Dali in Wonderland

Wow, guys. Wow.

Salvador Dali’s a bit of a favorite of mine. All surrealists are, actually. There is something about the strangeness and the dream-like quality of surrealism that has always appealed to me and that somehow seems to go hand in hand with so much of fairy tales and fantasy. My jaw dropped when I ran across this:

DowntheRabbitHole

That is called “Down the Rabbit Hole” and was made by Dali for an illustrated edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Advice From A Caterpillar

Advice From A Caterpillar

Published in 1969 for a publisher’s book of the month, this is one powerful combination.

Mad Tea Party

Mad Tea Party

I would love to get my hands on a copy! Unfortunately, it’s pretty rare and the few available copies are well out of my price range.

The Queen's Croquet Ground

The Queen’s Croquet Ground

To see more of this collaboration, check out the original article. They have the entire collection of illustrations there so it’s worth visiting!

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Guardian of the Dead

GuardianDeadCover By Karen Healey; Published 2010.

As a librarian, I have a dangerous habit of thinking of a topic and then checking out pretty much anything I can find on that topic in our library system. I’ve done this with C.S. Lewis, I’ve done it with Tolkien, I’ve done it with fairy tales, Norse mythology, Celtic history, owls, and so on and so on. Usually I just end up skimming what I get because of course I go overboard and get way more than I could ever read.

Recently, I did this with New Zealand. It’s not the first time I’ve done it so most of what was in our catalog I’ve already read. But this was new: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey.

The book opens with our seventeen year old heroine, Ellie Spencer, hungover. Not really a good start for me. Her best friend, Kevin, is sleeping on the floor, also hungover. Kevin and Ellie are both students at a prestigious boarding school in Christchurch, New Zealand. Kevin is part Maori and pretty much the star of the school. Ellie’s not. Ellie hasn’t really fit in that much since coming to the school about a year ago. Her only friend is Kevin and she’s not involved in much of anything but school. So when Kevin begs her to help with a theater production he’s involved in at a local college, she reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, Ellie’s crush, mysterious Mark, has been acting strange and sticking pretty close to Kevin. Also interesting is the gorgeous and mesmerizing woman who joins the play soon after Ellie does. What Ellie finds out about her and Mark will change her life forever.

Guardian of the Dead has a lot of Maori mythology in it. Which is fantastic because most of what I’ve been able to find on that topic has been rather dry and boring. But Ellie was what I really loved about this book. Despite the bad introduction, Ellie’s probably one of my favorite heroines that I’ve seen in a young adult novel. She’s been making some bad choices but that’s mainly because she’s still reeling from the “Cancer Year”, the year her mother had cancer and went through chemotherapy. She’s in a new school and a new city (her parents have taken some time off to travel the world since her mother has recovered, hence the boarding school). She’s tall. She’s also a little fat. Not obese, just the slight pudginess that comes from a former athlete who’s no longer doing much (I can relate). She makes bad decisions and she makes really, really good decisions. She’s a normal person.

Guardian of the Dead is creepy, funny, interesting, and fantastical. Highly recommended.

Icelandic Elf School

Apparently Iceland is serious about their elves.

Reykjavik is home to Alfaskolinn- Elfschool. This is a 22 year old institution that teaches people (locals and tourists) about Icelandic mythology, particularly elves. And judging from the official website, the classes are taught from the viewpoint that elves are real. Like, really real. This has just made the top of the list of places to visit if I ever make it to Iceland (someday, hopefully!).

Although, I have to admit, part of me is a little creeped out. I took a course on Irish history in college and one of the required books was The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story– a fascinating book that described the burning of a woman in 1895 after her family thought her a changeling. Highly recommended and it’s probably available at your library.

I first found out about this at io9. There’s also more information at the Atlas Obscura website.

After Earth

Final total for The Hobbit viewings: 3. Twice in 2D and once in HFR 3D. There were some pretty interesting trailers shown, including this one (at all three viewings) for After Earth.

That’s a pretty good trailer! It certainly achieved the desired purpose since I am now looking forward to seeing it when it comes out.

