Posts tagged ‘fairy tales’

PRINCESS PANORAMA

Princess Meredith Bedtime Tales

Written by Marshall Best

PrincessMeredithBedtime,pic

This approximately forty page e Book selection available on Smashwords and Amazon is a departure from the author’s previous works. These consist of chronicles centered on a character named Guiamo which combine history, legend and adventure in a series of books focusing on exploration and civilization. That series appeals to an older child. In his new book, the author and father of six is centering on children age three to ten.

The Princess Meredith book actually contains five short fairy tales. This book would make a good early reader chapter book. While advertised as bedtime stories, they can just as easily be read individually at separate times. Our Princess Meredith is well-loved in her kingdom. She is intelligent, loyal, compassionate, and generous. The themes appeal to young girls: ponies, castles, magic, witches, spells, picnics, poison, and adventure. Each of the tales involves danger, but all of them end with the theme that they lived happily ever after. Main characters include the king and queen, a royal baker, a witch, an uncle, cousin and children from an orphanage. The princess is already in training; she convinces the king and queen to consider and adopt her plan to redesign the way orphans are treated in the kingdom. The illustrations on the cover are charming and appealing; too bad there were not a few more illustrations dispersed throughout the chapters to hold the interest of younger readers. I would especially recommend the book to parents and teachers of children age six and up.

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THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Beauty and the Beast

Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy

Illustrated by Walter Crane

BeautyandtheBeast,pic

This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.

At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.

Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.

The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.

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LESSONS FROM OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS

Tales of the Friendly Forest

Written by Alexi Lushkin
Translated from Russian by Galina Krylova

TalesoftheFriendlyForest,pic

This kindle book is a collection of ten fairy tales told from the point of view of several animals living in the forest. At the outset the reader is introduced to a poem that tells of the song of the forest. The animals in the tales introduce themselves one verse at a time. In the beginning, the forest was in chaos. Each of the animals went about doing whatever he wanted. One day a clubfooted bear shouted out to the other animals of the forest from the top of a tree that from now on there would be a truce; all animals would be friends to one another and there would be no territorial boundaries. From that point on, all the animals of the forest had their own names, but they were all friends and helpers to each other.

The rest of the stories focus on one or two animals who are able to teach the reader about compassion for others, the need to share knowledge, not to be afraid of the unknown, and to be true to oneself. In the story about fashion, the animals decide to be fashion mongers. Even though the boars delight in rolling around in the mud, they then rub against the trees ridding themselves of all dirt. The animals decide that boars are the neatest and cleanest animals in the forest. Appearances can be deceiving! In the story about the forest beasts watching children play hockey, children learn that TV and cinema did not always exist, there should be time for other pursuits.

These short stories are intended for children and adults. The format is a bit unusual in that the book begins with a poem and then switches to verse. In a few places the flow is a bit choppy due to the translation. Still, I found the stories refreshing with good lessons for children and reminders for adults. The book can be broken up into sections for younger children and read independently by children eight and older. Makes a nice bedtime story book for children who love animals.

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A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

Written by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by John Tenniel

e Book design by Marie-Michelle Joy

Aliceinwonderland,pic

I picked up this new e book version of the classic Victorian tale on a whim. What I did not expect was a totally new perspective on this classic fantasy tale.

As a child I read the book, but did not much care for it. After doing a bit of research I discovered that Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) told this story to a friend and his three young children while enjoying a boat ride. The children were so pleased with it that he decided to write it down and commission John Tenniel to do the drawings for the publication. Dodgson was a mathematician intrigued by the math and science that was being applied daily to inventions as England was entering the Industrial Revolution. His other interests included reading, poetry and photography.

Alice was modeled on one of these three girls. She is curious and polite. The character in the story displays fear and courage, resilience, and the ability to adapt to change. The anthropomorphic characters she encounters are a strange bunch; some of them like the Cheshire Cat and the Caterpillar appear to teach her, while others like the Mock Turtle and the Flamingo appear sillier and more frivolous. A careful reading will produce numerous evidences of mathematical reasoning and the importance that the author attaches to mathematics in the world around us; yet the reader’s main focus centers on the trials and tribulations that Alice must face from the time she falls into the rabbit hole: how she must swim herself across the sea of tears to face the challenges that many creatures present, to her ultimate escape from the nefarious Queen of Hearts at the trial, which almost results in her losing her head! Alice learns to think on her feet quickly in this coming of age tale.

Adult readers will reminisce and recall many of the famous quotations, like “Off with his head,” and “Curious and curiouser.” Tenniel’s woodcut engraved illustrations are etched in time and delight the eye, whether in black and white or in color. The beautiful scroll work that edge the pages are a reminder of the care taken with printing books long ago. Alice is a strong, intelligent character who maintains the proper balance between respect and independence; she is probably one of the first strong female models in modern literature. This book can be used as wonderful tale for family discussion on so many levels. I would recommend it for tweens and teens as well.

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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Hannah and the Kingdom of Bugbears

Written by Tom Steephen

Hannanandthekingdompic

This rather short fantasy adventure of approximately seventy five pages attempts to pack a lot of elements into one story. There are classic fairy tales, witches, soldiers, princes, even animal heroes like mice, penguins and parrots. Strange combination but the story does work for the most part. The language is not complicated though at times a bit forced. There are enough twists and turns to keep a young reader on the edge of his seat, and adults could make this a really exciting read aloud for a young child.

