Monday, June 27, 2016

Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: The Neverending Story Picture Album

The Neverending Story Picture Album: Based on the Movie by Michael Teitelbaum. A Golden Book, Western Publishing, 1984.

I was thinking about the movie The Neverending Story this weekend. It was another favorite of mine when I was little.

Several years ago, I finally sought out the original novel on which the film is based. Michael Ende's book is beautifully complex, and the movie only touches on the first half. I should re-read it, and write a post about the book on its own.

However, this is an Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday post, about things from my childhood I muse about over the weekend. And with that, may I present The Neverending Story Picture Album, one of those cheap 8x8 picture book tie-ins. It isn't much in the way of story - it's only the first part of the movie, and contains only scenes from Fantasia. No Bastian, no magical book to be found.

Confession: I really wanted to look like the Childlike Empress from this movie.

Hey, look! It's all the Oompa-Loompas from Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, riding a snail. I wanted very much to travel by snail or a bat.

I had a crush on Noah Hathaway as Atreyu.

Oh, Artax...

Poor Artax.

Okay, this movie has everything: cute boys, a pretty horse, bats and snails for riding, gnomes, magic books!!!.

But here's the number one reason I loved this movie as a kid: Falkor, the Luck Dragon! Who wouldn't want a kindly furry luck dragon? Never mind the snail and bat, I want to travel by luck dragon.

Really, between Falkor and Pegasus from Clash of the Titans, my daydreams as a kid were filled with flying on the backs of large pretty white things.

Um, even by the movie standards, this is not the ending. Hahahaha!

I'll leave you with the song, because it still makes me happy. (According to Spotify, it still makes many, many people happy.)

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Friday, June 24, 2016

A Fairy House For Fairy Day

June 24th is almost over here in Kansas, but I wanted to share some International Fairy Day photos! 

You see, Mr. B took pity on me yesterday, and built a frame for a little fairy house. He still wants to build a much larger, semi-permanent structure, but that wasn't going to happen in time for Fairy Day. Once he started our little house, the girls and I were able to take over. Thank goodness for twine, floral moss, glass beads, and pine cones! I think we built a lovely place for the fairies, just in time for the rain!

I also found out (via Facebook) that this week is International Build a Fairy House or Den Week!  I feel like I'm so on top of everything now.

It started raining as I finished my first round of photos. We got the pine cones from the field near the library and added them later. It rained again overnight and into the morning, which made for muddy, steamy conditions. Alas, I'm afraid we failed to play with the house much today.

We made a fairy cake instead.

It's a simple two-layer white cake with vanilla confectioner's sugar icing. I tinted it with pink sanding sugar and strawberry juice. Strawberries, blackberries, and mint leaves made the refreshing topping.

My little fairy fans approved.

I have another delightful fairy book to show you, but I had a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the park tonight (how perfect is that?!) and never got around to taking pictures. Did anyone else celebrate the fairies today?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blossom: A Fairy Story

Blossom: A Fairy Story by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite.
First published by A. & C. Black, Ltd., London, 1928.
This edition published by Angus & Robertson Publishers, U.K. and Australia, 1987.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite is another one of those great Golden Age illustrators. An Aussie, she specialized in fairy art for children's books. I've admired her work via the internet for years, but I hadn't held an actual book in my hands, until now. Thank you, library!

Blossom: A Fairy Story was first published in 1928. It's one of those gentle, old-fashioned fantasies, that could easily have been written any time between the late Victorian era and the first half of the twentieth century. I apologize for the poor photo quality, but I hope you can get some sense of how beautiful this book is.

It's about a little girl named Blossom.

When we first meet Blossom, she is living with her mother in a London slum. Despite her ragged clothes and poor surroundings, Blossom is happy. Her mother loves all things beautiful, and together they stare at shop windows, daydreaming about owning fine things, and they love their upper-floor view of the skies.

They also frequent Kensington Gardens. Blossom's mother has told her all about the statue of Peter Pan, and one day, as Blossom is lolling around the statue, wondering if fairies are real, an actual fairy appears. Her name is Maia, and she tells Blossom she will see her again someday. She can even call her on the "blue convolvulus telephone -- Primrose Path 00000."

Then Blossom's mother dies, and the poor little girl is sent to the Orphanage.

