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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Into the Woods: Will it be Deep or "Disney-fied"?, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter

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There's been so much buzz about Disney's film adaptation of Sondheim's Broadway hit musical, Into The Woods, I figured it was high time for a focused article on it. We only have one trailer so far, but quite a few still images have been released. I highly recommend you look them up--everything I've seen is really gorgeous. Right now, I've got some cast details for you, plus a few of my thoughts. And at the end, feel free to share yours as well!

This is a star-studded cast if I ever saw one. I'm most excited to see Meryl Streep as "The Witch." Have you seen her costume yet? She looks wonderfully wicked, with silver-blue hair, black mutton sleeves and sharp, untrimmed fingernails. 

British comedienne Tracey Ullman plays the Mother of Jack, from "Jack and the Beanstalk." Daniel Huttlestone, who played Gavroche in 2012's Les Miserables, is Jack. He's only 15 years old.

We've also got Anna Kendrick (from Pitch Perfect) as Cinderella, Chris Pine (Star Trek: Into Darkness) as her Prince, James Corben (One Chance) as the Baker, and Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria) as the Baker's Wife. 

So far, we haven't seen any images of Johnny Depp as "The Big Bad Wolf," aside from a shot in the trailer of one hairy, clawed hand. I guess they're trying to keep his appearance a surprise until opening day. Hopefully that means it'll really knock our socks off.

In a previous article, I'd reported that 10-year-old singer Sophia Grace Brownlee had been cast as Little Red Riding Hood. I had had some concerns about that. Turns out, I wasn't the only one. Sophia Grace's parents pulled her from the project last year. Dominic Brownlee, Sophia's father, spoke about his decision on Twitter. "It was a joint decision between us and the director and producer of "Into the woods" to withdraw Sophia Grace from the film." He continued, "After careful consideration we the parents of Sophia Grace felt that as rehearsals progressed that she was too young for this part."

It would have been interesting to have seen Sophia Grace acting in a serious role, but at least she's got her own Nickelodeon TV movie to make up for it. That should keep her busy enough. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Lilla Crawford will be replacing Sophia, now that her stint as Little Orphan Annie on Broadway has come to an end. 

Despite the Brownlee Family's concerns, I have a feeling the film will not portray the relationship of Little Red and the Wolf as having sexual undertones as per original musical. That would be very un-Disney-like, wouldn't it? After all, Lilla is only 13, and Johhny Depp is 51. That would surely raise more than a few eyebrows. 

Some may ask, why did the musical portray the girl and the wolf in this way? Actually, it is not uncommon for fairy-tale theorists to interpret the original fairytale, "Little Red Riding Hood," as a cautionary tale, to teach young women to steer clear of potential sexual predators. These days, when we read the story to children, we tell them the moral is simply, "don't talk to strangers." But those undertones are always there if you're looking for them. 

One of the reasons the 1970's (note: make that 1980's) musical was so highly regarded was the way that it took the fairy tales we grew up with and made them deeper. By that I mean, of course, that they had always been deep, but adults have always simplified these stories for the sake of children. Many of the most beloved fairy tales of our day are told quite differently now then they were hundreds of years ago. Scenes that were considered too risque or too gruesome for those with puritanical tastes were often removed, or transformed into something a little easier to swallow. 

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods made a deliberate attempt to include aspects of the original stories that had previously been censored or simplified. It also introduced a new theme of "real-life consequences," seeking to explore what may have happened after "happily ever after."

For those who've never seen the show, I don't want to give anything away. But I'm wondering if Disney will stay true to Sondheim's vision, and portray the tales as they once were - deeper, fuller, a little more raw and ugly. Or will Disney turn around and "Disney-fy" what Lapine and Sondheim had previously "un-Disney-fied?"

Judging by the trailer, I think it will be somewhere in-between. Either way, will you be seeing Into the Woods on Christmas Day? Have you seen the musical, and what did you think of it? 

I may follow-up on this story next year, if there's enough to say. See you then!
 
Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."

Nora, by Nora

Friday, November 14, 2014

Krampusnacht Ebook Giveaway


To celebrate the new book, Krampusnacht, with its 12 fabulous stories, I'm hosting a giveaway of one e-copy. 

Here are the rules for the giveaway of one electronic copy of the book.

1) To enter, you must be 18 years of age, but because this is an e-book giveaway, you can be a resident of any country.
2) You must comment below with a guess of a number between 400 and 1,000. Don't forget to guess the number!
3) Only one entry per person, UNLESS, you tweet (or retweet), Facebook post, find a way to pin or otherwise promote this contest. Then you may enter a second time. The second entry must include a link to the way you promoted the contest, plus another number guess between 400 and 1,000. Again, it must be done in the comment box for this post.
4) The contest ends Nov. 30 at 11:59 pm, EST. The winner will be announced by Dec. 5. The winner will then have 72 hours to send me a message at enchantedconversation@gmail.com, acknowledging  the win. If the winner does not contact me within 72 hours, I will pick a new winner.
5) You MUST follow EC through Twitter, one of the Google methods, Pinterest or Facebook before you enter, to qualify. If you are named a winner, you will be asked to how you follow. This is not optional. And you must follow before you enter, not after you win.
6) No former or current or future students of mine at IUSB may enter. Authors in the anthology are not eligible either, but their friends and family are.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Krampusnacht Available Today

Krampusnacht: Twelve Tales of Krampus is out today! Please buy! The book has twelve terrific stories looking at Krampus from more angles than you can imagine.

There are several Krampus books out there. So, here's the right cover:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Check Out the Krampusnacht Cover Artist

Searing Limb Art did the amazing cover for Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus. I know I've posted about it already, but take a close look. The detail in this image is amazing.

Do you see the little hand popping out of the basket? Oh wait, there's two more! And I love that weird, snaky forked tongue. The Krampus tongue thing is lascivious in most images, which I hate, but in this image, the tongue is scary but in a non-skeevy way. 

I love the way the profile of Krampus as rendered by Connor Anderson of Searing Limb Art reminds me of both the Minotaur and a big old cat. There's an animalistic charactistic to this image that makes it new.

You can follow Searing Limb on Twitter, and I just started!

This wonderful cover suggests the amazing variety and richness of the stories within. The book is available Nov. 11. You can preorder the book here: 

http://www.worldweaverpress.com/store/p63/Krampusnacht%3A_Twelve_Nights_of_Krampus.html


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Don't Forget: Krampus is Coming!

Krampusnacht: Twelve Tales of Krampus drops Nov. 11. There will be a flash writing contest to celebrate.Stay tuned!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Krampusnacht Cover Reveal

Krampusnacht: Twelve Tales of Krampus is coming Nov. 11! The cover, with an illustration by Searing Limb Art, is below.

You can pre-order paperback copies (please do!) by following this link.

I'm so excited! Keep tuning in. This is a great collection!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Books Reviewed by Brita Long: Hood & Fae, The Door in the Hedge, Cinder & Ella


Today’s book review column is a little different. Not only are none of these three books by the same author, but they are all stylistically and thematically very different from each other. Hood & Fae, by Tara Maya, is a modern faery adaptation of “Little Red Riding Hood.” The Door in the Hedge, by Robin McKinley, is a collection of four short fairy tales. Cinder & Ella, by Kelly Oram, is a modern retelling of the classic “Cinderella,” but with technology instead of magic.

Hood & Fae is a novella that serves as a prequel to Maya’s upcoming series, Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Roxy and Bryn Hood are sisters struggling to pay for their comatose mother’s medical bills. When Roxy finally opens the last birthday present her mother had bought for her before getting sick, she realizes that the family business of talking to the dead wasn’t just a scam. When Roxy puts on the hooded red leather jacket, she can both see people’s souls and the souls of the dead.

