Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Extended Scene from Disney's The Princess and the Frog

This sequence was released just over a day ago by Disney from their upcoming, much anticipated film "The Princess and the Frog".

It's a continuous three minutes and twenty seconds and, it should be noted, most of the footage we've seen before in trailers, specials and featurettes BUT it is a treat to see the pieces put together in order, without cuts, edits and other narration interrupting.

It's the big 'girl kisses (talking) frog' sequence, which, by the way, references the fairy tale the film is adapted from - complete with book. I wonder if the marketing-and-toyable gurus at Disney have thought to make and release this book - I'd buy that. (hint, hint!)

Oh. And don't worry. The actual 'girl-lips-on-amphibian-lips' part is relatively short. :D


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fairy Tales for Writers

Since I posted about writing fairy tale based fantasy this week, I thought I'd draw your attention to a fun little book of writing advice that uses fairy tales to impart writing anecdotes and insights: "Fairy Tales For Writers" by Lawrence Schimel.

It's actually a small book of thirteen, often funny, poems (don't worry - you don't need to love poetry to enjoy this one - it's very accessible for all types of readers). If you like metaphors, imagery and fairy tale archetypes you'll really enjoy it. The tales are used very cleverly to illustrate issues in writing.

One note: when I ordered this book a couple of years ago I was surprised to see how small it was when it arrived. The small size was deceptive. This is a very enjoyable (and useful) book and well worth its price.

Here's a review from that says it all:
This small, slender, imaginative, hilarious, and all-to-true 30-page collection of poetry by Lawrence Schimel wonderfully and artfully reflects the almost archetypal hopes, ambitions, frustrations, passions, and processes of writing for publication. Here in a kind of poetic folklore format are 'the new writer who encounters a wolf along the path to publication'; the writing workshop member who must always be 'the fairest of them all'; the writer who for the sake of love gives up her own special voice; the shy, anonymous author who slips away before the end of the reading only to be remorselessly tracked down by the editor wanting to publisher her work. Everyone who has ever put pen to paper, and the tried to submit that paper to a publisher, will recognize the poetically expressed truths in Lawrence Schimel's superb little book, "Fairy Tales For Writers". As the last line on the last page of this marvelous little gem has it: "Sometimes there is a happy ending, even in publishing."
You can read a SF Site review HERE. Click HERE to see more details and order.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Classic Tales 2010 Calendar by Pedro Bascon

Illustrator Pedro Bascon is busy painting his own versions of some fairy and folktales for a 2010 calendar.

I haven't seen a collection quite like this on a fairy tale theme and find that the strong design approach brings a new perspective and emphasis to aspects of the tale/s one may not normally think of.

I love the simple but strong designs. It's not as easy to achieve as one might think. Pedro's work in using a forced 'canvas size' for the design is very pleasing to the eye and communicates the tales instantly - yet there's more to see if you look closely too. It's always interesting to see what results when you put restrictions on a creative work.

You can view some close ups of the pieces by going to his sample page HERE.

You can also find out more about Pedro HERE and contact him directly to ask how to purchase a calendar if you're interested (he's very nice and approachable!).

He is currently investigating how to make his calendar available in the US (his contact details are all on his home page HERE).

Fairy Tales Conference in Mississippi - Oct 1st & 2nd

Did you know there was a Group for International Fairy Tale Studies? (GIFTS)

They're having a fairy tales conference at the University of Southern Mississippi on October 1st and 2nd. The theme for this year (this is the 4th one) is "Fairy Tale Economies" but before you groan at the title, take a look at some of the topics being discussed:

From the article at

Conference topics include the cultural and material history of fairy tales and the oral adaptation of stories and folklore across cultures. Internationally renowned faculty will present from a variety of fields on a wide range of subjects, such as literature, print culture and anthropology. Events will include a workshop on how to teach a fairy tale, a reception at the Saenger Theatre and presentations by fairy tale scholars from around the world.

I don't see Dr. Tehrani, who recently announced the results of his studies into the origins of fairy tales, on the speakers list but hopefully he makes an appearance.

