Category Archives: Uncategorized

Do You Know the Real Snow White?

Standard
Do You Know the Real Snow White?

Snow White

     Originally published in 1812, the Brothers Grimm released their first collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales to the public (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 1987).  Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German authors that specialized in 19th century folklore.  They have been known throughout history as the best known storytellers of folk tales.  Snow White, numbered as Tale 53, is just one of the many popular stories included in their first edition.  Over the years there have been many different versions of Snow White written.  Some of these retellings are simply translated from the original to be enjoyed in a different language, while others have been altered to suit the intended audience or artistic vision of the author.  Whether sweet and charming or dark and gripping, this classic fairy-tale will continue to be loved by many for years to come.

In the original Snow White fairy tale, there are important elements included in the telling of this famous story; a magic mirror, a poisoned comb an apple, and a glass coffin.  In addition we are introduced to the main characters including an evil queen, seven dwarfs, a prince and, of course, Snow White. The original tale does not include any illustrations.  Various depictions come in later translations and versions of the story.

In the original telling of Snow White, the story begins with a scene of the queen sewing during a winter snowfall.  She pricks her finger and as a result three drops of blood fall on to the snow of the windowsill where she sits.  The drastic mark the red blood leaves upon the white snow results in the Queen thinking to herself, “Oh that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the embroidery frame (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.156).”   Soon afterward, the Queen has a child that holds all of these attributes and she is named Snow White.  Unfortunately for the new baby girl, the Queen dies while giving birth.

This opening scene is not found in some of the newer versions of Snow White that are written for a younger audience.  The Walt Disney version of Snow White opens with Snow White at a wishing-well the writing makes no mention of her mother that died during child birth (Baker, L., 1999).   The illustrations are brightly colored and animated portraying a beautiful young woman.  Josephine Poole’s version of Snow White does open with Snow White’s mother stitching pearls onto a cloth of gold at the window (Poole, J., & Barrett, A., 1991).   She does not prick her finger sewing but rather pricks her finger after leaning out the window to listen for the king’s hunting horn.  Upon pricking her finger, just one drop of blood falls in contrast to the original three that fall from the Queen’s finger in the Grimm’s telling.

As the original story continues, time passes and the King choses to marry again.  Although his bride is very beautiful, she is also incredibly wicked.  In addition, the new Queen is extremely vain and asks her magic mirror each morning, “Looking-glass upon the wall, who is the fairest of us all (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.156).”  Knowing that the magic mirror does not lie, she is happy to hear each day, “You are fairest of them all Queen (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.156).”  And so the morning ritual continues until one morning she is told that “Queen, you are full fair, ‘tis true, but Snow White fairer is than you (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.157).”  Enraged, the Queen takes it upon herself to have Snow White killed.  Each version of Snow White told has a scene fairly consistent with this original version.  The biggest difference noted within this scene takes place in the Disney version of Snow White.  After the mirror reveals that Snow White is the most beautiful, the Queen is witness to Snow White being sung to by a prince that was captivated by Snow White’s voice and beauty while riding by the castle.

Determined to get rid of Snow White, the Queen orders a huntsman to take Snow White deep into the woods to kill her and as proof he must return with her lungs and liver.  When the huntsman brings Snow White into the woods, he finds that he cannot kill her and lets her go.  The most common difference with later versions of Snow White that include the scene with the huntsman show him returning to the Queen with a heart from a deer, rather than the lung and liver of the boar he gives to the Queen in the original tale.

As Snow White flees for her life, she wanders the forest for days until she comes upon a tiny cottage.  It appears to her that no one is home, so she enters the cottage eating, drinking and then falling asleep on one of the tiny beds.  Later that evening, seven dwarfs return home to find that someone has not only eaten food but is still there sleeping in one of their beds.  As the dwarfs discover Snow White, she wakes up and tells them what has happened to her.  Out of pity, the dwarfs let Snow White stay if she agrees to “keep our house for us, and cook and wash, and make the beds, and sew and knit, and keep everything tidy and clean (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.158).” Snow White is happy to agree knowing they will take care of her in return.

