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Picturebook Study: Wolf Comes To Town by Denis Manton

Wolf Comes To Town Cover

Wolf Comes To Town must be one of the most underrated children’s book on the Internet. I was genuinely astonished to check out what others have said about this picturebook on Amazon and Goodreads. Both sites show a 1.5 star average rating at time of writing. Can you guess what reviewers don’t like about this book?

A. The story is poorly written and edited.

B. The illustrations are amateurish.

C. Not suitable for children due to the main character behaving badly and not going punished.

 

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Short Story Study: Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood Well Loved Tales

The history of this story is summed up neatly by Angela Slatter:

It’s been an interesting journey for Little Red Riding Hood. She started life in a tribal tale about a girl who outsmarts a wolf – all on her own, no outside help. A few centuries later, she gets a red cap, loses about twenty IQ points and gets eaten by a transvestite wolf. Add another hundred or so years, the cap becomes a hood, she loses a few more brain credits, gets molested, and then eaten by the same cross-dressing wolf but is rescued by a big, strong man and learns never to disobey the rules again. Adding insult to injury, in the 40s Tex Avery turned her into a stripper. Bruno Bettelheim looked at Gustave Dore’s 1867 Little Red Riding Hood illustrations and saw dirty pictures – Little Red in bed with the wolf, giving him the eye. A red leather-jacketed Reese Witherspoon (oh, puhleeez!) played her in an Eighties film version, Freeway, in which a friendly neighbourhood serial killer fulfils the role of the wolf. Just when you thought it was all over, Angela Carter came along, reclaimed her and set her free.

 

The following are notes from:

  • The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood by Jack Zipes
  • Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked by Catherine Orenstein
  • Deconstructing The Hero by Marjery Hourihan

 

Various Versions and Intended Audience

LRRH wasn’t always a children’s story. It’s a truth seldom acknowledged that fairy tales used to be for everyone. It’s anachronistic to even speak of ‘the child’ before a certain point in history, because the concept did not exist. There were babies, then there were people, sent out to work at the earliest opportunity.

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Some Picturebooks With Bears In

Perhaps you know a little person who absolutely love bears. I know one of those.  She loves stories about bears. Fortunately they are in no short supply. Here are some we have read lately.

THE GREAT BEAR BY LIBBY GLEESON

In this story, a bear is kept in a cage to perform tricks and basically be an exhibit. But one night the bear escapes, scares away the villagers and climbs up a pole into the sky, and flies away.

The message is obviously one about keeping animals in captivity (don’t), and I wonder if there are bigger themes in here as well, about reaching for the sky.

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Literary Dogs

I almost always hate when pets are described in books. Unless they’re like Vincent from Lost & integral to plot, I prefer to ignore them. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up w/ pets, but I mean – everyone likes their pet & they’re all the same, so why bother pointing them out? It’s like “flowers are pretty” or “babies love their mother.” It can go w/out saying. Pets are either annoying or cute. Not a lot going on. People who had pets: I know you disagree w/ me. Stop yelling :) Like I said, I didn’t have them. Pets = background furniture to me. Whatevs!

– @sarahlapolla

I look into the dog’s eyes. She is as stupid as a barrel of toes. Galaxies of nothing are going on in her eyes. I get up. ‘I’m going to talk to Mum,’ I explain. The dog remains under my bed, as always, deeply nervous about being a dog.

– Caitlin Moran, How To Be A Woman

Hey, dog people, of all the possible verbs you could have chosen, why do you “express” anal glands?

– @studiesincrap

Do you have a favourite literary dog?

Lady: My Life as a Bitch (2001)

Melvin Burgess, Puffin, 208pp, 978-0141310282, O/P

A funny, poignant tale about a 17-year-old girl and her relationship with sexual desire. When Sandra turns into a dog, a world of extremes opens to her. The excited fascination with sex that had led her into conflict with adults when she was a human (although it was legal) is now expected behaviour. The message is that sex can be fun but that compulsive promiscuity is not a wise lifestyle choice and even dogs might not be allowed to enjoy it for long. Thoughtful readers will enjoy the canine debate on what it means to be human, and note that Sandra is becoming “sensible” without adults’ intervention before her dog life even starts.

