amelia_petkova: (Default)
I've loved Katherine Briggs since I was in third grade or so, and found a copy of An Encyclopedia of Fairies on my classroom's bookshelf. Fast-forward about thirteen years, and I bought my own copy to use for an independent study in anthropology. She's written a lot of other books and if you're at all interested in Great Britain's folklore/fairy tales/creatures that go bump in the night, she's your woman.

But I never knew she wrote children's books!!! How did I not know this? I was at the library when I saw a book titled Kate Crackernuts with an author of K.M. Briggs and after a few moments of "No way, it can't be the same person" I snatched it up in my hot little hand.

Kate Crackernuts is a retelling of the fairy tale by the same name, set mostly in Scotland during the English Civil war. Katherine Lindsay is the daughter of the local laird and Kate Maxwell is the daughter of a woman living in genteel poverty. This being a fairy tale, the laird and Grizel Maxwell (Kate's mother) end up married. Grizel immediately decides to shame/harm Katharine, because she and her daughter had turned up at a party in old-fashioned dresses. (Yes, really.) She ends up putting an enchantment on Katherine that makes her believe she has a sheep's head. No, I'm not making that up. Yes, it's in the original fairy tale. Katherine and Kate immediately run off to seek safety, and to try to find a way to break the enchantment.

This book passes the Bechdel Test without breaking a sweat. Katherine and Kate are best friends and Kate is made of pure awesome. She takes care of her sister, manages to outwit her mother (even though she loves Grizel as well), get the two girls down to England on their own while searching for help, and works at breaking curses left and right. Kate is my hero.

The book does have a lot of Scottish dialect/slang in it; it's very good for accuracy and setting but can be a bit confusing if you're not familiar with it. But most of it has enough context that you can figure the meaning out. All the references to current history and politics were more troublesome, and I ended up ignoring a lot of it because I couldn't keep things straight. Yet even if you aren't familiar with Katherine Briggs, you'd be able to tell that she knows her stuff: some of the main elements in the story are witches and fairies as they would have been perceived in 17th century Scotland and England.

spoilers for very end of book )

I can't believe I've enjoyed Katherine Briggs for so long without knowing she wrote fiction as well. She wrote a second children's book called Hobbardy Dick that I haven't read yet. Both books are probably out of print but there's a good chance for finding them in libraries.

Just checked Amazon: they're setting Kate Crackernuts in paperback, so it might still be in print after all!
amelia_petkova: (Princess Bride icon)
The first time I encountered this fairy tale was when I watched The Storyteller series a few years back and it was one of my favorite episodes. More recently, I started looking through some of the Grimm tales for project research and came across the "original" version. This one is found in The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm selected by Lore Segal and Maurice Sendak, translated by Lore Segal with four tales translated by Randall Jarrell, pictures by Maurice Sendak. I...was surprised.

In this version, while Hans is in the woods he meets two kings on separate occasions who each promise to give the first thing that meets them when they return home. (And the kings only sign contracts because they believe that Hans can't read.) In both cases, this turns out to be their daughters. King #1 assures his daughter that she won't have to leave and Princess #1 is glad because she says she never would have gone. When King #2 breaks the news to his daughter, the story says that Princess #2 "promised that she would gladly go with him, when he came, for her old father's sake."

When Hans turns up to collect Princess #1, the king has left orders for Hans to be kept from the castle but Hans flies in on his giant rooster (what, doesn't everyone have a giant flying rooster?). He says that if the king doesn't knock it off, Hans will kill the king and his daughter. So Princess #1 dresses nicely and leaves with the hedgehog. But "when they had got a little ways out of town, Hans my Hedgehog took off her beautiful clothes and pricked her with his hedgehog skin till she was all bloody and said, 'This is the reward for your treachery. Go away, I don't want you,' and with that he chased her home and she was disgraced her life long."

WHAT THE HELL.

(King #2 welcomes Hans and Princess #2 marries him, they burn the skin, the enchantment is broken and they all live happily ever after, the end.)

Forget the skin, I would have chucked this Hans into the fireplace altogether. All right, so King #1 didn't keep his word. I can understand Hans being ticked off when the soldiers are shooting at him. But threatening to kill the king and his daughter? Not okay, Hans. Princess #1 has an understandable reaction when she learns that she's been given away without her consent: her father tells her that she has to go with some strange creature living in the forest and she doesn't want to go. Any of us could sympathize with that. (I suspect that "a half-hedgehog, half-man, sitting on a giant rooster while playing the bagpipes" didn't go over too well with her.) But the princess isn't the one who armed the castle and she went with Hans anyway. She had no choice in the matter but he stabbed her with his quills. Very bad, Hans. You don't deserve Princess #2.

