Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Book: The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma by Diane & Christyan Fox

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma by Diane & Christyan Fox was released in late August but just entered my radar this past weekend during a bookstore visit with my niece. It's doesn't appear right off to be a Little Red Riding Hood story, but it is.

This is one of those picture books that works better for the older kids instead of the preschool set thanks to the humor. With lines about "bad fashion sense" and "kindness rays" and even "exploding eggs," reading this book to a preschooler will lead to just as many interrupting questions as the dog himself asks in the story.

So most kids under four years old won't appreciate the humor. The text also works well as a read aloud, but the illustrations don't accommodate a story time setting either, say in a kindergarten or 1st grade classroom. But honestly, it will be best appreciated by literate kids who can get some of the jokes on the pages by themselves, such as the Cat's checklist. So it's a read aloud with one or a few children who are a little older and will get the humor. That said, the humor is fun and it's a good book. I'll share a video and illustrations below. A good buy for libraries and an amusing fractured fairy tale interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood for classrooms. Parents with kids who like to ask a lot of questions will also enjoy it out of sympathy for the cat.

Book description:

A comical twist on "Little Red Riding Hood" told by Cat and Dog!

Cat starts reading "Little Red Riding Hood" and explains, "It's a story about a little girl who always wears a red cape with a hood."

Dog says, "COOL! I love stories about superheroes. What's her special power?"

Cat says, "She doesn't have any special powers. It's not that kind of a story."

And then the fun ensues!

The zany, fun back-and-forth of Dog and Cat celebrates the joy of reading -- and questioning. Young children will cheer Dog's persistent questions as well as Cat's dedication to keep telling the story.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Book: The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told by Jean Thompson

The Witch: And Other Tales Re-Told by Jean Thompson is released this week.

Book description:

Great fairy tales are not always stories designed for children. The lurking wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood,” the gingerbread house that lures Hansel and Gretel, the beauty asleep in her castle—these fables represent some of our deepest, most primeval fears and satisfy our longing for good to win out over evil (preferably in the most gruesome way possible). In this captivating new collection, critically acclaimed author Jean Thompson takes the classic fairy tale and brings it into the modern age with stories that capture the magic and horror in everyday life. The downtrodden prevail, appearances deceive, and humility and virtue triumph in The Witch, as lost children try to find their way home, adults cursed by past unspeakable acts are fated to experience their own horror in the present, and true love—or is it enchantment?—conquers all. The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told is a haunting and deeply entertaining collection, showcasing the inimitable Thompson at the height of her storytelling prowess.

Table of Contents--I don't know which fairy tales are represented in which story, but some are easier to guess than others:

The Witch





The Curse

Your Secret's Safe with Me



“In this spooky, enthralling, and morally complex collection, National Book Award finalist Thompson…shows evil, wonder, and majesty…Thompson skillfully infuses our banal world of technology, reality TV, and pop psychology with genuine horror….as eerie as anything you’ll find in the Brothers Grimm.”
—Publishers Weekly

“[S]hrewdly unnerving and bewitching improvisations on fairy tales… clever, caring, funny, and wrenching… Thompson’s wizardly command is spellbinding, and her keen and unexpected revelations are, by turn and twist, grim and ebullient.”—Booklist (starred)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fairy Tales in Advertising: TV2: Once Upon a Time

TV2: Fairy Tale Books

So Season 4 of Once Upon a Time (ABC/USA) starts up tomorrow. Who knew it would be such a hit when it started four years ago? I didn't. So for a quiet Saturday post, I thought I would share this special edition of Fairy Tales in Advertising post and show you how TV2 promoted the series in New Zealand for the start of Season 2.

Of course, here in the southern U.S. where I live and the kudzo grows, we get billboards that look rather like this sometimes quite naturally. :) But I love it!

Campaign info from Ads of the World:

Advertising Agency: Contagion, New Zealand
Executive Creative Director: Bridget Taylor
Art Director: Daniel Walton
Associate Creative Director / Copywriter: Verity Dookia
Designer: Phila Lagaluga
Account Manager: Emma Woods
Production: Bootleg
Published: April 2013

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fairy Tales in Advertising: Knorr Quick's Red Riding Hood

Knorr Quick: Little Red Riding Hood
Instant solution.

