Friday, January 24, 2014

The Snow Queen

I haven't seen the movie Frozen yet.  Charlotte has and loved it- she's 5, so of course!  I know Disney always changes the fairy tales and this one doesn't even remotely resemble Andersen's classic.  Which is too bad since Madeleine and I have always said that the story of a young girl, "Gerda" facing danger and meeting all sorts of magical adventures to save her friend, "Kai" would make a good children's movie, and a nice departure from the "princess" stories.

We have the original story by Anderson which was mailed to Madeleine by her friend Hayley years ago.  How fun to have a book sent to you this way!

 The Snow Queen and Other Tales
Hans Christian Andersen
A Greeting Card Book 1969

Gerda and Kai are children, and the best of friends.  But one day Kai hitches his sled to the back of the Snow Queen's sleigh and in no time he is wisked away from his home, forgetting all about Gerda.  Gerda then goes in search of her playmate.  She gets help from the river and flowers and animals, she meets an old woman who tries to keep her as her own and a young prince and princess who aid her in her search.  At one point a band of robbers captures her and she is saved and befriended by a little robber-maid.  Off on a reindeer she heads to the most northern place to find the Snow Queen's palace.  When she finally finds Kai, he is like ice and only Gerda's love and kisses melt his heart and bring him back. 

 The Snow Queen
Hans Christian Andersen
translated by Marlee Alex
Illustrated by Uwe Hantsch 1988
We also have an illustrated version that uses the story as a basis for teaching biblical values.  There is a "study key" in the back that applies scripture verses to the themes of the story.  And the introduction writes:  "From his early childhood in the town of Odense, Denmark, until his death in Copenhagen, Hans Christian Andersen had a valid Christian faith that manifested itself in many of the approximately 150 stores and tales he wrote.  In one of them, he said:  'In every human life, whether poor or great, there is an invisible thread that shows we belong to God.'  The thread in Andersen's stories is one of optimism which has given hope and inspiration to people all over the world."

I just think the pictures in this edition are pretty wild!

Eileen Kernaghan 2000

In the Young Adult genre is Eileen Kernaghan's retelling of the Snow Queen.  She does a wonderful job of really developing Gerda's character and building a story with the robber-girl that she befriends (Kernaghan names her "Rivka").   And the story becomes about the angst of growing up and finding out who you are, what you are capable of.  It's a bit different in spirit from the original, but still retains the magic and fantasy of the story.  I really loved it and have been trying to get Madeleine to read it because I think she would too.   

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Owl Moon

This was one of the first loved books in the Marlowe household.  It came in the mail when Madeleine and Henry were toddlers and our book collection was just starting out.  I have always loved the sparse poetic words, which I read slow and soft.

Jane Yolen
illustrated by John Schoenherr 1987

In our own backyard we have an owl, and sometimes late at night, in the tiny upstairs bathroom, you can hear it calling.  I can't explain it, but the sound of an owl, like a far-off train whistle, is at once the most melancholy and comforting of sounds.  In Owl Moon, a nameless father and daughter go out into the snowy woods.  It's cold and quiet while they are calling for an owl.

We walked on. 
I could feel the cold,
as if someone's icy hand
was palm-down on my back.
And my nose
and the tops of my cheeks 
felt cold and hot
at the same time.
But I never said a word.
If you go owling
you have to be quiet
and make your own heat. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Once Upon a Memory

Nina Laden
illustrated by Renata Liwska 2013

This was a new Christmas present book for us.  The pictures are so sweet (the same illustrator did the The Quiet Book- which hasn't made it on here yet) and I just love the poetic, reflective language.  Sometimes the most simplest of words or thoughts can be the most beautifully profound.


Thursday, January 16, 2014


Sometimes we like to read about a little French mouse who is the official  cheese tester in M'sieu Duval's cheese factory...

Eve Titus
pictures by Paul Galdone 2010

 Anatole lives outside of Paris with his mouse family.  Secretly he becomes the cheese tester for M'sieu Duval (since, he reasons, mice are the best judges of cheese).  Every night he would taste the cheese and leave a note regarding it's quality.  In no time M'sieu Duval offers Anatole a job and he is happy to be an honorable "businessmouse".

There are other books about Anatole's adventures.  The second book we have, "Anatole and the Thirty Thieves" tells the story of Anatole and his partner Gaston thwarting a band of robbers who have stolen all the cheese from M'sieu Duval's factory.  Since his identity is still a secret and no one suspects that he is a mouse, Anatole is able to move undetected and discover the robbers' plot.

Eve Titus
pictures by Paul Galdone 1990