Perhaps the most drastic difference in versions comes at this point in the story when the Disney version shows Snow White fleeing the huntsman.  She is found scared in the woods by a group of sweet animals that not only befriend her but lead her to a cottage where Snow White enters and begins singing and cleaning up after the untidy residents. Exhausted from all of the events, Snow White falls asleep in the beds of the dwarfs where she is found when they return home.  It is then that Snow White begs the dwarfs to let her stay by promising to “wash and sew and sweep and cook (Baker, L., 1999).”  The dwarfs are only too happy to agree knowing they will now have a clean home and good meals to look forward to.  At this point in the tale, Snow White takes on the role of a mother to the seven dwarfs.

As Snow White finds comfort in her new home with the dwarves, the Queen is horrified to learn that Snow White is still alive.  Determined to get rid of Snow White, she disguises herself as an old peddler and visits her at the cottage in the woods.  Each morning, before the dwarves leave for work, they remind Snow White, “Beware of your stepmother. She will soon learn that you are here.  Let no one in (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.158).”  As the Queen knocks on the cottage door, Snow White looks at the old woman, sees her to be honest, and lets her in.  It is then that the old woman entices Snow White to try on a beautiful laced bodice.  As the old woman laces up the bodice on Snow White, she laces is so tight that she faints and is left for dead.  Fortunately for Snow White, the dwarfs arrive just in time to loosen the laces and save her.

The next morning, when the Queen consults the magic mirror she is enraged to learn of Snow White’s survival.  Infuriated, the Queen dresses herself in disguise again and sets out to kill the beautiful Snow White with a poisoned comb. Naïve to the danger this new visitor presents, Snow White lets the stranger into the cottage and faints when the Queen begins to comb her hair with the poisoned comb.  The next morning the Queen is in shock and nearly has a heart attack when she learns that Snow White is still alive.

These two attempts to kill Snow White are not found in every version of Snow White, what is consist in each of the versions is the evil Queen’s final attempt to murder the beautiful princess.  Determined to take care of Snow White once and for all, the Queen turns to witchcraft and makes an apple so beautiful that whoever lays eyes on it will be filled with desire to eat it.  One bite of this apple, however, means death because it is filled with poison.  In the Disney version, the apple’s poison is merely a sleeping spell that can be cured by loves first kiss.

Dressed as a peasant woman, the Queen takes the apple to Snow White who is reluctant to accept the apple.  To encourage her, the old woman cuts the apple in half, biting into the white side of the apple that is not poisoned, showing Snow White that the apple is harmless. This sharing of the apple is not present in every version reviewed.  It is then that Snow White bites into the red half of the apple, which is poisoned and immediately falls down dead.  The Queen leaves feeling triumphant.  As this climatic scene comes to an end in the Disney version, the dwarfs discover the evil woman before she is able to leave the cottage.  They chase her to the top of a rocky cliff where the Queen ultimately falls to her death.

When the dwarfs find Snow White that evening, they are unable to revive her.  Assuming that she is dead, they mourn her loss.  After three days of grieving, the dwarfs prepare to bury Snow White only to declare they cannot.  Instead, they place her in a glass coffin high on the mountain side where she remains.  During this time they take turns keeping watch over her as she appears to only be sleeping for her beauty never fades.

At this point in the Disney version, Snow White rests on an open coffin surrounded by beautiful flowers.  It is here that the prince we are introduced to in the beginning of the story discovers Snow White and kisses her in great sorrow to say farewell to the beautiful princess he had been searching for.  This single kiss breaks the spell and Snow White awakes to the cheers of the dwarfs and her prince.  It is then that Snow White thanks the dwarfs and rides off into the sunset with the price to live happily ever after.

In a much different ending told by the Grimm Brothers, a prince comes traveling through the forest and sees Snow White.  He is so enchanted by her beauty that he instantly falls in love with her.  Declaring his love for her he states that he must take her home with him “for I cannot live without looking upon Snow White (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.163).”  The dwarfs take pity on the prince and allow him to take her.  As they begin to carry the coffin, they stumble over some brush dislodging the piece of poison apple that had been stuck in Snow White’s throat.  It is then that she opens her eyes, sits up in the coffin and cries, “Oh dear! Where am I (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.163)?”