Okay, I fell in love with this ad right away. My only disappointment is that the rest of the campaign didn't use fairy tales. Doesn't Cinderella need an instant Fairy Godmother? Which fairy tale would you want to see depicted in this campaign?

You can click on the images to see them larger. That is an instant Huntsman if you were wondering.

I've included the other two images below, again not fairy tales. The Superhero works for me--nice gender switch on that one, too--but the Popstar, not so much. Looks like he's going for an instant bodyguard.

Campaign info courtesy of Ads of the World:

Advertising Agency: Borghi/Lowe, São Paulo, Brazil
Creative Directors: Fernando Nobre, Fabio Brigido
Art Director: Stefano De Luccia
Copywriter: Tiago Moralles
Illustrator: Big Studios
Photographer: Denis Sitta
Executive Creative Directors: Jose Borghi, Fernando Nobre
Published: April 2014

Knorr Quick: Popstar

Knorr Quick: Superhero

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beauty and the Beast in Greece from Tales of Faerie

Earlier this week, Kristin over at Tales of Faerie shared Beauty and the Beast in Greece: Part I and Beauty and the Beast in Greece: Part II in which she discussed the Greek versions of Beauty and the Beast tales that appear in Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World (SurLaLune Fairy Tales).

From her first post:

Sometimes reading through a collection of versions of the same fairy tale may seem daunting, because many times versions are so similar it feels like reading the same story over and over again. Yet I find my Surlalune Fairy Tale Series books invaluable-not only for comparing and contrasting similar tales, but because there are so many unexpected and surprising versions of the tales. These samples from Greece are just a few examples of the different versions of "Beauty and the Beast" that will provide interest to even those who are familiar with most standard European versions. (Many of these are closer to "Cupid and Psyche" than BATB: there may not be a rose, and the husband may not be beastly at all, but supernatural-the classification is technically "Search for the Lost Husband" and not "Animal Bridegroom").

It has been over two years since I read most of those tales and she made me want to reread my own book. Believe me, when you read over 200 versions of a tale for consideration in a book like Beauty and the Beast Tales From Around the World, most of them blend together. Then there's the issue that I've been working on other collections since--soon there will be two new releases, so stay tuned!--so my brain is overly full with some wonderful fairy tales.

But reading Kristin's great summaries and discussions of "Donkeyskin" (no, not that one!) and "The Lord of the Underearth" and "The Sleeping Prince" and "The Sugar Man" and "The Enchanted Head" reminded me of how much I LOVED working on that collection of variants of my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. It was so rich with variations and interesting quirks and I fell in love with so many tales that we elected for smaller type size just to make room for more. There was a debate of a second volume, too. The variations are so vast that there is much less repetition than you anticipate over the 188 tales included.

And it's no surprise that the Greek versions of the tale are some of the most interesting. There tends to be more murders, more odd things ingested, and overall more strangeness in Greek variants of many tale types. Forget the Grimms, the Greeks are really grim.

So thanks, Kristin, for the walk down my memory lane. And for reminding me of just how unexpected tales like "The Lord of the Underearth" are. Eating rotting feet, gender cross dressing, a beauty and a beast are only a few things to be found in those pages. Then there's the plethora of disembodied heads in folklore. There's some in Beauty and the Beast tales as Kristin points out in her post, but even more in Kind and Unkind Girls tales. Did you know it's rude to point out to someone that their head is missing or unattached? Important fairy tale etiquette folks! But more about that in weeks to come!

Maleficent is Available for Preorder

Just received the announcement that Maleficent (2-Disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) and Maleficent (1-Disc DVD) are available for preorder. The film will be released on November 4th.

Or if you prefer to own or rent digitally, you can preorder at Maleficent, too. I still prefer to own a physical copy for portability between my family's houses since a few live near me. And digital is still a little too burpy for my viewing pleasure when I finally agree to sit down and watch a movie. Which isn't very often. I watch TV, but these days I actually prefer TV to film. More women and usually stronger ones overall.

