Monday, October 29, 2012

Wake Up Rip Van WInkle

Rip Van Winkle/Wake Up, Rip Van Winkle is another book in Steck-Vaughn's Point of View Series.

One side of the book tells an abbreviated version of the Rip Van Winkle Story. While I am not a huge fan of abbreviated classics it is always possible to skip this version and have students or your child read the classic instead. The other side is of more interest to me. When you flip the book up side down, the other side of the story is presented.

In the classic tale, Rip Van Winkle is married with children and while he will help the neighbors with chores never does any work for his own family. His wife grows frustrated with his failure to provide and Rip spends more time away from home telling stories to the local villagers. One day he leaves home and encounters some creatures in the wood who give him some drinks, which make him tired. He falls asleep. When he wakes he finds his gun is rusted and his beard long. He arrives home to find his wife dead and that he has missed the American Revolution.

In the alternate version, Rip’s daughter tells the tale. She is very protective of her mother and wants the world to know her mother is no shrew. She believes her mother was supportive of her father's storytelling and that it was her father who started the stories of her mother's nagging to cover up his own embarrassment. The daughter claims Rip Van Winkle's manipulation of the villager's opinions made life very difficult for her patient mother. In fact, any attempts to persuade him to come home and help reinforced the rumors he had started about her being a shrew. The daughter believes her mother ultimately died of a broken heart, not of anger as the cruel villagers implied.

This is one of the stronger entries in the series. Since both characters are flawed, there is a case to be made for both sides and the author has done a good job of using the daughter as a character witness for the mother.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Rough Faced Girl

The Rough-Face Girlis an Algonquin Native American Cinderella Story.

The Rough Faced Girl is very similar and based on the same traditional tales as the Ojibwa tale, SootfaceI reviewed earlier.

This story takes place near Lake Ontario. The prince in this version is also an invisible warrior who will only marry the woman who can see him. A poor man in the village has three daughters. The youngest has become scarred from tending the fires and they cruelly taunt her calling her the roughed faced girl. The two oldest sisters demand their father make them presentable so they can take the sister's test to marry her invisible brother. He does so and both fail, as they are unable to see the warrior.

The Rough Faced Girl approaches her father for help in taking the test, but he has little left to offer after his older two have cleaned him out. She takes what he offers and heads off with a birch dress to meet the invisible warrior. The villagers are cruel, but beyond the village, she encounters great beauty. She is able to pass the sister's tests and is welcomed into the family. As with Sootface, she gains a sister along with a husband.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marlborough Friends of the Library Book Sale

The Marlborough Friends of the Library will be having their fall book sale this Saturday October 27 from 9-4 in the lower library.

The Libray is located at 35 West Main Street in Marlborough, MA.

For those of you looking to increase your children's library this is a great opportunity. The books are sorted by by genre and and there are board books, picture books,leveled early reader books, chapter books and non-fiction.

Adult books are priced at $.50 for paperbacks and $1.00 for hardcover.

Children's books are priced $.25 for paperbacks and $.50 for hardcover and paperbacks. There are a couple of sets and special items marked with sale prices including a LeapPad with a couple of books/discs that was donated for the sale.

For those of you in the area who can not make the sale the Friends of the Library has an ongoing booksale in the Children's area which the Friends try to keep stocked with a range of picture, chapter and non-fiction books. The prices are the same. That should resume in a few weeks as the Children's library just installed a new rug and the sale had to stop the until they were finished. Please check out our cart near the checkout desk in the library.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Legally Correct Fairy Tales

Imagine what would happen if Nursery Rhyme and Fairy Tale characters got access to legal counsel and the court system and you have the basis for David Fisher's Legally Correct Fairy Tales an amusing collection of cases.

In the first case, a lawyer is civil court suing on behalf of Jack and Jill for defective pails that caused them to fall while acquiring water. With the current awards for people spilling hot coffee on themselves, the outcome of this case is not hard to predict.

The second case finds us again in civil court with a tailor suing the Emperor for payment of clothing delivered. Considering the power of the Emperor and his humiliation suffered at the hands of the boy, I was amused, but not surprised by the outcome.

The third story covers a hearing to determine the sanity of Hansel and Gretel to determine if they can be considered guilty of the crime of murder in killing the alleged witch that threatened to eat Hansel. The outcome of this case was touch and go.

The next story is a petition for guardianship of Sleeping Beauty that would award the sole survivor of her family the right to prevent anyone from waking her up and thus total control of her estate. This one is left without resolution.

Next, we discover Snow White is being sued by the EEOC for discrimination because she only hires the dwarves to work in her mining and food service industries. Again, no resolution to this case just an announcement of pending actions.

In the next story, Mr. Wolf is brought to court to give a deposition under the RICO act as a member of an organized crime family the Wolves. The lawyers grill him about various activities of his family including Red Riding Hood, Peter and the Wolf, and specific to him the incident with the three pigs.

Humpty is next on the docket as he is lodging a complaint against King's hospital for negligence and malpractice.

The Old Lady in the Shoe dies without a will leaving a lower court to rule that her eldest son inherits all. In the next case, the children appeal the ruling.

