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We adults are careful about swearing around our kids. We don’t want bad language to confuse or corrupt or otherwise harm them. As Steven Pinker says in passing while talking about profanity in The Stuff of Thought (2007), “if some people would rather not explain to their young children what a blow job is, there should be television channels that don’t force them to,” and there are. We have every right to be protective of our children even if we don’t have a reason.
Jesus Calling My First Bible Storybook by Sarah Young
Today, I’m reviewing a captivating, little book for young children, Jesus Calling- My First Bible Storybook. I’m also giving away a copy! Be sure to read for the details below.
First, I want to mention the beautiful illustrations in this book. Antonia Woodward's use of color and soft lines are friendly and captivating! This forty-page, board book is full-color, cover to cover.
Best-selling author, Sarah Young, presents twenty Bible truths in this book using scriptures taken from The International Children’s Bible.
The twenty stories are representative of most toddler storybooks. They include:
God Made Everything, Noah’s Big Boat, Baby Moses, the Ten Commandments, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Big Fish, Daniel and the Lions, Queen Esther is Brave, Jesus is Born, Jesus is Baptized, A Little Boy’s Lunch, Jesus Calms the Sea, The Prodigal Son, Jesus Loves Children, Zacchaeus, The Cross, Jesus is Alive, Jesus is Coming Again, and God’s Family.
After the title, is the chapter(s) in the Bible where the story originates. The stories are written in a simple text so young children can easily understand them.
Unlike Young’s other Jesus Calling books, this one is not primarily written as if Jesus is talking to you. There are approximately six, short sentences telling the story and most include some dialogue.
Then, there's just one “Jesus Calling” sentence that correlates to a scripture, which is also given.
Here's an example found at the end of a shortened version of The Prodigal Son story (Luke 15):
Jesus Calling: When you tell Me you are sorry, I will always forgive you.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins.”
I like this book and believe it to be Christ honoring. I love the illustrations and the multiple scriptures provided. Also, I appreciate the reference given for each story so older readers can go read the full text in the Holy Bible.
It’s a beautiful book containing appropriate portions of God's Word for toddlers.
Would you like a chance to win this book for a little one in your family?
I’m trying to get my words of encouragement out to a wider range of folks. You can help by sharing this blog with others by word of mouth, or with the click of a computer key.
Everyone who enters their email address into the “Follow by Email” box located on the right side of this page, will be entered into the drawing.
When I write something new on the blog, it will come to you in your email. I know what it’s like to receive more emails than you have time to read. so you’ll only get about one email a week—never more than two.
If you already receive my blog posts in your email box, thank you, and you are still eligible to win. All you have to do is leave a comment below stating you are already on the email list.
It’s as simple as that. :)
Enter by June 30, 2016. The winner will be announced Friday, July 1, 2016.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
“Harry Potter isn’t real? Oh no! Wait, wait, what do you mean by real? Is this video blog real? Am I real if you can see me and hear me, but only through the internet? Are you real if I can read your comment but I don’t know who you are or what your name is or where you’re from or what you look like or how old you are? I know all of those things about Harry Potter. Maybe Harry Potter’s real and you’re not.” ― John Green
The illustration of Hogwarts is by Jim Kay
Opening the Doors to Wonder
Wonder comes in many forms.
Harry Potter swept the reading world and opened the doors to a greater audience. The success of the Harry Potter series renewed broad-based respect for fairy tales.
From the first book and beyond, J.K. Rowlingcreated an alternate world thatreaders could relate to. People young and old are drawn in to these robust stories and their engaging, fully developed characters. As with the classic stories from the past, the characters, imaginative twists and turns of the stories, and the fully realized details, combined to enable readers to believe in the magic of an alternate reality. The seven Harry Potter books created an enormous worldwide audience. And provided the substance for wonderful films.
Adults have also become fans of the books and movies, creating a record breaking "crossover" market. And the phenomenon continues to grow...
Click the photo for spring wonder.
Contact With The Lives Of Others
"Rowling's books, by arousing curiousity and establishing contact with the lives of others, even if they exist solely within the confines of a literary work, enable children to develop capacities that readily translate into real-life experience. JkRowlingnever shies away from the great existential mysteries: death and loss, cruelty and compassion, desire and depression. Harry is anything but sheltered from the evils of Voldermort...he is destined for greatness even though he also posseses the weaknesses, failings, and vulnerabilities of all humans."
Maria Tatar -- Enchanted Hunters -- The Power of Stories in Childhood
Harry Began On A Train
JK Rowling: I was going on a train from Manchester to London and I was looking out of the window at some cows, I believe and I just thought: "Boy doesn't know he's a wizard - goes off to wizard school." I have no idea where it came from. I think the idea was floating along the train and looking for someone and my mind was vacant enough so it decided to zoom in there.
Stephen Fry: And you played with the idea in your head…
JK Rowling: Exactly! From that moment I thought: "Well why doesn't he realise he's a wizard?" It was as though the story was just there for me to discover and I thought: "Well his parents are dead and he needs to find out they're wizards" and on we went from there.
The illustration, from the Philosophers Stone, is by Jim Kay.
Hermione...an empowered young woman
"Throughout the Harry Potter Tales, Hermione emerges as the beneficiary of three centuries of girls' book identity. At times the plucky youth, at times the serious student, at times the foolish lover, at times the tomboy, at times the blossoming maiden -- taken together, all these aspects of her personality make her the heir to everyone from Jenny Peace in Sarah Fielding's The Governess, to Jo in Alcott's Little Women, to Alice in Carroll's Wonderland, to all the girl guides, or "new Women" or adventuresome or studious females who fill the range of popular writing well into the twentieth century."
From Seth Lerer writing about Theaters of Girlhood, Domesticity, Desire, and Performance in Female Fiction in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter
Finding the Right Wand -- an adventure in an alternate reality
First, you go to Diagon Alley where Ollivanders is located..."Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C...
A single wand lays on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window."
You will be helped by Mr. Ollivander, a very old man, who remembers every wand he has sold -- and to whom he sold it.
You will be measured in many ways by a tape measure that works on its on while Mr Ollvander explains that, "Every Ollvander wand has a core of powerful magical substance...We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tale feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same..."
You may have to try many wands before you have the right one.
It seems you don't choose the wand, the wand chooses you...
The fully imagined detail in the Harry Potter books plays a major role in their appeal. The fascinating story of Harry finding the right magic wand takes place in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stonewhen Hagrid takes Harry shopping on Diagon Alley, and introduces him to the the world of wizards.
The illustration of Harry and Hagrid in Diagon Alley is by Jim Kay
An Alternate Universe
..."J. K. Rowlinghas created a world as fully detailedas L. Frank Baum’s Oz or J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, a world so minutely imagined in terms of its history and rituals and rules that it qualifies as an alternate universe, which may be one reason the “Potter” books have spawned such a passionate following and such fervent exegesis...."
From the book review by Michiko Kakatani of Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows in the New York Times
Stories That Opened My Mind
"There are hundreds upon hundreds of reasons for one to fall in love with the world and characters J.K. Rowling created in the Harry Potter series, the aforementioned being among them. For me, these are the stories that opened my mindto the wonderful world of books, novels and novellas, making them very near and dear to my heart..."
...Harry is called back into active duty when evil powers return in force... a new book and a play (opening in London) based on the book - HarryPotter and the Cursed Child -- are on their way, arriving in late July. They are based on a story by J.K. Rowling. Here are two links for more information: Pottermore and NPR
Wizardry Before Harry
The Wizard World in 1920's USA is the setting for a new movie,starring Eddie Redmayne...
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in the UK in November 2016... The book about Fantastic Beasts was used as part of the curriculum for young wizards in the Hogwarts classroom. There will be two sequels...all written by J.K. Rowling.
Support For Children
J.K. Rowling spendstime and money on helping people...In 2004 she foundedLumos...'No child should be denied a family life because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. Lumos works to support the 8 million children in institutions worldwide to regain their right to a family life and to end the institutionalisation of children."
For the real J.K. Rowling, or as close as we will probably get, I suggest the Oprah Interview... Engaging, interesting, and with some excellent documentary scenes woven in...Also, her candid, heartfelt, Harvard speech.
The N.R.A. Reimagines Classic Fairy Tales, With Guns
Liam Stack wrote this disturbing article. Here are excerpts...
"The world of make-believe can be a scary place, but never fear: Thanks to a series of reimagined fairy tales published online by the National Rifle Association, classic characters like Hansel and Gretel are now packing heat. The group has published two of the updated tales on its N.R.A. Family website in recent months, entitled “Little RedRiding Hood (Has a Gun)” and “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns).” The stories have outraged advocates of gun control, but their author, Amelia Hamilton, a conservative blogger, has called them lessons in gun safety...
In the N.R.A. version, Little Red Riding Hood sets off through the forest to visit her grandmother, just like in the original. But the Big Bad Wolf did not scare her this time, because she “felt the reassuring weight of the rifle on her shoulder.”
When the wolf approached her, “she shifted her rifle so that it was in her hands and at the ready.” He fled in fear...
Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, agreed, calling the stories “a disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign.” He said in a statement that the stories were in poor taste in part because nearly 50 children and teenagers are shot each day in the United States, and suicide by gun is a leading cause of death among children over the age of 9..."