And here are a couple of other highlights:

Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at Southern Miss, has developed an exhibit of fairy tale artwork titled "The Alphabet of Fairy Tales" for viewing during the reception, which Hillard said will be a "feast for the senses."

Keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Schacker, author of National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth Century England, will deliver a highly visual presentation about Victorian fairy tale pantomime theatre. Schacker is an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

Yay! I'm so please when a visual element is presented with fairy tales as I don't think anyone who grew up with a fairy tale book can completely divorce them from images of one kind or another. Illustrations are part of what makes fairy tales so impacting and resonant with people (I think) for so many reason (I'm sure someone's done a thesis on this topic somewhere!).

The first Panto production of Cinderella was at Drury Lane in 1804.

And you can find out more about fairy tales and pantomime HERE (complete with old posters, movie clips and historical tidbits).

You can read the rest of the details for the conference, including a program, HERE.

The best part about this conference? Anyone can attend - for free! Now if only I were in Mississippi at the beginning of October...

2 New "Princess and the Frog" Featurettes

(as the title suggests, it looks at the love story in the film)

If you have problems viewing the movie please go HERE to view.

(focusing on Tiana and how she's not the typical Disney heroine)

Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" Golden Book

Golden Books routinely releases the Disney movie storybooks, complete with reproductions of scenes from the movies but did you know they often also release (usually for a limited time) a completely different version? One that's often drawn/created by the current hot talents of character design and visual development for animation?

For "The Princess and the frog" that artist is the very talented CalArts graduate Lorelay Bove. (She also did the Toy Story picture book that came out on September 1st.) She's currently working at Disney in visual development.

She just got the first print copies of her work for golden book and kindly gave us a sneak peek on her blog. (Thanks to Cartoon Brew for the alert!)The book goes on sale (for the very affordable price of $3.99 - hooray!) on October 13th, 2009.

You can see larger views of the work above and a whole lot more of Lorelay's work on her blog HERE.

More Displays For "The Princess and the Frog"

This time the display is inside the Feature Animation Studios in Burbank, CA. The pictures were kindly taken and shared by for those of us who don't have the opportunity to go see them in person.

Being a sucker for maquettes I'm showing you those as well as some other unique things that caught my eye but there's much more to look at HERE.

I can't think of another Disney fairy tale film that references an actual fairy tale, let alone the fairy tale the film itself is based on, (the prince, in frog form, points to a fairy tale book - shown below - with a lovely illustrated version of the traditional story of the frog prince) so I believe this is a first. (Disney's Beauty and the Beast has Belle reading a fairy tale by the village fountain as she sings to the sheep but it's not "Beauty and the Beast".)
The maquettes (three dimensional models created specifically for - and used by - animators during the animation process, so they can see what the model looks like from any angle they need to). Glaring omissions from this display are the frog maquettes for both Naveen and Tiana. The little guy Tiana-in-princess-mode is holding below, isn't a very useful model, as far as I can tell.
Dr. Facilier's lair.
And a frog prince puppet.(Although having a maquette would be really nice, I'd be more than happy with this little guy.)

Want to see more? Click HERE to go to the photo gallery at

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Writing Fairy Tale Based Fantasy

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Flying Trunk"* by Dan Froejlund

Occasionally, the question comes up as to whether or not it's a good idea to write fairy tale-based fantasy works.

One writer recently shared an agents rejection of the idea with a writing website called "Writer Unboxed". (This website discusses the craft of genre writing and has a lot of well respected authors weighing in on their discussions.)

To answer this, they called on authors Sophie Masson and Juliet Marillier; two writers who've built their career on writing fairy tale based fiction. Apparently both are quite passionate about the subject so the post has a second part coming with Ms. Marillier's response.

