Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wishing You A Happy Holiday...


With the holidays upon us, I wanted to wish you all a very happy holiday. May you celebrate it in warmth with those you love and may 2015 bring you and your families a year of good health, success and joy.

With holiday cheer abounding, I thought I'd share with you different images, songs and events being celebrated and sung this year around the world.

So HAPPY HANUKKAH, KWANZAA AND CHRISTMAS - I hope you enjoy my "Holiday Wishes: Mash-up" and hope you can take the time to celebrate a little of each.  Please leave your own holiday favorites and wishes in the comments.


Celebrating HANUKKAH:
As Hanukkah is the first of the holidays to occur this year (December 17-25, 2014) let's start with that.

A heads-up for any Hannukah grinches who aren't into songs, in this mash-up the first three videos are songs. The FOURTH is a very cool SCIENCE "miracle" from Israel's Technion. Enjoy:

First is a song-dance mash-up by Elliot Dvorin and the Key Tov Orchestra

Then there's Six13's Chanukah version of "Shake it Off:"

Here the Maccabeats tell us "All About That Neis (Miracle) - Hanukkah" a parody of "All About that Bass" originally performed by Meghan:

And from the Technion in Israel, a Hanukkah Message/Miracle:


Celebrating KWANZAA:
 
Sharing images for Kwanza 2014 was a bit more challenging for me as it is a community celebration from December 26-January 1.


Along with these images, I thought I'd share different community calendar events for Kwanzaa 2014:
kwanzaa Candles
Photo Credit: Kwanzaa Guide

  • Umoja=Unity,
  • Kujichagulia=Self Determination,
  • Ujima=Collect Work and Responsibility,
  • Ujamaa=Cooperative Economics,
  • Nia=Purpose,
  • Kuumba=Creativity and
  • Imani=Faith


Celebrating CHRISTMAS:
I thought I'd spread cheer with some awesome trees and decorations from around the world:

Our first stop is Paris.  Here we see an 82-foot Christmas tree, hung upside down in a shopping mall (along, of course with a light show that I wasn't able to find or link :-(  my apologies).
Giant, upside-down Christmas tree in a Paris shopping mall.(Photo: Chen Xiaowei / Xinhua / Corbis)

Our next stop is at the Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro with its 279-foot floating Christmas tree (which also holds the Guinness World Record for highest floating tree).  What's cool about this is that NOT only is it the tallest, it has some awesome lighting options:
The floating Christmas tree at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro.(Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA via Getty Images)


A 85-meter-high floating Christmas tree illuminates
Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images


A 85-meter-high floating Christmas tree illuminates
Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images

A 85-meter-high floating Christmas tree illuminates
Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images

A 85-meter-high floating Christmas tree illuminates
Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images
Amazing, isn't it.... all the same tree!


Next stop, Byblos (north of Beirut) Lebanon, where their 97-foot Christmas tree is covered with 2,500 gold-colored iron leaves.
2
Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency

And the Pitt Mall in Sydney Australia is hosting a tree made entirely of Lego pieces.
5
Photo by Dean Lewins/Eupropean PressPhoto Agency

Our next stop on our magical holiday tour is in Singapore where the tree (which from this angle looks more like a cake to me - although I mean no disrespect) features Doraemon, a Japanese manga character.
15
Edgar Su/Reuters

Our next stop... Honduras where another record was set: the world's biggest HUMAN Christmas tree that was formed last week by almost 3000 people.
The world's biggest human Christmas tree in Honduras.(Photo: Xinhua / Corbis)

And, in Sydney Australia's Pitt Mall, here's a giant Leggos Christmas Tree

Finally, we end the tour in my neighborhood (or pretty close), New York City's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I's a 90-year old tree Norway Sprice donated by Dan and Rachel Sigafoos of Hemlock Township, PA and is  decorated with 45,000 LED lights and crowned with a massive 9.5 foot Swarovski star. It will be on display through January 7, 2015.

