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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Hans Christian Andersen, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Theatrical Reviews: The Snow Queen

SnowQueenMusical 300x300 Theatrical Reviews: The Snow QueenI was trying to remember the last theater review I wrote for this site.  At first I thought it might be the review I did way way back in the day for the staged adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline where the main character was played by a heavyset middle aged woman (it worked quite well, thank you very much).  Then I remembered that I did write up the Matilda musical when Penguin was kind enough to offer tickets to local librarians.  Still, that was over a year ago and my theater going has shriveled in the wake of my increasing brood.  What would it take to get me back in the swing of things?  Good friends from my past, apparently.

The Snow Queen, which I have discussed here briefly before, came to NYC as part of the 2014 Musical Theatre Festival (spellcheck is questioning why I chose to spell it “theatre”, by the way). Having originated in the San Jose Repertory Theater the composer of the show is one Haddon Kime, a friend of mine from long back.  Indeed his wife Katie presided over my wedding and long ago he created the music for my very brief foray into podcasting.  He’s always been ridiculously talented but I confess that I’d never seen a show of his.  Until now.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot of this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, here’s the long and short of it. Two kids, Gerta and Kai, are best buddies.  Then one day two shards of a magic mirror enter Kai’s eye and heart, rendering him a cold-hearted bastard (which is to say, a teenager).  Along comes The Snow Queen who takes Kai away to her magic palace up North.  Rather than just mourn her friend, Gerta sets out to rescue him, encountering rivers, witches, crows, royalty, thieves, and more.  When she finds Kai he doesn’t exactly want to leave, so engaged is he in a puzzle The Snow Queen set up for him.  Fortunately love wins out, and the two kiddos go back home.

SnowQueen3 300x200 Theatrical Reviews: The Snow QueenAs the novel stands it is unlike most Andersen tales in that it has a metaphor so clear cut you’d swear it had been ghostwritten by Freud himself.  The shards of glass in Kai’s heart and eye are so clearly a stand-in for the changes adolescence that it’s scary.  Indeed, when Anne Ursu wrote the Snow Queen inspired novel Breadcrumbs, she made explicit what is only implied in the Andersen tale.  With that in mind, I was very curious how a staged production of the show would deal with some of these themes.

Right from the start the show casts Kai and Gerda as adults playing children.  This is a clever way of dealing with adolescence in a theatrical setting.  Years ago the remarkable staged adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials saga cast two adults as Lyra and Will, allowing them to learn and grow throughout the show.  And since Kai spends a fair amount of time in this show begging a grown woman in a white garter belt to kiss him, this was a wise choice.

I suppose you could say they decided to give the show a Steampunk feel.  There were a fair number of corsets and goggles, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  When I saw a Steampunk version of The Pirates of Penzance a couple years ago the effect was overdone.  Here it was subtle, more evident in the clothing than anything else.  Each character was outfitted in a simple but effective manner, none so effective as The Snow Queen herself.  Played to the hilt by the commanding Jane Pfitsch, she’s a photo negative of The Phantom of the Opera, bedecked all in white, luring a boy through a window (as opposed to the Phantom bedecked all in black, luring a girl through a mirror).  Admittedly her very cool costume resembled that of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” outfit from the MTV Music Video Awards, but there’s no crime in that.  Her blond bob stood in stark contrast to the elaborate headwear of Elsa in the Disney Snow Queen adaptation Frozen.  But it was her singing voice and violin playing that gave her true power.  A very strong soprano, you can actually see her right now in the current revival of Cabaret as Rosie.  As for the violin playing, this show followed the current trend of having the performers play instruments on the stage, but her violin contained not a jot of fly-by-night fakery.  This girl could play!  I was impressed.

SnowQueen2 300x200 Theatrical Reviews: The Snow QueenOther strong performances included Eryn Murman as Gerda, Reggie D. White as a Troll, a Hyacinth, a Prince, and a Reindeer respectively, and Jason Hite as an oddly sexy River, Crow, and Italian (for no particular reason) Daisy.  But the strongest actress, aside from The Snow Queen herself, was clearly Lauren Cipoletti.  There is much to be said for performers that have fun with their roles.  Cipoletti, by all appearances, seemed to be having a blast.  First she was a rosebush, and though all she does is preen in a manner best befitting The Rose of The Little Prince, you are entranced.  Later she came on as an adorable nerdgirl princess, pulling off the cheery “Never Give Up” song that might have wilted in a lesser performer’s mouth.  Best, however, was last since her most memorable role was the psychotic Little Robber Girl.  Singing “I Want That”, a ballad worthy of Veruca Salt herself, Cipoletti let her freak flag fly.  She was punk one minute and a cabaret singer the next.  She was Amanda Palmer and Courtney Love and a whole host of other wild women.  You didn’t trust her not to slit your throat while cooing sweet nothings in your ears all the while.  I’ve always loved the Little Robber Girl.  Now I adore her.

