Another Fairy Tale Book and Some Thoughts on Fear

This book arrived yesterday.  I have been searching for an affordable copy for some time.  As you can see, it doesn't look especially fancy.

Sweet gold dragon on the cover, no dust jacket.  Just simple blue cloth binding.

Then you open it up, and the first thing you see is this:

This is European Fairy Tales, compiled and translated by Dagmar Secorová, illustrated by Mirko Hanák.  (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company, 1971).  If you look at Hanák's Czech Wikipedia page, you will see he died of leukemia the year this book was published.  What a loss.  Because these are currently my favorite fairy tale illustrations, and I want to try and find as much of his work as possible.

from "Cinderella" by Charles Perrault

"Cinderella" by Charles Perrault

"Cinderella" by Charles Perrault

from "Prince Bajaja" by Božena Nêmcová

from "The Tinder-Box" by Hans Christian Andersen

from "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" by Petre Ispirescu

from "Little Red Riding Hood" by the Brothers Grimm

from "Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm

"Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm

from "Sleeping Beauty" by the Brothers Grimm

from "The Three Little Pigs" by Joseph Jacobs

from "Jack and the Beanstalk" by Joseph Jacobs

from "Beauty and the Beast" by Madame de Beaumont

from "The Firebird" by K.J. Erben

I've spent last night and this morning thinking about why we still read fairy tales.  I love the dark, often creepier original versions of these stories, and while I don't read every one of them to my girls (no "Juniper Tree" - yet), I don't necessarily shy away from them, either.  They know the sad endings to "The Little Mermaid," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (oh, Andersen! so mean with the sad stories!), they've heard the darker ending to "Snow White" (those iron shoes!) and the Grimm version of "Cinderella" where birds peck out the eyes of the wicked stepsisters.  And my girls are not scarred or damaged.  We discuss things.  And the spookier aspects of these stories are blunted by the knowledge that these are just fairy tales, make-believe.  There is a book called The Uses of Enchantment that I've been meaning to read.  I first read about the book in Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter (which I love).  The Uses of Enchantment delves into the reasons the original fairy tales were picked up by children in the first place, one of those reasons being that they tend to symbolically illustrate the weird fears children have on their own.   I know I said I haven't read this book yet - click here to read more by someone who has - but the general idea is one I share.

And as you probably know by now, my children have a thing for darker entertainment.  Especially my baby.


Last night, my baby couldn't sleep.  Both girls are out of school today, so as a treat, Mr. B made out the hide-a-bed in the family room for them.  They had their sleeping bags and were all set to camp out.  Big Sis fell asleep quickly, but Little Sis came and tearfully tracked us down.  She was scared.

"We watched that movie today and it was too scary."

I looked at her.  "I'm so sorry, baby.  I thought you'd seen it before!"

"But not since I was too little, Mom!" she said accusingly.  "It wouldn't be so bad if it was a fiction movie!"

I tried not to smile.  "But it is a fictional movie, honey.  It's not even a realistic fiction."  The movie was Jumanji.

"But it had scary spiders and monkeys and vines in it.  And those are real things.  And games are real, too!"

This is my kiddo who loves zombies right now.  Who loves the real-life mummies she's seen at museums.  Who loves The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands,  and Coraline.

She was scared of Jumanji, though, because it seemed more plausible than zombies and ghosts.

And Mom chose the movie, not realizing she would be scared.  Total.  Mom.  Fail.

Mr. B wound up camping in the living room with the girls, where he said he held her hand as she told him how she was very, very angry they even made that movie, and how she hates every actor in that movie for making it exist.

I went to my room and thought about how sweet it was that she thought Jumanji was too realistic, while I have gone to bed lately scared of bombs and guns and fertilizer plants.

I like scary fairy tales and fantasy movies.  I'm scared of what's outside my own door.  And I love that what seems most real to my 5-year-old is a frightening board game come to life, and not bad guys entering her school.  I love that innocence so much.

That said, Jumanji is now off-limits in this house.  I'm guessing that goes for the book, too.  It might remind her of the movie.  And I'm the meanest mommy in the world for choosing that movie yesterday.  But I love that that's all that makes her mad right now.  I'll take it.

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My Goldfish (A Ding Dong School Book)

My Goldfish by Dr. Frances R. Horwitch and Reinald Werrenrath, Jr.,
illustrated by Mina Gow McLean.  A Ding Dong School Book.
Rand McNally & Company, 1954.
Before Sesame Street or Mister Rogers' Neighborhood or even Romper Room or Captain Kangaroo, there was a children's program called Ding Dong School, hosted by a woman named Miss Frances (Dr. Frances Horwitch).  The show originated out of Chicago in 1952, then moved to NBC and national broadcast later that year.

Like the many television shows to follow, Ding Dong School had its share of media tie-in product.  During the first half of the 1950s, Ding Dong School Books were published by Rand McNally.  They look similar to Little Golden Books, but with a silver foil spine.  Later in the decade, the series was picked up by Little Golden Books (i.e. this one).

I was excited to find a lovely copy of this title at a downtown antique store.  I thought I'd share.  Last night was stormy, today is cold and icy, and the news is dark.  This book is so cheerful.

And here's a little bonus via YouTube.

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Bedtime and Seasonal Poems: Two Anthologies

It's the middle of April, so it's the middle of National Poetry Month.  I have two beautiful poetry anthologies for children to recommend today!  Both were published in 2010 and both are full of gorgeous poems and delightful illustrations.

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas.  Candlewick Press, 2010.

Switching on the Moon is a beautiful collection of bedtime poems.  There are nursery rhymes and lullabies, cute poems about bathtime and being afraid of the dark, poems about the moon and about the dawn.  Poets include Yolen and Peters, but also Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Mary Ann Hoberman, Rebecca Kai Dottlich, Marilyn Singer, even Sylvia Plath.    The illustrations are wonderful.

It's a thick picture book - 91 pages of poems! - but it doesn't feel cumbersome, and it would make for many nights of quiet nighttime reading.

Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins,
illustrated by David Diaz.
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010.

For slightly older children, there's Sharing the Seasons, which is poetry about the four seasons, divided by season.  Diaz's illustrations are bright and always interesting.  Poets include Hopkins, Carl Sandberg, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Elizabeth Upton, and Marilyn Singer, among others.  It's another thick picture book, checking in at 73 pages of poetry.  It would make a wonderful introduction for a 7- or 8-year-old.

When Big Sis was little, she loved to listen to poetry.  She had several poems memorized, and her favorite video was HBO's Classical Baby: The Poetry Show.  I'm having fun rediscovering poetry with the girls.  Both of these books are truly well done, and both would make lovely gifts...

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