You are here: Home > Blogs > Teen Zone

Latest Posts

On Line

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Fortunately the more I watched the film (obsessed remember), the more I appreciated the subtle metaphors and historical references it embeds.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

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

***Stars, dust & magic***= Bleak, Bizarre & Beautiful continued...

by Adrienne - 4 Comment(s)

With holiday magic in the air, I thought I might get away with writing about some great fantastic (and magical books) without having a bunch of people vomit all over me... However, I also happen to know that a lot of you secretly and not-so-secretly love fantasy. And these are books with a twist.

As a teen, a friend introduced me to The Sandman by Neil Gaiman and although I had always shunned comic books, an instant romance was born. Gaiman is a mysterious magician weaving stories that are bizarre and strange, that usually leave you with more questions than answers. He also picks stunning illustrators to work alongside him. One of my favourites is Charles Vess. Vess' style could be best described as Art Nouveau meets 1930's comic book. Instructions, also by Gaiman, is a fairytale poem that might leave you rather quizzical and Stardust: Being a Romance in the Realm of Faerie, is pure indulgence! Go on fairy lovers, love it up! Of course you can always count on Gaiman to never follow the staight and narrow... There's DVD and Blu-Ray versions too. MirrorMask is a lovely, bizarre story that I reviewed earlier as an audiobook. It explores the intricacies and complications of mother/daughter relationships and I had the priviledged coincidence of listening to this in the car this summer while travelling back from Drumheller with my mother. Here's to unplanned synchronicity! MirrorMask is also a beautiful graphic novel illustrated by Dave McKean and a great video.

I discovered that Charles Vess has also illustrated some YA novels by one of my favourite Canadians (Saskachewanite to be precise), Charles DeLint! They're great! And short. In Seven Wild Sisters ginseng, bees and faeries mix! Featuring an Apple Man, an Old Aunt and Wild Hills, here's a short excerpt: "Most of her time was taken up with the basic tasks of eking out a living from her land and the forest... But you could buy your food instead of having to work so hard growing it.' 'Sure I could. But I've had to have me money to do that and to get the money, well, I'd have to work just as hard at something else, except it wouldn't necessarily be as pleasing to my soul.'... 'You find weeding a garden pleasing?', 'You should try it girl. You might be surprised.' " Medicine Road stars the Dillard twins Laurel and Bess (from Seven Wild Sisters) in a wild adventure in the Native Southwest. Check 'em out! Charles DeLint is also an artist, poet, folklorist & critic as well as playing in various bands -- he has just released a CD The Loon's Lament with his wife MaryAnn Harris and John Wood. It features cover art by Calgary's own Lisa Brawn!

The latest superstar to hit the scene earned his stripes working on animation for Toy Story! William Joyce has come up with the brilliant idea of re-working the characters of St. Nicholas, The Man in the Moon the E. Aster Bunnymund and others into "The Guardians of Childhood"; modern day super heroes inhabiting familiar, yet not-so-familiar folktales. These display some stunning SteamPunk style illustrations with a ton of adventure to boot. Maurice Sendak has said that The Man in the Moon is "a fabulous recapturing of an old, real fairy-tale world. Dark Mysterious. Stunning!" and Joyce's latest release Nicholas St. North and the battle of the Nightmare King has hit the shelves... just in time for the holidays.

And what fantasy suite is complete without a title such as The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle? “We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.” The graphic novel adaped from Beagle's 1968 classic is lushly illustrated by Renea DeLiz and coloured by Ray Dillon. The library has just ordered Beagle's new book First Last Unicorn and other Beginnings. This includes letters, an unpublished novella about The Last Unicorn, interviews, correspondence and other snippets giving delightful insight into the creative process of this beloved master of fantasy. Over the holidays watch the DVD and Blu-Ray versions and then check our stacks in the New Year for the new book. Start the year off right!

Tolkien and Robin Hood Fans will appreciate Mouse Guard by David Petersen. Mouse life is treacherous and towns must be gaurded. Hence the formation of.. "The Mouse Guard"! Immerse yourself in a leaf-ridden, Ork-like medieval mouse's reverie (nightmare or dream?)! Mouse Guard vol. 01 Fall 1152 was critically acclaimed as best Indy Adventure Book of 2006 by Wizard Magazine and I can see why.