I didn't see Maleficent this past summer but my mother and nephew did--my 9-year-old nephew Luke--and they both enjoyed it. They went on Luke's birthday actually for an afternoon out. Which is saying a lot. My mother is far from the type of person who is wooed by Disney stuff--the family joke is that I finally took my mother to Disneyland when I was nearly 30 years old. My mother raised me in art museums instead for which I am very grateful. And Luke may be even harder to impress so that they both recommended it means I will purchase and even watch it.

So did you like Maleficent? Did you see it? Will you see it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Release: Fearie Tales edited by Stephen Jones

(US / UK covers with links)

Fearie Tales edited by Stephen Jones and edited by Alan Lee (of Tolkien/Peter Jackson films fame) is released in North America this week, a year after its UK release. This one is definitely aimed at the Halloween crowd but it has some great names in the horror genre inside, so if that is your taste, this is your book. Then there is Alan Lee's illustrative work which is always worth the price of admission, too.

I posted about the book back in January so if this seems familiar to regular SurLaLune readers, it is.

I couldn't get a good list of the table of contents to cut and paste, but the Amazon UK edition has a "Look Inside" so you can see all of the titles within.

Book description from the publisher:

In the grand tradition of the Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm, some of the today's finest fantasy and horror writers have created their own brand-new fairy tales--but with a decidedly darker twist.

Fearie Tales is a fantastical mix of spellbinding retelling of classic stories such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Rumpelstiltskin, along with unsettling tales inspired by other children's classics, all interspersed with the original tales of their inspiration.

These modern masterpieces of the macabre by Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Ramsey Campbell, Joanne Harris, Markus Heitz, John Ajvide Lindquist, Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, and many others, and are illustrated by Oscar-winning artist Alan Lee.

About the Editor:

Stephen Jones is the multiple-award-winning editor and author of more than 100 books in the horror and fantasy genres, including Best New Horror series, Dark Terrors, The Mammoth Book of Vampires, The Mammoth Book of Zombies, The Mammoth Book of Dracula, The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women, The Vampire Stories of R. Chetwynd-Hayes, and The Conan Chronicles. Jones is a former television director/producer and movie publicist and consultant (including the first three Hellraiser movies), he has edited the reprint anthology Best New Horror for more than 20 years. In 2014 he received Horror Writers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

About Rapunzel: Guest Post by Kate Forsyth

This post is a reprint from when Bitter Greens: A Novel was first released 2.5 years ago so I wanted to share again:

I have a guest post by author Kate Forsyth to share with you today. The topic is Rapunzel and without any further ado, I will let Kate speak for herself. Thanks for sharing, Kate!

Rapunzel must be one of the most misunderstood of the fairytales, with most people thinking of the long-haired heroine as meek and passive, spending her days hanging round waiting to be rescued.

In recent years, many writers have retold the tale, seeking to return power to Rapunzel by making her stronger and less submissive. I am one of those writers. I’ve spent the past seven years working on retelling the Rapunzel fairytale as a historical novel for adults. I am also halfway through a doctorate on Rapunzel retellings at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

Most critical examinations of the tale have added to the understanding of Rapunzel as a passive victim, with the power all held by the witch as an oedipal figure of dark motherhood. For example, Maria Tatar says ‘Mother Gothel figures as the consummate overprotective parent’ (The Annotated Brothers Grimm, 2004, p55).

Joan Gould says, in ‘Spinning Straw Into Gold: What Fairy Tales reveal about the Transformations in a Woman’s Life’ (2005, p217), that ‘Rapunzel and her foster mother are White Bride and Black Mother. Rapunzel is first confined and then abandoned. The mother-witch’s fury is what pushes the girl from one condition to the other.’

