Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The better to hear you with, my dear"

If Joseph Campbell is the guru of the comparative mythology game then I want to play that part in the kiddie version.

Joe's scholarly investigations into world mythology helped shed light on the great mysteries of existence. In order to understand the collective modern 'we' he uncovered the commonalities of what it has always meant to be human, that struggle to make sense of our world and our place in it.

These life lessons and rites of passage propelled mankind forward through storytelling. Fairy tales are also tools for understanding larger concepts. They contain digestible chunks of wisdom and serve as cautionary tales for developing minds. Like the great myths and legends they attempt to sooth our fears, help focus our attention and separate good from bad.

Joseph Campbell looked for common threads across cultures, times and civilizations. Shifts in understanding or circumstance directly influenced the mythology. This can also be said for adaptions made in the retelling of classic fairy tales or more specifically in the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Illustrator Trinia Schart Hyman based her work on the original tale by the Brothers Grimm (Jacob Ludwig, Carl Grimm & Wilheim Grimm).

Her love of the character shines through in this award winning retelling of the traditional story. Grandma and Little Red get eaten alive by the wolf and are subsequently rescued by an intrepid woodsman.

Little Red Riding Hood learns her lessons - to keep her promises, to stay on the path, to mind her manners and to avoid talking to strangers (especially big bad wolves).

Author and illustrator Ed Young created a Caldecott Medal winner with Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story From China in 1990.

This is a haunting rendition of the classic tale containing exquisitely drawn Chinese panel pictures . It follows the adventures of a determined and terrifying wolf as he tries to get the best of young Shang, Tao and Paotze.

However these three crafty, enterprising girls have a trick or two up their sleeves and in the end the wolf proves no match for them.

Flossie and the Fox written by Patricia McKissack and illustrated by Rachel Isadora is an African American tale about a wily fox, notorious for stealing eggs, and a bold little girl.

In this adaptation the fox gets outfoxed by Flossie when he meets her in the woods. She insists upon proof that he is a fox before she will allow herself to become frightened. She taunts him stating "you a rabbit" or "you a rat trying to pass yo'self off as a fox".

All of his attempts to prove that he is indeed a fox fail miserably. The frustrated creature is finally outdone by Flossie and a fierce dog.

There are many, many, many variations on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It is interesting to read and compare these - and other fairy tales -with children to not only teach them about things like diversity and perspective (cultural, individual) but to get their take on them as well.

I will leave you with a short video that I made with Lauren entitled Fairy Tales. If you are at all interested in American Sign Language (ASL) watching Lauren is like a master class.


William Manson © 2010 said...

afternoon Gary,
wow this was fascinating a childs view, excellent imagery and the graphics juts made it that more special, wow u have talent, thoroughly enjoyed this

Dumdad said...

Very interesting blogpost and I loved the video; I almost believed I was "reading" Lauren, it seems so natural.

Joy Keaton said...

Ahhh, you little Joey you! Lauren's signing is so perfect - certainly something to emulate.

willow said...

It was such a joy to see sign language again. I was an interpreter years ago, but seldom use it now. Facsinating post, Gary.

Barbara said...

There are variations on many good stories -- like the creation story and the flood story in the Bible. It's always interesting to see what gets changed and what remains the same throughout.

I loved the poem and watching Joy sign. What a talent she has!

As for fairy tales, they often scared me when I was a child.

Gary said...

WM - Thanks for reading and for your kind comments.

Dumdad - I know what you mean about Lauren. She is easy on the eyes in every sense, isn't she?

Joy - Another thing you have gotten me into. And another reason to say thanks.

Willow - How fantastic that you used to interpret. Did you have a special area or did you take each assignment as it came along? And why did you stop? Looks like I have some searching to do for answers over at the manor.

Barbara - Exactly. Those you mentioned figure in to Joe's area and are endlessly fascinating. Fairy tales are scary and the Grimm Brothers were not afraid of some blood and gore. Disney has cleaned them up quite a bit. It is interesting to realize there are variations.

Arielle Lee Bair said...

Lon Po Po is sitting on my bookshelf right now! I remember as a kid it scared me yet fascinated me! Missed your blog, Gary. I haven't been back to the blog world since before the holidays. Hope yours were good! :)

~Keep Hope, Faith, and Joy~ said...

I stumbled across your blog from the internet and upon seeing it, I immediately followed you. I am deaf myself and very interested in the power of books. I really enjoyed this blog post including some of your other blogs. I am working on couple of children's books and hope to get them published. If that's the case, maybe I can send some free books to your class. Would love to see Lauren sign the stories too!

Thank you for blessing me today
Julie Ann

Brian Miller said...

oh, i really like Lon Po Po..not familiar with the others...will have to check them out.

Sebastien said...

Wonderful post! thanks so much for the recommendations, I'm thinking of ordering the Lon Po Po book, the artwork looks magnificent!

Gary said...

Arielle - The holidays were fantastic but I would have liked a bit more down time. Isn't Lon Po Po dramatic? I love the wolf in bed with the girls - such tension and pretty frightening.

Julie Ann - I am thrilled that you found FYB! You will probably enjoy the posts coming up in February as our school is holding the 2nd annual ASL festival soon. I wrote about the first one in June and expect to do the same again.

Also, I would love to share your books with my class. Good luck with publication.

Brian - I had no idea that Lon Po Po was so popular. Ed Young creates such beautiful work. I am in love with his books, especially Zen Ties and Zen Shorts. Since you are checking out children's books be sure to give these a try.

Sebastien - Alas, no dead kids in this one. Let me check before you order it. I may have an extra I can send you.

lettuce said...

Gary do you know the earlies Perrault version? much scarier and I kind of like the versions where they cope without the woodsman!

its fascinating how the little red riding hood constantly reappears and changes and develops

haven't watched the vid yet I confess but I will, I love to watch you two

WAT said...

Another Gary and Lauren vid! YAY!

Sebastien said...

Did you say no dead kids? Well, I may have to pass on this read then, hehe

Nf1andprek-whisper said...

Just did lon pon pon in my classroom for chinese new year and they really liked it, they liked how the kids tricked him. I love to watch the sign language we did a winter concert with some sign language. I try to teach 3 signs a week besides the alphabet that I teach them to dr. jean feldman's who let the letters out. HOw did you do your label cloud??? I love it I want to try to do it... I am so new to this blog stuff, still can't figure out how to have a subscribe spot for my followers who don't blog.

Gary said...

Whisper - I had someone help me with the label cloud (I too saw it on someone's blog - Kimy of Mouse Medicine - and had to add it here. You have to add a code into the template of your blog. Do a Google search for adding a label cloud in Blogger and instrucitons will show up. I am not sure about the followers question but keep searching, I am sure the answer is out there.


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