Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Book: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

(US and UK covers)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik was released this month and it's a fun fantasy adventure building on many fairy tale tropes. In other words, you're probably going to enjoy it if you read it. I did. It is also new in the UK at Uprooted (UK edition).

I read the first few books in Novik's Temeraire series and then my interest died down. I remember loving the first few books, so I am not sure why I lost interest. But when I saw that Novik was writing in a new world, I was interested again. After all, this book has dragons and fantasy and some fairy tale influence, too, which is a little more in my catnip jar than the Temeraire series. Throw in references to Baba Yaga and other fairy tale tropes such as Beauty and the Beast--I am definitely up for a read.

I was not disappointed. This book offered a fun adventure with some sexual politics thrown in for good measure. I was entertained and amused while relieved with strong writing, too. Because all too often those are not mutual traits for a book. Most importantly, I liked Agnieszka, the heroine. Novik gives her a strong voice and grand adventure that earned this book a place on my permanent shelf--after I lend it to my niece this summer.

Book description:

Naomi Novik, author of the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Every so often you come upon a story that seems like a lost tale of Grimm newly come to light. Uprooted is such a novel. Its narrative spell is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.”—Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pelops and Hippodamia: A Grateful Dead Tale from Ancient Greece

Time for another Grateful Dead tale found in The Grateful Dead Tales From Around the World (SurLaLune Fairy Tale Series). This one is from Ancient Greece.

The myth of Pelops and Hippodamia as recorded by Theopompus, a Greek historian who lived c. 378 BC–c. 315 BC, provides another instance of a Grateful Dead character. In some of his surviving fragments of writings, Theopompus tells of how Pelops wins Hippodamia’s hand and becomes king of Pisa by defeating her father, Oenomaus, in a chariot race. According to Gordon Shrimpton, in Theopompus the Historian,* Theopompus thus describes Pelops’ experiences on the way to Pisa:

Cillus his driver died. And in a dream he stood over Pelops, who was in great distress over him, and lamented his own death and made requests about a funeral. Therefore, when he awoke, he reduced his corpse to ashes in a fire. Next he buried the ashes of Cillus magnificently, raising a mound over him. Beside the mound he founded a temple which he called the temple of Apollo Cillaeus because of the suddenness of Cillus’ death. What is more, he also founded a city and called it Cilla. Cillus, however, even after death appears to have helped Pelops’ cause in order for him to defeat Oenomaus in the race.

The details of how exactly the deceased Cillus helped his master are lost in antiquity but Theopompus provides enough details to firmly enter this myth in the Grateful Dead canon.

*Shrimpton, Gordon. Theopompus the Historian. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991. p. 265.

A Knot in the Grain: and Other Stories by Robin McKinley for $1.99

A Knot in the Grain: and Other Stories by Robin McKinley is on sale in ebook format for $1.99. It is usually in the $6-7 range.

Book description:

Magical stories set in alternate universes . . . tales of curses and gifts of healing . . . a wizard who has lost his powers . . . and a princess, a troll, and a teenage girl are featured in this diverse collection from Newbery Medalist Robin McKinley

In “The Healer,” Lily was born mute, but she has so great a natural gift for healing that the local midwife and healer takes her as an apprentice. One evening, riding home, she meets a stranger on the road who can speak to her silently, mind to mind. Overjoyed, she takes him home to Jolin—but Jolin can read the mage-mark on him and fears for Lily’s safety, for mages are not to be trusted.

In “The Stagman,” Ruen is a princess and will become queen on her name day—if her uncle, the Regent, greedy for the power that should belong to his niece, cannot think of a way to prevent it. And so he invents portents and a purifying ritual that involves chaining Ruen to a rock in an old place of sacrifice, not used since her great-grandfather’s day, and leaving her there alone. Night falls on her despair and in the flickering torchlight she sees the shadow of a man—or of a man with a stag’s antlers—or perhaps of a great stag.

In “Touk’s House,” a witch adopts a woodcutter’s baby daughter and raises her along with her own son, whose father was a troll. Erana grows up knowing she is loved, and loving in return—but on her seventeenth birthday she realizes she must leave her foster mother and her best friend and find where in the world she belongs.

In “Buttercups,” an old man marries a young wife and takes her home, but he feels unworthy of her vivid youth and risks all for a tremendous prize, in an act of what in his heart he knows is a betrayal of the wild magic that lives on his farm.

In “A Knot in the Grain,” Annabelle has no choice when her parents decide they will move to a small town upstate, the summer before Annabelle’s junior year of high school. She spends the summer reclaiming the neglected garden of their new house and reading books from the local library. She also finds a mysterious wooden box in a tiny hidden study above her attic bedroom: a box containing smallish, roundish, nobbly things Annabelle can’t identify, but which are faintly warm to the touch—and which seem to be curiously aware of Annabelle, her loneliness, and her longings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Call for Papers: American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore

For any of you who are knowledgeable in American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales, this is a great project. True story, my first published writing credit while in grad school was contributing to The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia. I had studied Alcott on  my own and volunteered to pick up some of the entries, namely Dress Reform, some of the short stories, and Alcott's book, Eight Cousins. A lovely experience...that was filled with stress looking for resources that are so more readily available now thanks to the internet.

CFP: American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore

ABC-CLIO is publishing a three-volume reference collection titled American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore in early 2016. The editors seek contributors from fields of literature, history, anthropology, sociology, folklore, and allied subjects to write entries ranging from 750-2500 words on a wide range of topics. The purpose of the encyclopedia is to introduce students and general readers to the key myths and legends in North American culture, and to provide extensive, easily accessible coverage of the multifaceted American folklore tradition.

