"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hansel and Gretel by James Marshall



Hansel and Gretel by James Marshall, 1990.

Variations:

  • Does not mention God
  • Hansel drops pebbles but says he is turning back to look at a white cat on the roof
  • Children think that their father is nearby in the woods, but he has fixed a tree branch to strike a tree to sound like an axe cutting wood
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs but says he is turning back to look at a pigeon on the roof
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • House is "made of cookies and candy, spun sugar and cake."
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home
Verse:

"Nibble, nibble, little mousie
Who's that nibbling
on my housie?"

James Marshall approaches this story with his usual humorous touches. The stepmother, who is nothing but bossy and nasty, asks her husband, "Do you want your pretty little wife to waste away?" She peppers her conversation with "you dolt!" "you donkey!" and "simpleton!" The witch, in her excitement and catching the siblings, slips up with "Two tasty-uh-pretty children have come to stay."  Once she cages Hansel, she does a little dance in delight.




Marshall's illustrations also make the book enjoyable, because they are outright fun. The stepmother is a large woman with carrot colored hair in Princess Leia buns. The witch (as shown above) has green hair and a matching wart, a honker of a nose and Cupid's bow lips. She is adorned with bows from her hairdo to her toes and  when she dances around Hansel she jumps right out of her shoes, revealing skinny ankles and a green pedicure.

Recommended.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hansel and Gretel retold by Jane Ray



Hansel and Gretel retold and illustrated by Jane Ray, 1997.

Continuing on with the theme I began in Picture Books: Hansel and Gretel , we now look at Jane Ray's version of the tale.

Variations:
  • Does not mention God
  • Hansel drops pebbles but says he is turning back to look at a white cat on the roof
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs but says he is turning back to look at a pigeon on the roof
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • House is "made of gingerbread, iced with pink and white sugar and covered all over with sweets and sugarplums. The windowpanes were of clear sugar and a fence made of gingerbread figures ran around the house."
  • Witch is an old woman "dressed in tatters with cobwebs and spiders clinging to her skirts."
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  • Gives detail on the witch, including her keen sense of smell
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home
  • Stepmother has gone, no mention of her death
Verse:

"Nibble, nibble little mouse, who's that nibbling at my house?"
"Just the winds, the winds that blow, from the sky to the earth below."

"Little duck, little duck, duckling dear,
Hansel and Gretel are standing here.
A bridge they lack and a boat they lack,
Please carry them over on your back."

Ray's spectacular art makes this book really special (full disclosure: I already own it). She used watercolor, gouache, ink, pencil, collage and varnish to produce it. It is very detailed, with background patterns of branches, vines and stars on pages before and after the visit to the witch's house, and skulls, lizards and feathers when the children are with her. Ray uses motifs of hearts, stars, eyes and hands throughout the book.

 Interestingly, the cruel stepmother's face is never shown. Ray's gingerbread house is less readily identifiable as made from sweets and her fence of  gingerbread people with skull-like faces is downright creepy.

The witch is scarily dramatic, with red eyes, fang like teeth and blood red lipstick that creeps beyond her lip line. She is suggestive of a demented Marie Antoinette with chalk white skin and black beauty marks. Her hat carries a black bird, a butterfly and a flopping fish of bones. Her clothes appear to be dripping feathers, spiders, snakes and a toad. Her red taloned hands are decorated with a mendhi pattern and her shoes have eyes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Picture Books: Hansel and Gretel

I'm now looking at various illustrated versions of fairy tales by title.

I am starting with "Hansel and Gretel." If you don't know the story, or need a refresher, you can do no better than to look at the Surlalune website. This site is amazing, and I also very frequently check out the Surlalune Blog.

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/hanselgretel/

In this post:

  • Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, illus by Anthony Browne, 1981
  • Hansel and Gretel by Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Jen Corage, 2008.
  • Hansel and Gretel retold and illus. by Rachel Isadora, 2009.
  • Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, retold by Amy Erlich, illus. by Susan Jeffers, 1980, 2011.
  • Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, retold and illus. by Will Moses, 2006.



Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, illus by Anthony Browne, 1981.

This is adapted from a translation by Eleanor Quarrie, 1949.