Hood & Fae kept me both laughing and on the edge of my seat. Maya has created a completely new faery world with magical realms that are essentially levels of heaven and hell. Add in a werewolf, a sexy and magical park ranger, an honest-to-goodness fairy godmother, and a sexy and magical scoundrel, and the book kept me riveted the whole time. I can’t wait until the first full-length novel is published.

The Door in the Hedge includes two original fairy tales and two retold fairy tales. “The Stolen Princess” describes a mortal kingdom bordering a fairy kingdom, with the fairies sometimes stealing the baby boys and teenage girls from their mortal neighbors. While it’s a beautiful fairy tale, with a satisfying albeit predictable conclusion, I prefer the other original story, “The Hunting of the Hind.” In this tale, the kingdom has lost many young men in pursuit of a beautiful wild animal, the Golden Hind. When finally even the prince has succumbed to fever and madness after seeing the Hind, his sister the princess goes after the Hind. What she finds I will not spoil, but eventually she defeats an evil wizard, and everyone lives happily ever after. McKinley’s retellings of “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” are equally original and breathtaking.

Cinder & Ella tells the story of Ella Rodriguez and Brian Oliver, best friends who have never met in person. Brian doesn’t know that Ella’s car accident left her physically and emotionally scarred. Ella doesn’t even know Brian’s real name, and she definitely doesn’t know that he’s a famous movie star. But when Ella moves to California to live with her absent father, stepmother, and two stepsisters, she and Brian are about to accidentally meet each other offline.

I have read almost all of Oram’s books, and Cinder & Ella is by far my favorite. The characters reach new emotional depths not previously seen in her other writing. Not only are the protagonists well-written and complex, but so are the supporting characters. Even the “wicked stepsisters” eventually show some empathy to Ella, and she discovers exactly why they behaved so cruelly and coolly towards her. While not a true fairy tale, this imaginative retold story is too good not to review. I particularly like the “fairy godmothers” (two gay costume designers) and the “royal ball” (a fantasy version of Comic Con). Cinder & Ella is a must-read for all fans of books inspired by “Cinderella.”

What fairy tales have you read recently? Any requests for what I review next? Let me know in the comments!

Brita Long is a francophile feminist living out her own fairy tale with her husband in Ohio. You can find her online at bellebrita.com, where she writes about her faith, books, and her life as a southern belle in the Midwest.
Brita Long

Monday, October 20, 2014

Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus Coming Nov. 11

Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus will be published Nov. 11.


For bad children, a lump of coal from Santa is positively light punishment when Krampus is ready and waiting to beat them with a stick, wrap them in chains, and drag them down to hell--all with St. Nick's encouragement and approval.

 

Krampusnacht holds within its pages twelve tales of Krampus triumphant, usurped, befriended, and much more. From evil children (and adults) who get their due, to those who pull one over on the ancient "Christmas Devil." From historic Europe, to the North Pole, to present day American suburbia, these all new stories embark on a revitalization of the Krampus tradition.

 

Whether you choose to read Krampusnacht over twelve dark and scary nights or devour it in one nacht of joy and terror, these stories are sure to add chills and magic to any winter's reading.

 

Some more details are below. Keep checking. Lots more info is coming!

 

Edited by Kate Wolford

 

“Prodigious” by Elizabeth Twist

“The Wicked Child” by Elise Forier Edie

“Marching Krampus” by Jill Corddry

“Peppermint Sticks” by Colleen H. Robbins

“Ring, Little Bell, Ring” by Caren Gussoff

“A Visit” by Lissa Sloan

“Santa Claus and the Little Girl Who Loved to Sing and Dance” by Patrick Evans

“Between the Eye”s by Guy Burtenshaw

“Nothing to Dread” by Jeff Provine

“Raw Recruits” by Mark Mills

“The God Killer” by Cheresse Burke

“Krampus Carol” by Scott Farrell


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Italy: The Birthplace of Modern Fairy Tale Telling, By Christina Ruth Johnson, Vintage Fairy Tale Sleuth

When we think of countries that are birthplaces of fairy tales, we automatically think of France and Germany--at least, these are the first that come to my mind, thanks mainly to Perrault and the Grimm brothers. We may think of England, too, as the place tales about actual fairies abound. Next, our minds might travel east to Russia or even farther into the lands of the Arabian Nights. Or perhaps we go north to Denmark, remembering Hans Christian Andersen.