The music?  Superb.  Catchy.  Hummable.  I have actually been humming the song “Flying” ever since I saw it online, actually.  See, here’s a taste.

New York News

Neat, right? The show is jam-packed with music, making it almost more operetta than musical.  Haddon mixes up the styles, creating punk rock anthems and Southern bluegrass and Irish ballads depending on what fits best.  Should the show ever get picked up it could, of course, be cut down.  Some songs were lovely but easy to do away with.  In fact the song “Gone” was probably the loveliest of the batch, but superfluous in terms of plot.

SnowQueen1 300x200 Theatrical Reviews: The Snow QueenAs I exited the theater during intermission I saw a small girl wearing a Frozen t-shirt.  Since it was a 9 p.m. performance she was the only one of her kind to do so, but I like to think that there were other kids in the audience in a similar state of mind.  Kids entranced by Frozen who have an interest in the original source material.  My husband has always said that Frozen feels more like a prequel to The Snow Queen than anything else.  A cool thought (no pun intended).  However you look at it,

The show ended its run July 20th and one can only hope and pray that it gets picked up here in the city in some manner.  For another opinion check out the New York Times review A Fairy-Tale That Rocks in which reviewer Anita Gates calls parts of the show “evocatively effective”.  Also check out the TheaterMania review which calls Haddon’s score, “an endlessly listenable pastiche with elements of bluegrass, punk rock, and symphonic metal.”

Interested in reading the original story?  For the best round-up of Snow Queen works, go to the SurLaLune Fairy Tales site containing Modern Interpretations of The Snow Queen.  There you will find a list that is jaw-dropping in its content. It really is a remarkable collection.

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2. Wee folk, not twee folk

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

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3. Sofa Coppola in Talks to Direct ‘The Little Mermaid’ Live-Action Movie

sofiaAcademy Award-winning filmmaker Sofia Coppola (pictured, via) may direct a live-action movie of The Little Mermaid. The screenplay is based on the famous Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

Here’s more from Deadline: “Caroline Thompson of Edward Scissorhands fame is rewriting the script, about the mermaid willing to make a Faustian bargain to live on land after she falls in love. Previous drafts were done by Fifty Shades Of Grey scribe Kelly Marcel and Shame scribe Abi Morgan, and Joe Wright was at one time eyeing this to direct.”

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. Video Sunday: Ninjas, Snow Queens, and Faux Flash Mobs

Shout-out to my buddy Haddon Kime.  The man wrote the music and lyrics for a new musical version of The Snow Queen now playing at the San Jose Repertory Theatre with dreams of Broadway.  Years ago he created the opening music and words for my now long dead podcast.  It’s great seeing his star on the rise.  This past Christmas we discussed various children’s versions of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, including this year’s by Bagram Ibatoulline (which he hadn’t seen) and Breadcrumbs (which he thinks is brilliant).  This is a tiny look at the production but I do love that in this Steampunky SQ the little robber girl gets to sing a punk rock song.  Awesome.  She has always been my favorite character anyway.

Small children standing on chairs.  If book trailers need anything more than this, I don’t want to hear about it.  Here we have fantastic MG author N.D. Wilson’s daughter reading his self-published (and, if I hear correctly, soon to be professionally published) picture book Hello, Ninja.

Of course I can’t link to a video by N.D. Wilson without thinking of that AMAZING one he created years ago for the first Ashtown Burials book.  I was reminded of that video when I saw this recent one for Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor’s Secret by Chad Morris.  Many of us only DREAM of having a trailer of this caliber for our own titles:

With the advent of Saving Mr. Banks, some of you may be curious about the real P.L. Travers.  Fortunately it looks as if the documentary P.L. Travers: The Real Mary Poppins is available through YouTube.  Here’s the first part:

And for today’s off-topic video, special thanks to Gregory K for this one. It looks like the world’s most ambitious flashmob. It’s not. The amount of attention paid to facial hair should have given that much away.

Loved the live chicken.

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3 Comments on Video Sunday: Ninjas, Snow Queens, and Faux Flash Mobs, last added: 12/31/2013
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5. HOORAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

The high is 82 degrees today in New York City, and yet it’s already time to talk holiday books! I’m soaking up this warm weather, because Winter will make its appearance the way it always does: abruptly and with no mercy… but when it does, books that evoke feelings like these–nostalgia, gratitude, love for family and friends, the magic of the holiday season– are what make it all worthwhile.

Check out new sure-to-be classics from the HarperCollins Children’s Books list:

thanksgiving day thanks

THANKSGIVING DAY THANKS
by Laura Malone Elliot, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
ISBN: 9780060002367, $17.99
On sale now!

