Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New Book: The Annotated African American Folktales



The Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Editor) and‎ Maria Tatar (Editor)
was released late last year but is timely to consider now for upcoming Black History Month in February. I always have a great affection for these stories since they tend to be predominantly from the Southern U.S., making them something I grew up with. Folklore is often a genre of empowerment for the powerless or less powerful peoples in history, be it powerlessness from age, gender, race, etc. This collection is an excellent reminder of the power of folklore. From the introductions to the annotations, there is a lot to be learned and appreciated within these pages while the tales themselves can be very entertaining.

Book description:

These nearly 150 African American folktales animate our past and reclaim a lost cultural legacy to redefine American literature.

Drawing from the great folklorists of the past while expanding African American lore with dozens of tales rarely seen before, The Annotated African American Folktales revolutionizes the canon like no other volume. Following in the tradition of such classics as Arthur Huff Fauset’s “Negro Folk Tales from the South” (1927), Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men (1935), and Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly (1985), acclaimed scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar assemble a groundbreaking collection of folktales, myths, and legends that revitalizes a vibrant African American past to produce the most comprehensive and ambitious collection of African American folktales ever published in American literary history. Arguing for the value of these deceptively simple stories as part of a sophisticated, complex, and heterogeneous cultural heritage, Gates and Tatar show how these remarkable stories deserve a place alongside the classic works of African American literature, and American literature more broadly.

Opening with two introductory essays and twenty seminal African tales as historical background, Gates and Tatar present nearly 150 African American stories, among them familiar Brer Rabbit classics, but also stories like “The Talking Skull” and “Witches Who Ride,” as well as out-of-print tales from the 1890s’ Southern Workman. Beginning with the figure of Anansi, the African trickster, master of improvisation―a spider who plots and weaves in scandalous ways―The Annotated African American Folktales then goes on to draw Caribbean and Creole tales into the orbit of the folkloric canon. It retrieves stories not seen since the Harlem Renaissance and brings back archival tales of “Negro folklore” that Booker T. Washington proclaimed had emanated from a “grapevine” that existed even before the American Revolution, stories brought over by slaves who had survived the Middle Passage. Furthermore, Gates and Tatar’s volume not only defines a new canon but reveals how these folktales were hijacked and misappropriated in previous incarnations, egregiously by Joel Chandler Harris, a Southern newspaperman, as well as by Walt Disney, who cannibalized and capitalized on Harris’s volumes by creating cartoon characters drawn from this African American lore.

Presenting these tales with illuminating annotations and hundreds of revelatory illustrations, The Annotated African American Folktales reminds us that stories not only move, entertain, and instruct but, more fundamentally, inspire and keep hope alive.

The Annotated African American Folktales includes:


  • Introductory essays, nearly 150 African American stories, and 20 seminal African tales as historical background
  • The familiar Brer Rabbit classics, as well as news-making vernacular tales from the 1890s’ Southern Workman
  • An entire section of Caribbean and Latin American folktales that finally become incorporated into the canon
  • Approximately 200 full-color, museum-quality images color throughout; 160 illustrations

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bargain Ebook: Tales of Wonder by Jane Yolen for $1.99



Tales of Wonder by Jane Yolen is on sale TODAY ONLY for $1.99 in ebook format. This is a collection of several short stories, many inspired by traditional folklore and fairy tales. And really, being by Jane Yolen is enough incentive to buy the book...

Book description:

A breathtaking collection of literary fairy stories from an award-winning fantasist

Author Jane Yolen speaks to the ancient magic within us all in this anthology of 30 grown-up fairy stories—lovely, lyrical, poignant, sometimes frightening tales of transformations and transfigurations, magical destinies and dangerous quests, strange visions, reawakenings, and just desserts. A past winner of the Nebula Award, World Fantasy Award, and numerous other honors, Yolen takes her rightful place alongside the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, combining innovative literary style with fables that reimagine the myths of old and some of her legendary predecessors’ most cherished characters: Cinderella, simple Jack, Guinevere, Icarus, and the Frog Prince.

Step into Yolen’s wondrous realm of magic and dreams, where a curious young woman’s desire to read the future leads her to the weaver of tomorrow; a farm boy with the voice of an angel seeks out Lady Death to sing for the life of his mother; and a sow, a cow, and a mare set out together to see the world. These timeless stories tell of an eager girl’s entrance into the Hall of Grief and a sunless prince who fears the vengeance of a jealous star. A tree-bound young dryad longs to dance in the spring, and a grumpy old potter pours his heart and soul into his greatest work. Yolen’s stories are unforgettable tales of the heart and the spirit; they are truly tales of wonder.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

New Song: Mrs. Bluebeard by They Might Be Giants



So the band, They Might Be Giants, just released their 20th studio album, I Like Fun. I am a fan of the band--especially their kids' song the last several years--with some of their songs remaining persistent earworms for me and the kids in my life. This one is definitely not a kids album since it deals with death and destruction although the tunes don't make you think that. You have to listen to the words to realize there is darkness here.

