Search results: fairy tales
Fairy tales are as relevant today as ever, says Jack Zipes, a means of communicating about serious problems such as the abandonment of children or the self-sacrifice traditionally expected of women. He picks the best books to help us reflect on the meaning and significance of fairy tales.
Fairy tales are multi-layered, laden with multiple meanings and uncomfortable truths. Cornelia Funke, multi-award winning writer of imaginative fiction for children and young adults, discusses why fairy tales continue to fascinate her and her young readers, and why you need a deft hand to create convincing new fiction from fairy tales.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Anthology of Magical Tales Edited by Jack Zipes and illustrated by Natalie Frank
“Fairy tales are more real than we realise and more relevant for adapting to a rapidly changing world than we realise”—Jack Zipes, in our interview with him about fairy tales (as a field of study, rather than books you might read to your children…)
Alan Lee, illustrator of such classics as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, talks to Five Books about his favourite stories drawn from myth and fairy tale, what they mean to him, and how important it is for young readers today to experience these ancient stories.
The book came at a time when the political difficulties stimulated him to develop a notion of hope that was to offset the terrible wars that had been going on. In this book he also, surprisingly, deals with fairy tales and popular culture. He felt that fairy tales and popular culture had traces of hope that made them really important and relevant to the lives of the majority of the people.
‘It’s a long time since ogres have seemed so absolutely real,’ says Marina Warner, author and long-time scholar of fairy tales. Which makes now as good a time as any to immerse ourselves in the twisted truths of the fairy tale realm, with Warner’s selection of the best books of, or about, other-worldly tales of mischief and subversion, dreams and laughter, ‘hope against hope’
These tales were a big influence on me when growing up in Germany. Some of the enduring themes treated there in deceptively simple matter-of-fact language are the beautiful child asleep in a glass case. I see this as the kind of image that fits the beginnings of the descriptions of autism. The idea of what might be going on inside someone if they can only be woken up. It is a completely false image but a very strong image – to think there is some real chance that you can, maybe with some magic cure, awaken this child inside.
Adorno helped me to understand to what extent, say, Walt Disney’s fairy tales, which began in the 1930s, influenced society. I am not just talking about the fairy tales but also about the films, books and all the merchandise that went with them. Disney’s products are filled with stereotypical passive women and men as active, daring heroes. And by applying his notion of the cultural history I have been able to explore and analyse what a serious effect Disney stereotypes have had on our attitudes and dispositions regarding gender.
His style was so unusual that it had a profound influence on a lot of writers in the 19th and 20th centuries. I would say he was the founder of magic realism. I think he also paved the ground for existentialism because he believed there was no God, and he proposed that we are all artists of our own lives and that many of the stories to do with God are fairy tales.
“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?” Eight-year-old Helen feels the same. Here she tells us why reading graphic novels is fun, relaxing and definitely not for babies – and recommends her current five favourites.
This book was the first of autobiographical accounts I read about a family’s intimate experience of autism in one of their members. This is about an enchanting, classically autistic child, who displayed all the deeply puzzling features that have fascinated me. Almost a fairy tale in itself, with a rightly optimistic message to other parents. Learning happens even when severe learning disability is present, and autistic individuals can make amazing progress – without becoming ‘normal’.
Fairy tales and stories of courage and survival can help children understand that although there are injustices in the world there are ways in which they can make a difference – however small. The award-winning author Beverley Naidoo recommends five great books in which kindness triumphs over adversity.
Elves are often misunderstood or misrepresented over the Christmas period – Christmas cracker jokes have never been kind to these tiny heroes of the festive season. Here Igreth the Elf, great-great-great-grandson of Ilbereth the Elf, sets the record straight and introduces five children’s books that celebrate the extraordinary contribution these diminutive creatures make to Christmas itself.
When it was published on December 19th, 1843, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was an instant classic. As families settle in front of the fire to read it aloud on Christmas Eve, Oxford Professor of English Literature Robert Douglas-Fairhurst runs through the best of Dickens’s prolific writings about Christmas.
Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but what happens when the horses are spooked and the whole procession is run off the road? Katie Kitamura, whose new novel A Separation charts the disastrous—and tragic—failure of a marriage, considers some of literature’s most heartfelt accounts of relationship failure
Acclaimed poet, Joseph Coelho, recommends five of the best kids’ books that celebrate the magical bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. Positive intergenerational relationships have very real health benefits for the whole family! So get yourself settled on a comfy chair with a grandchild and take some time to enjoy sharing these delightful stories.
Award-winning author and illustrator Neal Layton is passionate about the natural world—especially trees. Among his five recommendations are trees that provide raw materials for building, food and profit; trees that are perfect for climbing; lofty enchanted trees full of adventure; and small yet perfect Christmas trees. Each has a story to tell.
Oscar Wilde cultivated an image of himself as an idle genius, dashing off masterpieces with a lazy brilliance. But below the glittering linguistic surface of his works, suggests Sos Eltis, lies an anarchic politics and a phenomenal analysis of power.
Robert Chandler, one of the best known translators of Russian literature, recommends some of his favourite tales of Soviet Russia. There’s the one about a dog in space and the one about the Soviet café which stocked nothing but champagne and Mars bars…
This book is another must for anyone wanting to understand the mindset of rural Ireland. It consists of tiny tales told by Irish speakers in Donegal about fairies and magical animals like hares and ghost horses, of how fairy houses could be found at certain moments of the year on the hills, or how a lullaby, or a baby, could be stolen. NB- Not available Via Amazon
While researching Maoism, China expert Julia Lovell battled against two incorrect assumptions: “firstly that Maoism is a story of China; and secondly that Maoism is a story of the past.” Here she recommends five books for coming to grips with the global, still-relevant impact of Maoism.
Just as no one can study political science without a basic understanding of human history, or study a modern animal without a basic understanding of evolution, so no one can understand climate change without understanding the Earth’s history, argues the Princeton geology professor.
The Russian revolution was the beginning of the modern age, says award-winning author Roland Chambers. He tells us what Solzhenitsyn imagined Lenin was like, and about the children’s author who led a double life as a spy in Bolshevik Russia.