Thanksgiving is almost here and Sam’s class is excited for their Thanksgiving feast! Mary Ann is going to dress up like Squanto. Winston’s building a popsicle-stick Mayflower. Jeffrey’s organizing a pumpkin pie-making contest. Everyone already knows the one special thing they are thankful for—everyone but Sam, that is. When something goes wrong with Sam’s surprise project, will the class be able to save it? Will Sam discover what he’s thankful for?  From the author/illustrator combination of A STRING OF HEARTS.

 

the twelve days of christmas

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
written and illustrated by Susan Jeffers
ISBN: 9780062066152, $17.99
On sale now!

Splendidly rendered in Susan Jeffers’s breathtaking panoramic spreads, this jovial interpretation of a holiday classic will have readers of all ages singing their way through the holidays.

 

merry christmas splat

MERRY CHRISTMAS, SPLAT!
by Rob Scotton
ISBN: 9780062124500 $9.99
On sale now!

It’s the night before Christmas and Splat wonders if he’s been a good enough cat this year to deserve a really big present. Just to make sure, Splat offers some last-minute help to his mom—but messes up completely! That night Splat stays awake hoping to see Santa Claus, only to miss him. Splat is sure his Christmas is ruined along with his hopes for a really big present. It turns out that Splat may have been on the nice list after all!
santa claus and the three bears

SANTA CLAUS AND THE THREE BEARS
by Maria Modugno, illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer
ISBN: 9780061700231 $17.99
On sale now!

One snowy night, Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear decide to go for a winter stroll while their Christmas pudding cools. Unbeknownst to them, a white-bearded, black-booted, jolly interloper happens upon their cottage. When the bears return, they are shocked to find their pudding eaten, their chairs broken, and their cozy beds slept in! And it looks like he’s still there! Clad in a bright red jacket and completely covered in soot, there’s something awfully familiar about this guy…. Who could he be?

 

snow queen

THE SNOW QUEEN
by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
ISBN: 9780062209504 $17.99
On sale 10/8/13

Bagram Ibatoulline illustrates a storybook version of the classic tale about an evil queen and the ordinary girl who triumphs over her.

 

christmas mouse

CHRISTMAS MOUSE
written and illustrated by Anne Mortimer
ISBN: 9780062089281 $12.99
On sale now!

It’s Christmastime and Mouse has lots to do! The tree needs decorating, lights need hanging, and carols must be sung. There are presents to leave for special friends, treats to nibble on, and stockings to hang by the fire. When everything is ready, Mouse makes a Christmas wish before snuggling down to sleep. A final spread shows a very happy (and very full) Mouse lounging near his Christmas wish come true—a giant piece of cheese all his own. Anne Mortimer’s cozy story celebrates the little things we do that make Christmas a magical time for all.

 

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6. A folklore and fairy tales reading list from Oxford World’s Classics

By Jessica Harris


This month our Oxford World’s Classics reading list is on folk and fairy tales. Many of these stories pre-date the printing press, and most will no doubt continue to be told for hundreds of years to come. How many of these have you heard of, and have we missed out your favourite? Let us know in the comments.

Beowulf

No list on folklore would be complete without Beowulf: probably the most famous English folk tale and a great story. This half-historical, half-legendary epic poem written by an unknown poet between the 8th and 11th century tells the story of the majestic hero Beowulf, who saves Hrothgar, the Danish king, from monstrous and terrifying enemies before eventually being slain. Through this tale of swashbuckling adventure we also see the power struggles and brutality of medieval politics.

Selected Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

In 1812 the Brothers Grimm took contemporary German folk tales and shaped them in their own bloodthirsty way, and in doing so captivated and horrified children for years to come. There are no morals here; no happy endings – the antagonists such as the evil stepmother won’t just steal your sweets but would kill you without a second thought. Here we have, for example, the original Snow White, with the Witch forced to dance in red-hot shoes until her death.

Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory

This text, written by Sir Thomas Malory in 1470, provides us with the definitive version of many of the King Arthur stories: the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot’s betrayal, and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Here we see the Round Table full of warring factions; we see Arthur the King discredited by Lancelot, who begins an affair with his wife, Guinevere, and we see Arthur’s supporters’ revenge that Arthur is powerless to prevent. The book shows how Arthur and his court lived and felt – and it’s no wonder the legend is such a fundamental part of British culture.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

When the mysterious Green Knight turns up at King Arthur’s court and challenges anyone to strike him with his axe and accept a return blow in a year and a day, Sir Gawain, the youngest Knight in Sir Arthur’s court, decides to prove his mettle by accepting the challenge. However, when he strikes the Green Knight and beheads him, the man laughs, picks up his head and tells Gawain he has a year and a day to live. Despite being written in the fourteenth century, this poem’s main theme – proving yourself – makes it instantly relatable and compelling.

Statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling, in Central Park, New York City

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

This collection of fairy tales is a world away from Grimm’s violent and sinister collection – this Danish author was the creator of charming, accessible stories such as The Ugly Duckling and the Emperor’s New Clothes. Despite being poorly received when they were first published in 1936 because of their informality and focus on being amusing rather than educational, these stories have entertained generations of children. Christian Andersen invented the “fairy tale” as we know it today – simple, timeless stories that explore universal themes and end happily.

Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas

This saga was originally told orally around 1000 CE and was written down in the thirteenth or fourteenth century and is a major landmark in Icelandic folk literature. It tells the story of Eirik’s exile for murder, the same fate as his father, and his discovery and settlement in “Vinland”, a lush, plentiful country. It is believed to describe one of the first discoveries of North America, five hundred years before Captain Cook.

The Nibelungenlied

This epic comes from Medieval Germany and is a masterpiece of fantasy storytelling. Written in 1200 but rediscovered in the 1700s, it has since become the German national epic – on a par with the Iliad or the Ramayana. This story has it all: dragons, invisibility cloaks, fortune telling, and hoards of treasure guarded by dwarves and giants. We see love, jealousy and conflict, and the story ends with awful slaughter. The story has inspired a number of adaptations, including Wagner’s Ring cycle.

The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion is a collection of eleven medieval Welsh stories which combine Arthurian legend, Celtic myth and social narrative to create an epic series – its importance as a record of the history of culture and mythology in Wales is enormous. The stories are fantastical: the Four Branches of the Mabinogi are tales about British pagan gods recreated as human heroes, and sociological: The Dream of Macsen Wledig is an exaggerated story about the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus.

Jessica Harris graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics and has been working as an intern in the Online Product Marketing department in the Oxford office of Oxford University Press.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog.

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Image credit: Statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling, in Central Park, New York City. By Dismas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The post A folklore and fairy tales reading list from Oxford World’s Classics appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Illustration Friday - Crooked

It's all a little crooked - watch out little duck!




Toodles!

Hazel

6 Comments on Illustration Friday - Crooked, last added: 9/26/2012
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8. IBBY, Hans Christian Anderson Awards 2012 and Peter Sis

Awards, translations, migrations and a mix of people from 52 countries, were all part of the hectic week-end that comprised the International IBBY Conference hosted by IBBY UK here in London at the end of August.

There were too many absolutely brilliant workshops and talks to identify individually. UK authors and illustrators - Michael Rosen, Marcus Sedgewick, Michael Morourgo, Aiden Chambers and Anthony Browne were there but into the mix came other heady spice, texture and flavour from international experts in children’s literature and luminaries such as Shaun Tan, Peter Sis, Bart Moeyaert and Kitty Crowther, winner of the Astrid Lingen Award for Illustration.

Highlight of the week-end had to be the Hans Christian Andersen Ceremony with the Author award going to María Teresa Andruetto from Argentina and Illustrator award going to Peter Sis from the Czech Republic. I couldn’t help feeling that the venue of the Science Museum at night with its surreal spotlights was the perfect setting for Peter Sis’s drawings. The machines seem to take on a life of their own...









Some of the work of the short-listed illustrators and some IBBY Honour titles are shown below - exciting, unusual, different.  For more events and people see Candy Gourlay’s blog.

The fine linear work of Roger Mello from Brazil who was short-listed...,


The work of Alenka Sottler, an illustrator from Slovenia, depicting the story of Cinderella - Pepelka - with almost Seurat-like pointillism.



In Piroulito and Rosalia Effie Lada from Greece has speech impaired characters wearing beautiful masks and Eg Kan Ikkje Sove No (I Can't Sleep Now) shows the wonderful silhouetted work of Oyvind Torsetter from Norway... and lots more, snapped at random.






And finally I was delighted to meet Australian author, Mark Greenwood and his illustrator wife, Frane Lessac from Freemantle...
delighted to have Peter Sis sign my books...
and delighted to be in the heady atmosphere of such creative energy. Thank you IBBY UK for playing such excellent hosts.

www.diannehofmeyr.com
winner of two IBBY Honour Books (1994 and 2004)

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9. P.J. Lynch: Story illustration A-Z

The childhood thrill of make believe looms large for Dublin-based artist P.J. Lynch, 2X winner of England’s Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration. He may not come out and say this. But you can’t not feel it in his illustrations and murals, his YouTube videos and his lectures about art and painting in Ireland and the U.S. He puts [...]

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10. Pauline Fisk on Secret Heroes [Who are yours?]

I was sitting in a local coffeehouse when the background music struck up with a few immediately recognisable guitar notes, followed by Leonard Cohen’s voice intoning Suzanne takes me down... Immediately a shiver ran down my spine, not because I loved the song so much, but because I’d been reading about Cohen in the Guardian [the Dorian Lynskey interview] and had just got to the bit about Suzanne when up she popped in Starbuck’s music stream. Synchronicity, or what?