ETA: On a stylistic note, I think that the story is more streamlined when using just one King and Princess, as they did in The Storyteller.
amelia_petkova: (Default)
I haven't been invested enough in Once Upon a Time to watch it regularly but I caught last night's episode (the one focused around "Beauty and the Beast").

During the "fairy tale world" plotline I was really amused at how much the story was based on Disney's film: the name "Belle", her fiancee is named Gaston, the yellow ball gown and blue work dresses Belle wears.

reactions with spoilers )
amelia_petkova: (Sleeping Beauty icon)
The first time I ever heard of Into the Woods was attending a production at the high school where my mother works when I was about 12 (my brother who is three years younger than me was also present). Fortunately for my parents, I was a clueless kid who didn't pick up on any of the innuendo. I don't have any memories of the production itself.

A few months ago I found a CD of the original cast recording and had fun listening to it. The other day, I found out that Netflix has a movie of the original production. My mother and I had a great time watching it. As we got farther in, she thinks her school probably performed only Act 1. (In my opinion, a production of Into the Woods using only Act 1 makes as little sense as watching only the first season of Princess Tutu.)

Some other reactions:

Can't stop laughing at the the Wolf’s costume; (besides the obvious) did the actor have trouble singing around that snout?

Bernadette Peters!

The "Agony" songs will always make me laugh.

I love this musical.
amelia_petkova: (Sleeping Beauty icon)
I may be the only person who writes The Storyteller fan fic. Granted, there isn't much material to work with as the only recurring people are the title character and the Dog.

Title: The Three Soldiers
Fandom: The Storyteller (Jim Henson TV series)
Word Count: approx. 1,500
Summary: While marching through a forest, three soldiers become lost. While looking for the way out, they find a castle with an old man and his dog.
Disclaimer: It would be wonderful if I owned the storyteller and his dog, but I don’t.
Author’s Notes: Written for the “Historical: WWII” square on my bingo card. I’ve used the John Hurt version of the Storyteller, from the European fairy tales part of the series. The three soldiers are mine, although they're more like archetypes.

these things happen when you're lost in a forest )

"Homeward"

Feb. 12th, 2010 09:45 pm
amelia_petkova: (Default)
Title: Homeward
Fandom: The Storyteller
Summary: How the Storyteller and the Dog meet. Storyteller used is the one played by John Hurt, from the fairy tales part of the series.
Disclaimer: All characters from The Storyteller belong to the Jim Henson Company

Written for [livejournal.com profile] hammerxsword from the [livejournal.com profile] help_haiti auction. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Homeward )
amelia_petkova: (Default)
Ok, I did it. I joined [livejournal.com profile] help_haiti and posted a fan fiction offering. Offering reposted here for your convenience:

User Name: [livejournal.com profile] amelia_petkova
Email address: amelia[dot]petkova[at]gmail[dot]com
You can see things I've created at: [livejournal.com profile] amelia_petkova Click on the tag "fan fiction" on the right-hand side.
I am offering: A fan fic of at least 1,000 words in any of the following fandoms:

Fandoms (if appropriate):
Books:
--The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
--The Keeper Chronicles by Tanya Huff
--The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
--The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
--The Tower at Stony Wood by Patricia A. McKillip
--Possession by A.S. Byatt
--The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
--Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle
--Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand
Music:
--The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists
Television:
--The Storyteller (Jim Henson series)

Additional Info (optional): Most of my writing tends to be genfic or humor, though I do enjoy writing in other genres (ex. AU or crossover). I don’t write lemons or noncom. As far as character relationships, I usually stick to what’s established in the canon, though I'm willing to be flexible.

Starting Bid: $5

ETA: You can find the bidding guidelines on the community's entries. I believe the auction ends on January 20.
amelia_petkova: (apple tree)
Today was going well to begin with: the internet is now hooked up in my apartment and I got to visit with my parents. At a garden shop I found a "grow-these-flower-bulbs-inside" kit for...autumn crocuses?! Since when do they bloom in autumn instead of spring? It seems there's a variety I didn't know about. Unsurprisingly, I couldn't resist Exactly a week in my new apartment and I already have three indoor plants, as well as a potted lavender on my porch.

It just kept getting better. Browsing through children's DVDs on sale, I found the packaged set of...The Storyteller! I was planning on being good and not making any unnecessary purchases this month, but I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity (and it was on sale). Actually, if I wanted to get into extreme rationalizing I could argue that any work by Jim Henson are a necessary purchase!)
amelia_petkova: (apple tree)
I'm trying to remember the name of a fairy tale and I'm wondering if you can help me out. In the story there are two sisters. The first one is kind to an old woman, so jewels and flowers will fall out of her mouth when the speaks. The second sister is rude, so snakes and toads will fall out of her mouth. As far as geography goes, I know that it's from Western Europe (probably the British Isles). I've looked through some collections of Grimm but so far, no luck. I'll try the Andrew Lang books next, if I can get my hands on them. The whole reason I'm looking is that I need to quote it for a poem.