But why I am posting this here? Well, one of the new songs is surprisingly enough, "Mrs. Bluebeard." And yes, it is inspired by the fairy tale. The song is told from the perspective of one of the dead wives and is poignant and peppy. But that's the They Might Be Giants signature kind of musical quirkiness. There are lines that tell us how she got into this dead predicament. A fun, short take on a not so familiar story.

The song is so new that it's not available as a video or elsewhere to embed as a preview but you can stream the song on music services, like Amazon Prime Music, iTunes, etc.

My favorite line--and hubby John agreed it was the best of many--is:

Most people wouldn't hang their corpses up for review.
No, no they wouldn't but that is part of Bluebeard's signature quirkiness, too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Book: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress) by Julie C. Dao



Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress) by Julie C. Dao was released late last year. This is a Snow White retelling with an unusual protagonist and setting. I had the opportunity to hear Dao discuss the book at last year's Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville, TN. It was a great session and I was intrigued by her vision for the novel fueled by her personal experiences in becoming a published author. The book has received great reviews since then so I'm not the only one fascinated with this one.

Book description:

The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress.

"A richly developed fantasy world . . . Julie C. Dao is a talent to watch."—Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with both breathtaking pain and beauty, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns possesses all the hallmarks of masterful fantasy: dazzling magic, heartbreaking romance, and a world that hangs in the balance. Fans of Heartless, Stealing Snow, and Red Queen will devour this stunning debut.

Praise for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"A richly developed fantasy world coupled with an ambitious anti-heroine of complex agency, this story shines and surprises at every turn. Julie C. Dao is a talent to watch."—Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites

★ "A masterful reimagining of the early life of Snow White’s Evil Queen."—Booklist, starred review

★ "Lushly written . . . tantalizing reading."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Rich in detail and full of gore and blood, this dark novel will satisfy ‘Game of Thrones’ fans."—School Library Journal

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bargain Ebook Collection: Bernard Evslin's Greek Mythology



Bernard Evslin's Greek Mythology by Bernard Evslin is on sale for $3.99 today only. It's a bundle of several of Evslin's mythology books.

Book description:

With over ten million copies of his books sold worldwide, Bernard Evslin’s modern takes on Greek myths have captured the imaginations of countless readers.

Collected here in one volume are nine books of timeless action and adventure surrounding such legendary figures as Zeus and the Olympians; heroes such as Perseus, who slew the hideous Medusa; the epic struggles of the Trojan War; and much, much more . . .

This ebook includes Gods, Demigods and Demons; Hercules; Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths; Jason and the Argonauts; Monsters of Greek Mythology Volume One; Monsters of Greek Mythology Volume Two; The Adventures of Ulysses; The Dolphin Rider; and The Trojan War.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Folklore Bargain Books Today Only!


SurLaLune is not dead, it's just been hibernating. To get the new year--SurLaLune's 20th!--started, I am sharing some bargain ebooks that are available today only.


Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters by Donna Jo Napoli (Author) and‎ Christina Balit (Illustrator) is on sale for $1.99 today and Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales by Kate Forrester is on sale for $3.99.

Book description for Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters by Donna Jo Napoli (Author) and‎ Christina Balit (Illustrator):

School Library Journal Best Books of 2011

Eureka! Silver Honor Books—California Reading Association

Capitol Choices 2012 list of Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens

2012 Notable Children's Books—ALSC

The new National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology offers timeless stories of Greek myths in a beautiful new volume. Brought to life with lyrical text by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli and stunning artwork by award-winning illustrator Christina Balit, the tales of gods and goddesses such as Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Athena and heroes and monsters such as Helen of Troy, Perseus, and Medusa will fascinate and engage children’s imaginations.

National Geographic completes the book with embellishments of each story: sidebars for each god, goddess, hero, and monster link the myths to constellations, geography, history, and culture to help young readers connect the stories to real life events, people, and places. A family tree and a “cast of characters” profile page help make relationships between the characters clear, and a mapping feature adds to the fun and fascination. Resource notes and ample back matter directing readers to more information round out this luminous book. Sure to dazzle all those intrigued with the fantastic tales of Greek mythology and enchant new readers, this vibrant book will soon become a family keepsake.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.