In the meantime, go see what Sophie Masson, author of several retellings such as Carabas (published as Serafin in the US) and Cold Iron (published as Malkin in the US), as well as many other fairy tale based works, has to say on the subject. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
What makes fairy tales particularly suitable in fact as a basis for modern fantasy is that in themselves they mix both enchantment and pragmatism, the world of the everyday and a realm of pure magic. And it’s all done in such a matter of fact yet also profound way. You can never get to the end of the meanings of fairytale; and the fairytales of a people reveal their essence, their soul, if you like, in a moving yet also funny and beautiful way. They reveal our similarities and our differences...
You can read the rest of the post, Ms. Masson's response and readers comments HERE."The Flying Trunk" by Erik Bagge
About his modern interpretation Erik says:

The idea behind this wonderful fairy-tale is fabulous, as H.C. Andersen anticipates the "flying age" that we live in today. When he wrote the fairy-tale in 1839 nobody would have imagined, that the "flying age" would become a reality some centuries later... I did not change the motif that much when I modernized it. I turned the trunk into a car turned upsite down. I didn't want to turn the trunk into an airplane, as I wanted to express the preposterous idea that things can have other functions than they were meant to have.

* I thought illustrations from The Flying Trunk to be appropriate as the main character in the tale, after losing his enchanted means of seeing a Sultan's Daughter (by way of the flying trunk of the title) ends up wandering the world telling stories. See more about the HCA tale (which draws from many older tales around the world) HERE.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fairy Tale Art: Illustrations From Children's Books Exhibit in Texas

Starting September 27th, 2009 (tomorrow), the Museum of Texas Tech University is having an exhibition of original fairy tale art and I sincerely wish I could be there to see it!

Original paintings, drawings and illustrations will be on display by such favorites as Trina Schart Hyman (one of my all-time faves) and Kinuko Y. Craft (how can you not love her work?) among others.

From the press release:

Fairy Tale Art offers a magic journey to a timeless, enchanted, dream-like world. The exhibit will feature 59 original illustrations from well-loved classic fairy tales as well as modern variations on traditional tales such as “The Firebird,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” The exhibition will also feature modern versions such as “Cinderella’s Dress,” “Child of the Faerie: Child of the Earth” and “The Hungry Coat.”

The artworks reflect a variety of mediums such as watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil and mixed media. The magical settings for the stories are created by award winning artists including Kinuko Y. Craft, DEMI, Jane Dyer, Marilee Heyer, Trina Schart Hyman, Jim LaMarche, Barry Moser and Susan Paradis.

The exhibit will be on display until November 22nd, 2009 and you can find more information HERE.I so wish I could see Ms. Hyman's work in person!

Sandra: The Fairytale Detective - New Animated Series for Kids

Set to debut this autumn for younger grade school kids, is Sandra: The Fairytale Detective.

The show is done with very stylized animation, emphasis on 'cute' (think 'toyable'!), and with deals for distribution worldwide through Disney Channel backing it, Fairytale Detective has a good chance at a decent run.Here's an excerpt from an article at Animation Insider, explaining the premise:
Sandra: The Fairytale Detective is... about a little girl, Sandra, who is the lone descendent from a line of fairytale detectives -- a perilous but necessary occupation. Although very few, if any people are aware of The Land of Once Upon a Time (where all of the fairytale characters live), even fewer are aware of the fairytale detective (who solves all sorts of mysteries therein). Roughly targeted toward children aged four through eight-years-old, Sandra: The Fairytale Detective uses a clever and inspiring color palette combined with a klutzy sense of humor to bring young viewers into the familiar realm of fantasy, but with a detective twist.

