A Magical Olympic Opening Ceremony

As Simon Schama said in his review of the opening ceremony:

No one does the darkness of childhood, its realm of startled pathos, its deep hauntings, like the Brits, from Alice and Peter Pan to Harry P.

Even though London has taken a few beatings over the theatrical nature of their opening ceremony, I personally think they knocked it out of the park. It wasn’t just about the current affairs of their nation, or what it took to arrive at where they are today; it was a culmination of everything Britain was – and still is.

Having Voldemort battle Mary Poppins, Captain Hook pop up alongside Cruella Deville, and JK Rowling read aloud from JM Barrie’s classic children’s story was exactly what the London Olympics should have been about. It’s about dreaming, imagining, and allowing children to grow up believing in magic.

Many Olympic athletes present that night were familiar with these stories. Most spectators knew the tales, as well. Britain was merely proving that when they do something, they do it right. They certainly led the way in children’s literature, and I’m certain they will continue being a highly imaginary country many years from now.

Fairy Tale Food by Lucie Cash – Bringing a Little Magic to Your Cooking

The book arrived at my doorstep on Cinnamon-scented wind. It came cradled in a basket like a baby brought by stork. Although no one rang the doorbell to announce its arrival, I knew something lay just beyond the threshold by the smell of chocolate and faint whirls of steam I could see rising over the panes in the door’s glass.

Actually, none of this happened. The book came wrapped in an Amazon plastic bag and crammed into my mailbox. But once the wrapping was off, I was enchanted.

Fairytale Food: Enchanting Recipes to Bring a Little Magic to Your Cooking. The name itself made me happy as I opened up the cover. Once the binding was creased, the pages within held even more wonders.

Every page has a drawing of some sort – a character, a magical food, a depiction of a fairytale. The illustrations, by Yelena Bryksenkova, are intricate, inviting the reader to do more than just glance at the recipe they are trying to recreate. They showcase each story and the food associated – for instance, Snow White has a section that includes Evil Stepmother’s Stew and Blood Red Velvet Cake. A little story accompanies each recipe, explaining its reason for being included.

This is another way that Fairytale Food departs from your typical cookbook. Food is not arranged according to courses (appetizers, soups, entrees), but by Fairytale. Each story generally has an entree, side dish, and dessert. Take Belle and her Beau – this section includes Beauty and the Beast Burgers, Pretty Sweet Potatoes, and True Love’s Hearts.

Other sections may include fewer courses, but are no less involved than others. Fairy Folk is filled with sweets – Enchanted Forest Gateau, Fairy Chocolate Cups, and Goblin Granitas.

Although I haven’t attempted any of the recipes yet, there are plenty of tips that will allow me to begin in the correct manner. A list that includes common sense information such as “Ensure that your cauldron is sparkling clean” comes just before lesser-known wisdom like “When stirring, always stir widdershins (counter-clockwise)…” Who knew cooking magically could be so easy? Keep in mind that the book was published in the UK, meaning that measurements will have to be converted for anyone more familiar with US measurements.

This will be such a fun cookbook to use in the future with children. I can just imagine creating tea-time treats as we dress up according to the menu of the day!

Germany’s Märchen Straße – An Introduction to the German Fairy Tale Road

Germany is the home to rolling hills, winding rivers, and forests so densely wooded they’ve been termed black – in all, the perfect setting for fairy tales to be woven into folklore.

To read more about this enchanted route, simply head to FairyTaleMagazine.com, where I’ve written an article highlighting my travels to Grimm country!

This will be the first in a three-part series, so be on the lookout for more tales of cottages and castles to come.

Are Fairy Tales Too Scary?

The Daily Mail has recently conducted a survey regarding fairy tales and their reception among today’s parents. What’s interesting is that this made their top news. The article included the perception that various stories are seen to have in the mind’s of the parent.

Entitled “Are Fairy Tales too Scary for Today’s Children? Parents Admit They Refuse to Read Classics to Youngsters,” the article goes on to mention the fairy tales that are now deemed frightening, uncomfortable, or even “unrealistic.”

In the survey, conducted on 2,000 parents, they discovered that 1 in 5 favors more modern stories for their children, and that almost half of parents do not read Rumpelstiltskin or Rapunzel because of their focus on kidnapping. They viewed Goldilocks and the Three Bears as condoning stealing, and Little Red Riding Hood as too upsetting. But I have to ask, if children do not learn these lessons or hear of these occurrences, how are they to grow and accept the many disappointments and realities of life?

The survey mentions that modern tales parents read to children include The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Gruffalo. But what lesson does a child learn from the Caterpillar tale? And how is The Gruffalo any less scary than the classic tales that involve outwitting a predator?

