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Manchester Libraries have redesigned their library cards and they thought that the children's cards ought to be illustrated.
They used illustrations from my baby books as part of their publicity when the newly refurbished library was launched last year (do you remember the poster?). So they came back to me this time and asked if I would let them use my work on the library cards. It seemed such a lovely idea, of course I said yes.
They sent me some samples of the actual cards. Great aren't they? To launch them, they organised a days of children's events with me. We had a lot of fun. I thought it only fitting to read the three books featured on the cards, so I read Kangaroo's Cancan Cafe for the first time in a long time (complete with feather bower and high-kick dancing!), as well as Bears on the Stairsand Class Three all at Sea.
I did two storytellings in the morning, then a workshop with older children and their parents in the afternoon. We had a great turn-out and it went really well.
Oral tales, songs, and poems reflected the lives of the people. They were stories and songs of wonder and dreams.
They were told and discussed around the hearth, the marketplace,the spinning room, and in the taverns --wherever people gathered.
They helped people to cope with the wars, hunger, poverty and religious conflicts that characterized their lives.
In the 16th and 17th centuries,Giambattista Basile,a Neopolitan soldier, courtier and writer (1575-1632), collected and rewrote, in the language of ordinary people, 50 tales of wonder.
They were called theTale of Tales or the Pentamerone.
Now, for the first time, several of these tales have been adopted into alandmark film,the Tale of Tales.
I have seen the film and found it uncompromising in reflecting the sensibility of the original tales. However, like the original tales, they are far from the simplified, romanticized, linear simplicity of Disney films.This, in turn, may be affecting the as yet incomplete distribution of Tale of Tales.
I found that the two reviews excerpted below offer insightful personal reactions to the film. They both came from viewings at the Cannes Film Festival.
Unnerving Even For Adults
"Drawing on the rich and until-now unexplored vein of Neapolitan fairy tales written by Giambattista Basilein the early 17th century, Tale of Tales combines the wildly imaginative world of kings, queens and ogres with the kind of lush production values for which Italian cinema was once famous. The result is a dreamy, fresh take on the kind of dark and gory yarns that have come down to us from the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, only here they're pleasingly new and unfamiliar. Starring Salma Hayekas a childless queen who is willing to do anything – absolutely anything – to conceive...
These fairy tales are certainly not aimed at children, though they will light the fire of many teens. Apart from a few moments of artistic eros — the first a shot of two court ladies consumed with passion for each other in a carriage; the second a post-orgy scene laced with naked, Felliniesque bodies — there is an underlying horror that is unnerving even for adults."
"Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales is fabulous in every sense: a freaky portmanteau film based on the folk myths collected and published by the 16th-century Neapolitan poet and scholar Giambattista Basile ... It is gloriously mad, rigorously imagined, visually wonderful: erotic, hilarious and internally consistent. The sort of film, in fact, which is the whole point of Cannes. It immerses you in a complete created world..."
"The tales were probably intended to be read aloud in the 'courtly conversations' that were an elite pastime of this period...Lo conto (the tales) contains the earliest literary versions of many celebrated fairy-tale types -- Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and others -- that later appeared in Perrault's and the Grimm's collections. But Basile's tales are often bawdier and crueler than their more canonical counterparts." -- Nancy Canepa,The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales.
Here is a link to the 1894 translation by John Edward Taylor of the Tale of Tales (The Pentamerone) with illustrations by John Cruickshank.
Except for the detail from a Bruegel painting, at top, all of the above images are from the Tale of Tales.
The Sun, Moon and Talia...the original story of Sleeping Beauty.
Here is an excerpt from Basile's story of what later became a very different story, by both Perrault and the Brothers Grimm (Briar Rose). Written for adults in the early 17th century, it's a long way from Disney.
"So he (a young king) climbed in and wandered the palace from room to room, but he found nothing and no one. At last he came to a large, beautiful drawing room, where he found an enchanting girl who seemed to be sleeping. He called to her, but she would not wake. As he looked at her, and tried to wake her, she seemed so incredibly lovely to him that he could not help desiring her, and he began to grow hot with lust. He gathered her in his arms and carried her to a bed, where he made love to her. Leaving her on the bed, he left the palace and returned to his own city, where pressing business for a long time made him think no more about the incident.
But Talia, who was not dead, but merely unconscious, had become pregnant, and after nine months she gave birth to twins, as beautiful a boy and girl as ever were born. Kindly fairies attended the birth, and put the babies to suck at their mother’s breast. One day, one of the infants, not being able to find the nipple, began to suck at his mother’s finger. He sucked with such force that he drew out the splinter of flax, and Talia awoke, just as if from a long sleep. When she saw the babies, she did not know what had happened or how they had come to her, but she embraced them with love, and nursed them until they were satisfied. She named the infants Sun and Moon. The kindly fairies continued to attend her, providing her with food and drink, which appeared as if delivered by unseen servants..."
The top illustration is by Edward Burne-Jones. The lower illustration is by Walter Crane.
The Oral Tradition
..."The tales came to the tellers from other tellers, or they read tales, digested them, and made them their own. Indeed, we always make tales our own and then send them off to other tellers with the hope that they will continue to disseminate their stories..." - Jack Zipes, The Forgotten Tales of the BrothersGrimm, in the The Public Domain Review
The illustration of Beauty and the Beast is by Walter Crane.
Inside Those Secret Forests, Caves, and Seas...
"These were the 'last echoes of pagan myths...A world of magicis 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 who bequeath 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."
Illustration from Pekka Halonen's painting, Pioneers In Karelia
The TN Safety Spotters
The TN Safety Spotters, dogs from Memphis, TN, are Deaf Therapy Dogs who travel the Mid-South with owner, trainer, and handler, Paricia Bell. All the Spotters are rescued dogs.
"TN Safety Spotter’s goal is to significantly reduce the number of dog bite injuries and fire deaths in children using deaf therapy dogs as educational tools and teachingaides in Fire Safety and Dog Bite Prevention programs...
"The Spotters visit schools, libraries, hospitals, Fire Stations, camps and special events"...they are an excellent example of a dedicated dog lover finding multiple ways to help children and adults through their therapy dogs. The fact that the latest scientific research shows 30% of Dalmatians are born deaf has not deterred Patricia Bell nor her dogs
Who were theSnow Valley Heroes?
Did they really save Christmas? The question has been asked by children and adults for many years. And there have been many who tried to answer these questions.
The confusion and uncertainty is because the Snow Valley Heroes came from the Planet Of The Dogs long, long ago.This is the true story of how the dogs saved Christmas, told for the first time in many years.
"Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale,represents the age-old struggle between good and evil, and the fight to save the Spirit of Christmas–told in a format children can comprehend. My 10-year-old son was excited to see a new Planet of the Dogs book arrive in our mailbox..I give this Christmastreasure a rating of five stars." -- Charyl Miller Pingleton, The Uncommon Review
We have free reader copies of the Planet Of The Dogsseries 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.
Planet Of The Dogs is now available in digital formatat
The illustration, above, from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.
The Skies Have Clouded Over
"Disquiet about fairytaleshas become rather more widespread...Dislike of shallow promises and easy solutions in times of war, eco-disaster and other horrors have grounded fairytales; the escapist stories have become lenses through which difficult truths are inspected. Children around the world continue to grow up with the magic of fairytales in books, and to relish the multiple ways they are adapted, updated and put on to stage and screen. But the “realisation of imagined wonder”, which JRR Tolkien saw as the aim of the genre, isn’t always bright and shiny any more; its skies have clouded over..."
From: How Fairy Tales Grew Up by Marina Warner in theGuardian
The picture is from the TV show Game Of Thrones
A Global Event HungerGames:Mockingjay2is opening on November 18-20 worldwide after a premiere in Paris on November 9th. The first three Hunger Games films have grossed nearly two billiondollars. The films came from the Hunger Games book series by Suzanne Collins; over fifty million books have been sold.
This is another huge crossover phenomenon.
The Hunger Games films have also become an example of what Marina Warner refers to when she writes, "the escapist stories have become lenses through which difficult truths are inspected.
Mockingjay2 will see Katniss Everdeen on a quest to unite and liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and destroy the evil President Snow. Hi-tech danger, mortality and moral choices are all part of the challenge.
The disappointing reviews discouraged me from seeing Pan. Here is an except of the NY Times review by AO Scott (whom I respect), and a review/analysis from the entertainment world by Brent Lang in Variety.