The courts are next presented with a custody battle over Pinocchio between an Oak Tree and Gepetto. While Gepetto admits he found him in the forest, he says the boy was neglected and in need of care. The court psychologist expresses concern over Pinocchio's delusions about nose growth. Eventually the judge decides drug treatment is required before any custody choices can be made.

The author also covers cases involving Cinderella's Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, the Frog Prince, and Goldilocks. Some are stronger than others.

My suggestion is to read the stories before sharing them with children. Some are more appropriate for certain age groups than others. Prince Charming's foot fetish is not something I would want to explain to children.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Gift of the Crocodile a Cinderella Story

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Storyis set in the Spice Islands in Indonesia and has details those familiar with multicultural Cinderella stories will recognize and a few new ones to keep readers interested.

Damura starts the story with a mother who dies leaving her with a respect for nature and kindness for its creatures. Her father draws the attention of a widow with a daughter of her own. This version has a unique warning about temptation. The widow offers Damura a beautiful doll if she tells her father he should marry the widow. The father resists, but the child wants the doll and insists. Thus begins the traditional Cinderella tale. The widow starts slowly. She and the daughter are kind at first. As they grow more comfortable with their power, she quickly becomes the family servant.

One day while doing laundry at the river she loses her sarong and is afraid to return home without it. In her distress, she remembers her mother's counsel and calls out to the creatures of the wild to help her. An ancient crocodile rises up and the girl greets her without fear as Grandmother. Since she greeted her politely, the crocodile does not eat her but inquires about her problems. The crocodile offers to retrieve the sarong if the girl holds her baby. The girl rocks the baby, singing it a lullaby and refrains from calling it a name despite the smell. The crocodile returns with a beautiful sarong and tells the girl to return if she needs anything.

The stepmother refuses to allow her to keep the sarong and forces her to tell her how she got the sarong. The next morning, her daughter throws a rag into the river crying that she has also lost her sarong. While she remembers her stepsisters warning to be polite, she cannot tolerate the baby crocodile’s behavior spanks it and is sings a cruel song to it. The Grandmother Crocodile appears with a silver sarong that the girl tries to grab from her. Since her behavior to the baby was bad, it turns into a filthy leach covered rag she cannot remove.

When a Prince comes to the village to choose a bride the stepmother steals Damura's silver sarong for her daughter to wear. Damura goes back to Grandmother Crocodile who provides her with a gold outfit and the traditional warning to return before the rooster crows. There always seems to be a curfew. Grandmother Crocodile adds an additional requirement. Damura must return everything she wore. She heads off into the carriage and mindful of the crocodile's warning, she heads out as soon as she hears the crowing. The prince grabs a slipper and Damura is concerned she may have offended the kindly reptile. When she returns, Grandmother Crocodile informs her that losing the slipper will make her a princess. Damura shows up in rags to try on the slipper and of course, it fits. She returns to Grandma Crocodile to get her golden clothes to appear before him appropriately attired.

Her stepmother and sister are not pleased and decide to get rid Damura so her sister can have the prince. They take her out on a boat and dump her into a river where she is eaten by a crocodile. Instead of accepting a substitute bride, the prince is devastated and pleads with Grandmother Crocodile for help. She summons her children and demands that the one who has swallowed Dumura spit her up. Grandmother Crocodile wakes her up by licking her and warns her children that none of them must eat Damura, the Prince or any of their children. However, she does tell them it’s open season on the stepmother and daughter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Little Cajun Pigs

Three Little Cajun Pigs has an interesting twist on an old tale. Along with adding the Cajun cultural flavor and language to the story, the wolf is gone. In his place, we have a very appropriate Claude the gator who knocks down the houses of straw and sticks.

I had never encountered a version of the tale without a wolf. Claude makes a believable alternative. The story ends with the pigs showing compassion to their foe and he survives the attack on the pigs.

Since so many students know the traditional tale, this would be a great way to shake things up a bit and introduce a new threat to the three pigs’ story.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moss Gown

Moss Gowndraws on tales the author heard growing up in North Carolina. The story is based on another version of Cinderella known as Rush Cape. However, it is also similar to the Jewish version I reviewed called The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Traditionin that it provides the same family basis for Moss Gown's banishment from the family and meeting with her prince.

Moss Gown's father is a wealthy southern plantation owner. He has three daughters and as he is determining how to divide his property, he asks them how much they love him. He is insulted when Candace, the youngest, tells him she loves him the way meat loves salt. In anger he disinherits her and her sisters throw her out of the house during a hurricane. During the storm, she meets an African American woman who she believes to be a witch. The woman gives her a moss gown, which appears beautiful when the woman gives it to her, but soon returns to its moss state. The woman tells her she will return when summoned with the appropriate words and leaves the girl to travel through the swamp.