The sidebar on the article is probably the best material, showing the Top Ten fairy tales no longer read to children. Here’s a glimpse:

1. Hansel and Gretel – Storyline about two abandoned kids is thought likely to scare children
2. Jack and the Beanstalk – Deemed too ‘unrealistic’
3. Gingerbread Man – Parents uncomfortable explaining gingerbread man gets eaten by fox
4. Little Red Riding Hood – Deemed unsuitable by parents who must explain a girl’s grandmother has been eaten by a wolf
5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – The term ‘dwarves’ was found to be inappropriate
6. Cinderella – Story about a young girl doing all the housework was considered outdated
7. Rapunzel – Parents were worried about the focus on a young girl being kidnapped
8. Rumpelstiltskin – Parents unhappy reading about executions and kidnapping
9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Parents say it sends the wrong messages about stealing
10. Queen Bee – Deemed inappropriate as the story has a character called Simpleton

This seems a bit extreme in most cases, and downright ridiculous in others. If parents are constantly bandaging wounds before there’s a scratch, and putting on safety helmets in order to prevent the world from entering children’s minds, how will kids ever learn important lessons or conquer fears?

I posted this over at my other blog, Writing in White, but wanted to share here and get feedback from both parents, and people that grew up reading fairy tales as children. How does this article affect you?

Mirror, Mirror – Another Look at Snow White

The newest trailer for this summer’s OTHER Snow White movie has just come out, and I must say that it looks so much better than the original glimpse we got of Mirror, Mirror. While at first it promised to be almost a parody of the classic tale, the version below seems to show Snow White as a stronger female, kicking butt with a band of misfits as companions.

As always, Julia Roberts makes for a wonderful leading lady, offering a bit of comedic relief to the title of Evil Queen. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the tone Charlize Theron has set for the Snow White antagonist.

Lilly Collins is going to shine in the lead role of Mirror, Mirror. Not only does she physically fit the part of Snow White down to the smallest detail, but judging from the trailer, her acting skills are already far beyond that of Kristin Stewart. That said, the role of Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman is pretty intriguing. I love the warrior theme, depicting her clad with shield and sword. We’ll see if she can live up to the armor.

I look forward to seeing them both. With Snow White and the Huntsman releasing June 1, and Mirror, Mirror coming out March 30th, it will be interesting to see which one truly is the fairest in the land (sorry, I just had too!).

More Trending in the Market – Beauty and the Beast

I realize that in this consumer-driven world we live in, product is king. Companies latch on to the latest trends and ride that horse until it’s near death and frothing at the mouth. When one company finds success with a product, others must follow suit in order to make a few bucks themselves.

ABC Found success with Once Upon a Time, and are hoping that Belle and the Beast can make that happen, as well.

Enter Beauty and the Beast. A Tale as Old as Time, right? Both ABC and the CW have ordered pilots of this fairytale retelling, which will be debuting at the same time this month. ABC’s version will most likely play off of their animated film, while the CW is taking from CBS’s 1980s drama that starred Ron Perlman as Vincent – the Beast – and Linda Hamilton as Catherine – the Beauty.

Does this double debut sound familiar? Think Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Think of the no less than TWO Snow White movies hitting theaters this summer.

CW plans to remake CBS's 1980s version of Beauty and the Beast

A loyal fan of ABC, I admit that I’m excited about the prospect of their Beauty and the Beast concept. I will also be watching the CW’s version, because I distinctly remember being a young girl and sitting with my mom, completely enraptured by Vincent and Catherine’s love affair. My only fear is that soon these fairy tales will fall by the wayside once more, traded in for something a bit more young and fresh. I worry that corporations are doing what they do best – saturating the market.

The question I am asking myself is where this current trend began. I can only assume that Harry Potter led the way into the realm of fantasy, and that corporations hurriedly began snatching up children’s tales as adult entertainment. Will this trend fizzle and a period of realism come next? Will people tire of the fantastic and long for a story of normal people doing normal things? But then again, what’s normal?

From Werewolf Hunters to Rights Activists: Updating Fairy Tale Heriones: An Article

It’s possible that when you, or the current generation of little girls, read Cinderella, there was something about her that you didn’t like, even if it was only the idea of her. She’s covered in ashes, scrubbing the floor, singing – certainly not complaining or trying to do anything to get herself out of the physically and mentally abusive situation in which she’s found herself.

When the Grimm brothers wrote down fairy tales such as these, women at the time had very little rights – if any at all. Stories like Cinderella offered them hope; if they behaved and kept passive, perhaps they would be lifted from their position in society. She had to be deserving of help, whether that came from a prince, a fairy, or some other outside force beyond herself.

Marissa Meyer, author of a new version of the Cinderella story, which debuts this month, discusses this idea in an article she wrote for Tor.com, titled “From Werewolf Hunters to Rights Activists: Updating Fairy Tale Heroines”. She goes on to humorously explain why it is that today’s generation takes issue with the protagonist in Cinderella, and the call for revisions to the classic stories.

Here’s a taste of what she had to say:

Today’s teens want heroines who are courageous and empowered, who are willing to fight for what they want and choose their own destinies. And while dashing heroes continue to populate today’s fiction, the trend is leaning toward an equality between the protagonists, with skills and strengths that complement each other, and it’s perfectly acceptable for the princess to slay the dragon herself when called upon.