"Peter Pan, who flew through the air in a costume, was in many ways a prototype of the modern superhero. He has certainly been a lucrative entertainment franchise for a very long time, with durable merchandising potential, from feathered hats to peanut butter. All of which may help to explain the otherwise baffling existence of “Pan,” a hectic and labored attempt to supply the boy who never grew up with an origin story.
The dominant emotion in 'Pan' is the desperation of the filmmakers, who frantically try to pander to a young audience they don’t seem to respect, understand or trust." AO ScottNYTIMES; "
“Pan” was supposed to provide a fresh spin on the oft-told tale of the boy who could fly, but the pricey epic remained earthbound last weekend, opening to an anemic $15.3 million.
That disastrous start guarantees it will rank alongside other costly misses like “Jupiter Ascending” and “Tomorrowland” as one of the year’s biggest box office disasters. With an $150 million price tag, Warner Bros. could lose tens of millions on a film it hoped would kick off a new fantasy franchise.
When the dust settles and studio executives comb through the wreckage for clues about what doomed the adventure film, it appears that it will suffer from two fatal and seemingly contradictory flaws. “Pan” was both overly formulaic and too wild a deviation from J.M. Barrie’s beloved children’s classic to succeed." Brent Lang, Variety
The Hollywood Movie Meeting - How Movies Get Made
The following transcript was taken from a meeting of executives of a major Hollywood film company. The meeting is already in progress...
Executive #1: Should we produce this film?
Executive #2: Well, here's a Synopsis: It opens when the mother dies and the bereaved father, a merchant, remarries. His lovely daughter now has a cruel stepmother with two ugly daughters and they all abuse the girl. Her only friends are birds and a magic tree. That's act one. Now in act two...
Executive #3: What happens to the father? He just stands around while they abuse the kid?
Executive #2: He has to travel for his work. He's away a lot.
Executive #2: Act two better be good after that start.
Executive #1: I wanna hear Act two. I heard Disney made a lot of money with this.
Executive #2: In Act two we meet a handsome Prince who is planning a big party.
Executive #3: Why are we even talking about this if Disney already made it?
Executive #1: Maybe, we can make some changes.
Executive#3: Changes? What kind of changes?
Executive #1: Maybe we can we change it to Christmas? We need a new flick for Christmas and at least this is based on a winner from the past. And we'll change the name...call it Cindy's Happy Holiday!
Executive #3: That's a helluva idea. What's next?
To Be Continued...
How to Change the World in 30 Seconds A Web Warrior's Guide to Animal Advocacy Online by C A Wulff
Although you may want to help animals, you may not have any idea where to begin. Or maybe you think that you don’t have enough time to make a difference. This guide will offer practical steps to get started using dog advocacy as the focus and will explain how just thirty seconds a day on the Internet can not only make a difference, but can also change the world.
Here is a review..."Combining case histories with practical tips on how to use the Internet to advocate for dogs, Wulff's book is an inspiring, informative and highly usefulvolume that anyone who thinks dogs are worth fighting for should have on their shelf." John Woestendiek, author of 'Dog, Inc.' and the website ohmidog!
Read sample chapters of How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds: Amazon
An Outstanding Program: Therapy Reading Dogs for At-Risk Students!
"Austin Dog Alliance Bow Wow Reading Dogs are non-judgmental certified therapy dogs who listen to at-risk students reading aloud. The dog's handler has been educated on how to help at-risk readers learn to read. Many of our Bow Wow Reading dog volunteers are retired teachers or principals.
Here are the requirements for BowWow therapy reading dog handlers:
Must enjoy children; Love to read!; Have a willingness to get to know the children, understand their challenges and remember small things about them; Have compassion for and sensitivity to the hesitant and reticent child; Patience with over-active children; Possess patience with repetitive reading of the same book; Have the ability to discern age with reading abilities and related activities; Are flexible and have the ability to 'go with the flow'; Are a retired teacher or principal or have attended a seminar on how to help at-risk readers."
Texas Textbooks: McGraw-Hill changes slaves to immigration workers in High School textbook
HOUSTON — "Coby Burren, 15, a freshman at a suburban high school south of here, was reading the textbook in his geography class last week when a map of the United States caught his attention. On Page 126, a caption in a section about immigration referred to Africans brought to American plantations between the 1500s and 1800s as 'workers' rather than slaves.
He reached for his cellphone and sent a photograph of the caption to his mother, Roni Dean-Burren, along with a text message: 'we was real hard workers, wasn’t we'..."
The post that follows is about a book and a film outside the usual purview of this blog.
I have included it because of the subject matter, a young boy caught in the savage chaos of the real world today, and because it relates to the world of war, fear, and painful uncertainty of the past. Oral tales, that live on today as tales of wonder, originated in a hard world where ruthless power reigned and cruelty, superstition and hard times dominated daily life for most people.
And so, I have posted below about a book, Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala, and a movie made from the book, that tells the story of A Boy Soldier's Heart Of Darkness. This is the title of Simon Baker's book review of Beasts of No Nationby UzodinmaIweala. Here is an excerpt:
"In a young child's life, few games can equal hide-and-seek: the excitement of crouching in a secret place as the pleasure of remaining at large vies with the thrill of possible discovery. The problem comes when a game like this turns serious -- when, say, the people you're hiding from want not just to find you but to hack you to pieces."
Here is a link to read all of the NY Times Book Review by Simon Baker
The Movie Wants Us To Look At That Moment Square In The Face
"The movie holds on to a fair chunk of the book’s first-person narration, which is critical, because it establishes Agu as a character with his own thoughts and ethics rather than merely a shellshocked onlooker. There comes a moment when the boy has to cross the line from theory to action — from training to murder — and 'Beasts of No Nation' wants us tolook that moment square in the face. It is awful, it has happened and is happening still, and for once you aren’t able to turn the page or switch to another channel. And then the movie invites us to wonder what happens to the child who is now a murderer. 'It is the worst sin, but it is the right sin to be doing,' Agu tells himself, but that lie doesn’t last. Before long, he is begging the sun to stop shining on this world."
It took courage and great commitment by the brilliant young American director Cary Fukunaga to make this film. Netflix has released the film simultaneously in theaters and on the Internet. Over 3 million viewers in North America have seen Beasts of No Nation since its release on October 16.
KJ Dell'Antonia, in a very informative NY Times Motherlodearticle, wrote about a very special new Sesame Street initiative -- Julia, an autistic little girl. Here are excerpts:
"Sesame Street got so many things right with its new character, Julia, an orange-haired girl with autism whose eyes never quite meet the reader’s. Introduced in a digital storybook available online and in print, Julia is described as an old friend of Elmo’s. When Elmo’s muppet friend Abby meets Julia, she is confused, and she has questions. Julia doesn’t talk to her right away, does that mean Julia doesn’t like her? Why does Julia get so upset over loud noises?
And then there are the things Abby doesn’t comment on — Julia knows every word to a lot of songs. She spins the wheels of toy cars over and over and over again, and flaps her arms when she is excited. She is a recognizably different (and recognizably autistic) without being overwhelmingly so… children with autism can find themselves in her, and children learning about the condition can start here.
Sesame Workshop based Julia on years of research, says Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s vice president of outreach and educational practices. “We wanted to demonstrate some of the characteristics of autism in a positive way,” she says. The choice of gender was also deliberate. “We wanted to break down some of the myths and misconceptions around autism. It’s not only impacting boys, but girls as well...”
Here is a link to read all of this insightful article on Motherlode
Here is a Sesame Streetlink to their many programs devoted to autistic and/or special needs children.
How to be a volunteer animal rescue transport driver...
"Over-filled animal control facilities or pounds euthanize an estimated 4 million dogs and cats each year...
Each weekend in America, an army of volunteer rescue transport drivers deliver dogs and cats to safety in an organized relay of vehicles. Hard-working volunteer transport coordinators plan the logistics, organize the four-legged passengers, and provide support by phone continuously during the entire one- or two-day operation. Drivers sign up for relay "legs" via e-mail. They meet the previous leg drivers at an appointed time, transfer the lucky dogs and cats to their vehicles, and drive to the next relay meeting spot where the process is repeated until the destination is reached..."
Here is a link to read the rest of this informative Sunbear Squad article:Rescue.
And here is a link to sample pages of Deb Eades book: Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale: Stories from the Dog Rescue Railroad.
"The more one gets to know of men, the more one values dogs."
Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her 5th Annual Halloweensie Contest on her bog: write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for children using the words costume, dark and haunt. All the other amazing entries can be found here.