Like many kids her age, Sandra gets into arguments with her classmates, doesn't clean her room very often, and enjoys taking on a good challenge. But when her assistant and friend Fo, a 500-year-old elf with the guise and spirit of a child, arrives to say that there's a problem over in The Land of Once Upon a Time, the girl dons her overcoat and jumps into action. Maybe the adorable puppet-boy Pinocchio is kidnapped, or maybe Cinderella loses her glass slipper… for real, or maybe Snow White's evil stepmother's mirror mysteriously goes missing. Sandra is on the case; the kid detective lives for the challenge of the mystery, often using some convenient and humorous blend of magic and deductive reasoning to solve each riddle.
You can read the rest of the article HERE.Imira Entertainment (the developers/creators) have already planned to use 52 different fairy tales (that's a loose term as there are some legends on the list such as King Arthur). Here's the rundown of what appear to be 'case' titles (ie. episodes) and the tales they're from:

BAD WOLFE - Three Little Pigs.
BUBBLES - The Little Mermaid.
THE GOLDEN KEY - Hansel & Gretel.
INVENCIBLE DRAGON - Saint George´s Legend.
FRUITS OF THE FOREST - Little Red Riding Hood.
THE ROYAL EGG - Ugly Duckling.
KING OF MORTADELA - Pinocchio Case 2.
EVEN MORE DIFFICULT - Beauty And The Beast.
A QUESTION OF SMELL - Jack And The Beanstalk.
FROGS - Frog Prince
SHOW US YOUR PAWS - The Wolf And The 7 Little Kids.
THE THREE ANCHORS - Cinderella Case 2.
THE WATER OF LIFE - The Shoemaker And The Elves.
TOY ROOM - The Steadfast Tin Soldier.
DIE LAUGHING - Emperor´s New Clothes.
THE 22.30 EXPRESS - Little Red Riding Hood Case 2.
HONEY SHAMPOO - Goldilocks & 3 Little Bears.
ACORNS - Little Red Riding Hood Case 3.
GREEN MONKEY - The One Thousand And One Nights
AVALON ISLAND - King Arthur.
THE FAT WORM - Thumbelina.
THE RIDDLE CHAMPION - Rumpelstiltskin.
MAKILAKISKI - Makilakiski.
THE SECRET BOOK - Sleeping Beauty Case 2.
THE MAGIC FACTORY - Hansel & Gretel Case 2.
THE GREAT MANDFREDI - The Bremen Town Musicians.
THE PRINCE OF THE POOL - The Frog Prince Case 2.
SIMPLETON - The Queen Bee.
GIANT LOVE - The Brave Little Tailor.
CAPTAIN BLACKBEARD - The Little Mermaid Case 2.
THE CUP FINAL - The Snow Queen.
BROTHER OGRE - Puss In Boots Case 2.
AN UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY - Three Little Pigs Case 2.
THE MAGIC HARP - The 12 Dancing Princesses.
SCOLYMUS - The Sorcerer´s Apprentice.
PETUNIAS - Snow White Case 3.

Did you notice BLUEBEARD is on the list? I'm very curious to see how that's presented by and for kids beyond a blue-bearded dude!

The website HERE has a LOT of information about premise, characters and episodes. You can see some artwork of both characters and locations (although the cutesy look isn't really to my personal taste I do like the landscapes I've seen - very interesting design work!) and there's even an episode to watch.

Here are the Spanish titles (you can see an English version at the website) - they give you a good idea of how the cartoon will work.

It'll be interesting to see how this affects how fairy tales are thought of. If the series does well, becoming part of the standard viewing component for children, we should see some interesting developments regarding fairy tales in the years to come.

I couldn't let a post on a fairy tale detective go by without mention the recent hit novel series for kids called The Sisters Grimm. It's one of those "why didn't I think of that?!" ideas that's obviously striking a chord with kids (and older readers) everywhere.The series was created (and is being written) by Michael Buckley and follows apparent orphans (their parents were kidnapped) Sabrina, 11, and her sister Daphne, 7, who are adopted by their eccentric granny. The granny has some odd secrets she shares with the girls, clueing them in on their heritage, involving them in her detective work among the fairy tale inhabitants of a small town.

You can see an image of the first book above (there are seven so far). If you're not familiar with the series but are interested, I recommend finding the lovely cloth bound hard covers. With old-fashioned rough cut pages and wonderful illustrations every so often, they're the sort of books I think of when people say 'book'.

The WEBSITE is a lot of fun too!