Hannah, our heroine, is the loyal companion of Princess Aleena who has just turned eighteen and is about to marry Prince Ronald of Linesland. Suddenly, the Bugbear army of Prince Brewer appears outside the gates of the castle. They inform King John that their Prince Brewer will marry the princess. The humans of the kingdom of Cait Berg are unable to subdue their scaly and much larger Bugbear enemies. King John’s army is defeated, and the princess is abducted. Hannah manages to sneak away and hide in the carriage transporting the princess. After many trials and tribulations, Hannah finds the princess, who is locked in one of the chambers of the castle. But the princess urges her to go back to their kingdom and get help to rescue her. Hannah bravely consents. She will meet many animal friends and enemies like a witch who tries to prevent her return. Once Hannah arrives home at the castle, she needs to concoct a strategy to rescue the princess from her dilemma.

Why does Prince Brewer want to marry a human princess? The reader does not find out until near the end of the adventure. In the interim many of the characters in the story like Chef Maatia and Prince Brewer learn a lot about themselves and others. Many moral lessons like the value of trust, loyalty, determination and being true to oneself are embedded in the tale.

Most early chapter readers and tweens will find familiar and popular threads in the tale. Seems to be just the right mixture of adventure, fantasy, fairy tale, battle scenes, danger and moral lessons that do not come off as adult preaching. A nice book to spend a couple of hours reading.

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A MAGICAL JOURNEY

Peter, Enchantment and Stardust:The Poems

Written by William O’Brien

William O’ Brien is not only a talented storyteller but a gifted poet as well. This collection of poems is meant to accompany his children’s book, Peter, The Darkened Fairytale. In that story, Peter is the protagonist who must fight and overcome the forces of evil.

In this wonderful poetry collection, the author presents us with a mix of
lighthearted poems that inspire us with hope and love. On the other hand, we meet dragons, demons and witches waiting to snare the unwary child. O’Brien
sets the tone in his first poem, “Drawers and Doors.”

Peter,Enchantmentpic

The thoughts one thinks may not be real
And sometimes they will make you squeal
Biting, scratching, tastes hang true
Inside this book, you’ll meet things new
Must be careful, for if you fall
These evildoers will seize all.

These words present a challenge that most children will be glad to take up! There are silly poems like “Wandering Twondle” and “Cuthbert,” scary poems like “Devil’s Wish” and “Zombie Queen,” and fantasy creature poems titled, “Elves and Goblins,” and “The Vaandorg Dragon.” Some of the nature poems remind me of William Wordsworth.

Spells that dust the sleeping flowers
May just drip with April showers
In summer lands frolic and sing
Still protected by nature’s wing

One thing children always seem oblivious of is the element of time. O’Brien addresses the concept in his poem titled, “Eternal”

Fairy love
Starlight blessed
In your heart
Feel the test

Touch and wander
Your spirit through
Flowers speak
Holding new

Bash of rain
Sleet and snow
Leaves do fall
Please don’t go

Apples, chestnuts
Tease my eyes
Always there
Never dies

The author employs alliteration, personification and metaphors to make the reader feel that she is on a magical journey to a very special place. So close your eyes and lose yourself in the recesses of your mind. Tweens, teens and adults will enjoy the ride.

THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Beauty and the Beast

Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy

Illustrated by Walter Crane

BeautyandtheBeast,pic

This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.

At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.

Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.

The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.

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AN ADVENTURE IN THE WOODS

Breadcrumbs

by Anne Ursu

Breadcrumbs

This book is a strange mixture of realism and fantasy. In the first part of the book, we meet Hazel, a ten year old fifth grader who is struggling to readjust. Her life has been turned upside down because her parents have recently divorced and she can no longer afford to attend private school. She is a loner who is having difficulty adjusting to her new public school. Hazel has one anchor, Her next door neighbor Jack has been her close friend for four years. They have a secret meeting place, an old abandoned house. Here they talk of dragons, castles, knights and pretend play. They skate and sled together in the Minneapolis winter. While Hazel’s mother tries to interest her in other female friends like Adelaide, Hazel only wants to spend time with Jack. Mom worries about Hazel’s troubles in school and her inability to concentrate or make new friends,

Suddenly, one day at school everything changes. Jack is hurt in the playground. Something has mysteriously landed in his eye. No one knows what happened or where the glass splinter came from. Jack disappears and Hazel searches for him. Jack is cold and mean to everyone, Hazel cannot understand why she is being shunned. Then she sees Jack walking into the forest and decides to follow him. Here is where the fantasy adventure begins in Part Two.

The reader is informed that a demon with a forty seven syllable name decided to fling an enchanted mirror into the sky which shattered into a million pieces. Strange things began to occur on earth. Personalities change, people stop working or suddenly isolate themselves. Jack developed a cold heart. Hazel knew something horrible had happened to Jack. She was determined to save him and so she walked alone into the woods at night with a backpack and a heavy heart.

Hazel saw the white witch at the edge of the forest, She knew that Jack had been lured into the woods and would never return if she could not break the spell. Now the adventure begins. Hazel faces her fears and death as she travels into the forest. She meets wolves, demons and strange creatures. Breadcrumbs has often been described as a retelling of the Snow Queen. There are elements of many other fairly tales as well like The Nightingale and The Red Shoes.

This book is written well and has beautiful language. There are many metaphors, analogies and personifications. It has been suggested for ages eight and up, but I feel much of the dark fantasy is more appropriate for children twelve and older. The struggle of the characters to find themselves and face their fears adds a level of realism to the story. Adults will find the tale intriguing and may enjoy reminiscing about their childhood struggles. Certainly, the book lends itself to lots of discussion and comparisons on the multifaceted plot and characters.

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