Who are your heroes? The names that spring to mind for me always start with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and end somewhere around Bob Dylan, passing through the likes of Marilyn Robinson, Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, Annie Dillard, Robert McFarlane, Ella Maillart, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler and Gerard Manley Hopkins. In fact, if you bring in poetry, the list could go on and on, and the name Leonard Cohen probably wouldn’t spring to mind. Yet his song in Starbucks sent shivers down my spine. Suddenly I was transported back to the girl I used to be, lying in a darkened room, being young and green about some stranger’s lonesome voice.

Beyond my public heroes, it seems, are other heroes - secret ones who’ve so thoroughly woven their way into my life that I don’t even know they’re there. Plainly, Leonard Cohen is one of them. Even when he’s talking about how he writes, he’s speaking for me:

I think you work things out. I wouldn’t call those things ideas. I think ideas are what you want to get rid of. I don’t really like songs with ideas. They tend to become slogans. They tend to be on the right side of things: ecology or vegetarianism or antiwar. All these things are wonderful ideas but I like to work on a song until those slogans, as wonderful as they are and as wholesome as the ideas they promote are, dissolve into deeper convictions of the heart.

But Leonard Cohen’s not the only one. In any list of influence-wielding secret heroes, that giant of children’s literature, Hans Christian Andersen, has to come top. It was he, after all, who first stirred my imagination when I was young.

5 Comments on Pauline Fisk on Secret Heroes [Who are yours?], last added: 4/3/2012
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11. When were you last a princess?

As it happens, I spent much of the weekend being a princess.

M and J too – although, perhaps technically that meant that I was the queen?

Either way we’ve been living it up like only princesses do, testing our sensitivity by sleeping on mattresses and quilts piled almost as high as the ceiling.

In fact we had 4 mattresses, 6 quilts and (because we’re modern princesses) 5 duvets. Oh, and 1 pea.

Our royal highnesses can thoroughly recommend trying out a towering bed like ours. It was the source of much mirth and merriment (you’ll never hear this in the stories, but such beds are very, VERY wobbly), even though we have all ended up black and blue with bruises all over because of that pernicious pea.

You see, (if you wish to believe it) The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen and Maja Dusikova tells the truth: You really can tell who is of royal blood, and who is not, by placing one small, green, sweet seed of Pisum sativum under a mountain of mattresses. We scientifically investigated this and Andersen has been proved correct.

Should you not be in a position to carry out rigorous research yourself, then have no fear; this version of The Princess and the Pea, published by Floris Books, has everything, absolutely everything you could wish for.

The well-known story is told eloquently and magically, with no post modern twists, just classical elegance. But it is Maja Dusikova’s illustrations which make this a book sing. Beautiful, graceful, delicate, detailed, soft and luxurious, Dusikova’s illustrations have tip-top fairy tale quality. Imagine a rainbow coloured incarnation of Hans Christian Andersen Award winning Lisbeth Zwerger and you’ll get some sense of Dusikova’s style.

An utterly delightful book, I don’t know of any more charming version of this tale, traditionally told.

Whilst playing at being a princess we listened to:

  • Tomboy in a Princess Dress by Suzi Shelton, which you can listen to for free on Zooglobble’s great site.
  • Sheet Shakin’ Bed Quakin’ Belly Achin’ Wide Awake

    5 Comments on When were you last a princess?, last added: 2/7/2012
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  • 12. Death Defeated: The Nightingale


     "The Emperor and the Nightingale" is my nomination for the most-nearly-perfect short story everwritten.
      
    Jenny Lind-- wikimedia commons
     Hans Christian Andersen is one of my favorite authors, as I mention elsewhere. This tale is in part a tribute to the Swedish singer Jenny Lind and her unaffected performances in a musical world that valued a lot of frippery. 

    This story is spiritually refreshing in many ways—the cleverbut gentle satire, the sheer beauty of the imagery, but most of all because inthe end, Death is defeated.

      
    A while ago I acquired the complete DVD set of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre.  The Nightingale is one of the best episodes of this brilliant series, and but for some unnecessary but harmless embellishments is faithful to the original.  Mick Jagger as the world-weary Emperor hits just the right note, if you’ll pardon that pun….


    The Logismoi blog features a post about the Elder Porphyrios and his encounter with a nightingale. The elder relates: 

    After a while the silence was broken by a sweet, intoxicating voice singing and praising the Creator. I looked. I couldn’t discern anything. Eventually, on a branch opposite me I saw a tiny bird. It was a nightingale. I listened as the nightingale trilled unstintingly, its throat puffed out to bursting in sustained song. The microscopic little bird was stretching back its wings in order to find power to emit those sweetest of tones, and puffing out its throat to produce that exquisite voice. If only I had a cup of water to give it to drink and quench its thirst!