Here is a link to read all of this disturbing article:FairyTaleGuns
The photo of a boy with a Barrett rifle at a meeting of the National Rifle Association in St. Louis in 2012. is by Daniel Acker for The New York Times
Save The Children
Save the Children works in 120 countries, including the United States, and has helped more than 166 million children — including more than 55 million children directly. Here are excerpts from the story of one child...
"At 12 years old Omar* suddenly found himself responsible for his family and working to support his mother and younger brother after his father was killed in the conflict... 'I am the man of the house now and they are relying on me'...Recently Omar started working in a fuel market in northern Syria where the work is both difficult and dangerous, and yet it is a job that pays enough to meet his family’s needs. Every day he goes to the market with his bucket and sponge to collect fuel that has spilled onto the ground from the tankers. Using the sponge he soaks up the fuel, squeezes it into his bucket and sells what he has collected at the end of every day.
Omar said, 'We have to be here very early in the morning because the tankers arrive early, so I get here at six in the morning and leave late at night so I that I have time to collect as much fuel as possible'..."
Omar was a good student and loved school; he dreamed of becoming an architect. His life is now about survival.
Here is a link to read all of Omar's painful story: Omar
Top photo, courtesy IRF; bottom photo, courtesy Save The Children.
Importance of Children's Books for Most Adults "But children's books are extremely important. Most adults don't read many books and if they do it will probably be some form of popular fiction. So achildren's classic may be the last, or in some cases, the only, piece of serious literature they have read. As such these books are very influentialand so I think it is our responsibility to consider them as seriously and carefully as any other great literature."
From a Guardian article by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alison Lurie, professor emeritus of literature and writing at Cornell University, and author and editor of a multitude of children's books.
Here are excerpts from Chapter One of the book...the story of how dogs came down to Planet Earth to help people...
"Far out in the sky, on the other side of the sun, is the Planet of the Dogs. Dogs have always lived there in peace and happiness.
There are country dogs and city dogs. They live in places like Shepherd Hills, Poodletown, Retriever Meadows, Muttville, Hound Dog Hamlet, Biscuit Town, and Shaggy Corners...
Dogs talk to each other in many ways. They woof, bark, and howl. They use body movement, face licking, smiling, and tail wagging. Dogs can hear what other dogs are thinking. And they always tell the truth...Dogs are very good at sleeping, taking naps, and waiting for someone they love...
Dogs have no worries on their planet because there are no dangers there. There are no bad dogs, no hungry animals, and no mean people. There is plenty to eat, lots of time to play, and all kinds of schools for the puppies to learn interesting things about their planet and each other. It’s a wonderful place to live.
This is the world of Yelodoggie, created by author and dog advocate, C.A. Wulff.
All dogs, deep in their heart of hearts, are yellow. Because yellow is the color of light and joy and happiness, and these attributes are the true essence of dogs. Here is a link to Wulff's Etsy shopwhere you can see more of these delightful original watercolor paintings and prints celebrating dogs. They make a wonderful gift...
Alternate Realities from Finland
Leena Krohn, a highly regarded writer in Europe, wrote one of my favorite books, Tainaron. I was gratified to see that Joshua Rothman, in the New Yorker, wrote that her newly published book of collected fiction was among " The Books We Loved in 2015". Here is an excerpt:
"I also found myself hypnotized by Leena Krohn, a Finnish writer whose collected stories and novels, rendered into English by many different translators, have just been published as a single volume, “Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction.” Broadly speaking, Krohn is a speculative writer; one of the novels in the collection, for example, consists of thirty letters written from an insect city. (“It is summer and one can look at the flowers face to face.”) Krohn writes like a fantastical Lydia Davis, in short chapters the length of prose poems. Her characters often have a noirish toughness; one, explaining her approach to philosophy, says that when she asks an existential question, “life answers. It is generally a long and thorough answer...”
A compelling5 minute report on DW tv news about a little girl in North Koreabrought me a reminder of the power of film. Vitaly Mansky, the producer/director, has made a very poignant filmabout the life of Zin Mi (the little girl) in both the real world and the manufactured world of North Korea.
Here are excerpts from an informative article by Carmen Grayin the Guardian...
"A new film on life in North Korea has caused a diplomatic row after the director used officially sanctioned shoots to demonstrate how the state manipulates its people.
Authorities are said to have tried to prevent screenings of Under the Sun, a film that follows a North Korean girl as she prepares to celebrate the Day of the Shining Star, the birthday of former supreme leader Kim Jong-il...The film reveals how government representatives seek to construct an image of an “ideal” family, capturing the hectoring of officials as they tell the Koreans what to say, how to sit and when to smile.
“I wanted to make a film about the real Korea, but there’s no real life in the way that we consider,” said Mansky, who spent a year in the country filming. “There is just the creation of an image of the myth of a real life. So we made a film about fake reality.”
"Credit the Disney folks with making what could have been a lecture on stereotypes into one of the more amusing animated kidflicks of recent vintage. When you consider that this is the same zip-ah-dee-doo-dah studio that once made Song of the South ... well, let's just say Zootopia suggests we've all come a long way"...Bob Mondello, NPR
The Witch, a low budget (one million dollars), independent production, continues to find an ever-growing audience (over 30 million dollars)...
"The Witch is a scary movie and a serious one, because it lure us into the minds and the earthly domains, of those who are themselves scared, night and day, that they have forfeited the mercies of God. It takes an original movie to remind us of original sin..." Anthony Lane in his New Yorker review.
Stacy Schiffinwrote an excellent article, relevant to this movie, on TheWitches of Salem, also in the New Yorker. Here is an excerpt..."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..."
“Both Rowling and Meyer (Twilight series), they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”- Stephen King
Circling the Wagginsby C.A. Wulff
What happens when a group of the most irascible, insane, and ridiculously un-adoptable pets known to man end up being permanent residents in an animal rescuer's home? Challenges abound and chaos reigns!
Here are excerpts from author Tim McHugh’s review…
"Circling the Wagginsis a heart-felt and moving story of two women's quest to heal and nurture a wide variety of animals. C.A. Wulff poignantly captures the complex personalities of the mice, dogs, and cats that inhabit her wilderness home as well as the humorous chaos that ensues as they all try to coexist. It is by turns a roller-coaster ride of animal rescue, as well as a keen reflection on the frailty of all life and the healing power of love and letting go."
Good Dog provides therapy dog services to people in health care, social service, educational and communityfacilities, and at disaster sites around the country. Its highly-trained and fully-certified volunteer teams each consist of a human handler and therapy dog. Good Dog focuses on work in the four divisions of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Research, and Disaster Response.For more on the work of these divisions, click here.
As the largest certifying animal-assisted therapy organization on the East Coast of the United States, Good Dog currently operates in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and at disaster sites around the country. Good Dog focuses on work in the four divisions of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Research, and Disaster Response."
by Jane E. Brody, Personal Health writer for the New York Times
"It did not take long for me to recognize the therapeutic potential of Max, the hypoallergenic 5-month-old Havanese puppy I adopted in March 2014. He neither barked nor growled and seemed to like everyone, especially the many children that come up and down our block.
When I asked if a crying child passing by would like to pet a puppy, the tears nearly always stopped as fluffy little Max approached, ready to be caressed.
So I signed us up for therapy dog training with the Good Dog Foundation, which met conveniently in my neighborhood. If we passed the six-week course, we would be certified to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes, children in schools, and people in other venues that recognize the therapeutic potential of well-behaved animals..."
Here is the link to read all of this fascinating and informative article by Jane Brody: Personal Health
The illustration is by Paul Rogers
We have free reader copiesof 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 independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble,Amazon, Powell'sand many more.
The Planet Of The Dogs series is also available in digital format at
The illustration from Planet Of The Dogs is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
Meeting A Dog
If you see an injured dog or a dog in trouble , from puppy mills to poison, Sunbear Squad can help you. Sunbear Squadis a leading source for information and guidance in dog rescue and care. Here is an excerpt from their site about meeting a new dog(s)...
"In the western world, we are taught at an early age to greet new people by approaching them with upright posture, looking directly into their eyes and offering a hand to shake or squeeze. It becomes second nature to us, so as a result, many of us animal lovers greet every living thing–except bugs–using those same “good manners...
We must UNLEARN that set of social rules to avoid frightening dogs, cats, and other animals, who will perceive full-front posture, staring, and outstretched arm as rude and threatening (unless they were very well-socializedwith humans during the crucial developmental period).
In other words, polite human greetings are bad manners for greeting dogs and cats! In fact the two greeting languages are almost all completely opposite...Here is a link to read all of this article:Meeting A Dog.
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ― Will Rogers
The birth of a healthy child in Sweden in October, 2014 after a uterus transplant from a living donor marked the advent of a new technique to help women with absent or non-functional uteruses to bear genetic offspring. The Cleveland Clinic has now led American doctors into this space, performing the first US uterine transplant in February, 2016
Entries are open for the Helen Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award. Prize: $1000. Submit a short story for young children (up to age 7) that reflects the diversity of the world’s population and values desirable in global citizens. Open to residents of Canada and the Caribbean. Deadline: May 13, 2016.
As you know, I have been sitting at home since yesterday morning, nursing my cold and feeling a bit sorry for myself. How lovely then, to be cheered up with a lovely email last night, sent from a proud parent, whose little girl, Amelie, had chosen to go to school on World Book Day dressed at little Stinky, the baby warthog. They made the costume all themselves. Isn't it just brilliant? Check out the little flies!