My poem is for … Continue reading →
My husband and I recently finished reading with our eleven-year-old son the kids’ edition of Believe, edited by Randy Frazee. We read one of the thirty chapters each night. The first ten chapters are about key beliefs of the Christian life. The second ten chapters talk about key practices of the Christian life. And the final ten chapters contain the key virtues of the Christian life.
Each chapter begins by asking the reader a key question to ponder. It then presents a key idea and a key verse. Also, there is a Think About It section before the introduction. Then, actual scripture (NIV) from the Old and New Testaments, present the core truths, followed by three discussion questions.
We truly enjoyed reading this book together. It held my son’s attention with its short excerpts from the Bible. There are blue and white illustrations on almost every other page. The book isn't watered down or fluffed up! It was pure scripture, with a thought to ponder before reading, followed by three great discussion questions. These questions often generated further conversations with our son.
There are versions of this book for ages 4-8, 8-12 (which is the one we read), 13- 18, and one for adults. In a year or two, I’d love to get the teen version for our son. Several years ago, he made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. We aim to train, nurture and equip him for his journey. Believe is an ironclad tool that will enhance his understanding of the Sword of Truth and how to apply it.
Illustration for the Grimm's Golden Bird by Harry Jurgens
Mysteries, unexplainable events, magic and wonder, have been woven into the fabric of life for most of the time we've been on this planet. One man's fox was also a prince; one princess' frog was also a prince; and a beast may be transformed into a handsome prince when a tear of love falls on his cheek. Fairy tales are the echoes of days gone by, when reality had many meanings.
Fairy Tale is a Country of the Mind
"Impossible – absurd – enchantments define fairy tale as a form of storytelling, but the magic also gives expression to thought-experiments: the wicked fairy turning out to be capable of love, the Frozen princess thawed into humanity by her heroic sister’s staunchness and love. Fairy tale is a country of the mind made by imagery, by riddles and charms, spells and nonsense; it uses language to create imaginary structures in which language itself is supremely powerful: Rumpelstiltskin is undone when the heroine discovers his name..."
The illustration from Song of the Sea is by Tomm Moore.
Real and Unreal...
Myths, legends and folktales from the past influenced writers and artists in emerging cultures throughout most of Europe. Often inspired by the work of the brothers Grimm, RomanticNationalism enabled cultures to define themselves through their heritage from the past. New identities were emerging from traditions and folktales from their often troubled past.
This was certainly true in the Nordic countries -- Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. I recently attended an exhibition in Helsinki at the Ateneum, the national gallery, entitled The Magic North. Much of the art depicted folk tales, fairy tales, and legends. Here is an excerpt from their program:
"The Magic North exhibition presents Norwegian and Finnishart from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this era, artists embraced themes such as their own countries imagined past, experiences of nature, and fables and legends arising out of human weaknesses and strengths..."
The Finnish Kalevala, an epic collection of folk tales, memorized and sung by rune singers, were preserved in the vast reaches of the forest lands of Finnish Karelia. They were collected by Elias Lonrott, who traveled for years, until he organized and published the Kalevala in 1835. A second edition, an extended version of 22,900 verses appeared in 1849. Dating back centuries, the Kalevala was a prime factor in igniting a cultural renaissance -- a search for national identity -- in all the arts in Finland.
Immersing myself in the The Magic Northexhibition, experiencing the influence of the Brothers' Grimm and the power of the past expressed by passionate artists, was a wondrous experience.The artists included Edvard Munch, Hugo Simberg, Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Gerhard Munthe.
The illustration of the Daughters of the Northern Lights (top) is by Gerhard Munthe
The illustrations of the White Bear King, Valemon, and The Dragon Returns, are by Theodor Kittelsen.
The illustration from the Kalevala (bottom) is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
The story of the White (Polar) Bear King was from a long folk tale collected and published by the Norwegian collector/writer, Peter Christen Asbjorrnsen (1882-1885). He published, with his partner Moe, over 100 Norwegian folk tales. They modeled their work on, and were inspired by, the Grimms.
For centuries, witches were real in the minds of people in Europe and the USA.
If someone believes in witches, it becomes their reality.
Witches could be casting spells, causing illness and strange behavior.
They must be avoided or punished... burned at the stake or hung by the neck.
It follows that witches, spells, and unexplainable events are an integral part of stories told as folk tales, fairy tales, and wonder tales.
Gretel, when pushing the witch into the oven, was not only saving her brother's life -- and her own -- she was doing what civilized society was doing...destroying the devil's emissary.
The illustration, a fragment of the Last Judgement, is by Hieronymus Bosch.
"In 1692, the Massachusetts Bay Colony executed fourteen women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft. The sorcery materialized in January. The first hanging took place in June, the last in September; a stark, stunned silence followed. Although we will never know the exact number of those formally charged with having “wickedly, maliciously, and feloniously” engaged in sorcery, somewhere between a hundred and forty-four and a hundred and eighty-five witches and wizards were named in twenty-five villages and towns. The youngest was five; the eldest nearly eighty..."
This is an excerpt from an article on The Witches Of Salem by StaceySchiffin inthe New Yorker
Secret Worlds Are Real
“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds... Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” ―Neil Gaiman,The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You
Here is a link to the turning point scene in Neil Gaiman's Coraline where she is confronted with making a choice between two worlds, two realities: Coraline
A World of Fairy Tale Knowledge
The new edition of the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, is quite wonderful.
Comprehensive, easy to navigate, with information on all aspects of the world of fairy tales, from innovative creators like Jim Henson and Hayao Miyazake to authoritative entries on the classics from the Arabian Nights to Charles Perrault.
I was quite taken with extended overview articles of cutures with a strong fairy tale tradition. The list of countries is quite comprehensive, ranging from Britain and Ireland to the Slavic and Baltic Countries.
The articles throughout the Companion are well written and informative. The list of contributors and their credentials is inclusive and rather awesome.
Jack Zipes, who edited this essential reference work, also provides an insightful and comprehensive Introduction which ranges through the centuries to modern times. In his introduction, Zipes writes that although the Companionincludes contributions from many cultures, however, "The focus of this Companion is essentially on the literary formation of the Western fairy-tale genre and its expansion into opera, theater, painting, photography, and film, and other related cultural forms."
This is an essential book for all those with a serious interest in the world of Fairy Tales and their origins. It will be available in bookstores and on the internet on the first of November.
This is a photo of veterans participating in a 5 day in-residence training program at America's VetDogs Smithtown, NY, campus. America's VetDogs has received a Planet Dog Foundation Grant to help support a 3 year pilot program to study the differences that PTSD service dogs make in the lives of veterans.
Here is an excerpt from their website: "SERVICE DOG TRAINING PILOT PROGRAM
"The Study: As part of this pilot program, America’s VetDogs has partnered with Western KentuckyUniversity to complete a professional three year study on the effects that PTSD service dogs will have on a veteran’s life. The study will help America’s VetDogs make changes to its curriculum and tasks to ensure that we are providing the best quality service dogs possible. America’s VetDogs also wants to be able to provide government agencies and the public with impartial evidence of the difference these dogs make for veterans, and foster understanding within their local communities of the issues faced by veterans with PTSD and how service dogs can help."
This is one of several wonderful programs that America's VetDogs provide at no cost to veterans and first responders by "placing specially trained assistance dogs to help them once again lead active, independent lives."
Here is a link to the America's VetDogs PTSD Service Dog Pilot Program
“I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?” ― John Lennon
The illustration from Tom Thumb is by Warwick Goble
What would happen if someone kidnapped a couple of Santa'sreindeer so that he could not deliver his presents on Christmas Eve? The dogs from The Planet of the Dogs have returned. After they had helped to save the hard working farmers of Green Valley from an invasion by the Stone City Warriors in Planet of the Dogs and then rescued two kidnapped children to prevent a war between the Stone City Warriors and the Black Hawk Tribes in Castle in the Mist, the dogs have another job. The evil King of the North, who was banished by the Tribe of the North and now lives in the forbidding Ice Castle, takes his vengeance by sending some of his Royal Guards to steal two reindeer from Santa Claus and thus stop Christmas.
Daisy and Bean from Green Valley head north to help the dogs rescue Dasher and Dancer, and they meet a host of new friends in the process. But will they make it in time to save Christmas? All of the "Planet of the Dogs" books are well written. Not only are they fun to read but also they exhibit good attitudes and beneficial attributes on the part of the main characters so that good overcomes evil, sometimes in surprising ways. The short chapters are perfect to keep the attention of the target audience. Dog lovers will especially like these tales, but everyone else can enjoy them too. Snow Valley Heroeshas the potential of becoming a favorite holiday story for both children and adults.