As Snow White comes back to life, the prince declares his love for her and soon after their wedding is arranged.  The happy couple makes sure to invite Snow White’s stepmother to the wedding.  Upon dressing for the wedding, the evil Queen asks the magic mirror who is most beautiful only to be told “the young bride is a thousand times more fair (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 2007, p.163).”  Not sure what to do the Queen finally decides that she has to attend the wedding to see this young bride.  As soon as she arrives at the wedding, the Queen immediately recognizes Snow White. Filled with anguish, the evil stepmother is fitted with hot iron slippers that she must dance in until she falls down dead.

Comparing and contrasting the written text and illustrative contributions of each version reviewed revealed various similarities and a generous amount of originality from each writer and illustrator.  It is clear that the original telling of Snow White, written by the Grimm Brothers, is a beloved story that has not only entertained readers for over 200 years but has also inspired immense amounts of creativity in individuals throughout time as well.

One of the most simplistic and fun retellings of this story comes in the format of a board book written by Trixie Belle and Melissa Caruso-Scott (Belle, T., & Scott, M., 2012).  Each turn of the page in this little book revels one to two words; girl, evil queen, magic mirror, huntsman, and so on.  The entire gist of the story is captured and is illustrated with friendly illustrations of the characters and events that take place.  This board book in addition to the Disney version and Jennifer Greenway’s retelling are more appropriate for a much younger audience.  Although the Disney version is perhaps the most well known and loved by people around the world, Jennifer Greenway’s writing of Snow White also brings forth a fun fairytale that ends happily ever after (Greenway, J., & Augenstine, E., 1991).  Erin Augenstine’s whimsical illustrations are illuminated beautifully and are fairy like. This version is likely to be a hit with children that are engrossed in princess and fairy books.

The other versions of Snow White reviewed may be better suited for an older audience, staying true to the more violent and gruesome details written in the Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  The illustrations within each of these more mature versions are drawn with incredible detail and depth and the written words follow suit with a more developed vocabulary.  Nancy Ekholm Burker does a beautiful job illustrating Randall Jarrell’s translated version of Snow White (Grimm, J., & Grimm, W., 1987).  This version earned a Caldecott Honor for its exquisite artwork.  The book is published in a slightly oversized format, 9”X12”, with an alternating pattern of two facing pages of illustrations and two facing pages of print.  Another Caldecott recipient, Trina Schart Hyman, did an amazing job illustrating Paul Heins translated version of this legendary tale (Grimm, J., Heins, P., & Schart Hyman, T., 1974).  The illustrations are bold and captivating, creating an old world feel to the classic tale.  They create wonderful movement and flow to the story, pulling readers into the tale. A similar feel is created in the illustrations Angela Barrett creates in Josephine Poole’s version of Snow White (Poole, J., & Barrett, A., 1991).  The drawings are very fanciful and the variations in color tones wonderfully support the recreated take Poole has taken on this classic tale.  With slight variations from the original throughout this story readers will progress with a multitude of feelings supported by the beautiful illustrations.

Works Cited

Baker, L. (1999). Walt Disney’s Snow White and the seven dwarfs: A read-aloud storybook. New York: Mouseworks.

Belle, T., & Scott, M. (2012). Snow White. New York, N.Y.: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.

Greenway, J., & Augenstine, E. (1991). Snow White. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel.

Grimm, J., Heins, P., & Schart Hyman, T. (1974). Snow White, (Silver Anniversary ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.

Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1987). Snow-White and the seven dwarfs: A tale from the Brothers Grimm ; translated by Randall Jarrell ; pictures by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. (Sunburst ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (2007). Selected tales. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ann Arbor Media Group.

Poole, J., & Barrett, A. (1991). Snow-White. London: Hutchinson.