Here's the tree in place before the lights, pomp and circumstance:
View image on Twitter
Here's the scaffolding put in place to decorate it:
View image on Twitter

 And here we see it from behind the promonade of angels (facing Fifth Avenue):
Here is how to watch the lighting of the 2014 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Getty Images
 And finally, here we see it at the gala lighting ceremony :

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

And for more, please check out over-the-top holiday links:


As always, thank you for your time and your visit.

Please leave your own holiday images, songs, links or favorites in the comments.

And...

Happy Holidays to you all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to find the Ultimate Comic/Graphic Novel Gift for 2014

With holidays and gifting approaching, I present to you some wonderful graphic novel gift choices for kids of all ages.

[Please note: many of the books are being sold by  CBLDF- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund - and are signed editions to help battle book banning.  So, not only are you giving someone special, a special gift, you're helping a great organization. Where available, I've included a link to the CBLDF offer. I have also included links to the titles that have online classroom/discussion suggestions.]

I hope these links and titles are useful, the books and stories are truly awesome:


My 2014 holiday gift favorites for kids:


Sara Varon
Young fans are probably aware of Sara Varon’s work; she’s been making great kid’s books for several years now. We have signed copies of one of her “silent” graphic novels, Bake Sale (First Second), which is perfect for beginner readers. Here's a link for signed editions through CBLDF:  http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/bk-bakesalesigned

Brother and sister team Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm have two extraordinary series of graphic novels for kids.  The first is Babymouse (Random House) about the trials and tribulations of elementary school students and teachers, as seen through the eyes of Babymouse, as spunky, lovable mouse who wrestles with popularity, quirky lockers, competition — in the school band, school play, math Olympics, and even the best birthday party ever — and more. The series has won multiple Children’s Choice awards, the 2006 Gryphon Award, the 2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, and the 2006 New York Book Show Award. 

Jennifer and Matthew Holm
Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm also have a series, Squish (Random House) about a comic book-loving, Twinkie-eating, blubbery, super-swell amoeba “kid” who wrestles with good and evil in life around him, and learns about life’s responsibilities. Note that   Squish: Game On, is available as a signed edition by Jennifer and Matthew Holm through CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/collections/signed-books/products/bk-squish-5

Jimmy Gownley's Amelia Rules! series is one of my favorites. It's an empowering, heart-warming story about Amelia Louise McBride who moves with her Mom to a small town in Pennsylvania to live with her uber-cool aunt Tanner, after her parents’ divorce.  Amelia, along with her friends Reggie, Pajamaman (or PJ), and Rhonda Bleenie (Amelia’s best frenemy) tackle all the world throws at them, with some guidance from Tanner, Amelia’s aunt, confidante, and former rock-star. Through laughs, challenges and spills, we all learn about friendship, family, about the “truths” of life, and about the joys of not taking anything too seriously – as long as there are people (as flawed as they may be) to provide support when necessary. A New York Times Bestseller, these books have also  been nominated for thirteen Eisner Awards (four nominations in 2008 alone), five Harvey Awards, and was a short list finalist for the Howard E. Day Prize in 2002. Jimmy Gownley also has a new book The Dumbest Idea Ever (Scholastic, 2014) - a memoir of his days in Catholic School and how comic books changed his life.

Raina Telgemeier has some awesome graphic novels (Scholastic Graphix): Smile, Drama, and Sisters. Smile is an autobiographical coming-of-age graphic novel memoir, Raina Telgemeier ruminates with humor and honesty on the tumultuous challenges and perils of her teen years: from the trauma of falling one night on her way home from a Girl Scout meeting severely injuring her front teeth, to dealing with boys, earthquakes and the true meaning of friendship. smilecover
 It's a New York Times bestseller; winner of the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens; winner of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, 2012; winner of the Maine Student Book Award, 2012; finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award, 2011; ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2011; Honor Book for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, 2010; Kirkus Best Book of 2010; and the New York Times Editors’ Choice, 2010. Drama is about Raina's life in her highschool Drama club, and Sisters, Telgemeier's latest volume is about her relationship with her sister. Note that Drama hardcover, signed by Raina Telgemeier is available through CBLDF at: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/collections/signed-books/products/drama-hardcover-signed-and-sketched-by-raina-telgemeier


