and share my dreams with other people. I believe that the future is not something we enter, the future is something we create.”
Maia Krall Fry is reading geology at St Andrews: “It seemed highly important to discuss a topic that has really captured my curiosity and sense of adventure. I strongly believe that knowledge of the history of the earth should be accessible to everyone.”
Matt Burnett, who is studying for an MSc in biological and bioprocess engineering at Sheffield, used his film to explore the challenges of creating cost-effective therapeutic drugs: “I felt that in a minute it would be very hard to explain my research in enough detail just using speech, and it would be difficult to demonstrate or act out. I simplify difficult concepts for myself by drawing diagrams, often spending a lot of time on them. For me it is the most enjoyable part of learning, and so I thought it would be fun to draw an animated video. If I get the chance to do it again I think I’d use lots of colours.”
So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at the 12 films and pick your favourite of these amazingly creative and intelligent entries.
Add a Comment
Chloe Foster is from the Very Short Introductions team at Oxford University Press. This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk.
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So if you want to write, but think, ‘I haven't got the time’, draw strength from the fact that it can be done, how ever little time you have. I have learnt that one concentrated hour (or even thirty minutes) is a golden opportunity, not to be wasted; and all thanks to the pram in the hall.
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Those words could so easily apply to the majority of books bearing my name, I thought. After all, I am the woman who has 'churned out' (as some would see it) fourteen animal books, and my publisher now wants more of the same. Or, failing that, the Next Big Thing, which frankly is rather an Unknown Unknown, so what I am supposed to do about that?
Thing is, I am not sure I want to try and second-guess the market; a fickle thing at the best of times. I am also clear I do not want to write more of the same, just as I am not convinced that readers necessarily want to read more of the same.
I know I am not alone as a writer in feeling that the industry seems to have changed in the blink of an eye. So much has happened so fast in the way that books are sold in to retailers and sold on to the public that it was bound to affect writers and the way that publishers deal with us. However, I suppose I was not prepared for the current approach which seems very much to be along the lines of 'books as product'. I am naive, I guess. The minute that supermarkets were in on the game it was unlikely that books would be perceived to be anything other than 'product'. If you are Mr Tesco and you are looking at what books to stock, you are only interested in how the last title from a particular author performed. In other words, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears went into your new novel, no matter how good it is, how exciting, how fresh, no matter how you have performed over a number of years in the market, if your last title did not shift a respectable number of units, you will not find your name on the shelves next time around. And you will certainly not have room to develop as a writer because the market views books much as it views tins of beans - if they taste good and sell well as they are, why change them?
Except that books are not tins of beans - we all know that.
It probably sounds as though I don't understand the publishers' point of view. I do. Things have changed for them, too, obviously. Faced with the demands of the Mr Tescos of this world, 'building an author' is sadly a luxury most publishers cannot now afford, so I can hardly blame them for wanting to make money out of 'fifty shades of safe'.
However, I wanted to write this post to see how others feel. Are you expected to come up with 'the next you', i.e. more of the same, reliable writing that conveniently places you where marketing and sales people are confident of how to pitch you in their publishing plan? Or are you throwing caution to the wind and using this climate to your advantage, to write what you really want to write, oblivious to the increasingly bland demands of the marketeers, and sending it out with all fingers and toes crossed? Is this the way forward: to write what we really want and hope it gets into the hands of readers? Or is this professional suicide?
I have decided to take the risk: to write a couple of books that have been swilling around in the back of my mind for a while, but which I have not had the confidence to develop. It may all end in a damp squib of disappointment and rejection. But I cannot sit around waiting for the crystal ball of the market place to make up its mind which tin of beans is going to be the next big thing. And I certainly do not want to be stocked on the shelves with 'fifty shades of safe'.
(with apologies to Matt Haig for nicking his excellent phrase)
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We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.
Writer, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.
Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.
Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month, Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.
Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.
Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.
Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.
Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.
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Blog: Crossover (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: the Guardian, top 10 children's book lists, Add a tag
Just popping in to let you know the Guardian has published a slew of fun top 10 lists:
- Julia Golding's top 10 characters from children's historical fiction
- Jacqueline Wilson's top 10 children's books
- David Almond's top 10 children's books
- Eoin Colfer's top 10 children's books
- Georgia Byng's top 10 books to feed the imagination
- Terry Deary's (Horrible Histories!) favorite history books
- 10 pieces of Meg Rosoff (10 important items from her life)
Blog: Reading, writing, and chocolate (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: those brits, the guardian, Add a tag
I stumbled upon the following "advert" for a DVD on The Guardian's website. (Where you can also buy a "space-saving water butt." See what I mean? Those guys across the pond are a riot!):
New restored BFI version of 'Night Mail' with lots of extras for only £12.99.