The illustration from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Story, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
We have free reader copies of the Planet Of The Dogsseries 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.
Planet Of The Dogs is now available in digital format at
“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . If reality differs from person to person,can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn't we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others?.." -- Phillip K. Dick
The illustration, from My Neighbor Totoro, is by Hiyamo Miyazake.
An Insightful Review from BookPleasures.com
"If you [also] love animals, I can guarantee you will adore this gem. The love Cayr and her friend, Dalene, have for these animals is clearly portrayed in this moving yet uplifting book. They are animal lovers with big hearts for not only domestic animals but for the waifs and strays too. I couldn't put this one down.
I thought it was an absolutely brilliant book, especially as I myself share the same passions as the author and her "life mate" have for animals.
This is a tale that will appeal to animal lovers and perhaps children too." --
We are having a new lotto... we are giving away 3 paperback copies of the second edition of Born Without a Tail. To enter, please send an email to Books4DogLovers@gmail.com and place the word "entry" on the subject line.
Can A Classic Book Jacket Move?
Bending reality...Art director Javier Jensen puts movement (GIFS) into classic book jackets including Green Eggs and Ham, The Hobbit, and The Little Prince... I wonder what young readers think of this phenomenon...is it real?
A Hard Reality about Reading
LitWorld works in 14 countries around the world, and three sates in the USA, to bring literacy to children. Here, from the LitWorldwebsite, is the Problem in the USA.
In the 14 countries served by LitWorld outside the USA, the Problem is compunded.
Visit their website and read about the wonderful work they do: Link to LitWorld:
THE PROBLEM: "The millions of readers who complete elementary school reading below grade level are unable to read about the characters and plots written for their age group. The stories they can read are meant for a less mature audience. At best, they hide this by reading only in private. At worst (and most often) they simply give up reading altogether. Given the daily importance of reading in all aspects of life, lacking this crucial skill negatively impacts everything from academic performance to everyday communication.
BY THE NUMBERS: As many as 90 million teens and adults in America lack crucial literacy skills..."
This is a very hard reality. The photo was taken on LitWorld's World Read Aloud day in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
Canine Therapy is Real
Rose, an Australian Cattle Dog, has been an active therapy dog for 13 years at TidewellPallitive Care and Hospice.
I recently received a message with photos from Rose's owner, Susan Purser. We have been in touch for several years. I was moved by her message and the photos she sent wanted to share the following...
"I was asked once what it was like to see so many hands reaching out for my dog, Rose.I hadn't really thought much about it, as she is such a giving Australian Cattle Dog and is continually searching for hands wanting to touch her. I thought perhaps you might enjoy seeing some of these hands...aged hands, searching for memories and then sharing them with whispers in Rose's ear or while hugging her neck. Soft spoken or without words, it doesn't get any better than watching this type of unconditional love."
Rose doesn't understand future nor how long or short time is. She does devote her total attention to these lovely people in their time of need. She gives comfort that I can only observe and opens those ever so special memory doors that only she can enter...I am a facilitator and I do believe, if she could drive, she would not need me! Pet therapy is such a special part of the people's lives and I am truly blessed to have entered this treasured space for just a little while and then I think, where have thirteen years gone?"
KidLitospherehas helped many readers find their way to these pages. Here is an excerpt from their home page...
"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.
Movies -- PAN
PAN is opening on Oct 9 in the USA; Oct 16 in the UK; it has already opened in Australia.
Advance reviews are mixed, some of them angry...I've read several and it sounds like the driving force was commercial success...Here are excerpts from Andrew Barker in Variety...
"Of all the recent big-budget studio films to re-imagine beloved children’s tales as garish, CGI-choked sensory overloads stripped of all whimsy or childlike wonder, Joe Wright’s “Pan” is certainly the most technically sophisticated...
There is perhaps no clearer illustration of “Pan’s” guiding principles than its treatment of pixie dust. In Walt Disney’s 1953 “Peter Pan,” the story’s best-known incarnation, pixie dust is a glowing substance that allows lucky children to fly high above the clouds. In “Pan,” pixie dust is the street name for Pixum, a rare, crystalline substance mined by slave labor from deep in the earth that, when smoked on an elaborate opium den-style apparatus, restores youthfulness to the user. (The film neglects to tell us its radioactive half-life or the side effects of recreational use, but perhaps those scenes are being saved for the director’s cut.).."
The story is a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. It borrows characters and much of it takes place in Neverland; the Darling Family never appear.
Famed animated film director Hayao Miyazaki is sponsoring a new children’s facility in a virgin forest on a small island 56 miles west of Okinawa Prefecture to encourage kids to enjoy nature through their five senses. Miyazaki's films include Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away.
About two and a half acres of forest are being provided by the town ofKumejima; Miyazake will cover the anticipated 2.5 million in construction costs.
Christopher Lassen <firstname.lastname@example.org> of New York Public Library sent us a notice of a fascinating Children's Literary Salon(the Salons are ongoing and free)
On Saturday October 17th, our program will be "The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh". Join Kathryn Aalto(The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Woods) for a journey into one of the most iconic settings in children's literature: the Hundred Acre Wood, inspired by Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England. It is here where A. A. Milne livedand set the tender adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his merry band of friends...
The program will take place in the Celeste Auditorium (formerly South Court Auditorium) in the Stephen A Schwartzman Building of NYPL (5th Avenue & 42nd Street) at 2:00pm.
Sunbear Squad is a primary source of information for dog lovers...filled with information and guidelines, ranging from helping an abandoned dog to building a proper doghouse. Here is an excerpt from an article on Traveling By Car Or Truck With Pets by Edward Green, TruckersReport.com...
Taking the family pet along for the ride is a part of the vacation plans of families across the nation. These trips can be quite memorable and enjoyable—but only if you take the proper safety precautions for your animals. This guide will help you travel safely and comfortably with your favorite pet.
Before You Travel
When you and your family are traveling, planning is essential to make sure you get everything packed and are fully prepared for your journey. Such planning is also a must when it comes to traveling with pets: Read the rest of this entry »
“The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. “I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.”
*Books help children and adults learn about the world and themselves. *Reading opens a window to the rest of the world. *Books are the Magic Carpet Ride every child needs. *Reading opens minds and hears.
When some one says to you "that's just a fairy tale," it generally means that what you have just said is untrue or unreal. It is a polite but deprecating way of saying that your words form a lie or gossip. Your story is make-believe and unreliable. It has nothing to do with reality and experience. Fairy tale is thus turned into some kind of trivial story.
Depending on where and when you live, the world can be a dangerous place.
Howl's Moving Castle, the award winning fantasy wonder tale, takes place during a time of war.A film for children and adults filled with magic and incredible visuals...it is set in the past, an anti-war filmthat features a romance with a flawed wizard, and an incredible moving castle.
Freely adapted by Hayao Miyazakifrom a children's fantasy novel byDiana Wynne Jones, it is another masterpiece from the creator of My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.
A.O. Scott, writing in the New York Times, said," Not that children are the only viewers likely to behaunted and beguiled by "Howl's Moving Castle" - all that is needed are open eyes and an open heart."
Hayao Miyazake, at the time he was adopting Howl's Moving Castle, was very concerned about the USA going to war in the Middle East. With his extraordinary talent and imagination, Miyazaki created an anti-war film that is balanced by humor, wizardry, and romance.
Much has been written about how the experiences of real life influence literature and all the arts, including children's stories, film and theater. Jack Zipes, quoted below, expresses the many dimensions of this concept. I feel that Howl's Moving Castle is a wonderful example of a tale of wonder portraying the human struggle to not succumb to violent power. Here is an excerpt from Zipes' comments:
"At their best, the storytelling of fairy tales constitute the most profound articulation ofthe human struggle to form and maintain a civilizing process.They depict metaphorically the opportunities for human adaptation to our environment and reflect the conflicts that arise when we fail to establish civilizing codes commensurate with the self-interests of large groups within the human population. The more we give into base instincts – base in the sense of basic and depraved – the more criminal and destructive we become. The more we learn to relate to other groups of people and realize that their survival and the fulfillment of their interests is related to ours, the more we might construct social codes that guarantee humane relationships. Fairy tales are uncanny becausethey tell us what we need and they unsettle us by showing what we lack and how we might compensate for lack."
…Fairy tales map out possible ways to attain happiness, to expose and resolve moral conflicts that have deep roots in our species. The effectiveness of fairy tales and other forms of fantastic literature depends on the innovative manner in which we make the information of the tales relevant for the listeners and receivers of the tales."