ABC-CLIO intends to offer an up-to-date, attractive resource based on current scholarship in the field, including useful illustrations, selections from primary texts, informative sidebars, and references for further reading and research. Entries will provide coverage of diverse traditions within the genre of folklore and mythology, including Native American traditions, and include treatment of newer traditions such as urban legends and UFO stories.

Contributors will receive publication credit in the encyclopedia and may choose from several options for compensation. The editors will send information about compensation upon request.

Writers should contact the editors to request a list of available entries. Send name, title, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email address and a current CV to:

Jeffrey B. Webb
Edwina Patton Chair in the Arts & Sciences and
Professor, Department of History
Huntington University
2303 College Avenue
Huntington, Indiana 46750

New Release: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

(US/UK Links)

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon is released this week in both the US and UK link. See Illusionarium (UK Link). This is a fantasy novel that doesn't have fairy tale elements to my knowledge, but Dixon's last novel was the bestselling Entwined--which did use fairy tales--so I thought I would share here. Plus I really like the cover.

Book description:

What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Release: The Gracekeepers: A Novel by Kirsty Logan

(US/UK Links)

The Gracekeepers: A Novel by Kirsty Logan is released this week in the US. It was released two weeks ago in the UK, see the link at The Gracekeepers (UK Link). No specific fairy tale is retold in it that I know at this time, but it does incorporate unspecified Scottish myths and fairy tales according the description. This is one of the rare instances when I actually prefer the US cover!

Book description:

A lyrical and moving debut in the tradition of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, introducing an original and commanding new voice in fiction

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland ("landlockers") and those who float on the sea ("damplings"), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives--offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.

New Release: Lion Heart: A Scarlet Novel by A. C. Gaughen

Lion Heart: A Scarlet Novel by A. C. Gaughen is released this week in the US and UK. See Lion Heart: A Scarlet Novel (UK Link). This is the third book in the Scarlet series, following Scarlet and Lady Thief: A Scarlet Novel.

Book description:

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard's life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can't refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate-and her heart-won't allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he's stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fairy Tales in Advertising: Prefeitura de Jaraguá do Sul: Once upon a time

Prefeitura de Jaraguá do Sul: Once upon a time
Don't let sexual violence against children repeat.

This is an ad for the Brazil's national day against violence, abuse and sexual exploitation of children on May 18, 2013. This Monday will be May 18th again. I thought I about saving the post for that day instead but I actually like to know about these days in advance so here is the ad as a reminder on our usual Friday instead. A very important cause and a fine poster to call attention to it.

Campaign info from Ads of the World:

Advertising Agency: Squeeze, Florianópolis, Brazil
Creative Director: Cristiano Valente
Art Director: Cristiano Valente
Copywriter: Luisa Sganzerla
Published: May 2013

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Simonides of Ceos: A Grateful Dead Tale

Today I am sharing another Grateful Dead story, one that is 2,000 years old. It's the simplest form of the story, a rare rendition in which the Grateful Dead motif is the central theme.

From my introduction to The Grateful Dead Tales From Around the World (SurLaLune Fairy Tale Series)

Another early example of a Grateful Dead tale is that of Simonides of Ceos found in Cicero's De Divinatione, written circa 44 BC. Simonides was a Greek lyric poet who lived circa 556–468 BC. Centuries later, Cicero recorded the following brief story:

And who, pray, can make light of the two following dreams which are so often recounted by Stoic writers? The first one is about Simonides, who once saw the dead body of some unknown man lying exposed and buried it. Later, when he had it in mind to go on board a ship he was warned in a vision by the person to whom he had given burial not to do so and that if he did he would perish in a shipwreck. Therefore he turned back and all the others who sailed were lost.
I really like this story because it says so much with so little. It's not a perfect example of ATU 505 but it is certainly an early ancestor of the tales that followed in the millenia since.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Natalie Frank: Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Natalie Frank: Tales of the Brothers Grimm is officially released on May 26th but is shipping now.

Natalie emailed me to share some info about the book and an art exhibit featuring her work. Here are some of the images from the book and Natalie's own words. You can click on the images to see them larger.

From Natalie Frank's email to SurLaLune:

I am an artist in NY and have just put out my first book, picturing 36 tales of the unsanitized Grimm fairy tales. It has hand-drawn marginalia throughout, 75 color drawings--a third of which are on view at The Drawing Center now in Soho through late June--and has an introduction by Jack Zipes, whose translations I also used, and essays by feminist art historian Linda Nochlin and the curator at The Drawing Center, Claire Gilman and a conversation with theater director and designer, Julie Taymor. It is published by Damiani and distributed by DAP. It was a blast to do and is the largest collection of Grimm's every illustrated by a fine artist. I found them to be such remarkable stories, especially as the originals from 1812-57 are so unknown in their real forms.

Book description:

For Tales of the Brothers Grimm, 36 celebrated and lesser-known of the unsanitized fairy tales collected by the illustrious brothers were carefully chosen by artist Natalie Frank, reinterpreted in 75 gouache and chalk pastel drawings, and cast in a Surrealist dreamscape. This volume, designed by Marian Bantjes, is the largest collection of Grimms' Fairy Tales ever illustrated by a fine artist. Frank's irreverent palette, sophisticated use of color and inventive depiction of these dark narratives capture the original stories with a contemporary and unflinching eye. Each of the tales opens with a hand-drawn title page and is framed by a unique border; small drawings punctuate each story in the tradition of classic fairy-tale editions. The foremost Grimm scholar, Jack Zipes, introduces the book.