Ten Top Reads For Young Feminists

Other Dog Links


Picturebooks With Dogs In

My favourite dog book as a child was Shadow The Sheep Dog by Enid Blyton.

Shadow The Sheep Dog Enid Blyton Cover

// Wonderful Poodle 1949

I have not actually read the above book but it looks great.

the dog's ear book

So does this one.

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Cats In Children’s Literature

vintage book cover

the fat cat

The Fat Cat Pimpernel  Pictures by Alan Howard. ......... If this was "The Fat Cat Jelly-Roll" it would be PUURRRFECT :D

retro puss in boots cover

What were your favourite childhood books? Were any of them about cats? Mine was Katie the Kitten, a miniature version of a Little Golden Book. Honestly, I think it was the smaller size of the book that attracted me to it, as I was obsessed with small things.

Katie The Kitten Little Golden Book

MORE ON CATS

Meet the delusional breeders behind the world’s crossbreed cats, from Jezebel

Catwoman with every fictional cat ever, from The Mary Sue

Book Reviews: Cat Tales from Reading Today Online

Why Cats Are Ousting Dogs In Literature  from The Telegraph


Picturebook Study: Z Is For Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky

Z Is For Moose Cover

Z Is For Moose Back Cover

Kate de Goldi discusses Z Is For Moose on Radio New Zealand and has trouble not laughing. (This is what made me buy the book.)

There is something inherently funny about a moose. Is it the bulbous snout, or the slightly onomatopoeic name? (I’m not sure what real-world sound the word ‘moose’ makes, but it should, shouldn’t it?)

See also: Inherently Funny Animals in which the moose is still the funniest, precisely because there’s no reason for him to be.

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Monsters In Children’s Books

15 Not So Scary Books About Monsters

List from Fantastic Fun and Learning

There are a lot of picture books with the message for preschoolers: Don’t be scared of the dark. The monsters you imagine are benign. We’ll then read a book about a terrible monster under the bed who turns out to be an adorable fluffy creature who befriends the child protagonist.

Here’s what I’d like to know: Do all children imagine monsters? Or is the idea of a monster introduced by the very media designed to assuage their fears? If we were to bring up a child sans media, sans Grimm, sans terror, would that child still conjure up the worst?

I doubt anyone has managed that experiment, but I do know that for our part, the resident toddler didn’t start being afraid of the dark until she started watching more sophisticated television and listening with some comprehension to picture books.

 

The Greatest Monsters In Children’s Literature from Flavorwire

Goodreads List of Picture Books About Monsters. (Can you guess the book at number one spot?)

 

OTHER MONSTER RELATED STUFF

Why Were There So Many Giant Insects In The 1950s? from io9

Mythical Beasts and Modern Monsters from Brainpickings

This List of Legendary Creatures From Japan will open your eyes to the wonderful, wacky world of Asian mythology and folklore and you may realize Grimm Brothers’ fairytales were text bundles of joy by comparison.


Dialogue In Literature

“I’m not going to come!” he ejaculated.

“That’s the day you won the cricket match,” she chirped.

Dialogue in fiction should be reserved for the culminating moments and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore.

EDITH WHARTON

As wonderful as that quote is, for a more practical overview of dialogue mechanics, see chapter 5 of ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print’ by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers

Here is a summary:

There is plenty of room for poetic licence in fiction but when it comes to punctuating and attributing dialogue, there are rules. First, some technical terms…

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Short Story Study: The People Across The Canyon by Margaret Millar

Hear the story read by Douglass Greene at Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

This is my favourite story from the excellent collection Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives. This is partly due to how much I relate to the characters; when our daughter was 5 some new neighbours moved in next door. They were very unfriendly, but had two sons who were overly friendly. They would invite our daughter next door, but oftentimes she came back subdued, and once, crying. I never knew what happened next door, but I did learn more and more about the family, and had to stop my daughter from going over there. When you’re the parent of a child between around 4-8, it’s difficult to discern fact from fiction; children so often live in their own worlds. The People Across The Canyon encapsulates that confusion most beautifully.

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