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Red Riding Hood Revisited

by Adrienne - 2 Comment(s)

So I admit to being just slightly obsessed with Little Red Riding Hood (okay, okay maybe actually completely obsessed...). What piqued my interest? A lot of that has to do with the research I did into the history of the folktales and a fascination with how a story can shift and change over time to reflect changes in the cultures it resides within.

As a result I was really excited to discover that there was a film version of Red Riding Hood, produced last year by Catherine Hardwicke (director of Twilight). When I finally watched it, I admit I was disappointed, mostly with the casting; not of the main characters who are for the most part good, but it's amazing how bad supporting actors can make a film seem fake & ruin a mood!

The film, however, is a visual feast with splendid, gorgeous, stunning images of long red cloaks against white, white snow, beautiful tree lit night scenes and chic neo-medieval costumes that are meticulously researched with details to satisfy the hippy-geeks in all of us. This in turn spurned some research into medieval costuming. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog with some cool books about medieval dress...

Fortunately the more I watched the film (obsessed remember), the more I appreciated the subtle metaphors and historical references it embeds. For instance, was Peter, Peter The Wolf? Also, it's obvious in the final stew scene at grandmother's cottage that Catherine Hardwicke put some research into how the tale was originally a metaphor for the passing on of wisdom from one generation to another (grandmother to granddaughter Eucharist style). I appreciated this, along with the soundtrack, which is fantastic. Check out Bloodstream and Keep The Streets Empty for Me by Fever Ray!

In fact does a fairy tale have to seem real? Or does a certain amount of fakeness actually seek to better distill the story and symbolism in your subconscious in a more subtle way than if everything was completely realistic? The fakeness allows it to exist in the realm of metaphor, fantastic space, the dreamworld where things aren't usually completely logical.

After being obsessed with the film I read the book by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright. She wrote this after the movie was created, spending time on the set researching the characters and getting to know them. They book delves deeper into the inner lives of the characters and has additional scenes. This was really fun - I kept expecting the book ending to be different and was somewhat disappointed in the end. You have to go online to read the last chapter. If you don't, the book ending leaves more tantalizing trails left for the imagination to follow...

So what other Red Riding Hood remakes have made the mark? Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is tantalizingly well written featuring an innovative re-imagining of the whole werewolf adventure. Available in book, e-book and book CD formats at CPL! Stiefvater is also a musician and artist and has created her own songs to go along with each book, as well as stop animation teasers (scroll down) using wallpaper cutouts! The book is followed up with Linger and Forever. On a side note, Stiefvater likes to decorate things such as her printer and guitar with intricate designs in sharpie markers. You can see some of this on her website as well as in the preview for Forever (scroll down). Click Here and scroll down for a neat pop up animation for Linger.

I think it is important to point out that most of the heroines in the RRH revisions in this blog (except in the comedy section) have teenage or young women as protagonist. This changes the moral tone of the stories and makes them (slightly) less creepy! For instance, Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by artist Daniel Egneus is definitely not the watered down version served up for most 5 year old. And the woman in the illustrations is definitely not 5 or 8 or even 11. Scoring high on beauty in line quality and penmanship, they also evoke a sense of horror in their disjointedness - hinting at how truly horrific such a story would be, were it actually real.

Adaptations that are truer to legend with juicy twists are: Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie (Ruth follows in her grandmother's footsteps learning her wise lore) & Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is another werewolf adventure involving 2 sisters. Red Hood's Revenge by Jim C. Hines is one of four books that reinvent RRH, Cinderella, Snowhite and the Little Mermaid into one cohesive world where our famous heroines form sisterhoods rescue children from Rumplestiltskin, marry, attempt assassinations on each other, reconcile, etc. Fun, fun, fun! Cloaked by Alex Flinn has references to RRH as well as fairytales such as The Shoemaker and the Elves, The Frog Prince and others. In Birthmarked, a great dystopian novel Caragh M. O'Brien, servant girls wear red cloaks however, the resemblance stops there. Similarly from the cover, what with the red cloak and wolf!!, you'd think The Light Bearer's Daughter by O.R. Melling was a RRH re-vamp, but no! Scores are in order however, for a great cover...