I also LOVE, love, love  Lumberjanes (BOOM! 2014) a comic book series by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and  Brooke Allen. It is about five friends, Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley who are determined to have an awesome summer together...and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Lumberjanes has wonderfully empowering female characters, an awesome camp counselor and director, who support the gumption of the fab five friends.


A fabulous fantasy series, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic, Graphix) is another great gift choice.  It's about Emily and her brother Navin who, through extenuating circumstances, find themselves battling for the freedom of a parallel world and face mounting dangers with newfound friends. The Young Adult Library services Association named it one of Best Books for Young Adults in 2009. In 2010, it won a Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and was included in a Library Journal list of “Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers.” In 2011, it received a Young Reader’s Choice Award, and in 2013, it was ranked fourth on Goodreads’ “Best Graphic Novels for Children” list. These books received an Eisner nomination and are currently New York Times bestsellers.
rupert
Jules Feiffer

Jules Feiffer is one of the greatest living cartoonists, and we had the honor of hosting him at the Small Press Expo this year. While there, he took the time to sign copies of his children’s book, Rupert Can Dance. Mr. Feiffer is an American original, and this is a very special item. Here's a link for signed editions through CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/rupert-can-dance-signed-by-jules-feiffer
 
This year, Ben Hatke concluded his series Zita the Space Girl (series, First Second Books) - a truly awesome read.  The story and art are loads of fun and our hero, Zita is wonderfully strong, real, and warmly vulnerable.

For those who love to draw and/or tell stories: Adventures in Cartooning (First Second Books) an ongoing series by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost illustrates basic elements of catooning (for kids of all ages) while telling tales of knights, princesses, kings, dragons and faithful steeds.


For Tweens, Teens, and Older:
Nothing-cover
Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)is a graphic novel for older kids (for mature middle school or high school and older) adapted and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks from the young adult novel Voted Most Likely by Prudence Shen. It’s full of unlikely friendships and nicely nuanced characters who bend and shatter stereotypes and expectations as they discover more about themselves, their friendships, and their passions.

The Shadow Hero (First Second Books, 2014) by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew is another 2014 gem. This book is a tribute to the almost forgotten golden age comics series, The Green Turtle. The Shadow Hero, like The Green Turtle is about a crime solving hero who fights injustice, but like most masked crusading superheroes has a secret and a past.

bone
Jeff Smith
Bone by Jeff Smith is a truly classic tween graphic novel series that has influenced many of the younger graphic artists such as Kazu Kibuishi (see above).  It's about three cousins from Boneville who have lost their way and stumbled into a different world full of love, laughs and adventure. Here is a CBLDF link for  a limited number of the very cool Bone: The Great Cow Race Artist Edition. These oversized hardcovers are reprinted from the original art pages, and are absolutely beautiful. These editions are sketched and signed on CBLDF bookplates and are a very rare item. Also through CBLDF, if you are thinking something smaller, artist Jeff Smith has once again offered to PERSONALIZE editions of the Complete Bone.Here are some CBLDF links: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/bone-the-great-cow-race-artist-s-edition-signed-and-sketchedand http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/bone-one-volume-edition-personalized-by-jeff-smith



One of the best new books for younger readers (in this author’s opinion) is the dynamic and gorgeous Battling Boy (series published by First Second Books) from Artist Paul Pope. We not only have signed copies of the book, but a special gift set that comes with an exclusive embroidered patch featuring Haggard West, the greatest hero of Battling Boy’s world. Here's a link for signed editions from CBLDF http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/battling-boy-gift-set












In Real Life by Cory Doctrow and Jen is a powerful story about tolerance (or the lack thereof), and about how technology and persistence can help us overcome hateful barriers. The story centers around an Arizona teenager named Anda Bridge. Anda, inspired by a school visit from an older gamer named Liza the Organizer, joins Liza’s all-woman gamer group within Coarsegold Online, a fictional MMORPG with upward of 10 million players in the hope of meeting friends from all over the world. But things become complicated, rules somehow interfere, and Andra realizes that issues of right and wrong are not straightforward.




Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (First Second, 2014) is a strong, brilliant and moving graphic novel biography about wrestler, actor Andre the Giant.  It takes us deep into his life, into the life of championship wrestling, showing us vulnerabilities in each.  It also illustrates the terrible hardships Andre endured (both physical and emotional) because of his size, and makes us think more carefully about our own gifts and crosses to bear.  I highly recommend this book for school and recreational reading.

For additional lists and suggestions for kids please visit:



FOR ADULT FRIENDS WHO THINK THEY DON’T LIKE COMICS

Brandon Graham is one of the most unique voices on the current comics scene, and we have a nice set of items featuring signed books, and sketchbook samplers for folks who are into genre-bending work influenced by sources as varied as street art, classic manga, and trippy ’70s sci-fi. For someone who needs to see some of the more interesting work in comics. Here's a link to get a signed edition from CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/brandon-graham-gift-set
fifthbeatle 
One of the more lauded books this year is the unlikely story of Brian Epstein, a graphic novel labor of love by author Vivek Tiwary and artist Andrew Robinson. The Fifth Beatle won a wheelbarrow full of awards this year, and for the music fan in your life, we have copies signed by the author. Here's a link to get a signed edition from CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/the-fifth-beatle-personalized-by-vivek-tiwary
 
Art Spiegelman
But maybe, the best selection for this section,  is the ultimate classic and the only graphic novel to date to win a Pulitzer prize, Maus. You can probably find these in most book stores, but CBLDF is offering signed by Art Spiegelman on a bookplate he designed specifically for this volume. Here's the CBLDF link: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/gn-maus-personal


LAST BUT NOT LEAST... FOR THE EDUCATOR:


Please check out CBLDF's  collection of comics and graphic novel educational materials at:
http://cbldf.myshopify.com/collections/educational


As always, I thank you for your visit, and I wish you and your family a happy holiday season.
Please leave your own ultimate comic/graphic novel suggestions in the comments below.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Unveiling a New Shopping Experience

My daughter works for a start-up company that's been in the news a lot: Jet.com.  I thought I'd post about it to:
  •  help my daughter's fledgling company; and 
  • to get your feedback.  
From what I know and can tell - its founders are using a business plan much like Costco's to compete with Amazon - a former partner of Jet's founders. Before their official launch - they're offering insider incentives.

Special Limited Offer: Become a Jet Insider
So far, Jet has been fairly secretive about their plans and options.  BUT, as a family member of an employee, I'm a "Jet Insider" and I thought I'd let you in on how if you can be too.  As an insider we get:
  • 6 months with an option for 12 months free membership;
  • A chance to win company options:
  •  And opportunities to gain other as-yet unnamed perks.  
Like Costco, Jet.com will have a membership fee which will open opportunities for you to buy products for incredibly competitive prices.  If you'd like the free membership and other perks, here's a link to become a Jet Insider: https://jet.com/#/ji/cfbjp #sharesforshares The more people/avenues you share Jet's launch, the more you can win.

About Jet.com

Jet is an e-commerce marketplace launching in early 2015. Its founders have successfully launched other start-ups and have gotten some very serious backing for Jet.  

Jet was founded by Marc Lore, founder of Diapers.comSoap.comWag.com and other Quidsi sites. Learn more about the company on Marc's blog.

