True confession time: for how many of you is December 25 not just Christmas, but Into the Woods release day?! I’m so excited to see how the new Disney version compares with the old one I watched so many times on video. Before I ever took a literature class or heard the term “fractured fairytale,” I was amazed at this story which used the common theme of venturing “into the woods” to connect so many familiar stories together using a single setting. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, take a look:
Superfans have probably already heard Anna Kendrick sing Steps of the Palace and seen Johnny Depp’s Wolf interview. With so many actors that teens know and love, and the Disney name to boot, it’s a sure bet that this Sondheim musical is going to pique the curiosity of teen readers. Remember, too, that today’s teens have grown up steeped in middle-grade fairytale mashup worlds. We’ll soon need a meta-Into The Woods just so the characters from The Land of Stories, Sisters Grimm, Ever After High, and Fablehaven can meet up and commiserate about what it’s like to live in all these blended tales. Even the Dork Diaries series got in on the fun with Tales from a Not-So-Happily-Ever-After. And of course, the TV shows Grimm and Once Upon A Time (not to mention the movie version of Shrek) have only fueled the renewed interest in fairy tales. Continue reading The Woods Are Just Trees; The Trees Are Just Wood: Counting Down to “Into the Woods”
Over the past several years, Scandinavian and Scandinavian-influenced culture seems to be popping up everywhere. We’ve seen this during the past six to eight years in the popularity of authors such as the Swedish Stieg Larsson, who wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and the Norwegian Jo NesbÃ¸, who writes the Harry Hole series. Over the past few years you or someone you know has definitely played â€œAngry Birds,â€ a game app created by Finnish company Rovio Entertainment. (I admit that I myself facilitated an â€œAngry Birdsâ€ pom-pom craft at my library.) Recently, the movie Frozen, based in part on 19th century Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Snow Queen, took over the box office. To bring it back to young adult literature, the 2014 Printz Award and a Printz Honor went to two novels with Scandinavian settings, respectively Midwinterblood by the British writer Marcus Sedgwick and The Kingdom of Little Wounds by American Susann Cokal.
So this all inspired me to find out what’s been written in the past few years by Scandinavian YA authors. Read on for a sampling of recent popular and award-winning titles â€“ feel free to serve yourself!
Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings (sometimes written as â€œErlingsson’) is the story of Henry, a teen who stutters, has a clubfoot and is almost illiterate. A growing rage has also developed inside him and one day he lashes out physically at his mother. As a result, he’s sent to live at the â€œHome of Lesser Brethren,â€ a farm on a lava field on the Icelandic coast. Henry finds that he really enjoys working with the animals there, and this along with the compassion of the wife of the reverend who runs the farm somewhat lessens the difficulty of his new environment. Henry’s desperate desire to make friends affects his actions, sometimes for the worse, but sometimes for the better, such as when he becomes interested in reading and writing. This novel is based on the author’s actual relationship with the real Henry. Continue reading A Small Smorgasbord of Scandinavian YA Lit
I always thought Maleficent was the scariest and the most fascinating of all the Disney villains. So from the moment I saw the first trailer at Catching Fire back in November, I was thrilled that she was getting her own movie. It turned out to be so much more than I expected.
In recent years, Disney has made a refreshing departure from their standard princess movie to a new generation of tough heroines like Merida and Elsa, who determine their own destinies, fight their own battles, and want more out of life than to marry a prince. (If you have not read it yet, you should really check out Hannah Gomez’s Hub review of Frozen.) In Enchanted, we even saw Disney poke fun at some of its own tropes before sort of reinforcing them. Maleficent goes a step beyond to do something it has never done before. It takes one of those classic princess movies and turns it on its head, not just by telling the story from the perspective of the villain, but by putting ALL the power in the hands of the women.
It is almost impossible to write about the themes of this movie without being spoilery, but I am going to try. Even if you have a Disney-obsessed seven-year-old in your house like I do and have seen all the extended sneak peaks on the Disney Channel, you probably have not seen much that deviates from the 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty. And I am going to try to honor that because I really want everyone to go see it and be surprisedâ€¦and delighted, and terrified, and maybe even moved to tears. Continue reading It’s Good to Be Bad: Maleficent