Tag Archives: fairy tales

Gregory Maguire’s Matchless

Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with a Christmas theme. This year, Gregory Maguire reinvents the Hans Christian Andersen classic “The Little Match Girl” for a new time and new audiences.

When it was first translated from Danish and published in England in the mid-19th century, audiences likely interpreted the Little Match Girl’s dying visions of lights and a grandmother in heaven as metaphors of religious salvation. Maguire’s new piece, entitled, “Matchless,” re-illuminates Andersen’s classic, using his storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen’s original intentions, and to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit and the continuity that links the living and the dead.

An illustrated gift edition of “Matchless” will be published by William Morrow in fall 2009.

Matchless: A Christmas Story : NPR


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In the Classroom: Writing Stories

Today, after a lengthy marinade in fairy tales and Cinderella stories (everything from the traditional Perrault to Harry Potter), my 4th graders will be starting their own stories.They’ve been thinking about them for a while, but today they will actually  begin serious planning and, perhaps, some writing.   I do have them create plans even if they end up barely using them. Sometimes a child creates a plan, begins writing, finds it doesn’t work, tries another, and sometimes several more until the muse truly hits.

Some teachers are very insistent that children outline stories and then stick to those outlines.  I don’t feel that way at all. I think the plan (not really an outline) does give them some boundaries to work within, but I absolutely don’t want those boundaries to feel constricting or in anyway compromise them as artists.  So it is a tricky balance.

Of course, I do a lot as we go along. I work with them individually (and we know and trust each other by now — hopefully!).  I do mini-lessons to get them going.  (One great source for this is Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly, by the way.)   We critique (more on this in another post), I do a lot of individual commenting, and lots more.  It is very intense, tiring for me (reading and commenting on 18 drafts is indeed), but worth it.  The final stories will be published (as we did last year) on the students’ individual blogs (which we started yesterday — they are still not open to the public though).

More, much more to come!


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Waiting for Lyra: Pullman Weighs in on the Film

My Golden Compass sets a true course – Times Online

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Neil Gaiman Time Magazine Profile

“My biggest problem with Harry Potter is that I went to an English public school and hated it,” he says. (By “public school,” the English mean what Americans mean by private school.) “I would have rather lived under the stairs.” From Lev Grossman’s Geek God.

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Cinderella Graduate Student and Other Wacky Tales

The BBC and Hat Trick Productions are currently filming a series of modernized fairy tales, similar to Shakespeare Re-Told and their updated versions of several of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. I found the earlier series to be mixed so will be curious if they are more uniformly successful with the fairy tales.

So far they have completed filming on Billy Goat, a retelling of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Evidently in this new version Billy Goat is a boy band and their manager is — surprise, surprise — a troll. “He might eat mice as snacks, but this troll knows the music business and he’s got them locked in a watertight contract.” O-kay, we shall see, we shall see.

They are currently filming Cinderella which looks more promising to me. According to the BBC press release:

Adapted by Richard Pinto and Anil Gupta (Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42), Cinderella is set inside a bustling University and asks the question; who was really responsible for the evolution of the human race – man or woman?

Now I’m quite a fan of The Kumars at No 42 and very much like stories that poke fun at university life (having grown-up as a faculty brat) so I’m hopeful. While I’m not quite sure how true it is to the familiar Cinderella most of us know (Aarne-Thompson folktale type 510A), if it is successful — I’ll be happy. (Right now it sounds a bit like one of those old thirties films with the two leads wittily battling things out — not particularly Cinderellish, but we’ll see.) Here’s a very recent interview with James Nesbitt (the prof prince).

The last two to be filmed will be Rapunzel and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Thanks to Fuse#8 for the heads-up.

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