The Orphanage is a lonely place for Blossom. No one wants to hear about fairies, but everyone expects her to learn her multiplication tables. Her only friends are two-year-old twins, Simon and Sarah, and the black cat, Samuel. After a particularly bad day, Blossom and Samuel decide to run away to the country, to find the fairies. They sneak out that night, and find themselves in a fairy wood, where they meet a rabbit named George and a little boy named Patrick. 

From there, most realism departs. Patrick hides Blossom away at his little play cottage, and with the help of the fairies, she leads a very comfortable existence. Besides Patrick, only the "least important" gardener knows she is there. 

As you can imagine, living among fairies is a wondrous thing. The animals in the enchanted wood can speak - even Samuel the cat!

There are more wonderful beings to meet. Samuel takes Patrick and Blossom on a magical overnight ride to a valley filled with all the cats of the world. A flock of birds swoop in overhead. No, wait - not birds. Witches! The witches are the cats' fairies, but they are shy around humans and disappear when Patrick sneezes.

Patrick's family garden is haunted by the ghosts of all those who came before him. Blossom meets his great-grandmama, Felicia, who appears as a little girl. She tells Blossom that she grew up to bear eight children and died an old lady, but because inside she never changed from a happy, naughty little girl, when she passed, that little girl jumped out. She even plays with her own children in child form.

One day, Patrick tells Blossom that their world is about to change. He is to be sent to boarding school, and she will be alone with the animals and fairies. (Remember, his parents and governess have no idea she is there.) Blossom longs for another human, however, and remembers little Simon and Sarah, back at the Orphanage. With the fairies' assistance, the children sneak into the Orphanage and kidnap the twins.

Blossom is still sad, understanding how much everything will change with Samuel away. Even Samuel is afraid he will be too ashamed of his female friend and the fairies to ever tell anyone at school. Maia shows Blossom the Memory Pool in the woods, where all good memories are stored. She can go there anytime, and remember everything happy.

The book ends with Christmas coming, just around the corner, which means a visit from Patrick. It ends with him calling, "Blossom! Blossom!" No, he has not forgotten his friend in the little cottage.

Blossom is such a strange, dreamy little story. I suppose it could be taken literally, but at times, you feel it's more about growing up and imaginary friends.

Who is imaginary, though? Blossom or Patrick?

The stamp inside our library copy marks this one as an import, but there are inexpensive used copies available online. If you're a fairy fan, or love old-fashioned children's literature, seek it out!

Oh, and guess what? Mr. B started putting together stuff for a new fairy playhouse today... Hope to have more to share soon!

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Monday, June 20, 2016

The Longest Day

We made Midsummer blomkrans, or flower head wreaths today. For the second year in a row, we were unable to celebrate Midsummer's Festival in Lindsborg, KS. Saturday was my youngest niece's birthday party, and family comes first. I was caught off guard today - I'm used to the summer solstice happening on June 21st. I managed to get our supplies this afternoon, and we crafted away! Our little library branch is located by a park, so we took a few pictures of our new wreaths. I also made a special trip to the main branch downtown, in order to pick up this book:

The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer,
illustrated by Linda Bleck. Dutton Children's Books, 2010.

The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice is one of four books about the seasons by Pfeffer and Bleck, and the first we ever checked out. It's a perfect package of information for kiddos: a scientific explanation of what the solstice is, what it meant historically (and mythologically) for different cultures, and how it is celebrated in different places today. 

We learn about the importance of the sun and solstice in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. It touches on how parts of Stonehenge, in England, line up with the summer solstice. In the United States, the Chumash native tribe in California painted sunbursts around opening in cave ceilings, and there are mysterious rock constructions in New Hampshire and Wyoming, created by other Native Americans, that point to the importance of the solstice, too.

There are flower wreaths and fires in Europe: Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Sweden...

Of course, near the Arctic Circle, the sunlight lasts nearly 24 hours! In Nome, Alaska, people celebrate with a Midnight Sun Festival.

The book concludes with a page of "Solstice Facts," and several crafts. There are instructions for creating rock art, making a sundial, planting sunflowers, and making flower head wreaths.

Speaking of flower wreaths...

Have a beautiful season! Don't melt! (Seriously - it's boiling here in the Plains.)

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