Thank you so much for choosing Stinky Amelie - he's one of my favourites too. You looked fantastic. I bet you were the star of the day!
Gosh, it's been a hectic Book Week. Up early and off to different schools up and down the country every day. Lots and lots of excited little faces!
Unfortunately, that cold I was struggling against on Saturday, as I was battling to finish my artwork, didn't go away, but stuck fast all week. Plus, because I was working such long days and pushing things so relentlessly, I got worse. Yesterday, at Broadoak Primary School, I tipped things too far. I had very little voice when I arrived, but by the time I had done 4 storytellings, plus a long book signing, then (rather stupidly) finished it all off with a bonus, after-school drawing workshop for 30 kids and their parents, in a hall loud with excited little people, it was no surprise that I had no voice at all.
Luckily the kids still seemed to have a great time. Thursday was World Book Day itself, with them all dressed up as characters from books. Very cute. I coughed and spluttered and did my bit as a character from The Black Death. All I needed was a few nice boils.
So, finally silenced and therefore grounded, today was spent at home, cradling my box of tissues. Even worse - John has it too, so I didn't even have my handy serf to wait on me and stroke my fevered brow.
Feeling sorry for me yet? Please send grapes and chocolates!
In A Dark Wood "In the mid-path of my life, I woke to find myself in a dark wood," wrote Dante in The Divine Comedy, marking the start of a quest that will lead to transformation and redemption. Likewise, a journey through the dark of the woods is a common motif in fairy tales: young heroes set off through the perilous forest in order to reach their destiny; or they find themselves abandoned there, cast off and left for dead. The road is long and treacherous, prowled by ghosts, ghouls, wicked witches, wolves, and the more malign sorts of faeries....but helpers also appear on the path: wise crones, good faeries, and animal guides, often cloaked in unlikely disguise. The hero's task is to tell friend from foe, and to keep walking steadily onward..."
We have all been lost in the woods at some time in our life either literally, metaphorically or both.
Being lost in the woods, where there is no clear path to follow, and the light is fading, is a serious and frightening matter.
Wild beasts, dangerous people, and invading armies cannot be seen in the dark forests. But they are there, in the mind of the author, the teller of tales, the animator...and in the mind of the child, until the story or myth finds light, escape and salvation.
So it was in a tale told, in 1805,by 12 year old Henriette Dorathea Wild, to the Brothers Grimm: Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel, The Impossible Tale
I have always found this to be a dark and disturbing tale. It deals with war, famine, abandonment, fear, cannibalism, a witch, dark forces and death in a rather overwhelming confluence. And the central characters are children who must experience and deal with these problems.
Moreover, in Hansel and Gretel, the line between reality and fantasy is often blurred.
Fortunately, as is the custom in the tradition of fairy tales, escape from the darkness, salvation, and a happy ending offer relief from the darkness.
But what about mother? Mother in various versions of this tale tends to be heartless, self-centered and uncaring. The Grimms, in their seventh edition, transformed the cruel mother into a cruel stepmother.
The father, despite having regrets, remorse, sadness, and love for his children, is nevertheless a partner in his wife's dark scheme of abandonment.
'No, wife,' said the man, 'I will not do that; how can I bear to leave my children alone in the forest?—the wild animals would soon come and tear them to pieces.' 'O, you fool!' said she, 'then we must all four die of hunger, you may as well plane the planks for our coffins,' and she left him no peace until he consented. 'But I feel very sorry for the poor children, all the same,' said the man."
Fear and loss of hope...a mirror to the past.
The top illustration is by Theodor Hosemann; The lower illustration is by Arthur Rackham
"Determined to find a way back home, Hansel and Gretel survivewhat children fear more than anything else: abandonment by parents and exposure to predators..." - Maria Tatar writing in her wonderful book, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales.
The Return of Hansel and Gretel
Over the centuries, the classic story ofHansel and Gretelhas been reinterpreted in books, films, TV, ballet, theater, popular song and opera.
In 2014, Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti published a stunning new version. The illustrations envelop the story. And Gaimen, in his brilliant retelling, creates a masterful balance between fantasy and reality.
Here is an excerpt that sets the background and tone for the story that follows:
"War came, and the soldiers came with it -- hungry, angry, bored, scared men who, as they pushed through, stole the cabbages and the chickens and the ducks, The woodcutter's family was never certain who was fighting whom, nor why they were fighting,, nor what they were fighting about. But beyond the forest, fields of crops were burned and barley fields became battlefields, and the farmers were killed, or made into soldiers in their turn and marched away. And soon enough the miller had no grain to mill into flour, the butcher had no animals to kill and hang in the window, and they said you could name your own price for a rabbit."
This is the setting -- famine and the aftermath war -- for this fairy tale of abandoned children. Gaimen's decision to spell out the chaos and hunger that overwhelmed the woodcutter and his family, is the impetus for all that follows.
This is a fairy tale, and therefore has a happy ending. The children return home to a great embrace by their father who had been searching for them every day in the forest. Mother has died for reasons "no one alive can say". However, "the treasures they had brought from the old woman's cottage kept them comfortable, and there were to be no more empty plates in their lives."
The Human Condition "Written with a devastating spareness by Neil Gaiman and fearsomely illustrated in shades of black by Lorenzo Mattotti, the newest version of 'Hansel and Gretel' astonishes from start to finish...Their rendition brings a freshness and even a feeling of majesty to the little tale. Some great, roiling essence of the human condition — our fate of shuttling between the darkness and the light — seems to inhabit its pages...
...It would be a monstrous thing to do, to kill our children,” the father says. “Lose them, not kill them,” the mother replies. In the Grimms’ original version... both parents agree that the children must be sacrificed. Then came later editions in which the mother alone is heartless. By the mid-19th century it was a stepmother who ordered the father to get rid of the children,... Gaiman’s middle ground strikes just the right note of horror — a mother who would kill her children seems infinitely worse than a stepmother who makes the same calculation, yet having both parents plotting to off their offspring pushes the brutality too far toward hopeless despair rather than delicious terror....
The insights above were taken from Maria Russo's review of Hansel and Gretel in the New York Times
.................................. The Oral Tradition
An insight by Angela Carter reminds us that fairy tales, tales of wonder, connect us to the world of our ancestors...
"For most of human history, 'literature,' both fiction and poetry, has been narrated, not written — heard, not read. So fairy tales, folk tales, stories from the oral tradition, are all of them the most vital connection we have with the imaginations of the ordinary men and women whose labor created our world.” ―Angela Carter
The painting of Finnish country women talking after church is by Albert Edelfelt
Surviving in a Hard World
"The Grimms are in our blood. The fairy tales of 'Cinderella', 'Hansel and Gretel,' "The Fisherman and His Wife," 'Rumpelstiltskin' and dozens of others have become the common currency of our imagination. The cottage and the castle, or the forest or the mountain, have become the houses for our fears... ... "We come to realize just how many of the Grimms' 'Tales' were about the family. These are stories of parents challenged by rural poverty, of husbands and wives fighting over who's in charge, of craftsmen who, for all their skill, cannot reshape their worlds. The 'once upon a time' here is a time of fishermen who get no fish, of shoemakers too poor to purchase leather, of unsuccessful millers and subsistence woodsmen. Many of these stories are tales of failed fathers who must make devilish deals to keep their children or, at worst, send them away.
And in those children,we may find true heroes. 'Hansel and Gretel' is really a fable of ingenuity: finding the pebbles or the breadcrumbs to mark the path home, or taking advantage of a witch's vanity to push her into an oven."
Seth Lerer writing about Phillip Pullman's book,Fairy Tales from the Brother's Grimm, in theSF Gate.The painting of a peasant family is by Vladimir Makovsky
How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds is dedicated to all of the individuals and groups who devote their heads, hands, and hearts to improving the world for companion animals. You are all, every one of you, my heroes -- C.A. Wulff
"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... She walks you through the necessary steps and gives tips..."
Variations on Hansel and Gretel
There have been countless books,an enduring and respected opera by Engelbert Humperdinck, and a plethora of popular manifestations of Hansel and Gretel, Here ar two of the latter...celebrity photography and the world of fashion from Voguemagazine; and a song and video, Out Of The Woods, by the award winning Taylor Swift.
The opera is performed by college theater groups as well as National Opera Companiesof Holland, Wales,and England as well as the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Vogue Magazine, in anticipation of the Met production, published an extensive Hansel and Gretel photo shoot by Annie Leibovitz. The witch was played by Lady Gagaand Hansel and Gretel by actors Andrew Garfield and Lily Cole.
In her video,Taylor Swift,alone in an exotic and rather threatening woods, runs and sings her hit song, Out Of TheWoods...the woods are alive, wolves are in pursuit. and the snow covers the world as she sings "Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet?..
The photo is by Annie Leibowitz for Vogue..
"The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless." Jean-Jacques Rousseau
KidLitosphere has 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, promotelifelong reading, and present literacy ideas." Here is a link to Kidlitosphere.
The illustration from Planet Of The Dogs is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
"Did you ever wonder how dogs came to be man’s best friend? I’m sure that there is some historical explanation, although it may be shrouded in the mists of prehistoric times. But in your mind’s eye think back to those times and just imagine for a minute that there is a planet far out in space on the other side of the sun that is inhabited by intelligent dogs that live in peace and happiness. As the book opens, the dogs learn that there is trouble on Earth. Bik, the greedy leader of the warlike Stone tribe of Stone City, is planning to invade and conquer the peaceful people of Lake Village and surrounding Green Valley...