Bruno Bettelheim describes Rapunzel as one of a set of fairy tales which aim to help a girl deal with oedipal conflicts, and says: ‘A little girl wishes to see herself as a young and beautiful maiden … who is kept captive by the selfish, evil female figure and hence unavailable to the male lover.’ (The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, 1975, p11)

Marina Warner wonders whether Rapunzel ‘stands for the dark time that can follow the first encounter between the older woman and her new daughter-in-law, the period when the young woman can do nothing, take charge of nothing, but suffer the sorcery and the authority – and perhaps the hostility – of the woman whose house she has entered, whose daughter she has become.’ (From the Beast to the Blonde: One Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, 1994, p220).

Margaret Atwood has even coined the term ‘Rapunzel Syndrome’ for women who wait passively, longed to be rescued. ‘These heroines,’ she says, ‘have internalized the values of their culture to such an extent that they have become their own prisons’ (Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, 1972, p209).

Women writers in the 21st century have grappled with the story in different ways, most seeking to return power to Rapunzel by giving her a more active role. Cameron Dokey (Golden: A Retelling of Rapunzel), Sara Lewis Holmes (Letters from Rapunzel), Adèle Geras (The Tower Room), Donna Jo Napoli (Zel) and Patricia Storace (Sugar Cane: A Caribbean Rapunzel) are just some of the writers who have been inspired to retell this particular tale. Most have chosen to do so as a simple picture book for young readers, as a romantic fantasy novel for teenagers, or using the key motifs of the tale to add resonance to a modern day setting, again for a teenage audience.

Anne Sexton in her poem ‘Rapunzel’ and Emma Donoghue in her short story ‘Tale of the Hair’ have both cast the tale as a lesbian love affair, which is certainly a valid explanation of the witch’s motivations, in some ways more valid than the usual ‘Dark Mother’ interpretation.

I have chosen to retell the story as a historical novel for adults, partly because the Rapunzel tale has always seemed to me to be a novel about desire, obsession, and madness, and so much better suited to an adult audience. I also wanted to tell the story as if it had really happened, as if it was true.

In this way, I hoped to restore to the story some of its mystery and power, lost over the years as it was turned from a literary tale for adults into a rather strange bedtime story for young children.

Excerpt from Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens: A Novel by Kate Forsyth is released today and I have an excerpt from the book to share. The book draws inspiration from Rapunzel.

A Heart of Gall

Château de Cazeneuve, Gascony, France – June 1666

I had always been a great talker and teller of tales.

‘You should put a lock on that tongue of yours. It’s long enough and sharp enough to slit your own throat,’ our guardian warned me, the night before I left home to go to the royal court at Versailles. He sat at the head of the long wooden table in the chateau’s arched dining room, lifting his lip in distaste as the servants brought us our usual peasant fare of sausage and white-bean cassoulet. He had not accustomed himself to our simple Gascon ways, not even after six years.

I just laughed. ‘Don’t you know a woman’s tongue is her sword? You wouldn’t want me to let my only weapon rust, would you?’

‘No chance of that.’ The Marquis de Maulévrier was a humourless man, with a face like a goat and yellowish eyes that followed my sister and me as we went about our business. He thought our mother had spoilt us, and had set himself to remedy our faults. I loathed him. No, loathe is far too soft a word. I detested him.

My sister, Marie, said, ‘Please, my lord, you mustn’t mind her. You know we’re famous here in Gascony for our troubadours and minstrels. We Gascons love to sing songs and tell stories. She means no harm by it.’

‘I love to tell a gasconade,’ I sang. ‘A braggadocio, a fanfaronade . . .’

Marie sent me a look. ‘You know that Charlotte-Rose will need honey on her tongue if she’s to make her way in this world.’

‘Sangdieu, but it’s true. Her face won’t make her fortune.’

‘That’s unfair, my lord. Charlotte-Rose has the sweetest face . . .’

‘She might be passable if only she’d pluck out that sting in her tail,’ the Marquis de Maulévrier began. Seeing that I had screwed up my face like a gargoyle, waggling my tongue at him, he rapped his spoon on the pitted tabletop. ‘You’d best sweeten your temperament, mademoiselle, else you’ll find yourself with a heart of gall.’

I should have listened to him.