One place to which my mind never traveled, until my research took me there, was Italy. I have since learned that traveling to Italy (literarily speaking) is a must for fairy tale lovers!

A most extraordinary collection of tales was published in Italy between 1634 and 1636--written by Giambattista Basile (published posthumously). The original title was Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille--“The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones.” The title by which we know the work today, however, is Il Pentamerone, a phrase from the dedication page of the first edition that appeared as a subtitle in the 1674 edition by Pompeo Sarnelli (another Italian writer of fairy tales). (Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales)

From "Two Cakes," illustrated by George Cruikshank
Giambattista Basile was born near Naples in 1575 to a middle class family. He worked as a soldier, a government official, a courtier in Mantua, and a governor of various small states in Italy (Encyclopedia Britannica). When he died in 1632, he held the title of count (OCFT). Basile was well regarded as a poet while he lived, “and during his career he became fascinated with the folklore, customs, literature, music, and dialect of the Neapolitan people. He began serious study of things Neapolitan and began to collect fairy tales and folktales, setting them down in a lively Neapolitan style with much local flavour and all the ornament and flamboyance of his influential contemporary Giambattista Marino” (EB). 
 
"The Serpent," illustrated by by Warwick Goble
Basile’s arguably most famous work, Il Pentamerone, was the first literary compilation of nothing but fairy tales to be published in Europe, paving the way for later publications by the Grimms and others that we know and love today. Linguist and historian Nancy Canepa writes, “Lo cunto constituted a culmination of the interest in popular culture and folk traditions that permeated the Renaissance, when isolated fairy tales had started to be included in novella collections” (OCFT). Il Pentamerone, however, was written in the complicated Neapolitan dialect and parodied both earlier canonical works by Italian authors, such as Boccaccio, as well as contemporary Neapolitan culture (OCFT).

"Seven Doves" and more, by Cruikshank
Like Boccaccio’s Decameron, Basile’s Il Pentamerone is composed of a frame narrative with 49 interior tales--the frame narrative is its own tale, raising the total number to 50. Many stories we readily recognize today appear in this anthology, some in their earliest known literary forms: “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rapunzel,” “Snow White and Rose Red,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Puss in Boots.”

"The Three Enchanted Princes, illustrated by Goble
 Canepa remarks that Basile’s versions of these stories are “often bawdier and crueller” than their later, better-known retellings. For example, the heroine of “La gatta Cennerentola” (“The Cinderella Cat”) actually kills her stepmother and actively helps orchestrate her own happily-ever-after. In general, Il Pentamerone’s heroines are surprisingly active and clever agents in their own fates. (OCFT) Petrosinella (the earliest incarnation of Rapunzel) coordinates her escape from her tower, essentially giving orders to the prince.

You can read a selection of stories from The Tale of Tales on the Surlalune website, as well as view more of the gorgeous illustrations by Warwick Goble and George Cruikshank here: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/pentamerone/. You may also try your hand at reading the original Neapolitan here (full text): http://www.letteraturaitaliana.net/pdf/Volume_6/t133.pdf.

I for one love reading such different versions of tales we think we know so well! Which Pentamerone tale is your favorite? Join Enchanted Conversation and let us know!

 References:
“Giambattista Basile.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed 17 August 2014. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/55102/Giambattista-Basile#ref188608. [OE]
Heidi Anne Heiner, ed. “Il Pentamerone.” Surlalune Fairy Tales. http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/pentamerone/.
Nancy Canepa. “Giambattista Basile.” The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: The Western fairy tale tradition from medieval to modern, 41-43. Edited by Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. [OCFT]
Nancy Canepa. “Pentamerone.” The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: The Western fairy tale tradition from medieval to modern, 377-378. Edited by Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. [OCFT] 


Christina Ruth Johnson recently received her Masters in Art History with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and a side interest in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her other great love is fantasy literature from ancient times to present day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

500 New Fairy Tales and the First Black Cinderella, By Nora Stasio

Keke Palmer as Cinderella
I've got two bits of news for you today--both very different, both very intriguing. 

