Friday, May 9, 2014

Angelina Jolie on Maleficent vs Sleeping Beauty, Fairy Tales & the Tashi Stories

The press events for the launch of Maleficent are heating up and Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning are currently in the UK promoting their film. Among the new fairy tale fashion statements (I adore Ms. Jolie's birds on branches dress here and check those character-themed shoes below from the French tour!) are a whole lot of Q&A's which, I have to say, they're really brave to do. (I feel for poor Elle getting random questions thrown at her about everything from being a role model to what she thinks of illegal downloading and piracy! Poor kid.)

Today (Friday) they held a large press conference in London to spontaneously (and bravely) answer questions from the press, and it was a delight to hear people asking about real fairy tales and have Ms. Jolie in particular, talk, not only about the film and Sleeping Beauty, but also about fairy tales and the stories she tells her children.
                               
I took a 6(ish) minute video clip from beginning of the full press conference video (which is about half an hour long), since that's the part fairy tale people will be most interested in, but you can find the full interview HERE.

Here's the fairy tale relevant portion of the interviews:

One question asked of Ms. Jolie was what fairy tales or stories she reads to her children and although I wasn't very surprised to hear she likes to make up her own tales, she did say she reads the Tashi stories,  of which there are many volumes and that she loves. (Basically, she's recommending them to parents everywhere.)

The Tashi stories (16 books so far with 2 Tashi adventures in each) are written by Australian authors Anna Fienberg with and her mother Barbara Fienberg, and illustrated by award winning artist Kim Gamble. While these books aren't traditional fairy tales, they are definitely drawn from and inspired by fairy tales from all over the world, centering on a character named Tashi, who comes "from a place far away", and goes on many, many adventures. Tashi is a Tibetan name meaning 'good fortune' or 'auspiciousness'.)

Here's an introduction to Tashi and his world of stories:
A boy named Jack describes his new friend, Tashi, who arrives one day on the back of a swan from a magical country populated with giants, dragons, ghosts and all sorts of other things that go bump in the night. Tashi mesmerizes Jack (and Jack mesmerizes his parents) with tales of his exploits about outwitting a succession of deliciously horrible villains ("I'll pluck out your nose hairs, one by one," a bandit threatens Tashi). Sometimes Tashi tells a story, to Jack; sometimes Jack recounts a Tashi adventure to his parents. In an amusing role reversal, Jack's parents hang breathlessly on their son's every word ("So tell us," Jack's father says. "After Tashi tricked those giants and teased the bandits, how did he meet these ghosts?"), and the dialogue between the storyteller and his audience invisibly tightens the narrative tension. Teasers end each tale ("`So that's the end of the story,' said Jack sadly. `And everyone was safe and happy again.' `Yes,' said Tashi, `that is, until the bandits arrived'.."). (Description from Publishers Weekly) 
   
Tashi began as a conversation with my mother. She was telling me how, when she was a child, she used to tell whoppers. Creative fibs. Tall stories. And the kids would crowd around, dying to hear the latest tale. We began talking about a character like her - a character who told fantastic stories - and over many cups of tea we cooked up Tashi’ - Anna Fienberg 
 
(Tashi) had so many appealing qualities: a rich friendship between boy and friend (or alter ego); a teasing relationship between boy and father; a fresh take on the 'tall tale'; a fearless blend of European and Asian folk story traditions; larger-than-life villains; an irrepressible hero living by his wits (brain not brawn always triumphs); action aplenty; exotic landscapes; and scope for cinematic pictures… (from the Alien Onion children's book editors blog)
Although I haven't read them all (I will soon fix that problem!) the ones I've seen are enchanting, both in the story telling and the illustrations and it's delightful to find characters we're familiar with along the way, whether they be giants that sound familiar or Baba Yaga or even Bluebeard (yes, there's a children's story with Bluebeard in the collection! But don't be concerned. You, and any kids you read to, are in good hands with these authors.)

The official website for the many Tashi books is HERE and you can get them pretty much anywhere in the world (and Amazon is a good place to start as the collection is currently 29% off).
One of Brad Pitt's personal portraits of Angelina Jolie: "wife & mother"

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