Variations:

  • Mentions God
  • Hansel drops pebbles but says he is turning back to look at a white cat on the roof
  •  Children think that their father is nearby in the woods, but he has fixed a tree branch to strike a  tree to sound like an axe cutting wood
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs but says he is turning back to look at a dove on the roof
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  • Gives detail on the witch, including her keen sense of smell
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home
Verse:

"Nibble, nibble, little mouse,
Who is gnawing at my house?"

"Only the wind,
The Heaven-sent wind."

"Little duck, little duck,
Here stand Hansel and Gretel.
There is no bridge upon our track,
Take us over on your white back."

"My tale is done; see the mouse run;
Catch it if you would, to make a fur hood."

Anthony Browne has set his story in modern times and dispensed with folkloric costuming. He stresses the poverty of the family through the run-down quality of their home. There are bare patches in the ceiling plaster, peeling wallpaper and holes in the curtains, though they do have a television set and the stepmother owns fancy red high heel shoes. Hansel, Gretel and their father's clothes have dirty spots, but the stepmother looks clean and stylish (albeit with a black beehive hairdo).
Browne's art has something of a surrealistic quality, although not as overt as in Gorilla or Changes. When the parents are in bed, the bars of their headboard seem to foreshadow the dark trees of the wood or the bars of Hansel's cage. The frowning stepmother is later shown behind bars as she stares through the window at the returning children after Hansel's pebbles proved a successful guide. The witch is also shown looking out the window of the sweet house, and her features, like her pursed mouth and black mole resemble the cruel stepmother's. The witch looks like any elderly woman, but stern, with red-rimmed eyes. Browne has cleverly painted her with a lovely black cat, and she is positioned between the parted curtains in a way that places her inside a sharp black triangle suggestive of a witch's hat. The shadow of her hand feeling the bone that Hansel offers resembles a snake with a protruding tongue.
This is a book that I would gladly add to my own fairy tale collection!







Hansel and Gretel by Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Jen Corage, 2008.

Variations:

  • Courage and bravery stressed
  • Talks about wickedness and explains characters' behavior
  • Doesn't mention God, but guardian spirits
  •  Smiling stepmother takes them into the woods saying they are going to find flowers and look at birds.
  • She claims the parents will bring the children berries, but they are abandoned
  •  Smiling witch who claims to love children
  • Both children are put in cages
  • Children ride a white swan across the water to get home
  • Stepmother died eating mushrooms
  • Joy, forgiveness and love bring the happy ending
Verse:

"Children dear, children fair,
I love children, everywhere."

Jen Corace's art definitely attracts me to this book. It looks like art deco "cozy cottage" type illustration, the kind you see on vintage mottos. For example:

From Pinterest
She successfully uses a muted color scheme with pops of bright: shades of deep forest green and olive, a variety of browns from tan to chocolate and berry red or sunny yellow.

Corace's stepmother has mostly neutral expressions and is not unattractive. The witch is a pleasant looking old lady in a black dress with a red hooded wrap. Even at her nastiest, she does no more than frown. Her dear little house doesn't really look like it's made of sweets, but the plants in the window boxes do. One of the prettiest pictures is Hansel and Gretel crossing the water while riding the large graceful swan. Pink waterlilies and pads surround them and the pale tan water seems to emphasize the swan's whiteness.

This is another lovely edition that I would like to collect.





Hansel and Gretel retold and illus. by Rachel Isadora, 2009.

I have talked about this version before in the post Fairy Tales Set in Africa by Rachel Isadora .

Variations:

  •  This is a less detailed story than the others in this post
  •  Unlike the Grimms' tale referenced on Surlalune, there is no mention of God
Verse:

"Nibble, nibble, little mouse,
Who is nibbling at my house?"

"My tale is done,
A mouse has run,
And whoever catches it can make for himself
from it a large, large fur cap."

In the illustrations, the stepmother always looks cross and the witch is frightening, obviously not a normal human, with green skin and blazing red eyes.





 Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, retold by Amy Erlich, illus. by Susan Jeffers, 1980, 2011.

This translation of the story is from Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Mrs. Edgar Lucas, 1902.

Variations:

  • No mention of God
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • Witch's keen sense of smell is mentioned
  • Hansel is kept in a stable, not a cage
Verse:

"Nibbling, nibbling like a mouse,
Who's that nibbling at my house?"