    Tears came to my eyes—the same tears of grace that flowed so effortlessly and that I had acquired from Old Dimas [an old Rus

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    13. New Books of Fairy Tales and Other Classic Stories

    By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
    Published: October 26, 2011

    Fairy tales have the power to teach us valuable lessons about love, loyalty and friendship. In these stories, characters are transformed into magical beings, sacrifices are made in their honor and small creatures perform enormous acts of courage and daring. These classic stories have been told for many generations and yet their legend grows richer with each telling.

    Michael Hague’s Treasured Classics has the old-fashioned appeal of books my mother once read to me. Reading “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” I fondly remembered my mom growling like the fierce troll under the bridge. With fourteen tales to choose from including “Jack and The Beanstalk” and “The Gingerbread Man,” children will marvel at the intricately detailed illustrations. It seems this book played a magic trick on me by transporting me back in time. (Ages 6-9)

    Mouse & Lion is an unusually beautiful retelling of Aesop’s fable. Rand Burkert’s rich language embellishes the familiar story and Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s lush illustrations reflect the magnificence of the African landscape (with its brilliant orange setting sun and ancient baobab tree) in this heartwarming tale.  Burkert has composed and recorded a CD of songs inspired by Aesop, also entitled Mouse & Lion. (Ages 4-8)

    Brigette Barrager illustrations in Twelve Dancing Princesses reminded me of classic Disney movies such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but her version has a decidedly modern spin.  When Pip the clever cobbler discovers why the sleepy princesses’ shoes are worn out each morning, she unveils the mystery with witty dialogue rather than long-winded descriptions of the enchanted forest, boat ride, and ballroom (yawn). Well done, Miss Barrager. A lovely matching game is also available from Chronicle Books. (Ages 5-8)

    Bambi by Felix Salten is such a sad story and yet this coming of age tale brings with it hope and resilience. The soft watercolor paintings by Maja Dusikova of the sweet woodland creatures glow in the forest ligh

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    14. Quote of the Week

    "Without sufficient money for a meal I have spent the few pence I possessed to obtain from a library one of Scott's novels, and, reading it, forgot hunger and cold, and felt myself rich and happy."

    ~ Hans Christian Andersen

    1 Comments on Quote of the Week, last added: 8/6/2011
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    15. Review of the Day: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

    Breadcrumbs
    By Anne Ursu
    Illustrated by Erin McGuire
    Walden Pond Press (an imprint of Harper Collins)
    $16.99
    ISBN: 978-0-06-201505-1
    Ages 9-12
    On shelves September 27, 2011

    Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen is, let’s admit it, the world’s greatest puberty metaphor. A boy and girl are friends. Something happens and he grows cold and distant. In the midst of his indifference he’s spirited away and must be won back. Okay, the metaphor kind of breaks down at the end there, but the separation of boy/girl best friends is very real. With that in mind author Anne Ursu has done the mildly impossible. She has updated the old tale to the 21st century, thrown in references to other Andersen tales, and generally written one of the more fascinating and beautifully written, if sad, fantasy novels for middle grade readers of the year. If there’s a book to watch this season, Breadcrumbs is it.

    Hazel and Jack are best friends, now and forever. At least that’s how Hazel sees it. Sure, she knows that Jack’s a little depressed because of his mother’s mental illness, but he’s always there for her no matter what. That’s a good thing since Hazel doesn’t like dealing with her new school and she definitely doesn’t want any other friends. Then, one day, everything changes. Jack suddenly turns cold on Hazel. He refuses to be her friend, and then without warning disappears altogether. His parents give one reason for where he has gone, but when Hazel learns that Jack was spirited away by a beautiful woman in a carriage she sets off into the nearby woods to find her friend and to save him, no matter what the cost (no matter if he wants to be rescued, for that matter). Trouble is, you can read all the books about adventures that you like, but when it comes to real rescue missions nobody can prepare you for the moment when you have to face your own problems.

    To my mind, Ursu does for Hans Christian Andersen in this book what Adam Gidwitz did for The Brothers Grimm in his A Tale Dark and Grimm. Which is to say, she picks him apart. Andersen was an odd author. There. I said it. His stories were rarely happy-go-lucky affairs. I mean, have you ever read The Swineherd? There’s a darkness to his tales. With Breadcrumbs that darkness isn’t there simply because this is based on one of his stories. His influence permeates everything in this tale. Hazel’s travels bring her in contact with stories that bear some resemblance to The Red Shoes and The Little Match Girl. Other stories seem to reference 7 Comments on Review of the Day: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, last added: 6/29/2011

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    16. Book Cover 'THUMBELINA'

     

    Book Cover 'THUMBELINA' ('Tommelise' by Hans Christian Andersen, 1835)

    Illustration: maría Albarrán. agendagrafica.blogspot.com

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    17. layer

    Apparently, to find out if the stranger you just invited in from the pouring rain is truly a real princess, you must hide a pea under layer upon layer of mattresses and feather beds and wait until the next morning to see if she noticed it.