Book description for Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales by Kate Forrester:

The traditional stories of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales transport us to the fantastical world of Celtic folklore. Translated and transcribed by folklorists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 16 stories in this compilation conjure forgotten realms and rare magical creatures in vivid prose. These timeless tales brim with wit and magic, and each one is brought to life with elegant silhouette art by Kate Forrester in this special illustrated edition.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Hunted by Meagan Spooner for $1.99



Hunted by Meagan Spooner is on sale for $1.99 in digital edition. This is one of many Cyber Monday deals. This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, reading catnip for many SurLaLune readers.

Book description:

New York Times bestselling author Meagan Spooner spins a thoroughly thrilling Beauty and the Beast story for the modern age, expertly woven with spellbinding romance, intrigue, and suspense that readers won’t soon be able to forget.

Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones—and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

New Book: Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf Vol. 2



Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf Vol. 2 was officially released this week. It follows Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf Vol. 1 by Hachijou Shin that was released this past June.

Book description:

But one day the Wolf encountered a girl in a red hood. She delighted in making the Wolf cry, and immediately fell in love with his sorrowful face. Now she brings her colourful friends to torment him every day! What is the story behind all the strange characters populating the deep dark wood, and what is a big, sad wolf to do.

More helpful I think, I found the following description about the series on Crunchy Roll when they announced the publication plans for this series:

Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf is a cheeky take on the Red Riding Hood story for fans of Alice in the Country of... and Dictatorial Grimoire, and includes plenty of familiar faces from Grimm fairy tales. This clever reinvention of the classic tale reverses the roles of the original, giving readers a lovable, cry-baby Wolf and an outgoing Red Riding Hood who just can’t help but want to tease him.

Once upon a time there lived a kind, sensitive Wolf. He loved the warm sun, the beautiful flowers, and the song of the birds. But one day the Wolf encountered a girl in a red hood. She delighted in making the Wolf cry, and immediately fell in love with his sorrowful face. Now she brings her colorful friends to torment him every day! What is the story behind all the strange characters populating the deep dark wood, and what is a big, sad wolf to do?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards by Jack Zipes



Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards by Jack Zipes with a foreword by Marina Warner was released this month.

So most of you dear readers are not going to be familiar with an old, out of print series of fairy tale books that used assorted classic illustrations by various artists instead of just one new illustrator to illustrated beloved fairy tales. The books were edited by Cooper Edens who owns a robust collection of Golden Age and even earlier fairy tale books. I learned about many obscure fairy tale illustrators with the help of those books, so I have great affection for them.

This new release takes that concept and puts a new spin on it with many supplemental resources included beyond the tales themselves. Check out the table of contents to see what I mean.

In this coffee table sized book--it's big!--familiar fairy tales are illustrated with classic postcards collected by Jack Zipes, renowned fairy tale expert. In his acknowledgements he dedicates the book to his wife and daughter for their decades of patience with his search for fairy tale postcards (and I imagine other fairy tale materials). I smiled since I have enjoyed the same patience of family and friends as I've hunted for fairy tale materials.

As an enthusiast of fairy tale illustration, this book is a veritable treasure trove of new imagery for me. This book represents the most new materials I've seen in one place in years--not really since I first started my own studies and happened upon a library of original Golden Age books illustrated by Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, etc. in the Burbank Public Library system where I worked at the time. That discovery inspired the creation of the art gallery on my SurLaLune site. With this book, I was more challenged to find illustrations I HAVE seen before since most I have not. It is a visual feast I will be returning to over and over again.

But it's not just images here to treasure. Zipes offers us the text for several tales as well as other sections about the history of fairy tale postcards, the actual tales, the tale's authors, some of the postcard creators, etc. There is much to be read and absorbed here, too. Never fear, it's all presented in a tone that is fun for more casual fairy tale fans, so they aren't overwhelmed. This is very much a coffee table book format as I mentioned earlier, but with meatier text, not just images. The book design is beautiful and there are never too many images on a page but also plenty to make you feel like you are seeing representation of a true collector's collection, not just the veriest of highlights. Every time I sit down to read--and I am an avid reader--I get caught up in the illustrations instead. The text I have read is excellent but I still haven't finished it because I keep getting caught in the grasp of the visuals instead, a rather rare occurrence for me since I even read cereal boxes if they are nearby.