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 that come from another planet to help people on earth. But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and overcoming evil with good.
Stella Mustanoja McCarty’s black-and-white shaded drawings are delightful companions to the text. Two sequels are now available, Castle in the Mist and Snow Valley Heroes: A Christmas Tale. Barking Planet Productions supports therapy dog reading programs across the country with book donations. Both old and young, especially dog lovers, will find Planet of the Dogsan enchanting tale."
Wayne Walker reviews for Stories for Children Magazine, Home School Book Reviews, and Home School Buzz,
"So I believe that we should trust our children. Normal children do not confuse reality and fantasy -- they confuse them much less often than we adults do (as a certain great fantasist pointed out in a story called 'The Emperor's New Clothes'). Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren't real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books. All too often, that's more than Mummy and Daddy know; for, in denying their childhood, the adults have denied half their knowledge, and are left with the sad, sterile little fact: 'Unicorns aren't real.' And that fact is one that never got anyone anywhere (except in the story 'The Unicorn in the Garden,' by another great fantasist, in which it is shown that a devotion to the unreality of unicorns may get you straight into the loony bin.) It is by such statements as, 'Once upon a time there was a dragon,' or 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit' -- it is by such beautiful non-facts that we fantastic human beings may arrive, in our peculiar fashion, at truth."
The damaged lives and suffering of children and their parents in today's war-torn world affect us all.The International Rescue Committee provides help to children in over 20 countries. Here are excerpts from their website
"Currently 20 million children and adolescentsare uprooted from their homes either as refugees or internally displaced persons. In order to respond to this, the IRC promotes the protection and development of children and youth, from the earliest stages of an emergency, through post-conflict and recovery.... In over 20 countries, the IRC’s community-based, participatory and holistic children and youth programs include: IRC provides counseling and services to young people who have experienced disease, abuse, exploitation or loss and separation from their families.
IRC “child-friendly spaces” provide the youngest victims of war and natural disaster with a safe place to play, participate in structured activities and to heal from trauma and loss while rebuilding a sense of normalcy.
The IRC trains educators, constructs classroom, and supports schools that are attended by hundreds of thousands of children.
We provide skills training to young people who have had their education or careers interrupted by war or natural disaster. More than half of those who receive such training are girls...".
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."
From The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats
In 1988, The Waterboys,an Irish Musical Group set the The Stolen Childto heartfelt music. This was followed by a version with the lilting voice of the Canadian singer, Loreena McKennit
Trying to Reach Home
The illustration that greets you at the top of this blog is from Tomm Moore's movie folktale, the Songof the Sea, an amalgam of Irish folklore and Moore's imagination. Here are excerpts from the Guardian's 5 Star review:
"A gorgeous, almost painterly tale of two siblings trying to reach home, but waylaid by witches, owls and faeries...This superb Irish animation from the director of 2009’s The Secret of Kells is a treat; an enchanting and verymoving 'familyfilm'. Once again, the story is rooted in Irish folklore, with selkies, giants and faeries slipping in and out of a tale of a vanished mother, a grieving father, and two lost but resourceful children trying to make their way home."
This new film, inspired by events in Salem, has excellent reviews and is off to a very good start. Here are excerpts from the review by Mahola Dargis in the NY Times.
"A finely calibrated shiver of a movie, “The Witch” opens on a scene of religious wrath. On a New England plantation, around 1630, a true believer, William (Ralph Ineson), and his family are facing a grim assemblage. The setting is a kind of meeting house crowded with men, women and children, a congregation whose silence and unsmiling faces imply disapproval or perhaps fear. Whether they’re standing in judgment doesn’t matter to William, whose arrogant faith in his own notion of Christianity is as deep and darkly unsettling as his sepulchral voice...
Written and directed by Robert Eggers, “The Witch ” takes place in an America that in its extremes feels more familiar than its period drag might suggest. It’s set a decade after the Mayflower landed in Plymouth and tracks William’s family as it leaves the plantation to settle down alone at the edge of a forest. There, the family members build a farm, grow corn and commit themselves to God, a contract tested by a series of calamities that turn this story of belief into a freak-out of doubt...
What makes you and the movie jump, is that he stays inside the characters’ worlds and heads, all disastrously close quarters. These are people who fervently believe both in the Devil and in God, and for whom witches are as real as trees; it’s no wonder that their inability to tame the New World blurs with their fears..."
A Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki The Essence of Humanity is a 17 minute montage of compelling moments from the wonderful films of Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki said:"Creating animation means creating a fictional world. That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality." Written and narrated by Lewis Bond. Here is a link:The Essence of Humanity
Inside Out Wins Both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe...
Apparently, this is a true breakthrough film from Pixar with great reviews and huge audiences of kids and parents...with a worldwide box office of over $850,000 before the awards.
Here is an excerpt from A.O. Scott's rave review in the NY Times: "
"The story takes place mostly in the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), who has just moved with her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) from Minnesota to San Francisco. What happens to Riley on the outside is pretty standard: a dinner-table argument with Mom and Dad; a rough day at school; a disappointing hockey tryout. But anyone who has been or known a child Riley’s age will understand that such mundane happenings can be the stuff of major interior drama.
......... The achievement of “Inside Out” is at once subtler and more impressive. This is a movie almost entirely populated by abstract concepts moving through theoretical space. This world is both radically new — you’ve never seen anything like it — and instantly recognizable, as familiar aspects of consciousness are given shape and voice. Remember your imaginary childhood friend? Your earliest phobias? Your strangest dreams? You will, and you will also have a newly inspired understanding of how and why you remember those things..."
Emma Brockes,writing in theGUARDIAN,wrote an article in praise of libraries..."Libraries today are as fast as and more generous than any online bookshop"...here is an excerpt:
..."It turns out that, during my five-year hiatus, the convenience argument has expired. The New York Public Library system has made it fantastically easy to order any book directly from your computer. There is a phone app, and an app for downloading ebooks. The half-empty shelves are irrelevant given that you can put a hold on any book in the entire New York system and it will be delivered to your branch within days. This week, I went on a half-hysterical borrowing frenzy and ordered ...Then I took my kids to the children’s section upstairs, where there are play mats and huge windows and a librarian who is very cross, all of the time, particularly if you try to feed your child a snack without her seeing. After almost 10 years in New York, I’ve never felt so at home."
Fairy Tales and the Human Struggle
At their best, the storytelling of fairy tales constitute the most profound articulation of the 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...." Jack Zipes on The Art Of Storytelling Show
More Children in Crisis
The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos & the Spanish Speaking
" REFORMA, established in 1971 as an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), has actively sought to promote the development of library collections to include Spanish-language and Latino oriented materials; the recruitment of more bilingual and bicultural library professionals and support staff; the development of library services and programs...
The recent arrival of over 70,000 childrencrossing the southern border into the United States has created an unprecedented humanitarian refugee crisisthat compels REFORMA as an organization to act.The children, mostly Spanish speaking, are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. While recent news coverage of this event has focused on legal, medical and emergency response to services, there are few if any news stories that demonstrate the social-emotional and information needs of these children and families. A view of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities shows children waiting in large storage like facilities with no activities to occupy the children’s minds through learning and play while they are being processed.
With no knowledge of where they are going or if they will reach their families in the United States, REFORMA has implemented a project,Children in Crisis, to solicit donations, purchase and deliver books for these children. We are soliciting children's books in Spanish to be delivered to the children in the detention centers in and to the shelters and group homes around the country where these children are sent after being processed. In the second phase of the project we will be coordinating backpacks that will contain books as well as paper, pencils, erasers, crayons and a writing journal for children to use in their journey toward their destination..."
Here is a link to learn more: Reforma Website. The Reforma photo is of a library visit by Hispanic shelter children.
Assistance Dogs of the West, Santa Fe , N.M., has won a $5,000 grant from the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) for their wonderful work with therapy dogs.
Here are excerpts from their site:
"Simply put, we teach students to train dogs to help people. Since 1995, more than 2500 student trainers in New Mexico have taken part in the ADW Assistance Dog Student Training program, the largest of its kind in the world. This work strengthens relationships, builds skills and nurtures empathy among young people, the dogs they train and our clients..."
Warrior Canine Connection
Warrior Canine Connection™ (WCC™) teaches warriors with combat injuries how to train service dogs for other veterans with disabilities. The dogs are trained to provide mobility support and to offer constant, non-judgmental, healing companionship to minds and bodies ravaged by war.
Here is an excerpt from the Planet Dog Foundation Site with a succinct overview:
'Assistance Dogs of the West teaches students of all ages to help train service dogs and provide dogs to people with physical, psychological,
Last Sunday afternoon, I took the train to Cambridge. Actually, 3 trains - bit of a long haul. I nearly got stranded part way there too: overhead cables were down in Retford, all trains going south were suspended and, when I did get going, we spent so long sitting in the middle of nowhere that I had time to do this painting of the view:
It was worth the pain though, for several reasons:
1: I arrived to a home-cooked, Thai, veggie meal and a glass (actually 2 glasses) of wine with my hosts Mr and Mrs Clarke.