Woods Wolf Girl by Cornelia Hoogland takes the story of Little Red Riding Hood and turns it inside out in this sensuous Canadian retelling. Published by http://wolsakandwynn.ca/about

All this fuss about a girl and a cloak and a wolf? Well yes, rich in myth and symbolism, fairytales are a metaphoric minefields, hands down. "Our lives are stories, and the stories we have to give to each other are the most important. No one has a story too small and all are of equal stature. We each tell them in different ways, through different mediums—and if we care about each other, we'll take the time to listen." - Charles de Lint

"As our storytellers continue to draw upon past knowledge, including looking to the animal world and to tribal storytellers for guidance, we grow in strength. We reshape our ancestors' stories for our children, so that these tales will, like our people, our spirits, endure." - Carolyn Dunn

I find the psychological effects of fairy-tales intriguing. If you are interested in the psychology of fairy-tales Clarissa Pinkola Estes has written Women Who Run with the Wolves, which examines folk and fairy-tales from a Jungian perspective. Reading it might just put a new spin on Margaret Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg, or a whole lot of your childhood as well! Far from being outdated, fairy tales continue to shape our lives. Currently the re-shaping of these stories is booming. As Terri Windling says, "Why are so many of us en-spelled by myths and folk stories in this modern age? Why do we continue to tell the same old tales, over and over again? I think it's because these stories are not just fantasy. They're about real life. We've all encountered wicked wolves, found fairy godmothers, and faced trial by fire. We've all set off into unknown woods at one point in life or another. We've all had to learn to tell friend from foe and to be kind to crones by the side of the road. . . ."

On a more humorous note: Artist Wiliam Wegman did a Little RRH book in 1993 which involved photographing dogs posing as all the characters, and in true English hound style... plaid for the book end pages! Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde are 8 short story RRH re-makes that may never have you looking at fairy-tales quite the same way again! Gail Carson Levine recently wrote Betsy Red Hoodie illustrated by Scott Nash, and there are hilarious graphic versions of little red riding hood in these two YA Graphic Novels. Definitely not for little ones : some very Grimm fairy-tale comics and Fracture Fables by Jim Valentino. When a RRH girl finally karate chops the wolf in self defense rather than being gobbled up by him, we know we are living in a society that is beginning to place more of a priority on empowering our little girls rather than seeing them pay blind obedience instead. And that, in my mind, is a good thing!

If you are interested in researching the history of folk and fairy tale these are some good websites: Endicott Studios, JOMA (Journal of Mythis Arts) , Cabinets des Fees - a journal of fairy tales, Terri Windling. In our E-Library (once you sign-in) there are articles like "The Trails and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood" by Jack Zipes. Look under Book Authors and E-Books, Literature Resource Center or Literature Criticism Online and enter in a heading like "Little Red Riding Hood". You will get links to a variety of great articles! Do some research using our spiffy new catalogue and do a re-vamp as you see suggested in the challenge issued here!

"Our lives are our mythic journeys, and our happy endings are still to be won." TW

May is Zombie Awareness Month

by Alexandra - 4 Comment(s)

It's something of an inside joke here at Services for Children, Teens and Families that my TOP 5 list of GREATEST FEARS is pretty ridiculous. I mean... I don't think it's any more ridiculous than the next person's (fear in itself is quite irrational, is it not?) but everyone else seems to think I'm off my rocker.

ALEX'S TOP 5 GREATEST FEARS OF ALL TIME:

1) Fast Zombies

2) Rabbits

3) Slow Zombies

4) Lactose Intolerance (for me... I'm afraid of becoming LI, I'm not afraid of people that already are...)

5) Carrot Top (this guy)

I'm going to skip the things people say about me when I tell them about my lagomorphobia (that's the bunny bit, and no, it has NOTHING to do with Monty Python and the Holy Grail), because that's a whole other story, and today we are going to discuss my fear of Zombies.

People seem to think that Zombies are a silly thing for me to be afraid of. Because hey, why be afraid of something that's not real, right? WRONG. I think it is actually HUGELY intelligent for me to be afraid of both real and not-yet-real things (notice that phrasing, it will be important later). Because then I'm truly prepared for every eventuality. Like what if you thought your biggest fear in the whole world was black-widow spiders, but then massive, eight-legged, blood-sucking, bone-bashing, super-intelligent aliens came to Earth, and you were like "Freak on a Peak, I just pooped myself becauseI just saw something I didn't even KNOW I was afraid of!" and your body shut down and you just died from fear on the spot. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!?! I am. Because I have covered all of my bases and evaluated the things that are to be feared RIGHT NOW (like bloatiness from drinking too much milk) and DOWN THE ROAD (like undead ex-friends and family who are trying to suck my brain out through my nostrils). And fear will not surprise me.

If you want to be prepared for a possible Zombie Apocalypse, here are some things you need to check out:

This Scientific Article about Toxoplasmosa Gondii and a podcast about it too.

The story of Clairvius Narcisse, who's [Voodoo] Doctor turned him into a Zombie

The Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sounds like zombies to me!)

or the cracked.com article (which is much less PG-13, but way funnier than these others), Top 5 Ways a Zombie Apocalypse COULD Happen.

Then you'll want to look into the Calgary Zombie Survival Guide.

Still not convinced? Well... maybe some of these books will get you there:

And just in case that's not enough... there's always Zombie Carrot Top with Milky Eyes...

Bitterblue

by Jilliane - 0 Comment(s)

Bookcover BitterblueKristin Cashore is the New York Times bestselling author of Graceling and Fire. Graceling and Fire were both named ALA Best Books for Youth Adults in addition to other awards. Basically, Cahsore rocks. And...her third book is coming out in May!!! I am lucky enough to have read Bitterblue already, so now I'm going to evangelize all about it so you'll all place a hold on it before it comes out.

To start with, Graceling and Fire are companion novels to Bitterblue. You don't have to read them to follow the story, but knowledge of them will enhance your enjoyment of the story (and anyway, they are awesome). Bitterblue takes place after Graceling.

King Leck ruled Monsea for years. His grace (the ability to control people's minds) and his violent psychopathic personality, destroyed his kingdom. Eventually he was overthrown and murdered and his daughter Bitterblue was left to help the kingdom recover. Because Bitterblue became queen as young child she was very dependent on her advisors. She is now 18 and for the first time, decides she needs to try to understand her kingdom more completely. In the hopes of learning more about the land she rules, Bitterblue begins to sneak out at night in disguise. She visits local story rooms and listens to people tell tales of the crazy King Leck and she discovers that her people are still wounded and seeking the truth about their past. Bitterblue is determined to help them heal, but first, needs to unravel the mystery of her own past. She uncovers distrubing secrets about her insane father Leck. Even more disturbing, she learns that Leck still has a hold on some people in her kingdom--a secret that she must bring to light and deal with if her kingdom is to heal and she is to become a strong queen.

Bitterblue truly is a gripping story. Although it is long and starts slow, the richness of the detail, the depth of the characters and the intricate plot will pay off. It's the kind of book you will stay up late into the night to finish once you get going. More than anything, I love the rock-star-tough-feminist heroines Cashore places in her books. So...read, and enjoy.

bookcover bookcover

Too young to VOTE? Cast your ballots HERE! Young Reader's Choice Award

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Too young to VOTE? Cast your ballots HERE! The Pacific Northwest Library Association is looking for young voters. If you are between grades 4-12, live in the Pacific Northwest (in Canada this is BC and Alberta) and have read at least 2 of the book on the YRCA 2012 nominees list you can vote for your favourite book! Voting takes place in between March 15th - April 15th. We have a ballot box here at SCTF on the 2nd Floor at Central where you can drop your ballots off - and we'll mail them in for you! Or print them off here (scroll to the bottom right hand of the page for the Word document containing the ballots) and mail them in yourself. There is also a study guide for teachers (bottom left hand of the page). Impress them; encourage your whole class to vote!