You can buy 'Night Mail' on DVD, the critically acclaimed film which remains one of the most popular and instantly recognised films in British film history. (That's my boldfacing. Such high praise! Let's see what it's about...)
An account of the operation of the Postal Special - the Royal Mail train delivery service - it shows the various stages and procedures of that operation, through mail collection to sorting. (I'm all a-flutter!)
As the train nears its destination we see the best-known sequence, in which WH Auden's spoken verse and Benjamin Britten's music are combined over a montage of racing train wheels. (Well, no wonder. A montage of racing train wheels. With a literary connection, no less.)
How can you not love a country that's sort of one big nudge in the ribs? I mean, with the left-hand driving and all, and their funny words like "water butt."
Which reminds me. I need to go order mine...
Blog: Schiel & Denver Book Publishers Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Book Publishers, Man Book Prize, Man Booker Prize, Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Literature Prize, The Guardian, book publishing, booksellers, book publishing companies, book publishing company, book publishing industry, books, Schiel & Denver, Schiel & Denver Book Group, Schiel & Denver Book Publishers, Schiel & Denver Publishing Limited, Schiel and Denver, self-publishing, Shiel & Denver, Add a tag
The nights are drawing in and it’s book prize season – Nobel, Man Booker et al. This is the moment in the year, as the Flat draws to a close and as the National Hunt book publishing season gets into full swing, when literature becomes a horse race. That just might be the good news. John Steinbeck once observed that “the profession of book publishing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business”.
Many people who care about books are not so blithe. They worry that the turf accountants of our culture (tipsters who know the price of everything but the value of nothing) are reducing art to a crude cash value to publish a book. That’s one consequence of the credit crunch.
Every bookie is quoting literary odds now: Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Unibet are all at it. I can see some sense in giving the betting on Peter Carey or Howard Jacobson – they’re on a book publishers shortlist – but the whole point of the Nobel prize is that its shortlist is confidential. It beats me how anyone could come up with starting prices for it. According to its website, the Swedish academy makes its choice based on submissions from “professors of literature, book publishers and language, former Nobel laureates” and members of similar bodies, the Académie Française for example. The Swedes usually get about 350 nominations, all secret. How on earth can any bookie make sense of that?
Yet, such is the power of the market, and the importance of the prize, in a prize-conscious culture, that before the announcement of the great Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa as the long-overdue winner for 2010, both Ladbrokes and Unibet were quoting odds of Les Murray (8/1), AS Byatt (18/1), Vaclav Havel (35/1) and even Bob Dylan (150/1).
Mad as this seems, it is no more improbable than the founding of an important literary prize by a would-be poet who happened to invent dynamite. Alfred Nobel published a verse tragedy, Nemesis, inspired by Shelley’s The Cenci, just before his death in 1896.
Man Booker also has its roots in trade. Britain’s premier book prize was initially sponsored by a food conglomerate and is now backed by a hedge fund, the Man Group.
At this year’s Booker banquet in the Guildhall, there will be an awkward moment when a middle-aged bloke in a suit rehearses the trading achievements of his company to the assembled literati, makes a segue to his commitment to the arts and sits down to polite, slightly mystified, applause.
At such moments, it is hard not to recall Dr Johnson’s definition of the patron: “Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence and is paid with flattery.”
Under the coalition, it’s back to the 18th century. According to some, this is the worst crisis in books since Paternoster Row was destroyed in the Blitz in 1940. To paraphrase Macaulay, contemporary writers sometimes know luxury, and often face penury, but they never know comfort. Writers and self-publishing artists in austerity Britain will be grateful to sponsors such as Man and Costa.
The future may be Orange, but it’s hardly bright. The Arts Council, the British Council and the BBC, to name three traditional patrons, all face outright government hostility or death by a thousand cuts.
In this climate, writers may have to take their lead from George Gissing’s indigent hero Jasper Milvain who, more than 100 years ago, declared in New Grub Street: “I am the literary man (of 1882)… I aAdd a Comment
Blog: Schiel & Denver Book Publishers Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Chile Miners, Chilean Miners Rescue, Frankfurt Book Fair, Harpercollins, Harpercollins UK, Random House, Schiel & Denver Authors, Schiel And Denver, The Guardian, Transworld, Barnes & Noble, book publishers, book publishing, book publishing companies, book publishing company, chilean miners, literary agent, Schiel & Denver Book Publishers, self-publishing, Add a tag
The long ordeal of the 33 trapped Chilean miners is finally at an end – and the buzz about book deals and film rights to the men’s dramatic story has already begun.
The miners themselves are reported to have made a pact to collaborate on their own book, but in the UK the first book was signed up on Monday, before the rescue had even begun. Freelance journalist Jonathan Franklin, who has covered the dramatic story for the Guardian from day one, is to pen an account of the saga, provisionally titled 33 Men, for book publisher Transworld.
Franklin, who is an American but has lived in the Chile’s capital Santiago for 15 years, spoke about the book on his mobile phone from Chile, after 48 sleepless hours covering the emotional scenes as the miners emerged.
“This is one of the great rescue stories of all time,” he said, admitting he himself had wept as the first miners were released on Tuesday night. “It’s the reason we all want to be reporters: a remarkable story of the world coming together for a good reason. It taps into human altruism, the desire to work together, perseverance, faith that good things happen, never giving up.” The early chapters of the book, he said, were already written.
As a journalist, Franklin had had “a backstage pass to the whole thing. I was allowed to tape record the psychologist talking to the [trapped] men, I spent last night in the hospital talking to the [newly freed] miners.” He intends his book to reveal the characters of the miners themselves (“You could probably do a book on every one of them”) and reflect their black humour: one of the men played dead, for a joke, during the first 17 days spent in the collapsed mine without food, while another attempted phone sex with the nurse who was attending to him 700m above.
Transworld book publishers, a division of Random House, which bought 33 Men at last week’s Frankfurt Book Fair, said: “As far as I’m aware, Franklin is the only print and publishers journalist in the inner circle at the mine, party to a lot of the strategy and to the stories of the relatives at the top, the wives and girlfriends.” He added: “What I think is really interesting, apart from the drama of the story itself, is the miners’ lives in this isolated outpost in Chile, which is a bit like the Wild West. People seem to live by their own rules, and it’s a very rugged existence – tough people living in a tough place.”
The publication date for the book is still to be confirmed. “It’ll be sooner rather than later, but I don’t want Franklin to compromise the depth and breadth of the story by making it a rush job,” Scott-Kerr said.
Literary agent Annabel Merullo at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, who is handling the book, said it had also sold to France and Germany, with self publishing film interest from the US.
“It’s happened so quickly,” she said. “When the story broke, we talked about it at the agency and said, ‘Is there a book in it?’ We decided there only was if we could get someone really good to write it. Jonathan’s coverage was so much better than everyone else’s. He has incredible access at the mines and he’s covered the story from day one.”
Blog: Schiel & Denver Book Publishers Blog (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: The Guardian, industry gossip, schiel and denver book publishers, book publishers, book publishing, book publishing companies, book publishing company, book publishing industry, Harvard, literary agent, online book publishers, Print On Demand Publishing, Add a tag
McClelland & Stewart Book Publisher (Fiction) and Executive Vice President Ellen Seligman announced Michael Ondaatje’s highly anticipated new novel, The Cat’s Table, will go on sale on August 30, 2011. It will be published in the fall in the US by Knopf and in the UK by Jonathan Cape.
“I am completely blown away by Michael Ondaatje’s stunning and original new novel,” says Seligman. “The Cat’s Table is a surprise and a sheer delight — a brilliantly told story, with unforgettable moments and characters the reader comes to care deeply about. It is perhaps Ondaatje’s most thrilling and moving novel to date.”
The Cat’s Table has received enthusiastic and exited responses as well from Ondaatje’s book publishers around the world including:
“The Cat’s Table is written with wisdom and poignancy, filled with the superlative storytelling we’ve come to expect from Michael Ondaatje. I was completely moved by the way he inhabits the voice of his narrator and conjures the innocence of childhood and the challenges of making one’s home in a strange land. The novel resonates on many levels.” – Sonny Mehta, Chairman and Editor in Chief, Knopf Publishing Group
“What a book it is! In my view, the best thing Ondaatje has done.” – Robin Robertson, Jonathan Cape UK
“It is so beautiful, the way it unfolds and becomes more and more complex and becomes many types of a novel — memoir, Bildungsroman, adventure novel and something like 1001 Nights…” – Anna Leube, Hanser, Germany
Michael Ondaatje is the author of four previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. His most recent novel Divisadero won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award and was a finalist for the Giller Prize. The English Patient won the Booker Prize and was an Academy Award-winning film; Anil’s Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.Add a Comment
Blog: An Awfully Big Blog Adventure (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Nicole Krauss, Leslie Wilson, Martin Amis, Lucy Coats, The Observer, Children's Books, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Faulks on Fiction, Celia Rees, BBC, Add a tag
Lucy Coats has already blogged (Wednesday, 9th Feb) about the remarks that Martin Amis made when he was interviewed by Sebastian Faulks for the BBC 2 programme, Faulks on Fiction. Her blog has attracted 60 comments and the outrage felt has resonated as far as the national press and the Huffington Post. Martin Amis, as the Guardian on Saturday pointed out, is no stranger to controversy.