Here's the promotional video for the series:

"Jack Milton: Fairy Tale Detective"

I recently discovered another fairy tale detective: "Jack Milton: Fairy Tale Detective"

Apparently this 18 minute short film won awards on the film festivals circuit! And don't let the funny animal costumes put you off - it's not really for kids.

From the YouTube description:

In a dark and morally corrupt fairy tale world, Detective Jack Milton and his trusty sidekick, Tom Thumb, strive to solve the murders of the world's most famous storybook characters.

Filmaker Tod Norwood created the film a few years ago in collaboration with 7 Fluid Oz. Productions. Says Todd (from his BLOG):

It was a fun film to shoot and it was a blast to travel the festival circuit with it. The cast is great in this and I met many long time collaborators who I’ve worked with many times later..

I sometimes get asked if there are any continuing adventures of Detective Milton and Tom Thumb. And the immediate answer is “yes.” I wrote a feature script about them. It follows our two intrepid heroes as they join forces with his estranged girlfriend, Snow White, and a new character, Freddy the Frog, (really the Frog Prince) as they uncover a worldwide conspiracy affecting all of Fairy Tale land.

The script uses select scenes from the short and spins it off into new directions. It’s very much a mystery/road trip flick, and introduces a lot of other famous characters in strange situations.

The film looks like a lot of fun so I'm really interested to see what a feature film would be like. In the meantime, hopefully Todd will release this little one on DVD.

He uploaded the short film to YouTube in July so everyone could see it but had to break it into four chapters to fit (which he says was an interesting experience - tends to give one a case of itchy-editors-fingers!) but he promises he didn't 'pull a Star Wars" and has kept the film intact (he did hint there may be an extra digital sheep or two in there though!)

Here are the four chapters for you to enjoy:

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Grimm for Grown-ups" Coming To The Québec Intercultural Storytelling Festival

During October the Québec Intercultural Storytelling Festival is set to take over many of the public venues in the city for their events and programmes.

On October 24th, a free presentation titled "Grimm for Grown-ups" is happening at the Goethe-Institut in Montreal as part of the Festival.From the Institute's website:

German storytellers who are special guests of the Quebec Intercultural Storytelling Festival will enchant your ears with traditional German folk and fairy tales for adults. Come discover the metaphors, Freudian slips, violence, beauty and poetry of these stories, which have crossed the ages and still speak to our hearts and imagination today.

You can find more information about the presentation HERE.

I wonder if anyone will be recording? This would make a great podcast!As for the rest of the Storytelling Festival it will be presented in both English and French , here's the rundown according to the press release:

The 10th edition of the Québec Intercultural Storytelling Festival will take place from October the 16th to the 25th, in concert venues, libraries, and theatres around Montréal, Québec City and the Eastern Townships. More than 130 events will be presented, in French and in English, by no less than 120 storytellers. This year, the Festival's English Section is featuring artists from Germany, Israel, England, the Yukon, Ontario and Québec.
You can see the other events planned and look at the amazing number and range of talented storytellers coming to town for this event HERE.

While storytelling is often considered (at least in English-speaking countries) to be for children only, the reality is that storytelling - when done well and appropriately - has a profound impact on listeners no matter what the age. Storytelling is used, not only for recreational purposes and to communicate information but also for healing and therapy. (And just look at the news: There's a whole lot of storytelling happening right there! Sorry, couldn't resist.)

My favorite storyteller is still Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes, whom I discovered about ten years ago. A multi-award winning author and Jungian-analyst, who uses her storytelling to look at the human condition as well as for healing and therapy, she weaves fairy tales, folktales, myths and legends effortlessly into her presentations. I highly recommend her audiobooks:

  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetypes (which was also a NY Times bestseller)

  • The Red Shoes: On Torment and the Recovery of the Soul Life
  • Warming the Stone Child: Stories and Myths About Abandonment and the Unmothered Child
  • The Creative Fire: Myths and Stories About the Cycles of Creativity

It's worth tracking down the out-of-print titles. I especially enjoy how she uses a mix of well known tales and lesser known ones from all over the world. The result, at least for me, is that it makes it clear how tales can transcend boundaries of race and culture because the human experience is same the world over, albeit in different forms. It's good to be reminded of that from time to time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Glass Slippers For Sale...

... for real!

I have to say my first thought is: OW! My feet hurt just looking at these. Did some poor model actually have to wear these? Or worse, walk in these?! You'd want to make REALLY sure they were what you wanted before pulling out the credit card/kid's college fund/life savings/etc. I'm guessing they're final sale sort of items...Here are some great comments (out of many!) from the post where I found these - they make you think again about the story (at least the version with the "glass slipper" anyway):
I want some! Only thing is, I'd end up tripping, falling, and end up with awful bloody feet with a doctor picking the glass out of my foot.
... these shoes of course are a blister's best friend...
I have a horrible image in my mind of someone trying to wear these and the glass heel going straight into their foot.
... (all that money)... and then you kick something...
I think you would need some hot toes/feet to pull off glass slippers. Cinderella didn't have bunions, yo.
Available at Maison Martin Margiela* stores in Hong Kong (possibly elsewhere, too). HK$9,899 each.

Yes - EACH!

Did you really think Cindy's slippers would come as a pair?

Looks like you opt for either a daily dust & windex or a painful evening ending with a date with a doctor... Ah-ha! I just discovered our heroine's back-up plan!

Found HERE along with the quoted comments and more to boot. (He he!)

* Martin Margiela is a Belgium designer, who’s made a name for himself by creating some really edgy, avant-garde shoes that push the envelope for shoe design. His three stores all appear to be in Hong Kong, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear this particular design gets a wider distribution...

Taking the Fairy Out of Fairy Tales - Article on Hans Christian Andersen

I saw this lovely article (complete with gorgeous pictures) last week from Art Passions and thought I'd link you.

Art Passions latest article, "Fairy Tales in Search of a Soul", discusses how Hans Christian Andersen's tales are different and specifically discusses The Little Mermaid and The Brave Tin Soldier as examples of his mastery of story telling elements.Mermaid (Transfiguration) by Sulamith Wulfing

Here's how the article begins, just to get you started:
I’ve been neglecting Hans Christian Andersen and I feel guilty about this. It’s partly because of all the noted fairy story tellers, he wrote mostly original work (rather than transcribing folk tales) and because of this, many of his stories labeled as “fairy tales” simply aren’t—at least from the perspective of popular assumptions about them. The popular term “fairy tale ending” presupposes a happy ending such as “lived happily ever after” and many authors and transcribers seem to assume that this is what both adult and child readers want. Andersen does provide this sort of ending, but his stories are more complex and the resolution not dependent on any of the magic that fairy stories depend on. The sense of magic we associate with fairy tales is not produced by transformations or spells, but often through the reader’s assumption of anthropomorphic qualities – and Andersen was a master of this process – thus allowing the reader to supply his own magic. His stories are not always from some distant past but rather draw from the edges of our imagination in the recent and present. Of all the fairy tale authors, he is among the most ironic. And he is nowhere more ironic than in his tragic tales of unrequited love.
Continue reading (along with more gorgeous illustrations) HERE.

Art Passions also have two other pieces of news:

1) They're on Twitter now, so you can follow them there and get their news as soon as it's announced. You can follow them HERE.

2) Art Passions have their calendars for 2010 ready for purchase. There are individual artist ones HERE as well as a variety wall calendar. Go HERE for more information and to order.

New "The Princess and the Frog" Artwork

In the last week, two new pieces of artwork from Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" have surfaced on the internet (you can click on the images for a larger view):

The first one is an International Poster. You'll notice this is almost identical to the artwork being used to promote the Disney preview events of the movie in Los Angeles and New York City. As you can see, there's quite a cast of characters in this version of "The Frog Prince/King."

The second is a mural of 'the shadow man' (a.k.a. the villain, Dr. Facilier), painted to promote the movie and being spotted at some theaters. You can see some close-ups HERE.