2: I was soon to sign squillions of books - hurrah!
3: Best of all, was the fantastic time I had in store next day, with the kids at St John's College School...
Yes, it's the Spring school-visits season and, as well as dancing the cancan with Y1, singing about dragons with Reception, rapping, burping and creating monsters with Y2 (plus of course, reading stories galore and drawing loads on the flip chart)...
... I was also called upon to judge 2 competitions. The first was the 'Extreme Reading' photo prize. It's something lots of schools do for book week: kids have to bring in pictures of themselves reading in weird and wonderful places. There were so many really imaginative ones, we gave a prize to each year group. My favourites were a girl and her book inserted into the shell of a giant tortoise (how?), a small boy atop a princess-and-the-pea style tower of cushions, pretty much to the ceiling, and a brilliant action-shot of someone reading while turning a cartwheel!
I was also the judge of a Class Two at the Zoo illustration competition. All the children took part. This was the display of some of the hot favourites. Mrs Clarke did a great job - notice how the letters of my name are cut out of sections of Class Two at the Zoo illustrations:
I couldn't possibly choose one winner, so again, we awarded a separate prize for each year. All the winners got a signed copy of the book (with a drawing of the anaconda inside, of course). Throughout the day, every Rec - KS1 child in the school bought a book, so I worked my socks off, signing in every spare minute.
I didn't mind at all though: it's great to sell so many, as it really helps to keep them in print. Plus, I was fed plenty of biscuits to keep my strength up. Posh ones too. I am a sucker for shortbread:
We finished the day with a PowerPoint talk to Y3 and Y4. Everyone was so appreciative, I felt very loved. Mrs Clarke, who booked me, said it was the best author visit they had ever had, and they have had a few big names, so I came away glowing like the kid in the Readybrek commercial (remember that?). Here is Mrs Clarke in the library:
Fortunately my train journey home was a lot easier than the trip down. Plus, this time I had a stash of shortbread to keep me going!
A huge thank you to Mr and Mrs Clarke for their hospitality and to everyone at school, for making it such a fun day. Don't forget kids: keep practising your drawing, because it's like magic - the more you do it, the better you get, until eventually you get so brilliant that you explode (that last bit is a fib, but the rest is true).
Our eleven-year-old son enjoys reading from this book for his morning devotion. However, my husband and I receive refreshing encouragement from this adaptation of Sarah Young’s ECPA 2013 Christian Book of the Year, Jesus Today.
The 368-page book contains 150 devotions. Each devotion, approximately 200 words in length, is presented on a left page followed by three or four corresponding scriptures on the right page.
I love the way Young writes—as if Jesus is talking to the reader. I have to give credit to Tama Fortner who adapted the book for younger readers. She does a great job presenting the devotions in a simple and easy to understand manner. Yet, the devotions are not watered down. They remain quite meaty.
An example of this is in the following excerpt from devotion #141, Leave Roomfor Mystery.
“… My ways are often a mystery to you—like why bad things happen to good people, or good things happen to bad people. You wish you could always know what I’m thinking, but your knowledge only goes so far.”
“… When there is something you can’t make sense of, trust Me—and trust that there are some things too wonderful for you to know.”
This devotion is followed by 1 Timothy 3:16, Job 1:20-22, and Job 42:3. These are wonderful things to ponder and discuss, right?
I had a bit of an adventure recently... It began with me getting a plane to Scotland on a Sunday afternoon. Things got off to a dodgy start though - I nearly missed my flight. I had bags of time, right up to the point where, approaching the departure gate, I realised I'd left my watch in the tray at the security bit, so had to try and get back through. It's not so easy in the other direction. 'Last call for Lynne Chapman...' Luckily someone had handed my watch in. Thank goodness I noticed before I got on the plane. I had been invited to spend 4 days at the International School of Aberdeen: the longest school visit I think I've ever done. I was put up in a rather nice hotel and had a big, if VERY taupe room: not a whisper of colour anywhere!
Bizarrely, on that Sunday night, I was the only person staying in the entire hotel. I could have run naked through the corridors at midnight. Instead I was very boring and went to bed. Well, I needed to be up bright and early for my first day at school. The excitement was at a pretty high level before I even got there but, as the days went by, it got better and better. I moved around the school to a constant soundtrack of 'There she is!' and 'Look, it's Lynne Chapman!' with children waving and calling hello. I was nipping to the loo one lunchtime when I overheard an excited whisper: 'Look, she's going to the toilet!', as if it was a shock that I actually needed to.
I kicked off that first Monday morning with a lecture about how picture books are created. They had a totally gorgeous theatre. It was packed tight with all the kids and quite a few parents. I immediately felt very welcome. Everyone was obviously really keen and the talk went down extremely well. Good start!
I read stories and larked about with the younger ones as usual. I read Rocky and the Lamb for the first time in ages and we designed monsters. These are some of the children's monster drawings. Very inventive - I love how they often come up with elaborate stories about their invented creature:
At the end of the session, I got them all to hold them up and make a monster noise:
With the slightly older ones, I had time for 2 different workshops for each group, which is very unusual - normally it's a squeeze to see everyone once. This meant I could try a couple of new things. After passing on all my hot tips for creating characters (basically the 'best of' my Craftsy class), I tried demo sessions, showing them how to colour artwork. Some classes experimented with the Inktense watercolour pencils I love so much and others used pastels. I did a big demo-drawing of Giddy Goat in pastels to show them specific techniques. I added to it over the days until it was finished and left it with the school as a present.These are a few of the pastel drawings the children created:
It was a bit scary doing something I've not tried before, but the children were great and absolutely loved the Inktense watercolour pencils. Both children and teachers were all so enthusiastic about everything I shared, I walked around in a warm glow all week.
I was looked after really well too. I was taken out a couple of times for meals in the evenings with the school librarian who had booked me (Thai and Lebanese - yum). I even got to try my hand at an after-school yoga class (oh dear: lots of creaky bits). Come Thursday afternoon, I was almost sad to be going home. Luckily, the flight back home went without incident or recourse to stupidity.
Is there a little princess twirling through your home? Perhaps she has difficulty choosing a wedding gown from the half-dozen glittering dresses in her closet. Days are filled with delightful giggles bubbling out as she waves from the top of the sofa...I mean, her horse-drawn, glass carriage. And you breathe in the moments. Then reality hits. Unless you have a fairy godmother, you wonder if you'll be able to make that future fairy tale wedding come true. Whether she's two or twelve, begin preparing your daughter now for her wedding day.
The average cost of a wedding in the United States is around $30,000 according to valuepenguin.com. Manhattan, New York weddings average a skyrocketing $88,000 and Mississippi marriages glide around $13,000. Weddings in my home state of North Carolina typically fly around $28,000 but not so for my family.
Here are a couple of princess images I created. One was for a Halloween book and features my daughter with her friends and cousin. The other is a spread from A Little Princess which I stepped in to illustrate for another illustrator when she could not meet the deadline...I'm glad I took the job!
Hope and Celebration - Light in the darkness, time out for happiness, wonder and magic.
Enter the world of tales told by people, of stories that live on. of tales of wonder, fairy tales.
Santa Claus, the man in the red suit stepping out of the chimney, comes to us from the talented Thomas Nast; his popular 19th century illustrations helped to popularize Santa Claus as we know him today.
Charles Dicken's, A Christmas Carol,and the power of story.
This book influenced the thinking of generations of readers, and transformed the spirit of theChristmas holiday. The transformation was guided by Dicken's passionate belief that the true Christmasspiritembodied caring and generosity -- especially for those less fortunate.
A Christmas Carolwas written with the passion born of his painful childhood as an impoverished 12 year old boy from a broken family.With his father in debtor's prison, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days for six shillings a week under harsh conditions (the factory was home to multitudes of rats) in England's new industrial economy.
Much has changed with the passing of time and the commercialism of the marketplace has brought an endless stream of marketing -- more games, toys and advertising -- to Christmas.
But the Spirit Of Christmas does live on.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” ...Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
Scrooge Lives On...
Viking has recently published (October 2015) a well reviewed book by Charles Lovett, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge. For more information, visit his website: Charles Lovett
The above illustrations are by John Leech from the original A Christmas Carol.
The Legend of Santa Claus
IN the USA, the legend of Santa Clauswas greatly enhanced in the early nineteenth century by the poem, A Visit From St.Nicholas.
The popularity of this story-poem, first published in 1823, continued to grow with the passing years. It was originally written for his children by Clement Clarke Moore.
Later in the century, popular illustrations by Thomas Nast, including Moore's poem, A Visit From StNicholas, firmly established Santa Claus as a jolly, rotund figure in a red suit with a white beard. Nast's images of Santa and his red suit became accepted and remain the norm today.
The illustration is by Thomas Nast.
The Fairy Tale Moves On Its Own Time
"It all adds up to this: the fairy tale narrates a wish-fulfillment which is not bound by its own time and the apparel of its contents. In contrast to the folk tale, which is always tied to a particular locale, the fairy tale remains unbound. Not only does the fairy tale remain as fresh as longing and love, but the evil demons that abound in fairy tales are still at work here in the present, and the happiness of "once upon a time", which is even more abundant in the fairy tale, still affects our vision of the future..."