At the end of the swamp, she finds a house and the Mistress of the house is kind enough to provide her with employment, sending her to the kitchens to work. She is very distressed over the situation with her father and does not see how she is to be reconciled with him. However, she does take interest when she finds out there is to be a three-day celebration and those with a ball gown may attend. Moss Gown remembers the words of the woman she met in the swamp and summons her to help her prepare. She is warned the magic will only last until the Morning Star begins to fade. She escapes each night and when the balls are over the Master's son is devastated that he cannot find the girl of his dreams. The servants are all worried he is wasting away as he refuses to eat. Moss Gown dons her dress again and summons the woman who changes the dress again. She brings food to him and even when the dress returns to rags he pledges his love and they are married.

The father's story is resolved when we discover his daughters have spent the estate into bankruptcy leaving the father begging in the streets. Moss Gown finds her father and has pity on him. She has the servants bring him in and orders the cook to make a dinner with no salt. When her father tastes the meal, she reveals who she is and her father finally understands the comment she made about the depth of her love for him. Her husband invites him to stay and the family is reunited.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Scarlett Flower a Russian Beauty and the Beast

For those who have read Grimm's Beauty and the Beast The Scarlet Flower. A fairy tale for children: in Englishwill have a familiar feel to it.

A wealthy merchant leaving on a long trip promises his daughters gifts. The older daughters want special gifts that will cost the father money to acquire, but his youngest daughter's request leaves him troubled. She wants a scarlet flower equal to none other in the world. He is challenged because he feels he can never be sure he has met her request.

This is of course where he encounters the Beast and has the choice to forfeit his own life or surrender the hand of one of his daughters into marriage. He returns home saddened at the prospects before him. The older two daughters refuse to help feeling since it was the youngest daughter's request that caused the problem, she should be the one to sacrifice to fix it. She willingly goes to the Beast.

The two overcome their challenges and do become friends. While initially, overcome at his physical looks she convinces him that she can adapt to his appearance and even that hurdle is overcome. In this version, she is provided with a magic ring so that if she cannot tolerate him, she is free to leave. In a dream, she receives word her father is ill and asks permission to visit her father. He reminds her that she is free to use the ring and go. He does warn her if she does not return within three days and nights he will die.

She enjoys her time with her family. Her sisters are envious of her new wealth and try to convince her to stay with them. She feels loyalty to the Beast and is prepared to arrive back an hour early. Her sisters trick her and set the clocks back so she will arrive late. She finally leaves and is surprised that the Beast is not waiting for her. She walks into the garden to find the Beast dead holding her flower. She holds him, kisses him, and tells him she loves him as she would her betrothed.

This of course releases the Prince from beneath the Beast. He tells her the tale of how he became the Beast. This is where the tale differs from many I have read. In this version, he was cursed from birth. It had nothing to do with any actions on his part. However, the release still required someone to love him in his Beast form.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sootface An Ojibwa Cinderella Tale

Sootfaceis another Native American Cinderella Tale.

In this version, Sootface is not a stepchild, but lives with her father and her two sisters. Her father is typical of many Cinderella fathers neglectful, but not directly involved with the abuse. Her sisters are mean and lazy leaving her with all the chores and refusing her any comforts.

The Prince in this tale is a mighty warrior who has been blessed with the ability to make himself invisible. When he decides to marry, he tells his sister that he will marry the woman who can see him. Predictably, all the available women in the village, including Sootface's sister fail the test. Sootface wants to try, but her sister's refuse to help her prepare. She is mocked by the village for the outfit she makes from birch and the flowers she wears to visit the warrior's sister.

On arriving at the tent, she asks the sister who the handsome man is and is provided with the same test questions as the previous contestants. She answers correctly and is rewarded with not only a husband, but also a kind sister. She helps her to clean up and provides her with clothing and appropriate adornments so she can be married.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Legend of Scarface

Legend of Scarface is a Blackfeet Indian Traditional Tale that tells the story of a poor scarred brave who is something of an outcast. He spends much of his time among the animals of the forest and even learns to communicate with them.

He falls in love with the Chiefs daughter Singing Rain, but expects nothing to come of it. She likes him, as he does not show her arrogance and boastfulness. Scarface is surprised that she does not even seem to notice his disfigurement. While she cares for him, she is unable to marry him. She has promised the sun she would remain unmarried and is unable to break her vow. Scarface sets off to find the Sun and his kindness towards the animals of the forest is rewarded as they help him find the path to the Sun's home.

At the end of his journey Scarface encounters Morning Star, the Sun's child and is rewarded for his honesty, by being brought home to meet his father the Sun. He is humbled by the honor of meeting the Moon and the Sun and unable to ask for the favor he has traveled to have granted. He stays with the family, being warned to stay away from the mountains to the North, as the birds there were savage and dangerous. When he finds Morning Star missing, Scarface sets out to find his friend and ends up doing battle with the dangerous birds. Even after saving his friend, he is still unable to ask a favor of the Sun. Moon comes to his rescue and tells the Sun what is in his heart. Singing Rain is not only freed from her vow, but Scarface has his face healed. When he returns to the village, he is given the new name, Smoothface. Both the Sun and the Moon blessed him and his wife Singing Rain.

One of the things that struck me when I first read this story was that she never even noticed his scars because she loved him. I always thought that was such a beautiful lesson that love was about more than physical beauty.