I, too, saw the programme and after the first dropping of the jaw, I thought that he actually had a point. Just in case anybody doesn't know, or does not want to scroll down the page and see his words in purple 18 point type, he said:
'People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children's book. I say: "If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book."'
So far, so insulting. He then went on to say:
'The idea of being conscious of who you are directing the story to is anathema to me because, in my view, fiction is freedom and any restraints on that are intolerable. I would never write about someone that forced me to write at a lower register than what I can write.'
Once I heard that, I could see where he was coming from. I did not think he was saying 'all children's writers have half a brain', that would be false logic. He was just explaining his own writing stance and he is entitled to do that. He writes literary fiction for adults, as such he sees it as his task to write to the top of his register and would not, could not accept any restraints on that.
The disregard for the reader that Amis expresses is just not possible when one is writing for children. Children's writers, and I include writers of Young Adult fiction, are ALWAYS aware of what their readers will and will not tolerate, or will or will not understand. Anyone who denies this is being disingenuous. Quite apart from the target readers themselves, there are other agencies involved. We have to worry about things that would not trouble writers of adult fiction in the least - see Leslie Wilson's blog below. How many writers for adults would feel the need to explain and justify their use of swear words or the incidence of sex in a novel? How much we take these factors into consideration, how much we allow them to limit our fiction, is up to us, but those limitations are there. We do not use our full palate, as Patrick Ness would say. How can we? We have to write at a lower register because we are adults and our readers are children.
There are other pressures on us, too. Pressures that have nothing to do with our writing but everything to do with the market place. In a squeezed market, there is more and more demand from publishers for novels that will sell. Books that fit into an obvious, popular genre - action, dark romance, whatever. A book that is perceived as 'too literary' is seen as problematic. The equivalent of the literary novel is a rare beast, and becoming more endangered by the minute. If one or two do sneak through, they usually turn out to have been written for adults in the first place and tweaked a bit in a bid to capture that holy grail, the crossover market.
In an interview in the Observer Review (13th February, 2011)) Nicole Krauss attests that the comment she heard most frequently on a U.S. book tour for her novel, The History of Love, was: 'this book is difficult'. Krauss worries that 'we are moving towards the end of effort'. Readers don't want to have to think too hard, it appears, whatever their age. That is the spectre that frightens me. In the hope of keeping that at bay, I actually want Martin Amis to write to the limit
Blog: Beth Kephart Books (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Shelf Awareness, Andrew Miller, historical fiction, The Guardian, Add a tag
Andrew Miller, by way of the Guardian, by way of Shelf Awareness. In all that I write that looks back, I am, like Miller, looking at now. He says it better than I ever could:
As a boy I understood perfectly that history is not something apart from us, sealed off. It is in our blood, our music, our language, the buildings we pass on the way to work. And at its best, historical fiction is never a turning away from the Now but one of the ways in which our experience of the contemporary is revived. Janus-like, such books look both to the past and to the present, and there is no need to laboriously draw out the parallels for they suggest themselves, inevitably and plentifully.Display Comments Add a Comment
Blog: Books 'n' stories (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: Advent calendars, childrens books, The Guardian, Add a tag
The Guardian - The British newspaper, not the defunct TV series - has offered us all a joyful online Advent Calendar centered on books for children and teens. These are British books, mind, but a whole lot of those have captured the American readers' attention - Harry Potter, for instance.
|The selection for Dec. 2 is a slide show about Raymond Briggs.|
Blog: So many books, so little time (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: bookstore sales continue to drop, Add a tag
It's probably a futile hope, but I just hope books are selling in other places besides bookstores. Because PW reports that while retail sales overall grew 4% through June, bookstore sales have dropped a total of 4.6% in the same time period.
My gut says people are spending more time on the Internet, and that has to come from someplace.
What do you think?
Blog: Art, Words, Life (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: video, Friday Fun, Quentin Blake, The Guardian, Illustration, Add a tag
"Quentin Blake is one of Britain's most famous children's illustrators, with over 300 books published and still working into his 70s. Hogarth Brown is a young artist with no books (so far) but a passion for the artist he has never met ... until now."
A young illustrator from The Guardian gets to meet Quentin Blake. I like the part where Blake comments-- "...What's good is that you actually draw things."