"Mr. Lore sold Quidsi, a collection of e-commerce sites most known for its Diapers.com vertical, to Amazon in 2010 for a reported sum of $545 million. Since the sale, he and his partners—one of whom was Vinit Bharara, brother of United States Attorney Preet Bharara—have been running Quidsi under the Amazon banner seeing how the e-commerce juggernaut works from behind the curtain. That mix of experience is apparently catnip to investors."

Jet raised a Series A round in 2014 from a number of trusted investors. In a round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Accel Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and MentorTech Ventures, we raised $55M of funding. We secured an additional $20M of growth capital from Western Technology Investments (WTI) and a $5M asset-backed facility from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) to bring our Series A round to a total of $80M. Read more about our Series A round here.
Mark Lore, Chief Executive, Jet.com

As reported in The Wall Street Journal,
"According to a description on New Enterprise Associates’ website, Jet will have a membership component and offer “lower prices than any other online retailer.”
What's Your Opinion
So I'm curious - what do you think?  Do you think an e-commerce company can succeed with a Costco-like business plan - where you pay an annual membership fee for specific products at the 'lowest prices'?  Would you buy bulk online the way you would at Costco? That's what they're betting.

So stay tuned, I'll let you know more as I find out  In the meantime, if you think this is worth watching, go to https://jet.com/#/ji/cfbjp #sharesforshares to become an Insider yourself and start earning perks.

As always, thanks for your visit.
Please leave your impressions of Jet.com or Costco fan or horror stories in the comments below

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Science, and Surveys on Benefits of Reading (Ebooks and Hard Copy Books)

From: detroit.cbslocal.com
Most of us already know the importance of reading for our kids, and that reading is the best indicator of success in school. But here are some more studies supporting why reading is so important for everyone whether they're in or out of school.

Reading reduces stress

A 2009 study (University of Sussex, published in The Telegraph, March 2009) found that reading (for pleasure - not work) for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%.

[Note that listening to music reduced the levels by 61%, a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54%, taking a walk lowered stress levels by 42% and playing video games reduced stress levels by 21%.] 

According to the article, psychologists believe reading helps reduce stress because while reading, we concentrate on the reading and this distraction eases the tensions in the muscles and heart. Dr. Lewis, Cognitive Neuropsychologist further notes that,
"...It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.”

Reading helps maintain the brain's grey matter

In another study which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was reported by ABCNews, elderly people who regularly read are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who don't. According to the study's main author, Dr. Robert Freidland, people who don't exercise their brains lose brain power.

 The Wall Street Journal notes another study of 300 elderly people (published by the journal Neurology) which showed that regular engagement in mentally challenging activities, including reading slowed memory loss in its participants' later years. The article, "Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress" by Jeanne Whalen (updated 9/16/2014) also notes a study published in Science where reading literary fiction was shown to help people understand others' mental states and beliefs.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/read-slowly-to-benefit-your-brain-and-cut-stress-1410823086?mod=e2tw--&cb=logged0.05918099640127339


Reading print books may help comprehension better than reading ebooks

A 2014 study led by Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger in Norway, and Jean-Luc Velay at Aix-Marseille University in France found that 25 subjects who read a short mystery story in print, retained and comprehended more than another 25 who read the story on a Kindle. While there was no significant difference between the groups along emotional measures or to questions about the the plot or setting, Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events in the story occurred. They also performed almost twice as poorly when asked to arrange 14 plot points in the correct sequence.

Source: Reading Center, University of Stavanger; CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université (via The New York Times)
Source: Reading Center, University of Stavanger; CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université (via The New York Times)

From: paidcontent.org
Analyzing their data, they believe that the brain finds it easier to make a mental map of text when it is presented via physical, tactile interaction with the book. They note that,
"Previous research has demonstrated that a mental map is particularly important if the text is long. Lengthy texts call for quicker navigation. You need to be able to leaf back and forth through different parts of the text to see, review, and comprehend relationships and contexts."
Mangen further notes that,
"... laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicate that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done...."
According to an article in The Guardian, Mangen also published a study in 2013, in which she gave 72 Norwegian 10th-graders texts to read in print or in PDF on a computer screen. Comprehension tests following the reading found that, "students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally."
 