Amy Erlich's illustrations were done in ink and dyes over pencil drawings. Animals feature prominently, from the children's pet white cat and dove (which is not mentioned in the story), to the birds and forest creatures, like rabbits, bats, deer and an owl. The stepmother is constantly scowling, but the matronly witch looks unthreatening in her mob cap and apron adorned with gingerbread people. Her cake house is dripping with frosting and candies. Jeffers's detailed drawings of the woods are impressive, especially a two-page spread of Hansel and Gretel in the forest at night, their two figures the only color in a mass of white leaves and black branches.

Another version I would be happy to own.


Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm, retold and illus. by Will Moses, 2006.

Variations:
  • Mentions God
  • Hansel drops pebbles but says he is turning back to look at a white cat on the roof
  • Tree trick used
  • Time passes before the children are put out again
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs but says he is turning back to look at a pigeon on the roof
  •  Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • Specifically calls the house gingerbread
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  •  Witch's keen sense of smell is mentioned
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home
  • Stepmother dies of a black heart
 Verse:

"Nibble, nibble, I hear a mouse,
Who's nibbling on my house?"

"Tis the wind, the wind; it's very mild,
Blowing like the Heavenly Child."

"Help us, help us, beautiful duck!
We are Hansel and Gretel and out of luck.
We can't get across the river, try as we may,
Won't you please help us, this fine day?"

"Like a mouse caught by a cat, my tale is finished! Sleep well tonight, and don't let this old story give you a fright. Your parents love you dear and will never let harm come near!"

Folk artist Moses' oil paintings make the most of the rural setting. The mountains and green forest that surround the children's home are with filled colorful plants and wildlife such as bears, fox, and wolves. The fair haired children appear in traditional German costume and folklore motifs are frequently used, on the characters' painted beds and other furniture, and decorating the witch's shutters and even the doors of her oven. More motives like a running deer, a pot of flowers and bright birds adorn the book's margins.
The stepmother has wide, staring eyes and open mouth as she is caught mid argument. The witch has a hooked nose, a warty chin, and big eyes with tiny blood red pupils. Her gingerbread house is an inviting one, not only made of tasty treats, but surrounded by a garden with an arbor, a hay wagon and playful farm animals.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Thing 12: Books, Books and More Books


YALSA Teen Book Finder:

"ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has produced an iPhone app (which will work as well on an iPad) to help teens, parents, librarians and library staff, educators, and anyone who loves YA literature access to the past three years’ of YALSA’s awards and lists on their smartphone."

Wow, my experiences with these recent apps are disappointing me. This looks like a fun and useful app and I'm sure that it is, but when I tried to begin my favorites list, I already ran into a snag. I searched for Susann Cokal's amazing book Kingdom of the Little Wounds, which won a Printz honor this January, only to find that it is not listed. A quick search of the Printz winning titles showed that the latest winner, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick was also not yet included. I would have expected the titles to be more current! Oh well, soldiering on, I began my favorites list anyway.  Here's what some of that looks like:



On a positive note, I like the Hot Picks feature. Everyday it suggests three titles for you. Here is today's menu:



In spite of my criticism of title currency, I would recommend this app for its possibilities with Reader's Advisory.

iStoryBooks:
 
"iStoryBooks is an app that contains 25 free children’s story books, both text & audio. There are books in the following categories: fairy & folk tales, animals, educational, and Ramayana (Hindu stories). According to the company, they publish new books every two weeks and they will appear automatically on the app. The app does provide access to premium content as well."
 
"My Library" opened up with 36 books, some of them premium (pay to read). They are:
 
  1. The Incredible Growing Plant
  2. From Root to Flower
  3. Food from the Sun
  4. My Busy Body
  5. The Hare's Liver: a Folk Story From Korea (Premium. Darn! Seriously.)
  6. What Every Organism Needs
  7. Food Chain
  8. B- and the Case of the Missing Doll (Premium)
  9. Chicken Little (Premium)
  10. The Leap Frog (Premium)
  11. Cars
  12. The Amazing Life of Helen Keller
  13. Violet's Gift
  14. Kumba Am and Kumba Amul: a Gambian Folk Tale
  15. Sea Animals
  16. The Fish Snatcher: a Wolof Tale From Gambia, West Africa
  17. Cock-a-Doodle-Moo!
  18. Cinderella
  19. The Ugly Duckling
  20. Little Red Riding Hood
  21. Things That Go
  22. The Little Red Hen
  23. Stone Soup
  24. The Three Little Pigs
  25. Four Clever Friends and a Hunter
  26. The World of Dinosaurs Big and Small
  27. Cenicienta (Cinderella-Spanish)
  28. The World of Trucks Big and Small
  29. A to Z Fruits & Vegetables: Preschool
  30. A to Z Fruits & Vegetables: Junior
  31. A to Z Fruits & Vegetables: Yummy Riddles
  32. A to Z Animals
  33. The Blue Fox
  34. El Zorro Azul
  35. The Crow, the doves and the Mouse
  36. El Cuervo, Las Palomas y El Raton
 