Here are the Senior 2012 Nominees. They make great Spring Break reading material.

If you've read at least 2 of the books in each category you can also vote for the Junior and Intermediate categories.

My personal favourite for Juniors is The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly- A witty and apt portrayal of the combined sophistication, seediness, prejudice and refinement of the Old South; as seen through the eyes of an 11yr old girl who wants to be a scientist... at the turn of the previous century!

Winners will be announced in mid-April - check back to the PNLA website for details.

Happy Voting! Smile

Beauty Becomes the Beast - What kind of Animal are you?

by Adrienne - 1 Comment(s)

"Deeper meaning resides in the fairytales told to me in my childhood than in any truth that is taught in life." -- Johann von Schiller

Fairytales are of the old world, right? Witches, beasts and warlocks, goblins and leprechauns galore! Princesses in glass slippers, super skinny fairies, evil old ladies... Sometimes I do ask myself what any right-minded 20th century woman would be doing worshipping the ground that these tails (or tales ;0)) walk on... And it's true that some fairy tales DO seem to promote domestic violence, Barbie-esque physiques and a general "Rescue Me!" syndrome. Take Beauty and the Beast, or Rapunzel as prime examples. Others, like Little Red Riding Hood, are all about the "Listen to your mother - don't think for yourself" mentality... Not that listening to your mother is bad... However folk and fairy tales are truly alive - they are ever changing and evolving - just like language: Did you know that slang and swear words are actually the words that keep our language alive? It's true! Just check with any anthropologist of linguistics. Ever try swearing in Latin (the epistemological DEAD language?)?... didn't think so. Fairytales are the same way -- they're constantly being twisted and changed to reflect modern tastes and inclinations. Nowadays there's a whole trend of re-vamped fairytales - AKA Twisted Tales - the library is basically EXPLODING with them! Check out these books if you're interested in these neo-classics:

What if you could be the Beastly Bride? The Beast rather than the Beauty? What kind of animal would you be? The Beastly Bride - tales of the animal people edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling is an anthology of twisted tales involving various were-beasts, she-cats (The Puma's Daughter by Tanith Lee), elephant-brides (Jane Yolen's poem is not for the weak of heart), and enchanted individuals that reverse roles, choose to stay as animals rather than marry because they like their snake-like natures (Rosina by Nan Fry), outwit each other, find true love (The Selkie speak by Delia Sherman) and surprise and inspire us.

Terri Windling says, "I never outgrew these "children's" tales; rather, I seemed to grow into them, discovering their hidden depths as I grew older -- for just as nightly dreams reflect the realities of our waking life, the symbols to be found in folklore and myth (the collective dreams of entire cultures) provide useful metaphors for the journeys, struggles and transformations we experience throughout our lives. So deep was my love of folklore and myth that I went on to study the subject during my university years, which is when I learned that historically these tales were intended for adults, not children."

Take another quote from Terri Windling's website: "Long ago the trees thought they were people. Long ago the mountains thought they were people. Long ago the animals thought they were people. Someday they will say, long ago the humans thought they were people..." from a traditional Native American story recounted by Johnny Moses.

If you think that's thought-provoking, try THESE twists on for size:

What if Red Riding Hood took the situation with the wolf into her own hands? (Red Hood's Revenge)

What if the werewolf was female? ... and a Dingo not a wolf?

What if Beauty ran away from her abusive husband WHILE pregnant; married a woman AND started a safe refuge in an abandoned castle? (Castle Waiting)

What if the twelve dancing Princesses weren't married off to a happenstance prince, and one of them never kissed the frog but took him as a pet and when she got older HE kissed her instead? (Wildwood Dancing)

What if the Beast was actually a gentle prince from Persia more interested in language and roses than hunting?

These are all plots taken from current YA novels and they are how folk and fairytales evolve. Historically, in fact, fairytales have always changed with the times to reflect the values and mores' of the current culture they reside in. Red Riding Hood only became a cautionary tale to warn little girls to obey their mothers in the Victorian Era, and was a much less innocent story before that - in the French Revolution it was a cautionary tale for WOMEN (not girls) to warn them about the kind of men they should be wary of... and BEFORE that, as a french folktale passed on by word of mouth, it was actually a tale about how young women might inherit their grandmother's wisdom. Weird eh? Who woulda thunk? But its true- check it out for yourself.

We also have a great series in the juvenile section, The Sisters Grimm. In graphix we have Rapunzel's Revenge (wouldn't you LOVE to turn your hair into a lasso?) and in movies we have Red Riding Hood, by Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight. Plus Alex also wrote a great blog about all that's currently going on with Snow White.

It's fun, try it! Let's see...What if Cinderella decided she didn't want a prince but a life of her own; no prince, no step sisters... what would she do? Or what it Cynder lived in New York in 2012... and was a gay boy? How would THAT story unfold? Do some research using our spiffy new catalogue (it's fun -- I swear! You can save lists of say "Red Riding hood" as a search term, limit it to YA books, save it as a temporary list and then re-name it and email/fb/twitter it to all your friends... imagine the research possibilities!) Then write/re-write your own fairytale -, twist it around, have fun and THEN... submit it to our TEENSCREATE page and get it published. Presto! Just like that! In fact, bring your writing to our Write Now! program on March 24th and you might even win a prize! (and get feedback on it from published authors!) We may not be fairy Godmother's, but here at the Teenzone we do possess our own special blend of magical powers ;p

As the famous Froud's say, "As artists, Brian and I are merely part of a long mythic tradition—giving old faery tales new life and passing them on to the generations to come."
- Wendy Froud

Write NOW!

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Write Now poster

Behind the Page

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Young Adult Movie PosterA new movie has come out from the makers of Juno, again looking at adolescence, again featuring adults in states of arrested development. “Young Adult” is unfortunately-and paradoxically- rated R, so intended for grownups who might relate to the challenges of growing up, which seems to become increasingly difficult as we age for some reason.

Charlize Theron's character, Mavis Gary, has not advanced since her glory days in high school. As a writer of teen romance novels, she is suddenly faced with an opportunity to return to her home town and attempt to relive these days-- with disastrous results.

The film reminded me of Gentlemen Broncos, a quirky follow up to Napoleon Dynamite, which features a home-schooled writing prodigy whose science fiction story is plagiarized by a celebrity fantasy author (Germaine from Flight of the Conchords).

These two movies are the latest in a line of films subversively setting up expectations of authors (Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter notwithstanding), portraying them as complicated, petty, mean spirited, fallible and completely human. Think of the tightly wound children’s author in Elf, or in another Will Ferrell vehicle, Emma Thompson’s darkly disturbed author in “Stranger than Fiction”, who is unknowingly narrating the real-life counterpart of her protagonist to his demise.

The gaping character flaws are usually played for comedic relief largely because they are counter to the conventional image of the writer, especially those writing children’s and teens fiction. After all, these are people who are supposed to have it all figured out, right? More often than not, I’d say they deserve more credit.

“No one suspects the children’s writer.” Says Mo Willems, who among many other writers of children's books, is included in the documentary Library of the Early Mind, an exploration of the art and impact of children’s literature on our kids, our culture, and ourselves. The film features nearly 40 prominent authors and illustrators talking about their work, its genesis and its impact, offering a surprising and deeply insightful look into the lives of writers, illustrators and the industry itself. We learn some surprising facts about some of our most beloved writers. For example, can you guess which author started writing books after a lengthy stint in jail for drug trafficking? Whose Orwellian childhood upbringing inspired a series of books that subversively challenged the infallibility of grown up characters?

What do you Really know about your favorite authors? Check out their biographies (we have tons! just ask), come to our information desks and check out our great reference books on authors, or try the database Something About The Author through the E-library. Let me know what you find!

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