Edited: I think I found it! It's probably the story "Toads and Diamonds" and is supposed to be in The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.

OPT 15

Jan. 22nd, 2009 08:37 pm
amelia_petkova: (Labyrinth peach)
I've seen people doing this meme and it looks like fannish fun, which is the most addictive of all.Pick up to 15 OTPs. Describe them in 15 words or less. Have your flist guess the OTP.Warning: some may be a bit obscure. Most can be found in my tags and interests lists.
Shipping ahoy! )
This was easier than I expected it to be. In fact, I had too many! (I think I love this meme.) I was surprised to realize how many are slash. Though I still wish I had been able to come up with something for The Winter Prince.
amelia_petkova: (apple tree)
Guidelines: Post 10 things you like beginning with a certain letter. I wasn't sure how you ended up getting assigned a letter, so I rummaged about in the Scrabble bag and ended up with A. (For such a "common letter," it was more difficult than I'd expected. I'm sure to remember another interest the moment I post this.)

Apples
My favorite apples to eat are those smallish, light red ones because they crunch nicely. As well as the taste, I'm interested in all the symbolism. You have the Garden of Eden, Paganism and Avalon, the name really being related to apples. Also, they have seeds and grow into such lovely trees, and everybody knows that I'm just about addicted to gardening. We had a family daytrip to Chimney Bluffs/Sodus Bay this summer and drove past enormous apple orchards on the way. We're almost technically in autumn here, so it's truly apple season now. (Don't forget about cider!)

Andersen, Hans Christian
I adore reading Andersen's stories and now wish to travel to Denmark, after reading a biography. My favorite story of his is "The Snow Queen." He was a bit more insecure than I'd like (if we knew each other I'm sure I'd often tell him to stop being so emo) but Lord, that man could write!

Andalusia
Al-Andalus. When I was in Spain our class took a three-day trip there. It wasn't long enough! We had about a day each in Seville and Granada; and only a few hours in Cordoba. Simply put, it was enchanting. As far as cities go I liked Seville more than Grananda but I couldn't get enough of the Alhambra, even though it was filled with hundreds of other tourists. Granada does have dozens of cave-like tea shops, which is where I had decent tea for the first time since getting to Spain. Cordoba was small but I think we should have been there longer. Me? Obsessed with medieval Spain? Not at all!

Anthropology
I had a minor in Anthropology in college and if they offered it as a major, I probably would have done that (even though it would be less practical than my English major). It's all about stories of people around the world, really. My crowning glory is that I was able to get away with spending an entire semester researching and writing about mermaid stories.

Academia
I've been graduated from university for about four months and I miss it already. Apart from the social aspect, we had such fun discussions in some of my English classes. It kept me improving Spanish as well. I worry about my mind getting rusty. (Not to mention missing my school's library!)

Autumn
Like I said earlier, we're almost there! I'm in love with every season as it arrives. In Autumn we have changing leaves, Samhain, apple cider, farmers markets with pumpkins, Indian corn, ghost stories, acorns, and the Robber Girl from "The Snow Queen." I shall have to live somewhere that has every season, for I would miss the changes so much.

Amber
I love amber jewelry. It has such a glow and sometimes things are frozen in it. I bought an amber ring in Istanbul (the shopkeeper literally pulled out a plastic bucket of silver-and-amber rings, and we dug through it until finding one that fit). There's a shop in Valencia specializing in Baltic amber, even though the Mediterranean and the Baltic are nowhere near each other.

Arabian Nights
There are so many translations, it's hard to decide on which to read. The story-within-a-story format is fantastic. When you think about it, the story's beginning is rather over-the-top: a man's wife cheats on him, so he decides to marry a new woman each night and kill her the following morning because no woman can be trusted. If you get a chance, watch the 2000 TV miniseries.

Atreyu
No, I'm not talking about the musical band. How can anybody not enjoy The Neverending Story? Poor Arteyu really does have an impossible journey throughout the first half of the book but he manages. And he's green! A pity they didn't go through with that in the movie.

Achren
I don't like Achren, per se, but I'm interested in her. She's one tough villian, acting superior to everything and everyone to the very end. If you ask, I'm fairy certain that Mr. Alexander based Achren on Arianrhod, and that she and Gwydion Have A Past.

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