Advertisements

Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

Standard
Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson caught my eye on a book cart of recently returned materials at my library.  The bright red color of the cover drew me in to initially think this could be a holiday book for Christmas.  An image of a little girl with pig tails and a friendly looking monster standing next to her are illustrated on the cover of the book.  The two are wearing matching shirts and both have antennae on their heads.  The angle of their eyes looking at each other is friendly and approachable, almost begging to be asked what they are talking about.  The cover art is simplistic, imaginative, and boldly colored.  The back of the book gives readers another glimpse into what the relationship between this little girl and the monster may be.  The little girl has taken her boots off and is jumping on a couch while the monster stands on a rock waving to the little girl.  It is obvious before even opening the book that this little girl has a mischievous side to her and is full of energy, while the monster seems to be more of a polite observer.

The book itself is made of nice materials, a firm binding, heavy weight pages that would not tear easily from frequent use and beautiful ink for the font and illustrations of the story. Opening the book to read the inside of the dust jacket brings to light the fact that the little girl and the monster are out of place in their worlds, bringing light behind the meaning of the title Troll Swap.  The author begins the story by introducing both of the characters to the readers and gives information about what they like to do.  Each character is seen as friendly and easy to relate to.  The monster’s name is Timothy Limpet and he is a troll.  Timothy does not enjoy doing troll like things with his troll family.  He is very polite and considerate of his family and friends.  As the author transitions to introduce the other main character it is clear through the illustrations that she is not like Timothy.  The little girl’s name is Tabitha Lumpit and she is loud, messy and completely opposite of her very neat family.   It seems natural that these two characters should meet and ultimately decide to swap places.  This book is written to appeal to children age preschool – 2nd Grade.  Troll Swap addresses a timeless underlying theme, with humor, teaching readers and listeners to celebrate themselves and be accepting of differences in others.

The beginning of the story opens with Timothy introducing himself.  It is quickly observed that the voice in which Timothy speaks is defined by neat, specific, underlined font that embodies his character.  The font used as a voice for his family and other trolls is loud and abrasive, all capital letters varying in size and shape.  The size of the font on each page is larger but not overwhelming.  Many pages have a lot of white space which allows for the words and illustrations to pop off the pages.  As readers are introduced to Tabitha Lumpit the same font used for Timothy’s family and friends is used for her voice.  This little girl is filled with energy and lacks restraint in controlling her thoughts which quickly spill out of her.  The voices of the children around her and her parents are written in the same font that Timothy speaks.  It is evident through the font alone that these characters are living in worlds where they do not fit in.

As the story begins it quickly displays, not simply through different font, but through the illustrated emotions on each of the characters faces that they feel out of place.  Children will enjoy reading this story as it is humorous and easy to relate to in a world where they too are growing and beginning to understand how they fit into the world in which they live.  Timothy and Tabitha are both terribly sad about not fitting in when they first bump into each.  They quickly notice that they are the image of how they think they should be in order to fit in.  It is only natural that they decide to swap places.  Through switching places these two characters initially find great comfort in fitting into these worlds with others just like them.  It doesn’t take long, however, before both of them miss their old worlds and the excitement being different brings into their everyday lives.  The friends and families of these characters also begin to miss the unique characteristics of Timothy and Tabitha and find that life is missing something and feels rather dull without them.  As the story reaches its climax both characters realize that life where everyone acts the same is boring, “it was time to swap back and for both of them to go home, where they belonged.”

Troll Swap takes place in two different worlds and is told in third person.  The messy loud world that Timothy lives in and the neat, polite world Tabitha lives in.  The voice the author gives to the story allows readers to clearly differentiate between the two worlds.  Much more color and higher contrast of background and images is used in the troll world.  When in the human world the images are more simplistic on a white background.  The clean feel to these pages in Tabitha’s world highlights the text and images of the characters. The author of this story has written a delightful story for children that is age appropriate and straightforward.  Listeners will enjoy the uncomplicated vocabulary and moments of laugh out loud humor that highlights the oddities that each of us possess that make us special and unique.

Hodgkinson, L. (2014). Troll swap. New York: Candlewick/Nosy Crow.