 In "The reading Brain in the Digital Age" posted on April 11 2013, Scientific American, Ferris Jabr reports on various studies of digital versus printed text reading. Jabr, for example notes that Before 1992, most studies concluded that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper. More recent studies, however "have produced more inconsistent results."
From: blogs.msdn.com

Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that our inability to flip pates affects our sense of control and limit our sensory experience, thus reducing long term memory of the text. Studies also find that reading long sentences without links is a skill we all need, but can lose if we don't practice.

As noted in "Science has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books" Rachel Grate notes that,
"Before the Internet, the brain read in a linear fashion, taking advantage of sensory details to remember where key information was in the book by layout.
As we increasingly read on screens,  our reading habits have adapted to skim text rather than really absorb the meaning."
Grate further notes that Tufts University neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf worries that, "the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing." Wolf and others advocate a "slow reading" movement, as a way to counteract their difficulty many face making it through a book.

Slow Reading

Slow reading advocates recommend 30-45 minutes of daily reading away from the computer, ebooks, smart phones and other distractions of modern technology. These advocates site many of of the studies above noting the benefits of 'slow' low-tech reading such as stress reduction, empathy, and the ability to concentrate.

What do you think?
 
As always, thank you for your visit.
Please leave your reactions and insights in the comments below

 And, for more on reading, please visit:


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fairy Tales Truths Revealed

Fairy tales are master narratives based on folklore and legends of cultures and times long gone, and are often tweaked and watered-down versions of dark stories and historical events. Today's fairy tales have evolved from centuries-old stories that have often appeared in multiple cultures. Valerie Ogden in The True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales notes that,

"Their horrific origins, which often involve rape, incest, torture, cannibalism and other hideous occurrences, are brimming with sophisticated and brutal morality."

Definitions of what exactly fairy tales are, are as  diverse as the tales themselves.

On March 8, 1939 J.R.R.  gave a lecture titled "Fairy Stories" that was eventually adapted into his essay retitled, "On Fairy-Stories" (included in the appendix of Tales from the Perilous Realm) which explores the nature of fantasy and the cultural role of fairy tales. According to Tolkien,
"A 'fairy-story' is one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy. Faerie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic - but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power...There is one
proviso: if there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away."
Regardless of their origin or definition, many, including Maurice Sendak, Neil Gaiman and J.R.R. Tolkien insist that fairy tales aren't inherently for children, although modern versions are often tweaked and relegated to them.

These tales (and others long lost) were told or enacted dramatically and handed down from generation to generation. Because of this, the history of their development is somewhat obscured. Scholars believe these tales have ancient roots, even older than the Arabian Nights collection (compiled circa 1500 AD). The first famous Western fairy tales, however, are believed to have been told by Aesop (6th century BCE) in ancient Greece. Most of our modern fairy tales come from two sources: Charles Perrault's Mother Goose tales and from The Grimm Brothers.

http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/2940012049209_p0_v1_s260x420.JPG

A French poet, Charles Perrault, believed by many to be the father of fairy tales, gave legitimacy to  eight well known tales (Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Blue Beard, Puss in Boots, The Fairies, Cinderella, Ricky with the Tuft, and Little Tom Thumb) in his fairy stories for children, Contes de ma mère l’oye (1697; Tales of Mother Goose).  Perrault's tales, were intended for adults because no children's literature existed at that time.  Blue Beard, for example, reads like a crime thriller. His original Cinderella, based on a true story, contains violence as well as the wicked stepsisters butcher their feet when attempting to fit the slipper the Prince had found.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm attempted to preserve the plot and characters of the tales as well as the style in which they were told. In the early 1800's Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected the often unforgiving life and stories told by central Europeans.  They were determined to preserve the Germanic oral story telling that was vanishing and so traveled and collected the folklore of that region.