The photo is of Jack Zipes and his poodle, Vinnie.
It All Began With A School Boy
Howl's Moving Castle, released in 2004, was freely adapted by Hayao Miayazai from a book of the same name, published in 1986, by Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011). The prolific author of many books for children and adults (primarily fantasy), Wynne Jones said that the idea for the book came from a boy, Stephen, on one of her school visits. Stephen asked her to write a book about a moving castle. The book she wrote was very well received internationally and won several prizes.
When Wynne Jones was asked about the major differences between writing for adults and children, she replied, "Writing for adults, you have to keep reminding them of what is going on. The poor things have given up using their brains when they read. Children you only need to tell things to once."
Wynne Jones also said,"Things we are accustomed to regard as myth or fairy story are very much present in peoples lives."
When the film was completed, Miyazakiflew to England and arranged a private showing for Dianne Wynne Jones. Her comments: "It's fantastic. No, I have no input—I wriThe book cover is of Dianna Wynne Jones original version of Howl's Moving Castle. The photo is of Hayao Miyazake, courtesy of Ghibli Studios.te books, not films. Yes, it will be different from the book—in fact it's likely to be very different, but that's as it should be. It will still be a fantastic film."
The biggest change made by Miyazake was in creating an anti-war film. Howl becomes a major force in helping to bring about the end of war.
A delightful montage of Miyazaki's film magic, created by DONO ,is on Vimeo.
The book cover is of Dianna Wynne Jones original version of Howl's Moving Castle. The photo is of Hayao Miyazake, courtesy of Ghibli Studios.
"War was the weather system of my youth"...
The twentieth century was filled with upheaval and wars and millions of children today continue to face the chaos and pain of war.Alexandra Fuller, author of the very well received Leaving Before the RainsCome , published in January 2015, grew up in war-torn Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
In a fascinating interview withSimon Worrall (Book Talk) in the National Geographic,she speaks of the effects of growing upamidst "the traumas of war and the non-stop incidents and accidents where I was raised"...Here is an excerpt from the interview:
"But the biggest effect was that war was the weather system of my youth. The war was everywhere. And what came with that was death and the insanity of war, which leaks on even after a cease-fire has been declared. I think the hardest thing it did was to make childhoodinnocence, those precious years until you're about 11 or 12, not exist for us. War makes you cunning and a survivor. It can make you very damaged or very resilient. But it never leaves you.
You spend the rest of your life trying to redress what happened to you in those first years, even though it's not your fault. But your body doesn't know that, your limbic system doesn't know that. You're always waiting for the next trauma to happen—or drama. You're constantly on watch."
In her first book, the very well received bestseller, Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, Fuller wrote of her childhood in Rhodesia... a world where violent death was an everyday reality; where her family compound was surrounded by razor-wire, and where young Alexandra's father trained her in shooting a rifle. Alexandra Fuller now lives in Wyoming.
The photograph is of Alexandra (on the right) with her sister, Vanessa. It was taken in 1972, just before the family moved to the then Rhodesia. I don't know who the little girl is on the book cover.
The Awesome PAL
I am awed by the list below...a list of hospitals, Veteran's care facilities, children's centers, libraries, retirement facilities, and rehab facilities all served by PAL.
This is a list of places where people young, old and in-between find affection, solace and supportfrom the dogs of PAL (People Animals Love)based in Washington DC.
Pal is not for profit. PAL is a volunteer organization. PAlis people -- dog owners who want to help others.
The logistics of bringing therapy dogs and their owners to all these places must be difficult. Situations change, needs change, and schedules change. Please take a moment and consider this awesome list and the wonderful work of PAL to bring comfort, solace, and, often, inspiration, to so many people.
Arleigh Burke Pavilion Nursing & Assisted Living, Arlington Central Library, Arlington Library- Shirlington Branch, Arlington Library- Columbia Pike Branch, Arlington Library- Westover Branch, Alexandria Library- Beatley Branch, Alexandria Library- Duncan Branch, Armed Forces Retirement Home, Burnt Mills Elementary School, Capitol Hill Supportive Services, Chinn Park Regional Library, Culpepper Garden, Episcopal Center for Children, Goodwin House Alexandria, Goodwin House West, Grand Oaks, Heritage Hall Nursing & Rehab, Inova Behavioral Health, IONA Senior Services, Knollwood Retirement Home, Little Sisters of the Poor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, Mount Pleasant Library, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, PAL Club at Stanton Elementary, Pohick Regional Library, Sibley Hospital Center, Specialty Hospital of Washington, Stoddard Baptist Home, St. Coletta's of Greater Washington, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Washington Home, Woodbine Rehab & Healthcare Center
Here is a link to one of their many brief PAL videos:
Here is a link to a 5 minute homemade video of their wonderful PAL Clubat Stanton Elementary School. Stanton is located in Southeast Washington, a poor, underserved, neighborhood.
The top photo is of PAL therapy dogs and their dedicated owners. The bottom photo below of two friends was taken in one of the facilities on the PAL list.
Do you think that it is possible for dogs to stop a war?
This was the lead-off sentence in Wayne Walker's review of Castle In The Mist. I was delighted to read it, for not only was it provocative, it went to the core of the story...
Castle in the Mist is an anti-war story.The Planet Of the Dogs series is anti-war. In each book, the dogs help humans to find non-violent solutions to ruthless rulers, invaders, and the abuse of power.
Here is more of what Wayne Walkerwrote:
“Author Robert J. McCarty has created a charming fantasy-allegory that can be read and understood on at least two different levels. Children will enjoy the story about dogs who come from another planet to help people on earth. But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and how to overcome evil with good.” The same things are true as the story continues in Castle in the Mist. The book is well written and easy to read. It will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next, and, as with Volume I, leads to a satisfying conclusion. You can learn more about the series and read sample chapters atwww.planetofthedogs.net."
Wayne Walker's complete review appeared on the Home School Book Review; the Home School Buzz; and Stories fof Children Magazine.
We have free reader copies of the Planet Of The Dogsseries 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'sand many more.
Planet Of The Dogs is now available in digital format at
"For much of her life, C. A. Wulff was involved in animal rescue. In this memoir, she shares her own personal rescue stories. As is the case with animal rescue, some of these tales are funny and others are poignant. However, all of them are true.
From early childhood, Cayr was drawn to animals. She sought connections with each animal that entered her life. She helped those that she could, including ill, injured and difficult to place animals. Many of them found a permanent place in the author’s home. Her heart has always been in the right place..."
We are having a lotto and giving away of 3 paperback copies of the second edition of Born Without a Tail. To enter, please send an email to Books4DogLovers@gmailand place the word "entry" on the subject line.
"Fairy tale and filmenjoy a profound affinity because the cinema animates phenomena, no matter how inert; made of light and motion, its illusions match the enchanted animism of fairy tale; animals speak, carpets fly, objects move and act of their own accord."
Marina Warner, in her book, Once Upon A Time.
The illustration is from Howl's Moving Castle.
The KIngdom of Dreams and Madness
Mami Sunada has created a fascinating documentary about the world of Hayao Miyazaki and Ghibli studios. I highly recommend it for readers of this blog who want an in-depth picture of the complex nature of creating animation; and an intimate visit with Miyazake and the world of Ghibli.
Miyazaki storyboards every film from start to finish; he times every shot on the storyboard; yet he often doesn’t know where or how will end. He is very hard working, a perfectionist who pays attention to every detail; he is also a caring idealist.
Here are two of my favorite Miyazaki quotes from the film:
“The world isn’t simple enough to explain in words”….
“Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.” ― Neil Gaiman, M Is for Magic
Little Man -- A Brilliant Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin
Michael Cunningham, is an acclaimed American author of seven books. His novel, The Hours, won a Pulitzer prize and a PEN/Faulkner Award. He has now reimagined several fairy tales from the past in a new book, A Wild Swan: And Other Tales,to be published November 10, 2015). One story from the book,Little Man, published in the New Yorker, is a wonderful retelling
of Rumpelstiltskin. Here is an excerpt:
"Having a child is not, however, anything like ordering a pizza. Even less so if you’re a malformed, dwarfish man whose occupation, were you forced to name one, would be . . . What would you call yourself? A goblin? An imp? Adoption agencies are reluctant about doctors and lawyers if they’re single and over forty. So go ahead. Apply to adopt an infant as a two-hundred-year-old gnome.
You are driven slightly insane—you try to talk yourself down; it works some nights better than others—by the fact that, for so much of the population, children simply . . . appear. Bing bang boom. A single act of love and, nine months later, this flowering, as mindless and senseless as a crocus bursting out of a bulb.