1432

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Standard

Brian Floca has created a timeless picture book that not only displays excellence in his artistic technique but does a brilliant job of engaging readers in a fun story that effortlessly merges appropriate historical imagery and facts during a time of growth and innovation in the United States.  Created with beautiful watercolor, ink, acrylic and gouache, the time appropriate illustrations help build a greater comprehension of the story and the time period represented.  The amount of illustrated detail that each page offers begs readers to enjoy this book more than once.  The illustrations build different emotions in the reader as they board the train and race across the country with railroad workers and travelers; whistles blowing excitedly, landscapes passing quickly, people sleeping,  and sparks flying as the engineer works through difficulties along the way and joyous faces as travelers reach their destination.  Each page is waiting to be turned, filled with a rich depiction of any given stage of the journey.  This book is a self-contained entity, not dependent on any other media and would be considered a picture book.

The illustrations in Locomotive tie in brilliantly with the mid-1880s time frame that this book takes place in.  The story is told in poem with much repetition, onomatopoeia and alliteration, combining historical facts with the tale of a family traveling out west.  The imagery that naturally flows from the authors rhythmical voice ties perfectly with the illustrations helping readings visualize and build a greater understand of what it must have been like to not only travel on a train out west but how a train works and what different  jobs were a part of making this journey possible.  Children of all ages will love reading and viewing this book more than once, it seems that with each reading a new detail pops off the pages from this delightfully illustrated story. The end papers are remarkable.  Detailing, at the front, the history of the Continental Railroad and, at the end, how a steam powered locomotive works.  The pages in between bring their own beauty as we watch this magificent iron machine work vigorously day and night to bring its passengers to their desired destination.  As trains continue to be popular with children, it is easy to imagine that Locomotive will naturally become a classic picture book enjoyed for many generations to come.

51aQezX7EaL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ 61omFRMi+IL graexc_47232379_9781416994152.in02

MOM, What’s for Dinner?!?!

Standard

I’ve recently returned to work after being on maternity leave with my little guy.  To put it lightly it’s been a whirlwind of details that I felt I was handling pretty well until I started coming home from a full day to find that I hadn’t even begun to think about what we were going to have for dinner.

Dinner for me is seen as a time for families to sit together and talk about the days events, a time to eat a balanced meal after a day filled with commitments   a time to enjoy each other before winding down for the night and preparing to run the race again the next morning.  The only problem I’ve had with this time I look forward to each day with my family is that it’s not as easy as it sounds.  “Making the Time” to meal plan while juggling family needs and a full time job was literally pushing me over the edge.  So, when you’re feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place what’s the best thing to do?  Initially I thought picking up a $5 Hot and Ready each night on the way home from work might do the trick but quickly realized I can’t have my kindergartner telling all of our family and friends that the only thing she has for dinner is pizza….but they do sell wings and other side dishes…

In the midst of my self induced stress over this minor detail in our daily lives, a good friend and coworker of mine set down a couple of books on my desk about meal planning.  After staring at them for a couple of days, I decided to take them home over the weekend and skim the pages to see if anything jumped out at me that screamed, “You can do this!”  The Gods must have been on my side because this is exactly what happened when I opened Once-a-month cooking family favorites : more great recipes that save you time and money from the inventors of the ultimate do-ahead dinnertime method.  While paging through this cookbook, I picked out just a couple of recipes that sounded easy and like something even my 5 year old would eat.  Cooking up just two of the recipes proved to be a success this past weekend because not only did we have two very enjoyable meals but there was enough left over for lunches or a second dinner later in the week.

This cookbook has been written to help busy families like ours.  There are two week and one month meal plans complete with shopping lists that can be prepared ahead of time so that meals can be “pulled” from the freezer, placed in the oven and enjoyed within 30 to 60 minutes.  Although I haven’t attempted to prepare two weeks or a months worth of meals yet, I’m actually looking forward to doing this knowing the end result will leave me with evenings more focused on what’s important…Our Family!

How do you prepare and handle dinner making for your family?  Have you ever attempted make ahead meal planning?  Please share your experiences!

Check out the available website for Once a Month Cooking!