The first book I listened to/looked at was The Three Little Pigs. The pigs live in an orphanage until they are too old to stay, and thus they need to build their own homes. The first two pigs are characterized as messy/silly and greedy/gluttonous. The final pig has only good qualities. It is sort of a mediocre version of the story, but it is still the story, if you see what I mean. The only thing that really is a problem is that the first pig is called Brownie and described as being mud colored, but is illustrated as a pink pig like his siblings.
 
Next, I naturally went for Kumba Am and Kumba Amul: a Gambian Folk Tale. I enjoyed this more. It is a tale in the vein of "Toads and Diamonds" or "The Talking Eggs" where there is a favored daughter ("bad" sister) and a mistreated stepchild ("good" sister) who when sent to perform a chore meet a mysterious old crone who punishes or rewards them as they deserve.
 
I  think that this would be a reasonably good app to recommend to patrons, primarily because it is free. I will probably only use it to read the free folktales and then will delete it.
 

Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look & Meilo So



Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look & Meilo So, 2013.

This is another story about a painter so talented that his works come to life.  ( See also Lord of The Cranes, Liang and the Magic Paintbrush, The Magic Horse of Han Gan and The Boy Who Drew Cats. It is the imagined story of Wu Daozi, a great Chinese painter that actually lived during the T'ang dynasty (618-907). Calligraphy was considered the highest form of art, but Wu Daozi painted lifelike figures with moment such as hair, scarves and robes swinging and blowing in the wind. Lenore Look based her tale in part on information found in T'ang poetry and essays.

In our story, young Wu Daozi tries to learn calligraphy from his monk instructor, but instead of characters, he paints plants and animals. As his canvas expands to city walls, he draws scenes with Buddhas and earns the nickname "Flying Sleeves." He paints all day long and collects food for the poor through his admirers' gifts. Until one day, when he draws a butterfly so full of life that it flies away and he has nothing to show at nightfall. Wu Daozi loses all of his followers except the faithful children, and when he has grown up, he receives a commission from the emperor himself. This allows Wu Daozi to create his masterpiece and maybe even to sidestep death itself!

Meilo So provides the book's watercolor, ink, gouache and colored pencil illustrations.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thing 11: Library and Reference

For this Thing, I decided to look at the ELM mobile website at:

elm4you.org

Here is the page as it appears on my IPhone:

 
 
 
ELM is neatly arranged and easy to navigate. There were no databases that my library doesn't have (because of ELM, I imagine), but it was handy to be able to access them without a library card. For kicks, I searched for "wild leopard cat" in Ebsco Academic Search Premier and came up with satisfactory results.
 
 However when I searched for the library that I work for in the "Find Your Library" feature, nothing came up, although I filled in the city, county and name keyword. This was tiresome. If I, as a librarian who is used to having to persevere in a search was discouraged, imagine how other people feel! When I searched again for the closest library to my house (in Hennepin county), by name in the keyword box, I did find the information for that library. So, I don't know what the glitch for my Dakota county library is.
 
Still, it is important to know that this is a mobile friendly resource for patrons, if needed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thing 10: Sharing Photos



Instagram: "Instagram is by far the most popular photo sharing app at the moment. And unlike some of those websites who developed a mobile version, Instagram was born mobile and developed a website afterwards. Simple and straightforward, it allows you to either take photos directly with the app or use one in your Gallery and crop, add a filter, and share with the world."


I know that I'm coming really late to this. My husband and friends already use it, so when I signed up, there were lots of people to follow. Instagram seems straight forward and easy to use. I don't know how much I will use it, though. I don't usually share too many pictures, and when I do, it's on Facebook.


For kicks, here is a picture of our other dog, Jack, as of now my only Instagram content: