Friday, July 31, 2015

GIVEAWAY! (Post pinned till entry deadline)

Click link HERE for details on how to enter for your very own copy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

ONE DAY LEFT to Enter "The Wild Girl" Giveaway!

Our elves will start work at midnight their time on the dot FRIDAY NIGHT JULY 31st, (they live in California), to verify entries for inclusion in the giveaway!

You can click HERE to check the entry instructions,
if you don't know them already. 

Look below at how lovely this book is!
And remember, YES! You may enter more than once!
(Just hurry!)

Ask Baba Yaga: What Is Missing?

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave by Kinuko Craft
You know that nagging feeling, that there should be... "more"? But what is this "more" that you can't identify? Baba Yaga has some ideas on the subject.

Here's today's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

That makes a lot of sense. But is it just about focus? Maybe she means it's about not realizing the full nourishment of the things already around you; that it's more than a lack of appreciation or of noticing them, but of really taking in the 'meat of the fruit' so you CAN be nourished. 

Hm. Food for thought.

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Just Keep Swimming, Er, Riding... (Housekeeping Note)

'The Prince and the Goose Girl' by Elinor Mordaunt, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen
See those rider's faces above? That's pretty much ours right now. (Mine might be closer to the completely freaked out horse's face...)

We are in the midst of one of those oh-so-stressful processes: a hard drive replacement. And it's kinda tricky. I've been struggling along between a limited tablet and an extremely slow-and-prone to crashing computer, desperately trying to make sure I've gotten copies of all my important files. (What is that line about "backing-up your back-up"? Insert that one here.)

It's been teetering on the edge of oblivion and doing a great job at keeping our blood pressure on the high side but, with some fortuitous help from some very kind people (aka magicians):

  • we now have the replacement drive (aka: high score achieved!) 
  • we now have it installed (aka: level up achieved!)
  • and now we have to do some technical wizardry getting all our minions out of the old fortress intact, and into the new one, all while battling devious invisible system-gremlins... (aka: Boss Battle!)

:/ #dontfreakoutdontfreakout

I need to find my game face and put it ON.

It looks like all this will require me to 'go dark' for a short time, though I hope you won't notice. If I'm not back in time to post our regular Sunday advice from Baba Yaga, the above gremlin are to be blamed but once we have conquered, I will make sure I post it ASAP so you don't have to wait a whole other week.

Wish us luck and cross your fingers that we keep all our digit(al)s intact!

Disney's "Descendants": First 6 Mins Preview

I've been seeing Descendants getting a lot of mention right alongsideABCs Once Upon A Time which is a little brow furrowing for me - not in confusion but slight concern, so when the six minute preview was released I took a look to get a better idea of what audiences are in for (because the marketing push seems to be getting bigger and I'm beginning to see merchandise. ! )

Here's the extended preview if you've missed what this is all about:
So onto the preview: I didn't think this would be my cup of tea so I'm not too surprised by what I'm seeing but I'll let you be the judge. (I was starting to come around until the song kicked in.)

Take a look:
Disney's Descendants is scheduled to premiere on Friday July 31st at 8pm (EST) on the Disney Channel.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Nutmeg Princess Now Lives Underwater in Grenada (& A Brief Discussion of 'Story Forensics')

You've likely seen some of the incredible sculptures from this underwater park in Grenada around the place. The statues have been designed to promote coral growth and are now ecosystems themselves, in fact it would be accurate to say the statues together are a living, artificial reef. (If you visit and dive to see them, please don't touch! Just pose and selfie. ;)

It should be noted that the diver and artist-sculptor who creates these eco-encouraging art pieces (and is doing amazing things to battle our rapidly disappearing coral reef systems around the world), is specifically attuned to both the historical and the folkloric aspects of "Spice Isle', in fact, he calls those topics a 'passion':
Known as Caribbean’s ‘Spice Isle’, Grenada has much to offer its visitors, especially seagoing tourists, from amazing forest reserves to picturesque waterfalls to a vast array of gorgeous white sandy beaches to name but a few. But what draws more and more visitors from every part of the globe year after year is the stunning-and-unique-of-its-kind Underwater Sculpture Park –the newest attraction of the island’s beautiful shallow waters, based on the original sculptures of the famous British sculptor and diver Jason De Caires Taylor, who has a special passion for creating fantastic pieces of work showcasing Grenada’s history and folklore. (Travelvivi)
I couldn't resist showcasing some examples. Click on the images to see them full size:



The newest sculpture was just, um, 'planted', less than a month ago and now that the dust, er, sand, has settled and the local sea life is becoming acclimated, these beautiful photos are starting to appear online.

Nutmeg Princess almost ready to be 'put to bed'
From Travel Weekly:
The Nutmeg Princess statue has been added to Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park at Moliniere Bay, just north of the capital of St. George's on the southwest coast of the island.
The 11-foot-tall statue joins 100 sculptures at the park that opened in 2007 and serves as an artificial reef that forms a substrata for the growth of marine life.
...The Nutmeg Princess depicts Grenada’s first fairy tale princess emerging from a large nutmeg pod and reaching to the heavens with a handful of the spice Grenada is known for.
This is not from a traditional tale - well, not exactly anyway. The Nutmeg Princess is a 'well-loved classic' folktale written in 1992 (yes, very recently!).

The story goes like this:
The idea for the story was the result of a school visit where a little girl put up her hand and asked if (author, playwright and storyteller) Keens-Douglas knew a story about a black princess. At the time, he didn't, but it was all he needed to inspire him. 
You can go debate about whether it's possible to write a 'real' 'new fairy tale' or not, but for the record, I'm on the side of 'absolutely it's possible - rare, very rare, but possible'. Almost always the ones that stick are grown out of older stories, with the storytellers/writers well-rooted in folklore and tales, and while most 'new' tales are really just variations, I do believe that sometimes, there might just be a new one...

I don't know enough of the pattern markers to 'measure' how old a specific tale really might be (whether the writer knew that or not) and I don't have a 'story-forensics* & lexicology' database that casts a wide enough net to track it either in the multiple classification types, but there are 'tells'. For instance, at a quick read through, this tale feels like a repurposed myth, but I've also read a range of Caribbean tales and know the boundaries between myth and fairy tale are a little more blurry in this part of the world than we're used to.

Does that mean it's not new? Although unlikely, the answer really is 'No'. Because there's that sliver of possibility that it just might be. New-but-familiar is that extraordinarily elusive combination that many artists, from writers to musicians, strive for, with many never knowing whether or not their 'successes' are truly new or not!

What a brain stretcher. I'd like to hand this over to a PhD candidate please!

In the meantime, all those who would like to join me in cross-checking the story-forensics database, please put on your geek gear, ink your tattoos, bring your uber-hack skills and wear boots and your ATU credentials. I'll meet you in the lab, where the cool soundtrack is. (Note: We do accept tweed if you can 'bring it'.) Oh yes - and be prepared for lively debates... ;)

Note: I now have a yen to re-read Seanan McGuire's Indexing... man I wish that series had kept on going! Just adore the concept and have a feeling it was just a teensy bit ahead of its time.

*Yes - forensics: you can't tell me you haven't thought how people use and twist fairy tales can't be considered a crime from time to time! ;)

Timeless Tales Magazine Opens for Submissions Again Very Soon.. (Psst! The Tale To Twist Is Baba Yaga!)

Here's a Public Service Announcement from Tahlia Kirk, editor of Timeless Tales Magazine:

Here ye, here ye! We will soon be opening submissions again. Here are the bare minimum facts, but for goodness sake, please read our full submission guidelines before submitting:!submissions/c1vmu 
  • All accepted writers will receive $15 for their stories.
  • Length: Up to 2,000 words. Under 1,500 preferred.
  • We have received some of our best stories from previously unpublished writers, so don't be shy!
This time, our theme is that most infamous of witches: Baba Yaga. This is a theme picked by TT's readers and I'll admit that I'm a bit nervous because I don't have a strong background with Eastern European folklore. For our last issue, we had several highly scholarly stories that pulled on obscure details from Greek mythology and I was pretty proud that I could track with most of them. But this time, I've been boning up on my research because I want to be prepared for whatever our writers might throw at me.

I'm excited, though! There may be a ton of witch stories out there, but there aren't many Baba Yaga specific novels/movies, so there's lots of untapped potential here. Here are a few ideas you might use:

1. Baba Yaga/Little Mermaid mashup (perhaps a tad obvious, but could still be awesome)
2. Sci-fi Baba Yaga (because I would love to see her chicken house as a chicken space ship or something)
3. Baba Yaga as a Western 
4. Ivan and the Beanstalk 
5.  Baba Yaga as a Genie/Djinn
6. How Cinderella might have ended differently if her fairy godmother had been Baba Yaga

Think outside the box. Challenge yourself. Be bold. SUBMIT!!! (Errr, that came out more dictatorial than intended, but you get the idea). 

FTNH: Someone please write Number 6. I totally want to read that!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maguire's "After Alice" Ripe for Optioning/ "Egg & Spoon" Already Picked Up By Universal

'Baba Yaga Houses' by Mahwa Fahmy 2012, 
Located in Museum Park, Aberdeen Street, Northbridge, Perth, WA, Austraia (Photographer unknown)
Update: With breadcrumbs from reader Pat, I found the sculptor-artist and location (but not the photographer of this photo unfortunately. "Now we know where those square eggs came from..."

Oh my goodness! I had completely forgotten this news, since it happened while I was down for the count last year: Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut are coming to the movies!! I am both excited and dreading what they will do with her... but honestly, her chicken-legged hut can only be looked forward to. We haven't seen her house in any modern movies yet though interest has been building for a while. Believe it or not, Baba Yaga, and her house, are very popular characters in a variety of role playing games these days - and you'll be glad to know she remains formidable!

 But first, the news about Maguire's soon-to-be-released novel "After Alice" (October 27th, 2015) and then we'll go back to Russian remixes.

I'm not sure if this is a public service announcement or a heads-up for you all, but it's interesting, especially in Alice's anniversary year. I wouldn't be surprised if certain studios have had their eye on Maguire's book, just in case, with certain Alice projects currently in development. I guess we'll know, come October (or September, depending on when the pre-release buzz truly begins).

From The Hollywood Reporter:
'After Alice' by Gregory Maguire (is) ripe for optioning.Universal has been trying to find a way to bring Gregory Maguire's best-selling novel and Broadway hitWicked to the big screen. Now, rival studios can land their own Maguire property with After Alice, a re-interpretation of Alice in Wonderland.
From Cape Cod Times (interview with Maguire):
Maguire: “I don’t try to crack an older story open with dynamite, but to worry a seam that has been left unexplored,” he told me.
 For instance, his upcoming novel, “After Alice,” set for an October release, picks up on Lewis Carroll’s brief mention of Alice’s friend Ada in “Alice in Wonderland.”
 “Alice mentions having two friends, Ada and Mabel… So I thought: who might Ada actually be? And what would she do if she saw Alice falling down the rabbit hole? Jump in after her? What next? …I didn’t invent Ada. I just said to myself, ‘Lewis Carroll left her there for me to find.’”
 “I was very surprised by the success of ‘Wicked.’ I’d always imagined it might have a downstream life as a mini-series or as a movie, but…had not imagined that it might be a stage musical,” he told me.
 His latest book “Egg & Spoon” (2014) has already been optioned for a Hollywood film by Universal Studios, and – who knows? – just may become the Next Big Thing.
 “It’s ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ meets ‘Frozen,’ except the exchanged children are girls, and the story takes place in 1907 pre-Revolutionary Russia. And it features an ice dragon, a dying Firebird, starvation, poverty, global warming and a talking kitten.”

Maguire's "Egg & Spoon" is a "for all ages" novel (that is, you can read it with kids, or give it to kids but also enjoy it as an adult). The book draws on Russian fairy tales of Baba Yaga and the Firebird, along with a melange of other story staples and legendary items, like Fabergé eggs, matryoshka dolls and, yes The Prince and the Pauper tale as well. (A summary and brief review from The Guardian HERE.)

Having recently read Maguire's other Russian tale for all ages "The Dream Stealer", which, by the way I very much enjoyed and will be sharing with my son for bedtime reading soon, it's fairly guaranteed that this will show the gentler, more reasonable side of Baba Yaga, though she's still rather fearsome.

So: now we wait to see a) what Maguire has done with Alice and b) who likes it enough to make (another) Alice movie. (But really, I'll be over here, watching for news of a Firebird or a walking chicken-legged hut, coming out of Universal!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Goodbye "Fables" :'( Thank You For All the Fairy Tales

Today is the very final release of the last installment of Bill Willingham's Fables and it's a very special finale, made with care, love and, in true Willingham-form, a few surprises:
On Wednesday, July 22, “Fables” will take a bow with its 150th issue, which is a full-sized, 178-page graphic novel (that doubles as the series 22nd volume). Titled “Farewell”, the graphic novel will wrap up the story Willingham and Buckingham have been telling alongside a deep roster of other talented creators like Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy for over a decade. (source)
An Open Letter of Thanks to Bill Willingham

Dear Mr. Willingham,

A huge and heartfelt thank you for being a wonderful writer, researcher and advocate for fairy tales and folklore in general, and for persisting with this world and these characters for so long. It seems so short now... 

You've been an inspiration to so very many, and people are really only just beginning to understand some of the innovative work, writing and art you (and your Fables teams) have done. 

We can't thank you enough.

We also thank you for introducing us to Mark Buckingham, James Jean and a host of other talented people, who now have a special place in our hearts for treating the Fables characters with such care and excellence.

We hope the yet-to-solidify Fables film does your work justice and inspires a whole new generation of fans, bringing good things back to you as well. We also look forward to seeing your work studied in Universities around the world.

And we can't wait to see what you do with fairy tales next!

Best wishes, with grateful thanks.


Your Fairy Tale Friends & Fans
 Once Upon A Blog... Fairy Tale News

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Disney's "Sword in the Stone" Live-Action Remake (ok!) with Game of Thrones Writer (um..)

I bet you never thought you'd read me saying "Yay!" about yet another Disney live-action reboot of one of the animated classics. Well this film (which is adorable and great for using with kids education - about many things!), would have been one of my top five picks to remake for live action (if you HAD to choose existing properties for live action, that is) and I would vote for an early Harry Potter style movie that kids of all ages can access. So, while "yay!" is a bit of a strong term for my reaction, I will admit to being OK with this one.

Tyson Murphy repaints Disney animation scenes: Sword in the Stone
While the news that a Game Of Thrones writer, Bryan Cogman, will be 'helming' this development has given me pause, I have no doubt it will be on the (MUCH!) lighter side than anything GoT has ever handled, but hopefully it will have some of the smartness of the production value sensibilities attached. While the on-screen handling of certain subjects has gotten a little 'iffy' on the GoT series, the production values in the costumes, photography, props and locations/set decoration has remained on par with the best, and fits almost exactly in the same 'histori-faux' era that GoT does. 

Can I just ask one thing? Can we please put in GIGANTIC LETTERS somewhere: NO JOFFREYS ALLOWED!

Cogman posts tweetpic of himself doing 'research'. Heh.
Here's the report from Variety:
Continuing their strategy of reimagining animated classics into live-action movies, Disney is developing a “Sword in the Stone” movie with “Game of Thrones” writer Bryan Cogman penning the script, Variety has confirmed. 
Brigham Taylor will produce the film. 
The original toon was based loosely on T.H. White’s novel of the same name, which ultimately became part of the author’s multi-book King Arthur fantasy, “The Once and Future King.”

What else is great about this? T.H. White's books will all get re-printed! More artwork! More wizards and magic students! (Especially great for all the Harry Potter fans dying from waiting for the Magical Creatures films to become real.)

And, best of all, maybe it will pave the way for The Black Cauldron to be made because C'MON DISNEY!

Redo the not-so-great film and make it as awesome-as-it-should-have-been and get kids reading Lloyd Alexander's Prydian Chronicles* as feverishly as we did as kids, plus "hello Princess Eilonwy merchandise payload!"

Just sayin'.

So yes. I like this news.


*Note for OUABlog folks: fairy tale content win!!

Funny fairy tale bonus of the day:
(OK I'm using the term "fairy tale" fairly loosely here)
Perfect for today's news.
Tee hee!

It's Almost Fairy Tale Ring Time Down Under! (Tale of the Month: Rapunzel)

Each month the AFTS (Australian Fairy Tale Society) gathers together fairy tale aficionados in each state* to discuss a particular fairy tale and it's impact on society, with special emphasis on its use, effect, and how it's perceived (past and present) in Australia. Headed by the amazing Jo Henwood, the rings bring together people from all backgrounds and disciplines and cover everything from art to academic studies, history to advertising, books to music and much, much more... (all while having yummy munchies, delicious teas and coffees and sharing laughs and awesome conversations with like-minded people!)

A lovely Rapunzel by Aussie artist Deann Cumner
A recommended reading list is put together (and wrangled) by Jo each month and with Rapunzel being the theme for July, you wouldn't immediately think Australians would have much to say...

Well it appears there is no lack of things to discuss when is comes to Rapunzel! 

The list has continued to grow daily with suggestions from all quarters (of the world!) and Jo is busy spinning it all together it all into a handy reference for research, inspiration and discussion gold. 

Although the emphasis is on Australian involvement and impact, it's a fascinating list for anyone interested in fairy tales and especially in Rapunzel. We should be posting it in the next day or so over on the AFTS website as well as the Facebook page so if you're interested… stay tuned!