It’s one thing to envy wealth and beauty and other gifts that seem to have been granted to others, but not to you, by obscure but undeniable givers. It’s another thing entirely to yearn for what’s so readily available to any drunk and barmaid who link up for three minutes in a dark corner of any dank and scrofulous pub.
You listen carefully, then, when you hear the rumor. Some impoverished miller—a man whose business is going under (the small-mill owners, the ones who grind by hand, are vanishing; their flour and meal cost twice as much as the big-brand products, which are free of the gritty bits that can find their way into a sack of flour no matter how careful you are), a man who has no health insurance or investments or pension plan (he’s needed every cent just to keep the mill open)—that man has told the King that his daughter can spin straw into gold..."
Maria Tatar edited and annotated a wonderful book of Classic Fairy Tales which includes a version of Rumpelstiltskin by the Grimms. Her comments regarding Rumplestiltskin are in harmony with the story as reimagined by Michael Cunninghamin Little Man.
"Here is an excerpt: (Rumpelstiltskin is) "a misshapen gnome of questionable origins, who is probably one of the least attractive of fairy-tale figures.Yet Rumpelstilskin come off rather well in a world where fathers tell brazen lies about their daughters, marriages are based on greed, and young women agree to give up a firstborn child. He works hard to hold up his end of the bargain made with the miller's daughter, shows genuine compassion when the queen regrets the agreement into which she has entered, and is prepared to add an escape clause to their contract even though he stands to gain nothing from it."
The illustration by Paul O. Zelinsky is from his Caldecott medal winning version of Rumpelstiltskin.
Sesame Street Partners With HBO
Sesame Street needed funding. In the past, they received most of their funding through DVD sales. Times have changed and those sales have diminished as more and more people have turned to Internet streaming. Emily Steel, in the New York Times, wrote a comprehensive article, including the pros and cons, about this major shift in Television for kids 2-5. Here is an excerpt:
"The letters of the day on “Sesame Street” are H, B and O.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind the children’s television program, has struck a five-year deal withHBO, the premium cable network, that will bring first-run episodes of “Sesame Street” exclusively to HBO and its streaming outlets starting in the fall.
The partnership, announced Thursday, will allow the financially challenged Sesame Workshop to significantly increase its production of “Sesame Street” episodes and other new programming. The group will produce 35 new “Sesame Street” episodes a year, up from the 18 it now produces..."
"The rise of American children's literature is, to a large degree, inseparable from the rise of the public lending library, and by the 1870's librarians had become the guardians of children's reading. The fact that it is the American Library Association that gives the major children's book awards makes clear that in this country, there is a unique relationship between the worlds of children's reading, and the structures of the library...The first children's room in any public library opened in Brookline , Massachusettes, in 1890... (and librarians) made the library a place of imagination..."
Seth Lerer, Children's Literature, A Readers History from Aesop to Harry Potter
The photo is of the Brookline Public Library built in 1899 with a new children's room.
I nominate The Guardian, always vigilant, to be welcomed as an honorary member of BARCA, Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors.Here is an excerpt from an article written by Tom Lamont and Robert Muchamore when Russel Brand announced that he was writing children's books...
"A celebrity– Kylie, Sting – announces his or her intention to write for children, and I instinctively feel for the career-pledged writers who have been huffing away with their thesaurus and watercolour brushes for years. Beneath them, the hopefuls with worthwhile manuscripts hustle for interest... And, uh oh, here's another celebrity, lolloping into the game. They've noodled out an idea on a Groucho Club napkin. Their agent has swivelled at the bar to arrange a six-figure deal. The published result, you can bet, will absorb more than its share of publicity budgets, review space, shelf space.
Given the subject under discussion, I'll express this in short sentences. Stop it, celebrities. Go away, celebrities"...Here is the link to read all of this article: Guardian
The photo is of the well known children's book celebrity author, Madonna.
Have you seen the delightful yelodoggie artwork video celebrating dogs? Here is the YouTube link
There are birthday cards, cups, clocks, shirts, mouse pads, and a multitude of other delightful Yelodoggie designs at Cafe Press.
New paintings are appearing in the Yelodoggie etsy shop.These are original watercolors and a great bargain.
Yelodoggie is joyous.
Anna Nirvais the guiding light at Sunbear Squad, a leading source for information and guidance in dog rescue and care. Here is an excerpt from their site about the rescue of abandoned hunting hounds.
Anna has found that abandoned hunting dogs perish daily of exposure and starvation all across America. Here is an excerpt from a Sunbear Squad rescue story: "An ice storm was bearing down in the southern United States and a pack of 3 adult Beagles and 5 puppies were sighted in a rural Arkansas forest. Concerned animal lovers sent numerous emails to locate a rescuer who could take immediate action to save the dogs, and two compassionate women rose to the challenge.
It's not like they didn't have anything else to do that day. Desiree had successfully lobbied for felony animal cruelty laws and had just been informed of the law's passing, and Carol worked full-time. But later in the afternoon, after learning of the ice storm coming, they gathered their gear and drove 45 miles to the woods where the dogs had been sighted." Here is a link to read all of this story: Rescue
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't have evil or jealousy or discontent." -- Milan Kundera
It’s been a busy summer of new releases from Mirror World Publishing, so they’re throwing a multi-author book launch event to celebrate! If you’re in the area or able, please come out and meet the authors of five new books. Here are the details:
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred - Unintended Rita Monette - The Legend of Ghost Dog Island Elizabeth J. M. Walker - She Dreamed of Dragons Nate Friedman - The Coffee Monster
From children's to middle grade, young adult and adult, Mirror World Publishing is launching creative fiction novels in every age category! Come out and hear the authors read from their new releases, pick up a signed copy, and stick around for your chance to win free books! Plus there’s going to be cupcakes and coffee on tap from local vendors. Yum!
BTW – Rita Monette is the special guest star, as she'll be coming in from Tennessee! So don't miss this opportunity to meet her and get your signed copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island! Hope to see you there! Cheers!
Following on from the phenomenally brilliant The Day The Crayons Quit comes the sequel. The crayons are back…and they are still not happy. This time around Duncan has to deal with the lost and forgotten crayons. The broken, chewed and melted crayons. And they are all, quite rightly, even more upset! These are the crayons who […]
The team at Wakefield Libraries arranged an official opening day, where all the children from the two local schools who had worked on the project were invited back to see their drawings writ large.
They were all very excited. Lots of pointing and shouting 'Look, look, that's mine!' to friends. It was a bit of a Where's Wally experience, as they jostled around the space, trying to find their particular tiger, snake or screaming librarian, but I think everyone found their pieces in the end.
After the speeches from the Head of Libraries and the Friends of Castleford Library, who helped with the funding, I posed with the children for lots of photos for the press. Then we had the rest of the day for drawing.
I ran a workshop with each of the class groups in turn. When we had worked together originally, there was so much to do and so little time, there was not much opportunity for me to do more than gentle guidance, so this time I was able to spend a bit longer, showing them in detail how to use emotion and body-language in their drawings, to bring their characters alive (although, I think you'll agree, they did a pretty good job without my help!).
Everyone worked really hard, produced loads more illustrations and seemed very proud of the characters we piled up at the end of the sessions, for them to take back to school.
I ran around in the lunch hour getting these snaps. It was a very hard space to photograph, so I apologise for the dodgy quality of some of the pics, but I hope they give you a flavour of how it looks. Didn't the children do well? There are some very funny little details and nice jokes that they added, for instance, the flamingo above is holding a book called 'How to Get More Pink'.
If you want to take a look for yourself, Castleford is in Wakefield, North Yorkshire.
I have 2 new books coming very soon. We're having a Super baby written by Abie Longstaff and published by Scholastic will be available from 3rd September. Abie has written lots of great books including The Mummy Shop and The Fairy Tale Hairdresser.
'This warm and funny celebration of the bond between siblings is perfect to share with your first-born.'
We have just completed the final edits on our new winter story told in verse. We are now beginning the illustration process. We are so excited about this next story and can’t wait to hear your feedback. Here’s a few hints about what our next story will be about. Aren’t they just beautiful? What other animal reminds you of winter?
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) on snow at sunset, Kamchatka, Russia
Tales of wonder usually have happy endings. They may have danger and darkness, forbidden places and strange creatures, witches and cruel magic...but wonder tales -- fairy tales -- do have happy endings...with very few exceptions. The journey may be fearsome, but salvation and awakenings occur in the end...and these stories endure forever.