The first one isn't a new story, but one that, I think, didn't get enough coverage when it broke. Historian Erika Eichenseer discovered three books packed with a total of 500 fairy tales in Bavaria, Germany in the Spring of 2012. And you've probably never heard most of these before. 

In the 1860s, Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth, also a historian, traveled throughout the Bavarian region on Oberpfalz, Germany, gathering information on the local people's customs, traditions, myths, and folk tales. He published three volumes of the fairy tales he had gathered, but his works were never as popular as those by the Grimm Brothers, and he had been largely forgotten by modern society, until Eichenseer's discovery. The books were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for approximately 150 years. 

The Grimm brothers were known for putting their own spin on the stories they recorded, inserting their own voice into the narration. Von Schönwerth was more concerned about preserving history, making it a point to transcribe the tales exactly as he was told them. These stories are many generations old, and most are unique to Bavaria and are not well known in other parts of the world, which is why you've probably never heard them. 

For instance:Hhave you heard the one about the princess who turned herself into a lake to hide from a witch? The witch drinks up the lake and then the princess cuts her way out of the witch's stomach. A thousand points to you if you already know that one, but it's new to me. Eichenseer certainly unearthed a long-lost treasure when she discovered these books. 

My question is, why haven't we heard more about this since this 2012? I'm sure fairy tale fanatics like ourselves would love to read these ancient tales. Eichenseer did publish a collection of them - in German, of course, but an English version should be released next year. Let's cross our fingers!

Or, here's a thought: Instead of relentlessly rehashing the same seven world-famous fairy tales, maybe Hollywood can adapt one of these for their next big budget film. Why do I have a feeling that will never happen...?

Anyway, if you're intrigued, you can read one such tale, The Turnip Princess, here: 


Now for a more recent story.

On September 9th, Keke Palmer became the first African American to portray Cinderella on the Broadway stage. She took over for Carly Rae Jepsen, the Canadian pop idol who had the role for seven months. I'm referring, of course, to the 2013 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's adaptation of the fairy tale, which has been getting a lot of good press since opening.
Keke Palmer was in the news earlier this year for breaking new ground in a different medium. At 20 years old, she became the youngest-ever TV talk show host, with "Just Keke" premiering on BET channel in June. 

You may remember Keke from her 'breakout role' in Akeelah and the Bee in 2006. She released a solo album in 2007 and starred in a Nickelodeon sitcom, True Jackson, VP, from 2008 to 2011.

I must say, this news about Cinderella was a surprise to me. Has there really never before been an African-American Cinderella? Apparently, on Broadway, there hasn't. 

I remember when I was quite young, it was 1997, and ABC produced a TV adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical with wildly popular (at the time) R&B singer, Brandy, in the title role. My friends and I recorded it (on a vhs tape!) and watched it over and over again. We didn't care what color Cinderella's skin was, we were thoroughly enchanted by her. 

If you've seen that ABC special, you'll remember that Whitney Houston played the Fairy Godmother, and she tore the house down as usual with several solo numbers. Paolo Montalban, a Filipino-American, played the Prince, and Whoopi Goldberg was his Queen mother. Bernadette Peters played the Wicked Stepmother. One of her daughters was played by a white actress (Veanne Cox) and the other, a black actress (Natalie Desselle-Reid). 

What a wonderfully diverse cast, right? This special was well-received and quite successful for ABC. I guess that's why I'm surprised a Broadway production has never taken a similar route until now. I don't see any reason why not. Nevertheless, congratulations to Miss Palmer--for going down in history twice in the same year!

Please share your thoughts on these happenings in the comments section below!

Nora, by Nora Stasio
Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."