Book description:

The most familiar fairy tales call to mind certain images: Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty. Yet these visions often merely reflect illustrations encountered in classic tellings of the tales. The postcards gathered here by one of the world’s foremost scholars of folk and fairy tales tell another story—of the remarkable range of interpretations and reimaginings these tales have inspired, captured, and conveyed picture by picture in this singular form. A pictorial history of fairy-tale postcards from the late nineteenth century to the present, Tales of Wonder presents a fascinating look at how key scenes of fairy tales have been rendered over time, suggesting a rethinking and reliving of the tales through the years.

Drawn from the author’s collection of more than three thousand fairy-tale postcards from around the world, these five hundred beautiful illustrations reproduce oil paintings, watercolors, photographs, ink drawings, and silhouettes—all evincing the myriad ways popular artists and their audiences have reimagined these tales. After an introduction and general history of fairy tales in postcards, the book features Jack Zipes’s own translations of the most classical fairy tales in Europe and the United States, including versions by Charles Perrault and by Brothers Grimm.

The fairy tale is not just once upon a time: it is, as fairy-tale postcard, a particular if not peculiar expression of a time, created by talented artists and innovative publishing companies. Tales of Wonder tells this intriguing history of the postcards as well as providing new perspectives on familiar stories.

Table of Contents:

Foreword by Marina Warner

Introduction: Telling an Unknown History of the Fairy Tale Postcard

Early Fairy Tale Postcards and the Art of Storytelling

The Tales

Classical Tales


  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • Little Tom Thumb/Hansel and Gretel
  • Cinderella
  • Snow White
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Puss in Boots
  • The Pied Piper
  • Rip Van Winkle


A Mélange of the Brothers Grimms

Stories by Hans Christian Andersen

Russian Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale Novels


  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Pinocchio
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Peter Pan


A Global Cornucopia of Fairy Tale Postcards

The Art

Photography Series

Fairy-Tale Art Series

Epilogue: The Art of Retelling Tales

Bibliography

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bargain Ebook: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman for $1.99



Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Philip Pullman is on sale in ebook format for $1.99, down from $11.99, the first time I've seen it discounted this low.

Book description:

#1 New York Times bestseller Philip Pullman retells the world’s best-loved fairy tales on their 200th anniversary

Two centuries ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now Philip Pullman, one of the most accomplished authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Pullman retells his fifty favorites, from much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “The Three Snake Leaves," "Godfather Death" and "The Girl with No Hands." At the end of each tale he offers a brief personal commentary, opening a window on the sources of the tales, the various forms they've taken over the centuries and their everlasting appeal.

Suffused with romance and villainy, danger and wit, the Grimms' fairy tales have inspired Pullman's unique creative vision—and his beguiling retellings will draw you back into a world that has long cast a spell on the Western imagination.

New Book: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo



The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo (Author), Sara Kipin (Illustrator) is officially released this week. This is for Bardugo's fans as well as those interested in what an author writes when she creates fairy tales for her fictional world. Intriguing.

According to an LA Times article about the book (the article by Tracy Brown is much longer and interesting, so do read it all by following the link!):

Fans of Bardugo can continue to visit the dark fantasy universe in the writer’s next work, “The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic.” And yes, it’s set in the world of Grisha.

“It’s a collection of stories,” Bardugo said. “The kind of stories that the characters in the books might have heard growing up. They’re basically the fairy tales and folk tales of the Grisha world.”

Book description:

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Enter the Grishaverse...

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, the tales in The Language of Thorns will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, each of them lavishly illustrated and culminating in stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Book: Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale by Corey Rosen Schwartz



Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale by Corey Rosen Schwartz (Author) and Deborah Marcero (Illustrator) was released earlier this month and promptly entered a small, small subgenre of books that use fairy tales to teach math concepts. If you were paying attention, you noticed that this book is not subtitled a "Fractured Fairy Tale" but actually a "Fractioned Fairy Tale." Got ya, didn't they?

I've only been able to preview the book so I don't know the ending, but the reviews are positive and I am rather insanely curious to know how the story is resolved with two sisters and one prince! And this is a kid's book so keep in mind it will be clever and innocent, not something needing a brown paper wrapper.

Be sure to page down to preview the first pages of the book yourself.

Book description:

Have you heard the story of Cinderella? Well, you don't know the half of it.

Cinderella had a twin sister, Tinderella. They each did half the housework, half the mending, and half the mean step-sister tending. But when they meet only one prince, what will they do?

The whole story has twice the magic and double the fun!

From the author The Three Ninja Pigs comes the fractioned fairy tale of Cinderella and her less-famous sister.