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard vol. 01 also created by David Petersen. This album brings together 17 different comic artists - aka "mice", as they gather together at June Alley Inn to compete to clear their pub tabs by telling the most creative and fantastic stories (a fun nod to the classic "Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer!)

AND... I'm so excited I can barely contain it!!! Alex may geek out about being a Potter fan but I'm a total Lord of the Rings girl and.. Yes! they released an unexpected trailer for Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit! .... Why can't it be next year already?!?!?!?

en...JOY!

Use Your Pencil Hugo- Bleak, Bizarre, Beautiful cont..

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Sometimes opening something has such a velvety quality, the unknownness of it so black, the mystery so tangible you can almost feel it; like rubbing paper between your fingers. Opening The Invention of Hugo Cabret: a novel in words and pictures is like that. And the adventure unfolds from there. The biggest discovery being how Brian Selznick has almost single handedly reinvented the form of the novel and what a book can be. The story is told in pictures and then in words, back and forth, never repeating scenes. Words and pictures move the story along sequentially; they are not meant to expand on one another nor elaborate. Yet enhance each other they do. Different in this way from a graphic novel, the pictures take up the whole page adding unimaginable layers of depth. Each speaks 1000 words or more, describing both setting and scene with lush pencil strokes, sturdy in execution yet exquisite in detail. It just makes me want to run my fingers over the page, flip them back and forth, back and forth... The quality of the paper is rich as well, reminding me of the the lushness of Vida Simone's art and the memory I have of a personal performance with miniature puppets she performed for me in my apartment (among others) as part of her show at The New Gallery years ago. Telling stories in her own personal way. Hugo Cabret does the same thing.

So flip through the pages I did! And discovered, much to my delight, that the individual sequences of images throughout the book act like mini flip books, animating individual scenes, imitating the earliest animations and stop motion film sequences of silent movies. This adds a physically tangible metaphor to the history of cinema that the book probes to a certain depth; satisfying in metaphor of not breadth. To this add steampunkish elements tying clockwork magicians to the mysteries of the human heart and human bonds. It's no wonder it won the Caldecott Medal in 2008.

Et tu parle Francais? Since the book does take place in Paris.. get the the French version here. The book has so many layers. Its very form is half of it! This leaves me wondering if a film on the book can truly do it justice. Yet the story is so strong in and of itself, and.. it does deal with the invention of cinema, so a film MUST have something to add to the discussion of itself... "Hugo" In theatres TODAY (November 23rd) you can watch the trailer here. One thing I don't doubt= I am excited to see it!

I'm even more excited to read and experience Selznick's next adventure in the re-invention of the novel = Wonderstruck. Here he talks about how he wanted to tell 2 stories. One about Rose, set in the past, told in pictures and one about Ben, set in the present, told in words. At some point the stories meet in the middle and either a puzzle is solved and/or a new mystery evolves. See the website here.

Let the mysteries begin. Perhaps all is not lost to e-books and cyberspace. Selznick has given us something in these books akin to the realization that the specialness of a handwritten letter or home made card can never equal an email or Facebook Message. So go ahead - use you pencil!

Halloween for Scaredy Cats*- aka Bleak, Bizarre & Beautiful Continued.

by Adrienne - 4 Comment(s)

So it's a well known fact that I DON'T do horror! No books, no movies, no tapes (especially NOT of The Ring..), no campfires ghost stories, no nothing, - etc, etc. add into infinitum. It's not so much what the actual books and movies do themselves to creep me out.. but what my imagination does to itself afterwards... for like 6 months, or a year, or however long it takes to make me sleep NOT at night & behave like jitter bug all day. Call me a wimp. I Don't care. I know there are others out there like me. As they say "You are Not Alone..." . So... If you are looking for someone to recommend you the most gruesome, fearsome, awesomest scares... that would NOT be me. Hence the title "Halloween for Scaredy Cats"

I DO however love weird, strange and slightly scary things, like pet vampires, spider fairies, and Harry Potter. The Wikkeling by Steve Arnston falls into this category. Scary - but not, the illustrations however are cool and strange enough for all. A mix of twisted B/W silhouettes ala Arthur Rackham and detailed pencil/watercolour collages in the vien of Tony Diterlizzi (Spiderwick), illustrator Daniela Jaqlenka Terrazinni does a good job of making the book absolutely intriguing.