    Who knew?

    I was a big fan of Hans Christian Andersen when I was a kid. That could be why the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the word “layer” is the bed that the very bruised, extremely sleep-deprived princess in “The Princess and the Pea” slept in. Either that or the way I have to dress, living in the ever-changing weather of Southern California these days.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    So, killing two birds with one stone, I threw together a sketch for Illustration Friday and an upcoming celebration we’re having, over at the Doodle Diner, of “Tell A Fairy Tale Day” on Saturday, February 26th. I’m hoping to get this all finalized and colorized by then! Also looking forward to seeing what my fellow Doodle Diners come up with!


    10 Comments on layer, last added: 2/23/2011
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    18. International Children’s Book Day - April 2nd

    Started in 1967, International Children’s Book Day takes place on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2nd, and is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. The event is sponsored by IBBY, The International Board on Books for Young People, a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to sponsor International Children’s Book Day, deciding on a theme and inviting prominent talents from their country to work on a message and design a poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading. Many IBBY Sections promote ICBD through the media and organize activities in schools and public libraries. Often ICBD is linked to celebrations around children’s books and other special events that may include encounters with authors and illustrators, writing competitions or announcements of book awards.

    The 2009 sponsor of International Children’s Book Day is EBBY - The Egyptian Section of IBBY and the theme this year is “I am the World.” Illustrator and storyteller Hani D. El-Masri designed the poster. Click the images below to enlarge the poster and read Mr. El-Masri’s message and biography.
    ***

    0 Comments on International Children’s Book Day - April 2nd as of 4/5/2009 8:23:00 PM
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    19.

    It's International Children's Books Day!...

    After a day of foolin' around, we get a day to celebrate the children's book.

    Since the late '60s, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has celebrated International Children's Book Day on (or around) April 2nd, the anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth, "to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books."

    From IBBY's website:

    Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of ICBD. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading. Many IBBY Sections promote ICBD through the media and organize activities in schools and public libraries. Often ICBD is linked to celebrations around children's books and other special events that may include encounters with authors and illustrators, writing competitions or announcements of book awards.

    This year's sponsoring country is Egypt and the poster is by Hani D. El-Masri. Click here for additional versions of the beautifully executed poster.

    Hope you can read a book to a kid today to celebrate! I read this one to my son's preschool class. (They loved it.)

    5 Comments on , last added: 4/4/2009
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    20. The Little Match Girl--A Disney/Pixar Film

    This weekend is Bede's third annual GoPlay Northwest gaming convention, and while he's come home late at light, Lucia and I are pretty much on our own during the day. School's out, camp hasn't yet begun, so I decided we'd do something we don't normally do: watch movies!Lucia saw Disney's version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid for the first time on Friday, and we found this short

    4 Comments on The Little Match Girl--A Disney/Pixar Film, last added: 6/29/2009
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    21. Andersens and Papercutting

    This, the most beautiful of book trailers, was produced by animation studio Andersen M. for the New Zealand Book Council and promotes New Zealand writer Maurice Gee's 1993 novel Going West.



    And here is another, slightly spookier trailer done by Andersen M. Studio for Kate Morton's forthcoming novel The Distant Hours.


    As for what this has to do with children's literature?  
    Well, on this site for the Odense City Museums,  you can view 
    the paper cutting talents of another Andersen: Hans Christian.  
    You can read about them here in an article by 
    Andersen biographer Jens Andersen

    1 Comments on Andersens and Papercutting, last added: 6/7/2010
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    22. J.K. Rowling First Winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award

    rowling_j_k_lg.jpgJ.K. Rowling (pictured) has won the newly established the Hans Christian Andersen literature award. She accepted the 500,000 kroner (approximately $75,000) award at a ceremony at Odense, Denmark.

    The Guardian reports: “Rowling said she was ‘humbled and deeply honoured’ to receive the prize, saying ‘Hans Christian Andersen is a writer I revere, because his work was of that rare order that seems to transcend authorship,’ and praising Andersen’s “indestructible, eternal characters.’”

    Next month marks the release of the first part of the film adaptation of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. The second part will be released next July–which every Potter fan knows is Harry’s birth month. Potter and Rowling share the same birth date, July 31st.