So here are some of the true stories behind some of our favorite fairy tales. For more, please see The True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales (by Valerie Ogden posted at huffingtonpost.com November 5, 2014) and The Weird Truths Behind Fairy Tales by K. Thor Jensen:

From commons.wikimedia.org

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is based on the tragic life of Margarete von Waldeck, a 16th century Bavarian noblewoman, who grew up in Bad Wildungen. Margarete's brother used small children to work his copper mine.
Truths behind the story:
  • Margarete had pale white skin and raven black hair, and lived with a jealous stepmother.
  • The physical labor of the mining left many children deformed, and they were frequently referred to as dwarfs. 
  • The poison apple was offered by an old man who tainted fruits to the workers and other children because he believed they stole from him.
  • Margarete's stepmother sent her to the Brussels court to get rid of her.
  • Prince Philip II of Spain fell in love with her. His father, opposing their romance dispatched Spanish agents who poisoned her
Little Jack Horner Poster Print by Mother Goose collection (26 x 38)
Little Jack Horner Poster by The Poster Corp
Little Jack Horner matches events in the life of Bishop Richard Whiting of Glastonbury and his steward, who was perhaps named Jack Horner. When King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and dissolved its Monasteries, Glastonbury remained the sole religious home in Somerset. Whiting, bribed the King in an attempt to keep the abbey, offering him twelve Catholic manorial estates. He then hid the deeds to the estates in a pie crust. Bishop Whiting, however, was convicted of treason for serving Rome and a punishment was quartered and hung at Glastonbury Tor. His steward, absconded with the pie and the deed to the Manor of Mells where his descendants lived until the 20th century.
 
The Pied Piper of Hamelin truths:
Postcard  found at wikipedia
  • In 1264 (some say 1284) a pied piper offered to rid the Germanic village of Hamelin of its rats.
  • The elders refused to pay him for his efforts and so he enticed the village children to follow him. They never returned.
  • Some believe the Piper led Hamelin's children to join the Children's Crusade leaving for the Holy Land where they perished at sea or starved to death.


Illustration by Edmund Dulac
Cinderella may have been based on the life of Rhodopis, a greek woman whose name means "rosy-cheeked." As a young girl she was captured in Thrace around 500 BCE. The remainder of the story may follow one of two paths:
  1. She was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt where she was noticed by the Pharaoh, Ahmose II. 
  2. As a slave there was a festival she could not attend, but the god Horus, in the shape of a falcon, steals one of her slippers and drops it into the Pharaoh's lap.  When he searches for its owner, he falls in love with Rhodopis.

Little Red Riding Hood was believed to have been first told in 14th century Europe. When Perrault rewrote this tale he was serving in the court of King Louis XIV whose bisexual brother Philippe would often dress as an older woman and attend female-only salons to seduce young women.

Hansel and Gretel image found at lol-rofl.com
Hansel and Gretel - Katharina Schraderin was the inspiration for the witch in the story. Katharina was a baker in the 1600's how developed a delicious gingerbread cookie. A rival (male) baker became jealous of her success. To secure his own success, he rounded up a posse to attack her in her home and burn her to death in her own oven.

Rapunzel - is the story of Saint Barbara and dates back to the third century. A wealthy merchant living in what is now Turkey had a beautiful daughter named Barbara whom he sequestered from suitors.  When he traveled, he locked her in a tower. While it is uncertain if she grew long hair, she did turn to Christianity, which went against the pagan Rome. Upon his return, her father was ordered to behead her, which he did, but was then struck and killed by lightening.

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So much for the gruesome origins. 
For a lighter side, please visit Fractured Fairy Tales: Fun for All Ages 
In the meantime, please leave you own reflections and fairy tale favorites in the comments below.
As always, thank you for stopping by.