The above insights into the role of fairy tales are from an essay written in 1930 by the German scholar and philosopher, Ernst Bloch. I believe that the context in which they were written adds to their import. Germany in 1930 was in the grip of the Great Depression. Poverty and uncertainty had swept the land. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were feeding on people's fear and rising in power. Bloch later escaped to the USA where he wrote his renowned three-part treatise, The Principle of Hope(1938-1947).
The illustration from the Secret Of The Kells is by Tomm Moore. The painting is by Gerard Dubois.
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Here is an excerpt from a fairy tale by the Grimm's that came to be a Christmas story. It tells of the elves who helped a hard working, but impoverished shoemaker and his wife ...they, in gratitude, surprised the elves at Christmas time.
"About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed mightily delighted.
Then they dressed themselves in the twinkling of an eye, and danced and capered and sprang about, as merry as could be; till at last they danced out at the door, and away over the green..."
Who is Santa? Where did he come from? How did the toy workshops get started? Where did all the elves come from and why did they agree to move to the wintry north and make toys for Santa? And how about the flying reindeer...where did they come from? These are among the many heretofore unanswered questions about the orgins of Christmas and Santa Claus.
Now, at last, author Mark Couturierhas written The Saga Of Santa Claus, a fascinating book telling the complete story of the ancient origins of Christmas and Santa Claus. For a comprehensive picture of this original book, check out the enthusiastic Amazonreviews.
"The year 2015 will see the 49th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. It was created by Dr.Maulana "Ron" Karenga,a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At that time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebrationthat would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress.
Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years."...Kwanzaa ends with gift giving and a celebratory feast.
Christmas Lights Moving Through the Hills... A Holiday treat, and a wonder to behold, the moving lights are on hundreds of sheep, running in the darkness, guided by sheepdogs...this is a classic video...Here is the link: Moving Lights
Penn Vet Working Dog Center Philadelphia, PA is a recent recipient of a Planet DogFoundation (PDF) grant. The goals of the Penn Vet working Dog Center are "national security, fields of detection work, canine health and performance, and to enhance that unique bond between humans and man’s best friend". The Planet Dog Foundation has awarded grants exceeding one million dollars to fund "the training, placement and support of dogs helping people in need."
"The Penn Vet Working Dog Center is part of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, and serves as a national research and development center for detection dogs. They work to train elite detection dogs to assist in medical research, national security, and finding victims of disasters. PDF has awarded a $10,000 grant in support of Punches, a female Labrador Retriever named in honor of Jack Punches, a victim of the attacks of 9/11. Punches is training to detect explosives, explosives residue, and post-blast evidence. Trained explosives detection dogs can also detect firearms and ammunition hidden in vehicles and containers, on persons, or buried underground."
Here is an an excerpt from the dog lovers book, Circling the Waggins, by CA Wulff. The dogs seen in the ebook cover are the current residents of the cabin in the woods wherein this saga of a life with rescued dogs takes place. The book is a journey into the heart and mind of a dedicated pet lover who shares her experiences, concerns, and deep emotions with the reader.The setting is a cabin-home in a national park forest. The characters are several adopted dogs, cats, and, for a while, domestic mice -- and two compassionate women.
"I feel like we are haunted by the ghost dog of Christmas past.The season brings a million reminders of our Troll, a dog who had loved Christmas more than any other time of year. He would get excited at the first signs of holiday decorations, and his eyes would shine with a child’s wonder. On Christmas morning, he would race to be the first dog under the tree, to tear at the packages full of biscuits and rawhides. Each of the dogs would tear at a package, but Troll unwrapped with such gusto and fervor, that they would all abandon their presents to stand back and watch him, and then make off with whatever treats he had revealed."
Review... Loved it… This delightful conclusion to the Planet of the Dogs series just caps off a wonderful tradition. The story is well suited to be read aloud to younger children and as chapter book for the older ones. All of your favorite dogs help rescue two of Santa's reindeer from the Evil King of the North. The story also imparts important lessons of cooperation and responsibility." Mary Jacobs, Editor/reviewer Bookhounds
We have free reader copies of all the books in 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.
The illustration, above, from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty.
"What a truly wonderful and unique Christmas story for the whole family..." Don Blankenship, Teacher, Reviewer for Great Books For Kids.
Singing One Of The Old-Time Carols
..."'I think it must be the field-mice,' replied the Mole, with a touch of pride in his manner. 'They go round carol-singing regularly at this time of the year. They're quite an institution in these parts. And they never pass me over—they come to Mole End last of all; and I used to give them hot drinks, and supper too sometimes, when I could afford it. It will be like old times to hear them again.'
'Let's have a look at them!' cried the Rat, jumping up and running to the door.
It was a pretty sight, and a seasonable one, that met their eyes when they flung the door open. In the fore-court, lit by the dim rays of a horn lantern, some eight or ten little fieldmice stood in a semicircle, red worsted comforters round their throats, their fore-paws thrust deep into their pockets, their feet jigging for warmth. With bright beady eyes they glanced shyly at each other, sniggering a little, sniffing and applying coat-sleeves a good deal. As the door opened, one of the elder ones that carried the lantern was just saying, 'Now then, one, two, three!' and forthwith their shrill little voices uprose on the air, singing one of the old-time carolsthat their forefathers composed in fields that were fallow and held by frost, or when snow-bound in chimney corners, and handed down to be sung in the miry street to lamp-lit windows at Yule-time..."
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Illustration by Ernst Shepard
Interview With Santa
This interview was conducted as part of a program to determine the truth behind the incredible story of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale....
Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and clarifying things.
Santa: I’m happy that the story is finally coming out.
Interviewer: Is it a true story?
Interviewer: Why haven’t we known about it before?
Santa: I think it was lost in the mists of time…It took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Interviewer: Is it true that there was to be no more Christmas?
Santa: I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Until the dogs arrived.
Interviewer: The dogs?
Santa: It was a surprise to all of us in Santa Claus village. None of us, and that includes all the elves, had even heard of dogs.
Interviewer: Is that because you were so far North and rather isolated?
Santa: Well, that and the fact that dogs has just started arriving on planet earth. Prior to that time, there had been no dogs on Earth.
Interviewer: Really! Where did they come from? And how did they find you?
Santa: They had started coming down to Earth from their own planet – the Planet of the Dogs. They came down to help people. Somehow, they heard we were in trouble, and one day, there they were, just like that...
"One Christmas was so much like the other, in those years around the sea-town corner now, out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down towards the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged, fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen..." Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas in Wales
Light In The Darkness
"The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) supports developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
Since its inception, the Global Partnership has supported developing country partners to achieve remarkable and measurable results. For example, the number of out-of-school primary school children has been reduced from 56 million to 41 million in 2012. They have also achieved substantial improvements in gender parity and major increases in the number of girls completing primary school in countries where GPE has supplied support and resources.
Here is a link for more ot the remarkable RESULTS,from around the world (updates and photos), of the Global Partnership for Education.
Hope in Dystopia in Mockingjay: Part 2
This film is being seen by multitudes of people worldwide. Based on that fact alone, Mockingjay 2 is an important YA crossover film. It is a rather long, dark, viewing experience, executed with excellent acting and all the traditional elements of a very well done action movie. Mockingjay 2 also deals with issues of morality amidst the painful chaos of war.
Richard Lawson, in his thoughtful Vanity Fairreview, considered the film's significance in these troubled times as well as the "entertainment" value of the film. Here are excerpts:
"Mockingjay: Part 2 shows us, in rich and bracing fashion, the Hunger Games movies have been saying something all along—about the tragedy of youth (or anyone) in war, about post-traumatic stress disorder, about the ways we cede our autonomy to notions of comfort, to spectacle, to the easy lies of othering. The film makes these points in a far more clear-headed, more resonant manner than its source material. It’s a rare film adaptation that improves upon the original text, highlighting its crucial themes while streamlining and shaping the action into something legible and gripping...
The Hunger Games films...show us how good blockbuster movies can be. And they beseech us, in their earnest way, to be better, conscientious stewards of our own fraught and fragile world. That’s a useful message for anyone these days, young adult or not."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens -- in time for the Holidays
The Dark Side Returns Worldwideon December 18-19 in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D...just in time for the Holidays. Disney executives expect a very happy holiday, anticipating box office records with this $200,000,000 million dollar film. Fans will find that Harrison Ford, Chewbacca, Jedi Knights and light sabers have all returned along with the Dark Side. In keeping with changing times, the good side also has an important female warrior woman, Rey. Played by newcomer Daisy Ridley, she is also a red hot pilot.
Review: In ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ a Reptile Tends to His Human Pet
Manohla Dargis, the excellent NY Times reviewer, wrote a warm review for this latest Pixar production. Here is an excerpt...
"Blink and you may miss the sly joke that sets 'The Good Dinosaur' on its enchantingly eccentric way. It begins with a near apocalypse 65 million years ago and an asteroid racing toward Earth. And while that’s around the time, more or less, that science hypothesizes the dinosaurs bit the dust, the wizards at Pixar have forged another creation story. Instead of crashing, the space rock zips past the big blue marble... "
Hope and Celebration are here with music... 3 minutes and 40 seconds of joy from singing kids in many places...What A Wonderful World (Playing for Change)
All About Dog Love
Nancy Houser, on her Way Cool Dogs Blog, provides a wide variety of information on dog issues ranging from health care and nutrition to canine science and dog love. On a recent post, How To Love Your Dog, she wrote about many facets of dog love. Here's an excerpt...