    New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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    23. Gift Books Guide: Classic Literature & Fairy Tales

    Classic Treats That Never Grow Old

    By Bianca Schulze & Phoebe Vreeland, The Children’s Book Review
    Published: November 6, 2010

    You love to give books as gifts, but you want to give a book that will be cherished and kept to be shared with future generations. Right? What you’re looking for is a classic. Something well-written, tried and tested, but perhaps with updated illustrations that will tantalize any young mind. Feast your eyes on the following delights …

    Snow White: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm

    by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Author), Charles Santore (Illustrator)

    Reading level: Ages 6-9

    Hardcover: 48 pages

    Publisher: Sterling (October 5, 2010)

    Source: Publisher

    Complete with a beautifully patterned ribbon marker, this is a nice retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, Snow White, illustrated by award-winning artist Charles Santore. Santore has also illustrated an Aesop’s Fables, The Wizard of Oz and  The Little Mermaid.

    Add this book to your collection: Snow White: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm

    Rapunzel

    by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Authors), Dorothée Duntze (Illustrator)

    Reading level: Ages 4-8

    Hardcover: 24 pages

    Publisher: North-South Books (September 1, 2005)

    Source: Publisher

    A softer version of the original Grimm tale. The illustrations are happy and sunny.

    Add this book to your collection: Rapunzel

    Aesop’s Fables

    Selected and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

    Reading level: Ages 4-8

    Hardcover: 32 pages

    Publisher: North-South Books; illustrated edition edition (April 1, 2006)

    Source: Publisher

    This is not the ultimate collection of Aesop’s Fables, however, it is a cleanly illustrated compendium carefully selected by the uber-award-winning artist Lisbeth Zwerger.

    Add this book to your collection: Aesop’s Fables

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    24. One Snowy Day a Groundhog Met a Fox

    Blackaby, Susan. Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox. Illus. by Carmen Segovia. Sterling, 2011. Ages 4-7.

    If you’re seeking a whimsical read-aloud for Groundhog’s Day, you’ve found it. Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox sparkles with wit and sly charm. Brownie is a clever groundhog that meets a hungry would-be predator on a cloudy February 2nd. The fox tells her, “Hold still…. I’m trying to eat you for breakfast.” Brownie’s flip response is that it’ s simply too late for breakfast. The two find they both hate to wait. Brownie suggests the fox work up an appetite by clearing the snow off the pond. Segovia’s humorous image shows the fox putting his fluffy tail to good use. Alas, after all that effort, it’s too late for lunch, says Brownie. Then the tricky groundhog leads the fox to a tree and winds her scarf around and around the fox, binding him to the trunk.

    Brownie’s little heart is touched, though, as she hears the fox’s plaintive cries. She decides it’s time to share what’s in her basket: cocoa and cinnamon toast. The crumbs attract a robin — the first sign of spring! The two new friends leave for home, pondering their next adventure. The illustrator’s note describes how Segovia first conceived of this engaging character one winter as she sketched a groundhog. Her wintry palette, splashed with the fox’s red, is as refreshing as that impromptu picnic.

    Enhance a snowy story with the cold facts, perfectly described and displayed in

    Cassino, Mark and Jon Nelson. The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder.. Chronicle, 2009. Ages 4-9. You’ll be singing songs of snow, glorious snow after reading this snappy little informative book. Cassino and Nelson reveal the scientific nature of snow by using an accessible format featuring a brief fact in a large type size, then giving details in smaller text. Readers will learn of the three major types of crystals (star-shaped, plate and columnar), as well as other interesting facts. (It’s the molecular structure of water that creates the six-sided crystals, for instance.) The superb illustrations include both spectacular photographs that beg to be shared and Aoyagi’s ink and watercolor diagrams that show how a crystal develops from a speck of soil, pollen, or other substance, and then develops into an intricate six-sided beauty. Also noteworthy are the clear instructions on catching and examining snow crystals — just the trick for getting readers to venture outside to explore wintry wonders.

    More and More Snow …

    Alarcon, Francisco X. Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems. illus. by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Children’s Book Press, 2001. Fresh poems, often written with an unusual perspective, grace bright and beautiful pages showcasing poems in both Spanish and in English.

    Andersen, Hans Christian. The Snow Queen. Trans. and retold by Naomi Lewis. Illus. by Christian Birmingham. Candlewick, 2008. Ages 8-10. Don’t miss Andersen’s most beautiful fairy tale, a source of inspiration for C.S. Lewis and other fantasy writers. Of the many versions available, Lewis’s is the one you want. This memorable wintry tale begs to be read aloud: “The cloak and cap were made of snow, and the driver ah, she was a lad

    2 Comments on One Snowy Day a Groundhog Met a Fox, last added: 1/24/2011
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    25. From Page to Stage: Pet Shop Boys and The Most Incredible Thing

    Once upon a time--in February 2009 to be exact--I blogged about reports that the Pet Shop Boys were working on a ballet based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen. That ballet is now finished and will start its run at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London from 17-27 March. I envy all you lucky Londoners who can go see it! I will have to content myself with the two-disc soundtrack which will be

    1 Comments on From Page to Stage: Pet Shop Boys and The Most Incredible Thing, last added: 2/6/2011
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