…While writers continue to experiment with settings, time periods, and tales both common and forgotten, this trend seems to be here to stay. Those passive girls of old are becoming extinct, being replaced with bold and plucky heroines that don’t only deserve a happy ending, but go out and claim it.

I 100% agree with her viewpoints on this. Interestingly, I found this picture on Pinterest, which highlights what Meyer discusses by way of Disney’s leading ladies throughout the years.

I think we’re seeing a surge of strong female leads coming to the forefront, whether that be in books like The Hunger Games, or in children’s movies like Tangled and the upcoming Brave. It gives me hope to know that should I have a daughter in the future, she will have strong role models to enact as she plays pretend.

 

The Mythical Mode of Imagination

Those of a “correct and sober taste” may find this topic a bit too sweet for the palette.

Tolkien Described the Bible as "The True Myth"

Children have an unquenching appetite for stories that involve other worlds – stories that offer strange twists, intricate storylines, and complex characters. In the last few years, this has even extended to Young Adult literature and, to a certain extent, Adult (although one will generally still find those books in the Young Adult section of any bookstore).

Beowulf - One of the First Written Myths

Myths generally fit a certain mold, involving the creation story of a people or animal. It involves gods or godlike beings, and is very often associated with religion. Christianity itself is the most epic of myths, and I would argue that it is the basis for all other myths. It is also the reason that myth has never truly died out – people relate to it in ways that other genres cannot accomplish. People don’t turn to fantasy in order to escape reality, but to validate their reality. The characters within the story go through similar life experiences as their readers – puberty, overbearing elders, physical obstacles – but have the added element of the supernatural that makes the story irresistible.

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Embodies All Elements of Historical Myth

Tolkien gave perhaps the most clear understanding for myth in his famous lecture on Beowulf: “The significance of a myth is not easy to be pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather than makes explicit what his theme portends; who presents it incarnate in the world of history and geography, as our poet has done.”

Myth shouldn’t be explained away, but enjoyed. It shouldn’t be made into a formula, but simply allowed to be. This alone makes it nearly impossible for some to understand. Myth, like Christianity, can only be understood by those that realize the fantasy is part of their reality.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse

For those who like all things fable and fantasy, this news may entice you. In case you haven’t noticed, there is a major trend for exposing the origin of fairy tales right now, which usually involves revealing their dark side. From young adult books, movies, and television shows, one thing is clear – audiences are enjoying stories that may not include a happily-ever-after.

Enter the new Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Colorado. In their own words:

“Grimm Brothers Brewhouse is new craft brewer located in Loveland, Colorado focusing on authentic German style beers. Each of their brews is named after one of the Grimm Brother’s famous folk tales, so each label features a scene from each story, but with a twist. For example, Little Red Cap (or Riding Hood) has an axe hidden behind her back, making her more dangerous than the wolf.”

The Master Thief is their latest concoction, added just this week.

Each brew has its own tale to accompany it, and summaries are included on every label. You can see all four Here.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse has a taproom located in Loveland, Colorado, and the beers are being offered in various locations around the state. Although I’ve yet to find any information on online orders…I think they would make great Christmas gifts!

Beauty Can be Strong: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White has always been one of my favorite fairy tale stories. And while I’m not sure where the craze that is all things SNOW has come from lately, that doesn’t mean I’m not completely beside myself about it. Once Upon a Time features Snow White as one of the leading characters, and two movies based on this princess will be coming in 2012.

Snow White and the Huntsman is one of these movies, and after viewing the trailer I am very excited about the direction that the producers chose to go. Epic battle scenes are a true favorite of mine, and this one doesn’t seem to disappoint. Of particular note, I’m glad that they are depicting Snow White as a strong woman capable of taking care of herself (to an extent).

Like the original story, this movie begins by explaining that Snow White is the only person in the land capable of surpassing the Queen in beauty, which sends said queen into an evil rage. What she doesn’t realize is that the one person dispatched to take the young girl’s heart is a warrior who has been training Snow White in the art of war. This movie is from the producers of Alice in Wonderland, so it seems it will also have beautiful cinematography.

As for the actors, Charlize Theron seems to be the perfect evil queen, and Chris Helmsworth will always get my vote for the devastatingly handsome warrior role. Sam Claflin is playing the prince, but his only appearance in the trailer is a brief reference to the famous kiss. As for Kristen Stewart…she proves once more why I’m not a huge fan of hers. Not one time in this preview does she utter a word – much the same as her role in the Twilight movies. I hope she proves me wrong…that she is not only a worthy Snow White, but an actress worthy of roles such as these. On the whole however, I think this movie could truly be epic.

Watch the trailer and let me know what you think. Has anyone else heard anything about this movie? What are your own thoughts on the storyline and actors that have been chosen?

Snow White and the Huntsman Trailer