Beauty, Horror, and Ignition Power...
Enchanted Hunters, The Power of Stories in Childhood by Maria Tatar, takes the reader on a wonderful journey through children's literature.
In the chapter entitled, Beauty , Horror and Ignition Power, she writes about the effect of wonder tales on the imagination of children, including the balance between the dark side and positive endings. Here are excerpts..."We rarely worry about the effects of beauty, but horror is another matter...with an allure all its own, horrorhas the power to frighten as well as to fascinate...how much do we want children to find in their stories and how soon?..."
Tatar then illustrates the idea of too much horror with "Hans Christian Anderson's'The Girl Who Trod On The Loaf', a tale that revels in torturing Inger, the 'girl' in the title." Tatar then writes, by contrast. of three classic tales where all ends well.
"By contrast,'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Hansel and Gretel', and 'Snow White' begin with the child as victim, but they end with the triumph of the underdog and the punishment of the villain. 'Children know something they can't tell; they like Red Riding Hood and the wolf in bed' Djuna Barnes once declared. Fairy tales and fantasy enact perils and display horrors, but they always show a way out, allowing children to explore great existential mysteries that are far more disturbing when they remain abstract and uncharted rather than take the concrete form of the story."
The illustration of Little Red Riding Hood is by Hermann Vogel.
The Defining Dynamic of the Fairytale
Amanda Craig,is an acclaimed British novelist, journalist, and children's book reviewer. The following excerpt is from her insightful review of Marina Warner's "OnceUpon A Time, A Short History of the Fairy Tale", in the Guardian
"One of the most interesting aspects of reworking fairytales is that it tends to be practised by idealists and reformers, whether devout Christians, such as CS Lewis, or socialists, such as JK Rowling. The defining dynamic of the fairy tale is optimism (as opposed to the tragic tendencies of the myth), but this has encouraged bowdlerisations from the dark and gruesome aspects of many originals – Dickens hated the way the illustrator George Cruikshank softened stories, the brothers Grimm tinkered to “excuse the men and blame the women”, and the ambiguity of the fairytale led to them being twisted into Nazi propaganda, with Little Red Riding Hood being saved from a Semitic wolf.
Happily, they have also been transmuted by modern feminism: Neil Gaiman’s striking novella, The Sleeper and the Spindle... conflates and subverts Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into a tale of female courage and choice..." Read it all in the Guardian
The illustration from Tom Thumb is by Warwick Goble.
Where the Light is Golden...
“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: "It is simply a matter," he explained to April, "of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists
The Humane Society of Missouri helps more than 85,000 homeless, abused and unwanted animals each year. Here is their mission statement:
"Since 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri has been dedicated to second chances. We provide a safe and caring haven to all animals in need - large and small - that have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and petoverpopulation through our rescue and investigation efforts, spay/neuter programs and educational classes. We are committed to creating lasting relationships between people and animals through our adoption programs. We further support that bond by making available world-class veterinary care, and outstanding pet obedience and behavior programs..."
"Wulff`s heartwarming storiesabout a household of misfit dogs, reminds me that family can include the four-legged variety, as well as the two-legged. Her simple affirmation that "My dogs are not perfect.... but they are perfect for me," guides the telling of these gentle stories. For dog lovers everywhere."
If you have not yet read "Born Without a Tail: the Making of an Animal Advocate" or "Circling the Waggins: How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness", this mini ebook is the perfect introduction to the world of C.A.Wulff."Parade of Misfits" is only available in digital format.
C.A. Wulffis an author, artist, and animal advocate. She has volunteered in animal rescue for more than 26 years and attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
Dr. Seuss’ ‘What Pet Should I Get?’
By MARIA RUSSO,in the NY Times. MS Russo writes an appreciation of the incredible Theodore Seuss Geisel, his wonderful books, and the new-found book, What PetShould I Get? Here's an excerpt...
"First, though, the book itself: It features a round-faced brother and sister — his close- cropped hair is bristly on top, she has a long, wispy ponytail — who enter a pet store excited about the prospect of taking a new animal home. 'Dad said we could get one./ Dad said he would pay,' the boy exclaims. Inside, they confront a head-spinning lineup of choices. Also, they don’t have much time — their mother has told them to be home by noon. A few pages into their predicament and again toward the end, the words MAKE UP YOUR MIND charge across the top of a two-page spread, each held aloft by a different invented Seussian creature — floppy-limbed, scruffy-coated, oddly proportioned, jubilantly weird. On one of those pages, the boy sums up the book’s central point in a deceptively innocent lament: 'Oh, boy! It is something to make a mind up!' ”
Here's a link to a delightful and informative Dr.Seuss Today Show report on the new book, Theodore Geisel, his widow, his personal assistant, and his publisher.
"To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks."
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet. Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
The illustration is by Earnest Shepard. ...................
Rescuing Wonderful Shivery Tales
This is the title of Marina Warner's excellent and inclusive article in theNY Review of Books . Warner writes about contributions to the world of wonder tales and children's literature by Jack Zipes, Philip Pullman, Peter Wortman, and Maria Tatar. In the case of Tatar, she concentrates on her work in introducing, translating, and annotating the Turnip Princess, the tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth.
Here are excerpts from this informed and insightful article:
"Jack Zipes has long been a staunch advocate of fairy tales and their proper study since his book Breaking the Magic Spell (1979) issued a devastating blast against the wishful thinking of mass entertainment and shook the staid and soporific scene of folklore studies. To interpret the tales he has combined Marxism, feminism, cultural materialism, and even—for a short period—evolutionary biology. He has stirred readers with a similar passion for his material, while attacking the use of literary fantasy in movies and television to camouflage moral manipulation. Writers whom he admires—Jane Yolen, Terri Windling, and above all Angela Carter—and the films informed by their work have supplied countermodels to the sins of the dream factory.
In the epilogue of the new critical collection, Grimm Legacies, Zipes, drawing on the work of the philosopher Ernst Bloch, once again argues that fairy tales are best understood as utopian thought experiments. When the peasant crushes the ogre, the poor lad finds justice; persecuted by malicious relatives, the kind sister gets her due, the courageous girl saves her beloved siblings or lover...
Zipes is on a lifelong mission, as ardent as the Grimms’, to bring fairy tales into circulation for the general increase of pleasure, mutual and ethical understanding..."
The illustrations for the Grimm's Hansel and Gretel and King Thrushbeard are by Arthur Rackham.
FOR YOUNG FANTASY AND ANIMAL LOVERS EVERYWHERE
By Don Blankenship, educator and reviewer forGood Books for Kids . This is an excerpt from his review of Castle In The Mist...
"This is the second book in the Planet of the Dogs series and I must say I enjoyed it, cover to cover. This work can be read as a sequel to Planet of the Dogs, an ideal situation, but can also be read as a stand-alone with no loss to the flow of the story. This read is suitable for children of approximately eight years and up as a reader, or can well be read to children much younger. Adults will love this one also; I know I did, but then I have my fare share of kid still in me...
The art work by Stella Mustanoja McCarty is of the same high quality that we found in the first book in this series (and we find in the sequel to this book also), and is a delight to theeye. These are a series of black and white drawing, probably enhanced by the use of charcoal, which fit the text perfectly. When you bring a skilled artist and writer together that know children and know their dogs, then you know you are in for a treat."
Read sample chapters of Castle In The Mist at our website: Planet Of The Dogs. The photo, above, of the boy, Chase, and Rose, the therapy dog, are by Susan Purser. Susan and Rose bring hope and caring to many people, of all ages, from young readers to the ill and the aged.
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, throughIngram with a full professional discount.
The illustration and book cover are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.
Pan In The Garden
"In many ways , modern children's literature remains an Edwardian phenomenon.This period defined the ways in which we still think of children's books and of the child's imagination. During it's few years, this age produced a canon of authors and works that are still powerfully influential in the field...Our default mode of childhood, if you like, remains that decade or so before the first World War; the time between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and the assassination at Sarajevo in 1914, the time when writers looked back over loss and could only barely anticipate the end of the old order"
In the chapter "Pan In the Garden",Seth Lerer, in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter, writes of the impact of the Edwardian era on children's literature..."the years before the First World War in Britain and America were also years that socially and politically redefined childhood."
Children's books written in the Edwardian era are known, even today, by many children: The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), Peter Pan (JM Barrie), The Wind In the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) and more.
The cover illustration is by Inga Moore.
"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Albert Einstein
The illustration is from Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky.