A little bit about the movie:

  • It’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Hm, ok. Shyamalan’s only real good movie was The Sixth Sense and his past few movies have been pretty awful. Will this movie break his bad streak? Let’s hope so. And let’s hope that there is no crazy twist at the end.
  • Starring Will and Jaden Smith. They were adorable and fantastic in The Pursuit of Happyness and I actually loved Jaden in The Karate Kid. Will this be a repeat success?

It really looks fantastic and sounds like it could be an interesting coming of age movie in a sci-fi setting.

After Earth opens June 7. More information on the movie can be found at imdb and the official website.

What Would You Choose?

I was wasting time on pinterest the other day (a site I usually find to be a little overwhelming with the excess of wedding planning ideas that get pinned) when I ran across a pin that basically said you find yourself in front of 7 doors. They lead to Wonderland, Neverland, Hogwarts, Narnia, Middle-earth, Westeros and Camelot. Which do you choose and why?

Which got me thinking, which one would I choose?

Neverland was kicked out immediately. I’ve never read the book, the Disney movie is not my favorite, and as entertaining a movie as Hook is…meh. That story has never really ignited my imagination.

Neverland

Camelot was the next to go. While I love most of the Arthurian fiction that I’ve read (particular favorites are the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell and The Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte), I wouldn’t want to visit. Arthurian times were pretty brutal and, if you were a woman, pretty boring. The two main females in Arthurian stories are Morgan Le Fay, evil and devious, and Guinevere, who brought about the ruin of Camelot with her relationship with Lancelot. The clothes were cool though.

CamelotCastle

Next out, Wonderland. I like both the Disney version and the recent Tim Burton version. And the books were pleasantly weird and full of nonsense. But actually visit Wonderland? Could be kind of dangerous.

Wonderland

And then, Westeros. George R. R. Martin’s series is set in what is essentially the medieval era. Except with dangerous and deadly fantastical creatures like dragons and the Others thrown in just for fun. The series is amazing but this is one land I would not want to visit, especially since statistically I would end up as one of the nameless peasants, only entering the story to be raped, beaten, and/or murdered.

Westeros

So I’m left with three choices now: Hogwarts, Narnia, and Middle-earth.

I’ve written how I feel about Harry Potter before. It’s a hopelessly insulated world and while Hogwarts might be a lovely place to go visit, there are better choices available here.

Hogwarts

The next one was a bit of a struggle for me but it would have to be Narnia that’s cut out. The books make it clear that Narnia is a beautiful place with talking animals and a majestic Lion for a King. And the movies are set in New Zealand and eastern Europe with some of the most lovely landscapes I’ve ever seen on film. I think what made me decide ultimately against Narnia is that we have seen the entire history of Narnia already. And given the choice, there’s somewhere I’d rather be.

Narnia

And the winner is…Middle-earth! Although, if I’m honest, there never was much of a competition here. To visit the Shire, Gondor, Rohan, Rivendell, and Lothlorien? That would be perfection. The movies have become so entwined with the books in my mind too that visiting Middle-earth would be like visiting New Zealand and I’ve been wanting to do that for the past decade.

MiddleEarth

So what about you? Which door would you go through?

Happy New Year!

Well, the holiday season is over and it’s time to get back to posting. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the upcoming New Year! I had a fantastic Christmas; my supercool brother-in-law gave me a Hobbit notebook that he suggested I use as a travel diary when I take my (as yet unfunded and therefore undated) epic trip to New Zealand. A suggestion I have decided to take!

Just a simple post for today then, to ease my way back into writing. I ran across this article several weeks ago and put it aside to share when I found the time. Fairy tales are what make my reading world go round and Hans Christian Andersen is the first fairy tale author/collector I remember reading. I mean, I had grown up reading fairy tales but usually they were just generic mishmashes of different versions of common stories. Andersen was the first one I read of original tales.

Basically, a Danish historian has come across a short story written by Andersen when he was 18(!). Only six pages long, the story is titled “Tallow Candle”. Perhaps not as big as the German trove found earlier this year, but still exciting nonetheless. Will it be added to Andersen’s canon? Will we begin to see it in new editions of his “Collected Fairy Tales”? We’ll see!