Speaking on DiTerlizzi his black line ink drawing in Mary Botham-Howitt's 1829 poem "The Spider and the Fly" are definitely shall we say... juicy.

And Vampires? Well if you like Vampires you might actually hate this book. but if you can twist your head around a Vampire being CUTE, yes as in cuddly, then Hipira - a collaboration of Katsuhiro Otomo & Shinji Kimura (who collaborated on Steamboy) is for you. Funny and visually delightful especially if you like square spirals, square spirals, square spirals, square...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! * this blog is dedicated to all my fellow scardy cats out there - I know you're there ;)-

Bleak, Bizarre, Beautiful

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Fall is a Beautiful, Bleak, Bizarre and Bountiful season. Things start falling apart and looking strange, half eaten, fiery and orange. You can smell the death and decay, feel the sting of the wind, and the wind of things slowly but surely changing into the mood for Halloween. Crisp fall leaves fall down making us cold and wanting to snuggle up with a good cozy book. It is a suitable time to explore the bizarre. We have some amazing YA Graphic Novels (aka comic books) that have beautiful art and strange stories. So much so they are more like ART novels. The black ink drawing's in Salem Brownstone could be compared to Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations of Salome by Oscar Wilde. An unusual story involving an unexpected inheritance, a contortionist, the circus and Salem's mission to battle out evil using his amoeba like familiar and a crystal ball to restore the balance of good in the world. The black and white graphic detail is stunning. More like Art Nouveau gone comic book.

For Bizarre/Strange Steampunk is the New Black with Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland movie being exemplary of this style. We have a new cool graphic novel inspired by the movie, the dvd, blu-ray, 2 movie book (s), and the CD. Avril Lavigne who composed the title track Alice on this album: Almost Alice is playing in Calgary at the Saddledome tonight! (October 11th). Rounding this out are 3 YA Graphic Novels that are definetly NOT childish: Alice in Wonderland (based on the new film), Wonderland (a fun re-imagining) and Hatter M, vol.1: The Looking Glass Wars (a little bit like Mad Hatter Karate!).

Alice is considered to be the first book that was written not as a moral tale for children but with the specific enjoyment of it's audience in mind. Technically classified as Non-sense Literature and having never lost it's grip on our imaginations, these books do much more than entertain. When our lives are turned upside down,

when we fall through the rabbit hole, when we enter the matrix: they are tales of survival in strange and bizarre circumstances. They stretch our minds and imaginations, enabling us to conjure solutions to the strange sudden bizarre and REAL events of our lives - like your grandfather dying, suddenly growing pubic hair (how weird was that!), moving to a new house, having sex for the first time, finding out you have an unknown sibling, accidentally being pregnant, being kicked out of your house, etc. etc., etc. At the library we have 11 illustrated versions of Wonderland, two of my favourite being Ralph Steadman's which isalso very Art nouveau/Aubrey Beardsley-ish and Robert Ingpen's 2009 edition illustrated with finely detailed pencil/watercolour illustrations from unusual perspectives. This is my favourite Alice to date.

Paul Stewart's Edge Chronicle's illustrated by Christopher Riddell are also fantastically strang. Riddell's The Emporer of Absurdia definitely falls into Dr. Suess territory both in terms of graphic illustration and imagination. There are even echos of Dali. Fine line work and stunning hat collections!

Shaun Tan has written some great books for down days. These include The Red Tree, The Arrival (a YA graphic novel) and The Lost Thing expanded as Lost & Found and recently made into a short animated film. Watch the Trailer here! The Lost Thing reflects on the doldrums of conformity and things that just don't quite fit in - highlighting the importance and value of the weird and the wonderful. Happy Fall!

..... to be contiued (we have such a beautiful, bleak & bizarre collection you can look forward to more!)

12Showing 11 - 16 of 16 Record(s)