"How to love your dog by being a dog is something every dog owner should know about, as long as they do not continuously wag their tail!
And, whether your dog is a mischievous young puppy and full of bounding love, or an older dog that has been abandoned with very little love— it won’t be too hard to play the part.
Loving your dog makes it easy to build positive and loving feelingsfor this furry friend, choosing what is best to develop a better life. Dogs who are lovednot only feel safe, but secure and cherished. But, recognizing if youlove your dog does not mean a thing if your dog does not love you back."..The article continues, including a point by point section entitled , "How to tell if your dog loves you back".
Nancy also includes information on fascinating MRI studies regarding a dog's love byneuroscientist Dr Gregory Berns. Dr Berns wrote a book titled "How Dogs Love Us". To learn more about Dr, Berns and his MRI dog studies, here is a link to his Ted Talk.
The photo is courtesy of the wonderful Paws Giving Independence therapy dog organization, Peoria,Illonois. Please click on the photo to enlarge and to see why it was chosen.
Children, War, and Hope
Thirty million children have been driven from their homes by war. In a touching and informed article on refugee children, Jake Silverstein -- in the New York Times Magazine-- writes of this devastating situation by telling the stories of three young girls. Each is from a different part of the world: the Ukraine, South Sudan, and Lebanon. Here are excerpts from this excellent article:
..."Young as these girls are, they have already been asked to bear a profound loss. You can see it in their faces. They appear to be only half children, the other half having been matured ahead of schedule by trauma and displacement. They know what they should not. And yet, there is still that other half. They are still kids. Unlike the adults in the frame, who must be constantly aware of their dangerous ordeal, the girls, from time to time, might forget. If the moment was right, they might play a game...
That children, even under the worst of circumstances, are able to remain children supplies the world around them with the sense of a future, which is the equivalent of hope..."
The photo of the five Syrian children was taken in the Domaz refugee camp in Iraq.The photo of the young girl and her brother was taken in a Syrian refugee camp by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty
"Story time is drawing capacity crowds at public libraries across New York and across the country at a time when, more than ever, educators are emphasizing the importance of early literacy in preparing children for school and for developing critical thinking skills. The demand crosses economic lines, with parents at all income levels vying to get in.
Many libraries have refashioned the traditional readings to include enrichment activities such as counting numbers and naming colors, as well as music and dance. And many parents have made story time a fixture in their family routines alongside school pickups and playground outings — and, for those who employ nannies, a nonnegotiable requirement of the job...
Libraries around the country have expanded story time and other children’s programs in recent years, attracting a new generation of patrons in an age when online offerings sometimes make trips to the book stacks unnecessary. Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association, said such early-literacy efforts are part of a larger transformation libraries are undergoing to become active learning centers for their communities by offering services like classes in English as a second language, computer skills and career counseling."
The illustration of the rabbits is by Beatrix Potter.The illustration of the Moomins is by Tove Jansson.
Anna Nirva is 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 fostering dogs
Often, we hear heartbreaking stories of youth, raised in Christian homes, choosing to walk away from the Truth of Jesus Christ.
As Christian parents, we find it difficult to contemplate the possibility of our children living, and dying, without the hope, the peace, and the eternal joy that comes only through Christ.
What can parents do when the Enemy silently creeps into our children’s lives and captivates their attention with lies and deception? What can we do to help them avoid unnecessary distress in their futures?
The photograph of a Belarus bus stop is by Alexandra Soldatova
Enchantmenttakes many forms in wonder tales.
Metamorphosis and transformation are part of life.
In an instant, a girl, a boy, or even a powerful a prince may be transformed into a swan, a frog, a fox, a bird or a bear.
And then, there is the beast...
Beauty and the Beast
For a young woman to confront a beast is an experience of fear beyond words. In a time when dark spirits, witches and the devil himself acted on humans, both powerful kings and lowly peasants were vulnerable to transformation. Beauty and the Beast, is a rather incredible tale about a prince turned into a beast. And he will remain a beast until he marries. It will take an extraordinary woman to overcome her fear and revulsion and offer herself in marriage to the Beast...
Beauty and the Beast is an incredible story and a fascinating read. This story of fearful enchantment is not, however, for young children.
It was originally written in 1740 as a book, La Belle et La Bete, by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.
The version rewritten in 1757 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and published in a magazine for proper young women, is the most widely known version today. It is much shorter than the original, and was especially relevant for its readers in its exploration of love and inner beauty.The story has inspired countless books, plays, and films.
Love, Fidelity, and Civilité
The following excerpt, by Terri Windling, taken from her Journal of Mythic Arts, provides insights into the relevance of Beauty and the Beast to the real life experiences of women. In her fascinating article, Windling also provides in-depth analysis and history of this classic fairy tale as well as the many variations inspired by the original.
The Journal of Mythic Arts, "(JoMA) is sponsored by The Endicott Studio, a nonprofit organization dedicated to literary, visual, and performance arts inspired by myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the oral storytelling tradition."
"De Villeneuve was part of the "second wave" of French fairy tale writers (Madame D'Aulnoy, Charles Perrault, and other salon fairy tale writers comprising the "first wave" fifty years earlier). When she sat down to create Beauty and the Beast(a novella–length tale first published in La jeune ameriquaine, et les contes marins), she was influenced by the work of "first wave" writers, by the story of "Cupid and Psyche" in Apuleius' Golden Ass, and by the various Animal Bridegroom legends of folklore. The story she came up with was uniquely her own, however, and addressed issues of concern to women of her day. Chief among these was a critique of a marriage system in which women had few legal rights — no right to chose their own husband, no right to refuse the marriage bed, no right to control their own property, and no right of divorce. Often the brides were fourteen or fifteen years old, given to men who were decades older. Unsatisfactory wives risked being locked up in mental institutions or distant convents. Women fairy tale writers of the 17th & 18th centuries were often sharply critical of such practices, promoting the ideas of love, fidelity, and civilitébetween the sexes. Their tales reflected the realities they lived with, and their dreams of a better way of life. Their Animal Bridegroom stories, in particularly, embodied the real–life fears of women who could be promised to total strangers in marriage, and who did not know if they'd find a beast or a lover in their marriage bed."
The two illustrations, above, of Beauty and the Beast are by Angela Barrett.
Conversations with the Beast
Dinner in the Castle
"Go ahead and eat, Beauty", said the monster,"And try not to get bored in this house, for everything here is yours, and I would be distressed if you were to become unhappy."
"You are very kind", said Beauty. "I swear to you that I am completely pleased with your tender heart. When I think of it, you no longer seem ugly to me."
"Oh, of course," Beast replied. "I have a tender heart, but I am still a monster."
"There are certainly many men more monstrous than you," said Beauty. " I like you better, even with your looks, than men who hide false, corrupt, and ungrateful hearts behind charming manners."
"Beast opened his eyes and said to beauty...'the thought of having lost you made me decide to starve myself to death. Now I will die happy for I have the pleasure of seeing you one last time.'
'No, dear Beast, you will not die,' said Beauty. 'You will live and become my husband. From this moment on, I give you my hand in marriage, and I swear that I will belong only to you. Alas, I thought that I felt only friendship for you, but the anguish I am feeling makes me realize that I can't live without you.'
Scarcely had Beauty uttered these words when the castle became radiant with light...She turned back to look at her dear Beast, whose perilous condition made her tremble with fear. You can imagine her surprise when she discovered that Beast had disappeared and that a young prince, more handsome than the day was bright, was lying at her feet, thanking her for having broken the magic spell cast on him."
An annotated anthology of Beauty and the Beast storiesis currently being edited byMarie Tatar
The illustrations are by Walter Crane (top) and Mercer Mayer (bottom).
An Ancient Story
More validation regarding the ancient origin of wonder tales, including Beauty and the Beast...
Sara Graçada Silva, New University, Lisbon; and Jamshid J.Tehrani, Durham University; have published a new study exploring the origins of folktales in the Royal Society Open Science Journal. .This is a new open journal publishing high-quality original research across the entire range of science on the basis of objective peer-review."The researchers for this study utilized innovative methodology and computer applications.Here is an excerpt:
..."For example, two of the best known fairy tales, ATU 425C ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ATU 500 ‘The Name of the Supernatural Helper’ Rumplestiltskin’) were first written down in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries . While some researchers claim that both storylines have antecedents in Greek and Roman mythology [44,45], our reconstructions suggest that they originated significantly earlier. Both tales can be securely traced back to the emergenceof the major western Indo-European subfamilies as distinct lineages between 2500 and 6000 years ago [2,3], and may have even been present in the last common ancestor of Western Indo-European languages (figure 4).
The photos are from Newgrange, a neolithic monument built 5,000 years ago in Boyne Valley, County Meath, Ireland.
Thanks to Heidi Anne Heiner and Sur La Lune where I first read about this study.
Fairy Tales and the Civilizing Process
"At their best, the storytelling of fairy tales constitute the most profound articulation of the 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. -- Jack Zipes on The Art Of Storytelling Show
The Frog Queen illustration, by Andrea Dezso, is from Jack Zipe's book, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities.” ― Maya Angelou, Poems
WorldRead AloudDay is February 24, 2016
LitWorld empowers children worldwide through reading and the power of story.
World Read Aloud Day continues to grow and is now celebrated by over one million people world- wide.The following is from the LitWorld website...
