Monday, December 9, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
There's no need to rail against modern reinterpretations of the classic fairy tales. In fact it's very much in the tradition to retell fairy tales and to change them in the retelling as Philip Pullman reminds us in the introduction to his collection Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version which he published last year on the 200th anniversary of the original. There is nothing sacred about the contents of these stories. Each teller (or TV producer) can take them and change them and make them his or her own.
Still, going back to the "original" tales is simply a lot of fun. Pullman's collection is a great book for this. First of all, his selection includes most of the classic tales that appear in modern renditions, but it also includes rarer stories and some really strange ones like "The Juniper Tree." Secondly, his translations are clear and direct and when he adjusts or embellishes, it's for good reason, usually to make the telling a bit more entertaining. Also they come with informative, amusing notes and enlightening references to similar folktales from other traditions.
So let's review: what do the original tales tell us that the new versions don't?
Monday, December 2, 2013
Just wanted to thank everyone who has bought books for Ballou High School so far. Your kindness is much appreciated!!!
There are plenty of books under $10 on the list and so many lovely hardcovers if you are willing to spend $15 or $20. All the books are sent directly to librarian Melissa Jackson at Ballou and will go right on the shelves. Please get all the details in our earlier post and if you can't donate than post or tweet and spread the word on this holiday book fair!
Billingwood, England, 1867. A family is out in town for a nice outing. They look at shops and generally enjoy the day. Then, they hear a rumble and commotion. A giant monster is ravaging the town! They seek shelter in an accommodating stranger's cellar and wait out the rampage. When they emerge, the town has been smashed up, and it's the most exciting thing ever! There are even souvenirs to be had. This is the best day out this family has ever had. You see, the monster over their town, Stoker-on-Avon, is really pathetic. He hardly leaves his hill. In fact, it's been 536 days since their monster rampaged. It's all a bit pathetic, really. It's hurting tourism and destroying the town's morale. So the town council sends a disgraced scientist (with a tagalong newsie) up the hill to see if they can't get their monster on the rampage again.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
But while the facilities are truly impressive, the budget does not have room for new books. So, we have updated the Ballou Wish List at Powells Books and hope that many of you will consider buying a book for these worthy students as you do your own holiday shopping.
Before you head over to the wish list though, please take note of Ballou's We Read! Reading Initiative that includes a pledge to read five books by April. If you want to show your support of Ballou's efforts to get teens reading, then print out the pledge, sign it and send a picture holding it up to Melissa via instagram or on their facebook page. You can even send a tweet letting her know you promise to read books in support of Ballou.
And now, after the cut find out more about shopping the wish list for Ballou!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Attention filmmakers (and readers!)
Want to show the world what you can do AND spread the love of a good book? St. Martin's Press and Talenthouse are accepting 1-minute trailers for Christopher Golden's upcoming book SNOWBLIND. All of the submitted videos will be seen by some pretty cool folks - legitimate directors, writers, producers - and one will be selected to be the book's official trailer.
If you are interested, you should enter.
If you know other filmmakers - be they amateur or professional, adults or teens or kids - please let them know about this incredible opportunity.
Trust me. I've read the book, and it's amazing. With edge-of-your-seat tension and jaw-dropping twists, Christopher Golden's Snowblind blizzard is going to blow you away!
So what are you waiting for? Spread the word, gather a production team, and make that mini-movie!
Here's the official press release and all of the pertinent information. Good luck!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Imagine a novel by the love child of H. G. Wells and Mary Shelley, one that rounds out the werewolf-sized hole in the pantheon of 19th Century classic monster speculative fiction, and you have some idea of the great gothic science fiction that is Kirsten Bakis's Lives of the Monster Dogs.
The premise is fantastic-- in all meanings of the word-- as well as absurd. In the near future, a small community of what are referred to as "monster dogs" show up in New York: cultured, dressed in elaborate Germanic clothing from over a century ago, and, due to extensive prosthetics, walking upright and speaking both German and English.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
For Battling Boy that planet is Earth, and in this parallel universe where the youngest of teens are sent to weaker planets to help them survive, this planet has some serious problems. For one thing, there are monsters about. At first glance it appears these boogie men are little more than cloaked child snatchers, serious enough to require a curfew for children but hardly monsters. Very quickly though their victims are caught in nets, bound and gagged, and promised to be fed to spiders. Then along comes a flying hero to save them -- Haggard West --- in very much the garb and style of 1930s comic strips, with his leather flying gear and improbably gadgets. There's a pulsating variance between the comic and the serious where the expectation, like a serialized radio drama, is that the danger will be averted at the last minute and the bad guys will get away with a cliffhanger threat.
Instead, West is shot out of the sky, dead. The children do not escape their dreaded fates. And somewhere in the universe a boys is turning thirteen and about to be thrust into the middle of this mess.
This is how Battling Boy opens.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
When anyone does get critical, it's usually to complain that technology is stealing too much of our attention, or our creativity, or something. Kids spend too much time Tweeting! Too much screen-time is frying our brains!
Jaron Lanier doesn't think technology is in such a great place. And he doesn't think the problem is with kids being addicted to their phones. For him, the problem goes much much deeper. In You are not a Gadget: A Manifesto he argues that our technologies have "locked us in" to a particular way of thinking. Our computers and gadgets, because they were not made thoughtfully enough, are now controlling us.
If you love your phone or your iPad or your laptop, you might be suspicious of this book, but do understand that Lanier is no Luddite. He is a musician and a technologist who has done a great deal of work in the field and has stretched his consideration of human/computer interaction into applications, virtual reality experiments and neurological studies. He is not critical of technology as whole, but merely of technology as it currently is. He believes our gadgets offer much more promise and possibility than is currently being explored.