Disney Got It Right in 2011-- After Previous Stumbles
According to Rotten Tomatoes, 90% of the critics (out of 127) liked the 2011 Disney production of Winnie the Pooh. Here is excerpt from the review by Michael DeQuina inMovie Report.
..."the writing team and directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall make it work by never losing sight of the spirit of the characters, world, and Milne: imagination, innocence, and heaps of heart--best encapsulated by the bear's simple, moving gesture of friendship that so eloquently ties up the story, characters, themes and the enduring legacy that is Pooh."
Maine has an organization - EmBrace A Vet - that provides healing support with therapy service dogs. They also provide retreats for groups of vets and their families. This is from their site:
"Embrace A Vet is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing direct and supportive services to these Maine Veterans and their families living with PTSD and/or TBI. Besides helping to save the lives of our veterans by providing love and hope through a new canine 'best friend', we also save the lives of many of the dogs who we adopt from shelters."
Embrace A Vet is the recipient of a $5,000 grant for their Paws for Peace Program. This funding, from thePlanet Dog Foundation (PDF) will aid in the placement of 12 dogs with veterans in need,
Jessica Lahey,in the Motherlode section of the New York Times, wrote an excellent article on reading,literacy, and RIF. Here is an excerpt...
"Fortunately, Reading Is Fundemental (RIF), has been enriching children’s childhoods through thedistribution of free books since 1966, when the founder Margaret McNamara resolved to give books to the children of Washington, D.C., children who may not otherwise have the chance to own books. RIF delivered books into the hands of these children by way of their iconic Bookmobiles; magic vehicles of wonder that pulled right up to the schoolhouse door and invited children to select, and take home, books of their very own. In its first year, RIF gave 200,000 books to 41,000 Washington children, and by the time I stepped into my first Bookmobile in 1977, I was just one of 1.1 million children RIF served that year.
Literacy is a prime predictor of student success, as well as a range of economic and physical well-being. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly half of the adult population, or 93 million Americans, read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully to society. Adults below this basic level of literacy are far more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, while individuals who achieve higher levels of literacy are more likely to be employed, earn higher wages, and vote in state and national elections"...
Here's a link to read it all: Motherlode
Go Ask Alice
AnthonyLane,in an effervescent New Yorkerarticle, wrote about Lewis Carrol, the Alice books, the world of nineteenth century Oxford,and several biographies in what Lane calls the Carrolllian maze. Here is an excerpt from this fascinating article... "Conversations about what is real, what is possible, and how rubbery the rules that govern such distinctions turn out to abound in the tales of Alice. Yet they are sold as children's books, and rightly so. A philosopher will ask how the identity of the self can be preserved amid the ceaseless flow of experience, but a child -- especially a child who is growing so fast that she suddenly fills the room -- will ask more urgently, as Alice does, "Was I the same as when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little a little different" Children, viewed from one angle, are philosophy in motion."
After I had prepared this post, I found that it was already posted by Maria Tatar on Breezes From Wonderland. Tatar has since added more about Alice including information about a new Annotated Alice by Mark Burstein and other news about 175 translations worldwide.
Here is a link to Grace Slick singing White Rabbit at Woodstock (August 1969)
The illustration of Alice is one of ninetytwo by John Tenniel for Lewis Carrol's books.
A Rose Is Not a Rose...
This excerpt is from a fascinating article by Marina Warner in the Guardian
"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.
Or you can compare it to a plant genus, to roses or fungi or grasses, that can seed and root and flower here and there, changing species and colour and size and shape where they spring. But if the prevailing idea of an archetype gives too strong an impression of fixity, the picture-language of fairytale is fluid and shapeshifting: a rose is not a rose, an apple not an apple; a princess or a villain signify far more than what they seem. A dictionary of fairytale would look more like a rebus made up of icons: snow, crystal, apples, dark forests, pinnacled castles, mermaids, toads, giants, dragons, sprites, fair princesses, likely lads and crones.
The symbolism comes alive through strong contrasts and sensations, evoking simple, sensuous phenomena that glint and sparkle, pierce and flow, by these means striking recognition in the reader or listener’s body at a visceral depth (gold and silver; diamonds and rubies, thorns and knives; wells and tunnels). It’s an Esperanto of the imagination, and it’s available for any of us to use – in almost any medium..."
The painting of Sleeping Beauty is by Edward Burne Jones. The illustration is by Jennie Harbour.
The Society of Bloggers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
I highly recommend Kidlitosphere as a source for anyone interested in children's literature.
The following is excerpted from their site...
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.
The “KidLitosphere” is a community of reviewers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, parents, and other book enthusiasts who blog about children’s and young adult literature. In writing about books for children and teens, we’ve connected with others who share our love of books. With this website, we hope to spread the wealth of our reading and writing experience more broadly...
KidLitosphere Central strives to provide an avenue to good books and useful literary resources; to support authors and publishers by connecting them with readers and book reviewers; and to continue the growth of the society of bloggers in children’s and young adult literature...here is a link to read more.
Welcome to our world.
The top illustration is of of Tom Thumb. The bottom illustration is of the Frog King.
There's magic, wonder, and exceptional animation here...I learned of this film, when I received this message from Joy Ward (author of exceptional dog books)..."There is an absolutely gorgeous animated movie out right now. It's Song of the Sea by an Irish team. Lovely story about o little boy and his selkie sister. Wonderful for everyone!"
The film reviewers have been uniformly enthusiastic. Here is an excerpt from Leslie Felperinin the Guardian:"Song of the Seablends Celtic legends, bravura design and animation, and intelligent storytelling that understands but never patronises young viewers, to create an exquisite and rewarding work ..." Here is a link to the trailer: Song Of The Sea
No Dark Deeds Here
This excerpt of the review by Jo Williams in the St Louis Post-Dispatch, sums up the Minions, a movie for the very young.
"If you’re old enough to read a movie review in a newspaper, you’re too old to fully appreciate “Minions.” Ditto if you’re old enough to read the menu at a fast-food joint, the height requirements at an amusement park or the price tag on a shiny yellow toy. This spinoff of the “Despicable Me” cartoons is like a pre-verbal version of “Inside Out,” all coos and colors and cute facial expressions. Tiny tots will eat it up like jelly beans. But what about their bigger siblings and baby-sitters? Will they be trapped on a sugar-rush cycle with no hope of escape?
Yes, but … The mad scientists at Dreamworks have scrubbed this ’toon of anything that might scare or challenge the target audience"...
Several years ago, I read Deb Eades book, Every Rescued Dog Has a Tale, and first learned about the nationwide network of volunteers who are "rescuing dogs from certain deaths in kill shelters and then being driven by dedicated animal lovers to a new life in another state."
Deb Eades was one of these volunteers, and her book is filled with touching first-hand stories of rescuing dogs and driving them to a place where another volunteer takes over and drives the next leg of the rescue journey. Or, sometimes, actually driving the rescued dog(s) to their new home.
Sunbear Squad is a mainstay in dog rescue. Here is an excerpt from their site:
"Each weekend in America, an army of volunteer rescue transport drivers deliver dogs and cats to safety in an organized relay of vehicles. Hard-working volunteer transport coordinators plan the logistics, organize the four-legged passengers, and provide support by phone continuously during the entire one- or two-day operation. Drivers sign up for relay "legs" via e-mail. They meet the previous leg drivers at an appointed time, transfer the lucky dogs and cats to their vehicles, and drive to the next relay meeting spot where the process is repeated until the destination is reached..."
To read the entire article follow this link: Rescue
"All knowledge, the totality of all questions and answers, is contained in the dog." -- Franz Kafka, Investigations of a Dog
I'm really pleased to be able to share with you my latest book 'The Goodnight Star' beautifully written by Amy Sparkes and published by Random House Children's Books. 'The Goodnight Star' will be available to buy from 27th August.
'Megan is afraid of the dark.'
'Holding the star carefully, she climbed up to her treehouse...
This image was my favourite so I was really pleased that it was chosen for the cover.
'The Goodnight Star' is my 8th book with Random House Children's Books. I'd like to thank the team at Random for all their help. Special thanks to Kerrie and Joe.
I always find it interesting when I have finished a book to look back at my very first thoughts. Some spreads end up almost identical to my first thumbs where others go through many changes. It took me a while with Goodnight Star to get Megan right. I had a lightbulb moment when I decided to put her in pyjamas rather than a floaty nightdress. Suddenly I felt she had the right attitude.
Click on all images to enlarge.
'The Goodnight Star' author Amy Sparkes will be having a book launch on Saturday 12th September from 10.30-11.30 at Tiverton Library.