"World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word across the globe!"
Planet Of The Dogs
The Planet Of The Dogstakes place long, ago. There were no dogs on planet earth. Invaders and outlaw tribes were an ongoing threat to farms, villages and towns where ordinary people lived.
Dogs came down to Green Valley from their own peaceful planet to help people. Using their courage, intelligence and their great love of humans, the dogs were able to help good people in myriad ways: rescuing lost children; bringing comfort and healing to the old and the lonely; guarding homes and farm; and finally, overcoming the invading warrior tribes and bringing peace to the land...
Reviewer Wayne Walker in Stories for Children Magazine:..." 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 that come from another planet to help people on earth. But under the surface are the important messages of friendship, love, loyalty, and overcoming evil with good..."
The illustrations from Snow Valley Heroes and Planet Of The Dogs are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
Action and Compassion...An exciting video posted on Facebook by the Logical Indian...a dog, carried along turbulent waters, is rescued... for compassionate people and for all dog lovers...a dog rescue video
Beauty and the Beast and Disney
Disney is producing a new live action, 3-D, musical film version ofBeauty and the Beast for release in March 2017. Emma Watson plays beauty. From the trailer, it looks like there are lots of special effects and plot additions. Music from the Disney hit Broadway musical version will be included. The Broadway version was written by Linda Woolverton, the writer also responsible for the very engaging, Maleficent . However, she is not the writer of this 2017 movie version.
We can only hope that Beauty's fearful journey of transition will not become a sugar coated, overwrought romance.
Here is the link to the trailer of the version that will open in 2017 .
Disney's 1991 animated film of Beauty and the Beast
I haven't seen this version. Therefore, I have posted excerpts from two recognized authorities.
Excerpts from two divergent opinions: One, by the respected Terri Windling, author of highly regarded children's books and recognized as an expert on children's literature (Myth and Moor blog, the JOMA archives...Nonetheless, I found myself disturbed by the film — by the broad liberties the Disney Studio took in changing classic elementsof the tale. This leads to the question of where precisely should one draw the line between use and abuse of fairy tales in creating art for modern audiences. It is a question that particularly concerns those of us interested in myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the ways they are used in contemporary arts.
Here is a divergent opinion by respected film critic, the late Roger Ebert,... "The film is as good as any Disney animated feature ever made - as magical as “Pinocchio,” “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid.” And it's a reminder that animation is the ideal medium for fantasy, because all of its fears and dreams can be made literal. No Gothic castle in the history of horror films, for example, has ever approached the awesome, frightening towers of the castle where the Beast lives..".
Disney Power, Enchantment and Myopia
For many years, Jack Zipes has written about, and documented, Disney's usurpation and corruption of fairy tales. Here is an excerpt...
"Our contemporary concept and image of a fairy tale have been shaped and standardized by Disney so efficiently through the mechanism of the culture industry that our notions of happiness and utopia are and continue to be filtered through a Disney lens even if it is myopic...myopic has continued to dominate both reality and utopia."
Room to Read...bringing books to disadvantaged children
Over 9.7 million books were checked out from Room To Read Librariesin 2012. Here are excerpts from their website describing some of the outstanding work they accomplish worldwide:
"We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.
To achieve this goal, we focus on two areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education.
We work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skillsand a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond."
"Our Girls’ Education Program ensures that girls complete secondary school and have the skills to negotiate key life decisions. Our program reinforces girls’ commitment to their own education, works with girls to develop essential life skills and increases support for girls’ education among their parents, school staff, and communities."
This is the home of author, blogger and animal advocate, CA Wulff. This is where she lives with her rescued dogs, writes her books, and helps people and dogs. She recently wrote on her blog, Up On The Woof, about her rescue work through the Community page, Lost & Found Ohio Pets on Facebook. The number of lost dogs, abandoned dogs, and rescued dogs is staggering.
Wulff has written two outstanding, practical, How-To books for dog (and animal) owners -- and for caring people who want to make a difference.
"Would you know what to do if you found a stray pet? You might think that calling animal control would be the best thing for the animal - but you'd be wrong. Lots of food for thought in this book, including what to do if you find a stray pet, how to keep from losing a pet, and what to do if your pet is lost. The authors are donating all of the proceeds to ARME's Beagle Freedom Project, a group that rescues dogs used in laboratories."
"This book not only offers a starting point for animal rescue but serves as a comprehensive resource book for animal rights advocates. C.A. Wulff has done the urgent heavy lifting here so that the heart and the hands of the rescuer doesn't have to be burdened or bound with the anxieties of not knowing where to begin...I whole heartedly recommend this book as a necessary tool to bring about change in the world."
One of the reasons for JK Rowling's success was that she didn't give a fig for what people thought they wanted. They didn't know they wanted Harry Potter till she wrote about him. That's the proper way round.
Beauty and the Beast -- Variations in Books, Film,Theater and Song
The variations on Beauty and the Beast are endless. Countless books, toys and games, Film andTV productions, CD and DVD offerings...and much of it is owned or licensed by Disney. This is, indeed, a manifestation of the culture industry.
Disney's Broadway musical version, according toWikipedia, "ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007, becoming Broadway's ninth longest production in history...The musical has grossed more than $1.4 billionworldwide and played inthirteen countries and 115 cities."
Here is an excerpt fromDavid Richard'sreview in the New York Times: "It is hardly a triumph of art, but it'll probably be a whale of a tourist attraction. It is Las Vegas without the sex, Mardi Gras without the booze...You don't watch it, you gape at it, knowing that nothing in Dubuque comes close."
Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast
Before there were any Disney versions, Jean Cocteau, French author, designer, artist, playwright, and film maker created a film, La Belle et La Bete (1945). It was based on the version by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Filmed in black and white, it was highly stylized and elegant.
The film was very well received by the critics -- Roger Ebert added it to his list of the Best 25 Films. Bosley Crowther, in the New York Times , 'called the film a "priceless fabric of subtle images,...a fabric of gorgeous visual metaphors, of undulating movements and rhythmic pace, of hypnotic sounds and music, of casually congealing ideas." '(Wikipedia)
The Cocteau film also directly inspired, among several other versions, an opera by Phillip Glass, a Fairie Tale theaterwith Susan Sarandonand Klaus Kinski, and an original song by Stevie Nicks.
Here is a link to the song, Beauty and the Beast, sung by Stevie Nicks
“[I] went from fighting on the battlefield, to laying in a bed and having people take care of [me], back to being independent and doing everything on [my] own…”
Chris Strickland, Age 22, Corporal, U.S. Army, regarding his Service Dog, Ruthie.
Mission and Services
"NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans provide independence to people who are Deaf or have a disability through the use of canine assistance.
NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services, also known as Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1976. Our Assistance Dogs become an extension of their handlers and bring freedom, physical autonomy and relief from social isolation to their human partners.Service dogs are provided free to veterans.
The Human Canine Bond- NEADS has trained over 1,500 Assistance Dog teams since 1976. NEADS is accredited by Assistance DogsInternational, the internationally recognized governing body that establishes industry standards and practices. NEADS offers a wide spectrum of Assistance Dog services"
“When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far, it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning.” ― Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors
The World and Its Wonders
Maria Tatar,in her wonderful book, Enchanted Hunters,describes how reading ignites a child's mind and transports them to worlds of imagination and wonder. In this excerpt from the chapter entitled Theaters for the Imagination, she discusses how fairy tales -- wonder tales -- opened the doors to new worlds:
"The deep, almost visceral connection between childhood and wonder had what was once perceived to be a dark side. The child's innate curiosity about the world and its wonders was repeatedly demonized and linked with the evils of idle hands...The rise of the fairy tale created a tectonic shift in children's literature and revealed that something had been long off kilter. Fairy tales -- sometimes referred to as "wonder tales" because they traffic in magic -- opened the door to new theaters of action, with casts of characters very different from the scolding schoolmarm, the aggravated bailiff, or the dis approving cleric found in manuals for moral and spiritual improvement. Books were suddenly invaded by fabulous monsters -- bloodthirsty giants, red-eyed witches, savage bluebeards, and sinister child snatchers -- and they produced a giddy sense of disorientation that roused the curiosity of the child reader."
Maria Tatar, Enchanted Hunters, the Power of Stories in Childhood.
A Message for the Family
This is a message from Churchhill Falls Public Library in Newfoundland, Canada...
Posted by author Mary Balogh on her FB page.
Alice returns May 27 in Tim Burton's Through the Looking Glass (Disney)...Much the same wonderful cast...Here is the delightful trailer
Inside Out 2, A Pixar film that has a humorous, Judy Blume approach to the mind of a young teenage girl...Inside Out was a multiple award winner...here is the trailer link: Inside Out 2
The Angry Birds Movie (Sony)...Inspired by the computer game...Opens in May...Here is the trailer for The Angry Birds Movie
The Jungle Book (Disney)...in 3D and Imax 3D...Opens April 15...Here is the fast action trailer for The Jungle Book
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warners)...written by JK Rowling...a return to the world of wizardry...Opens Nov 18...set in the USA in 1926...here is the announcement trailer
Elegant and Deep
"If I am a scholar, I am also a parent. To read to a childis to experience not just the pleasures of instruction or the warmth of entertainment, but the immense importance of quite simply reading...Even the most ordinary prose becomes mag