Australian illustrator & artist Shaun Tan's
sculpture of Rapunzel
For those interested in attending a ring, please contact Jo Henwood for details of time and place in your area: jo7hanna AT tpg DOT com DOT au


We know there are both Aussie fairy tale folk and AFTS members abroad, (I'm one of them) as well as other fairy tale interested folks who would be interested in participating in our discussion no matter where they call home, so we're just beginning to discuss ideas on how to make the rings accessible to far flung Oz folk (like our people in the far West of Australia in Perth), the more rural areas around Down Under and also for members and other interested people overseas. We hope to be trying out some different ways on bringing far-flung fairy tale folk together in the months to come!

Fairy Tale Bonus of the Day:
Art book of Rapunzel created by Australian artist Jac Balmer for the BookArtObject exchange project a few years back. (Also see her Twelve Dancing Princesses book at the link on her name!)
"'Rapunzel' is a digitally printed concertina book from original artwork by Jac... It comes wrapped in a lovely simply wrap around cover. Which you open to see the front cover of the book - enticing tracery of thorns and brambles? The book opens with visually stunning artwork of Rapunzel, the forest, the castle window, so many things to discover in here... It is a small but sumptuous book, filled with imagery and meaning that requires time to be spent with it, to wander back and forth through the images, discovering nuggets anew each time."
(from Paperwork Ponderings, recipient of this lovely work! Check the link for more photos of the book.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

"The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship" Read by Robin Williams

Unable to decipher who the artist is sorry!
I found this recording on Tumblr and had to share, once I tracked down a better version. I had no idea Robin Williams had recorded this fairy tale. He did this project the year before he played the Genie in Disney's animated film Aladdin. It's hilarious, classic. I don't think we'll ever stop missing that guy and the way he made us laugh...

This runs about 30 minutes and is completely suitable for kids to be listening to, in fact, that's recommended.

Take a listen:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ask Baba Yaga: How Do I Keep Politics From Destroying My Relationship With My Family?

Vaslisa the Beautiful by toerning
Hoo boy! BIG subject. And the less I say, probably the better, so I'll leave it to the expert.

Here's today's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

Can we send this out as a PSA do you think? If people kept this perspective it would help so very much... in pretty much all things.

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Annie Leibovitz Inspired by Nordic Sagas, Slavic Folklore & The Snow Queen for Fashion Shoot

Annie Leibovitz is well associated with fairy tale themed shoots, so much so she is the official photographer-on-call for the Disney Theme Park shoots (which are live action interpretations of a scene from the animated movies). While those shoots are often very creative and do bring some surprises, I always find it most interesting when she steps outside the Disney properties and works with folk and fairy tales for fashion (often for Vogue).
Drew Barrymore's Beauty and the Beast shoot wasn't a Disney shoot, and you can see a lot of 'thinking outside the mold' in that one, which is wonderful. Keira Knightly's Wizard of Oz shoot remains striking, as does her Alice fashion photography with super model, Natalia Vodyanova.
This campaign was for a company called Moncler and shot in the stunning Icelandic landscape with two up-and-comers on the model scene, a Mormon brother and sister duo from Utah. For this shoot, touting the stylish warmth of this company's clothing, the Snow Queen makes an appearance. I'm always fascinated by how this character is interpreted when it comes to fashion but I have to say, I expected something a little more land-based (as in using the landscape forms of Iceland) rather than something that reminded me of the White Queen from Narnia (which I like better), still they're nice storytelling photos.

One Spanish website (Totumrevolutum) explains the concept of the shoot by summarizing the fairy tale:
"The Snow Queen" (Snedronningen) is a fantasy novel written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845, which tells of the struggle between good and evil experienced by two children, Kay and Gerda.
And from a report discussing the shoot, via the Daily Mail:
The stunning images show Lucky and Pyper keeping warm in a range of Moncler's signature quilted outerwear, while navigating the rugged landscapes, from colossal ice formations to wind-sculpted rocks. 
Annie Leibovitz directs Lucky in a frozen woodland as he is captured by the Snow Queen
The Moncler campaign was apparently inspired by 'Nordic sagas and traditional Russian and Slavic folklore' - here Lucky encounters the Snow Queen on his travels.
You can see more photos from the shoot HERE, as well as more behind-the-scenes pics too, which I think are completely worth the click-through, just to see the incredible landscape.