Tag Archives: fairies

The Land of Picture Books

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Animals talk,
Toys come to life,
Anything is possible
In the Land of Picture Books.

Fairies fly,
Mermaids swim,
Princesses dance
In their castles.
Magic happens
In the Land of Picture Books.

Witches cast spells!
Giants crunch bones!
Trolls hide under bridges!
Even fairy tale villains are real
In the Land of Picture Books.

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Thoughts On Pixar’s “Inside Out”

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A few weeks ago, I saw Pixar’s latest movie, “Inside Out.” One of the first things I noticed this movie was that Joy, the main character, an emotion inside 11-year-old Riley’s brain, is fashioned after Disney’s depiction of Tinkerbelle. Happiness means fairies! For this very special reason, Joy is my favorite character, in this movie which is rare for me. In most movies, the main character is not my favorite. I usually like villains and other side characters best. After Joy, though, my second favorite is Disgust. I love how she talks like a Valley Girl!
The beginning was nice, and I liked most of the middle, too. I loved how dreams are depicted like movies in Riley’s brain, Goofball Island and all the silly things it’s had Riley do throughout her life, and the different kinds of memories that are stored in Riley’s mind. I really liked how there’s both a Memory Dump and a storage place for Longterm Memories. Memories come and memories go, but some of them last forever.
My absolute favorite part of the movie, though, was the end. I won’t give away the end to people who haven’t seen it, but let’s just say I feel that it proves several of my most important beliefs to be true: Sometimes happiness is lost, but it can always be found again, sadness is just as important as joy, and, best of all: Childhood fantasies come and go, but joy lives on. “Inside Out” is a wonderful, creative, original movie, that proves many timeless truths in brand new ways. I think all stories should strive to combine originality with timelessness with methods such as “Inside Out’s.”

I Am Grateful For My Sense of Sight Because…

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Note: For this prompt, I felt it necessary to also write what I believe I could still do if I were blind. (I, of course, have no way of knowing for sure what I could still do, but these are my guesses).  I have incorporated all of these activities except the most important two into the reasons I am grateful for sight. The two most important activities I could still do if I were blind are read, because books come in both braille and audio form, and write, since I write on my computer, and computer keys can be in braille.  (There are also devices that say what a person is typing back to her). So, without further ado, here are the reasons I am grateful for sight:

I can see little children, so beautiful, so dainty, yet so strong.

I can do art

I can collect dolls, stuffed animals, and fairy statues, and see them displayed on my shelf

I can blog

I can watch my favorite movies

I can see trees in the forest, especially their trunks and branches, which I probably wouldn’t be able to appreciate with no sight. If I were blind, I could probably still hear the leaves whispering in the wind.  Most likely the only way I could appreciate autumn leaves if I were blind is by hearing the sound of them crunching under my feet.  Other ways I could appreciate autumn, my favorite season, if I were blind, are by feeling the cool air and smelling the changing leaves.

I can see deer, squirrels, and bears when we cross paths. These animals are usually quiet, so I might not be able to notice them if I were blind.

I can see spiders and their webs. Spiders are silent, and so are their webs.  I cannot see how I could appreciate spiders, one of my favorite animals, if I were blind.

I can maybe garden someday

I could maybe someday identify birds by both their song and their appearance. Right now all I can do is identify a few birds’ songs.

I can see all the animals at zoos and the nature center. I probably wouldn’t even be able to pet animals in a petting zoo if I were blind. I could pet dogs and cats that I know, but not less tame animals like the goats at the nature center.

What Friends Do

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With a friend, you can

Be fairies and work magic,

Fly kites,

Look at flowers,

Travel,

Put on shows.

 

With a friend,

You can goof around,

Tell silly puns,

And laugh.

 

Friends give you energy,

So you can be maniacs,

And monkey about!

But you’ll stick together

Even when it’s quiet time!

 

A friend will help

If you’re upset,

Even when it’s hard.

 

Whether itty-bitty,

Or very tall,

A friend is more precious

Than any jewel.

 

It’s nice to know,

A true friend

Will never betray you.

At the end of the day,

The week,

The month,

The year,

Your friendship will live on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making”

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The first time I read Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making, I loved it. I loved it when September first met A-L, the Wyverary, when she was bathed by the soap golem, when September, Saturday, and A-L met Calpurnia and Penny Farthing and rode the Velocipedes, when September met the Tsukumogami (100-year-old objects), and the end, when the Marquess revealed her story and September returned home.

The second time I read it, I still liked those parts. I also felt, though, that the book dragged in places, especially when it was describing a place in great detail. Sometimes I even felt I would need a break from fantasy after rereading it, but now, after reading it a second time, I want to read its sequel!

I think I know why I felt it dragged in places, though. When I first read the book, it was new and exciting. I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t until I reread it that I found it dragged in places and I sometimes got tired of reading the chapters that weren’t my favorites. For this reason, I think this book is wonderful for anybody reading it the first time. The second time it can be a little tedious, since everything in it is complicated. Almost every chapter presents the reader with new information, which can make the story very confusing, even for someone who has read it before. It is hard to remember all that information! The first time, this confusion was wonderful and entertaining; the second time, it got tedious at times. This is why I think if the children reading this book are anything like me, they will love it the first time, but it might not become their favorite that they read again and again. Not every book can be that way for everybody.

At first I thought this book was similar to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, since both are about an ordinary child exploring a fantasy world. Now that I’ve read it a second time, though, I can see that it’s more like Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, since for both of those books, the fantasy world has its own abnormal events going on that the protagonist gets involved with. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice is mostly just exploring the everyday events of Wonderland. I haven’t read L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz; I have only seen the movie (and what American hasn’t?). Please don’t give anything away about the book; I will read it. My guess is that it is similar to The Phantom Tollbooth and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making, in that the protagonist is pulled into the unusual events going on in the fantasy world. I will read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and find out.

 

Review of Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Night Fairy

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I love fantasy, and my favorite fantasy creatures by far are fairies. That’s why when I saw The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz at the library, I immediately checked it out and read it. There were parts of it I really enjoyed, but after reading the first few pages, I found that, like several other children’s fantasy novels I’ve read, this book does not take the time to develop its characters or concepts.

Flory (the title character), Skuggle the squirrel, the hummingbird, the spider, and Peregrine the bat all should have been better developed characters. When I read the part at the beginning about Flory loosing her wings, I did not feel adequately sad about that. Schlitz should have done more to introduce Flory to the reader before having her loose her wings. Flory wasn’t unlikeable or anything; she just didn’t feel like someone I had grown to like.   I felt as though I had only just met her. I love fairies, and so of course I was somewhat sad about a fairy loosing her wings, but I wanted to be sadder. In a good fantasy story, sadness over a fairy loosing her wings should be similar to sadness over a person one cares about loosing a limb. That may sound like a lot to ask, but this is not an exaggeration in how important well-developed characters are to both writers and readers.

Also, if Skuggle the squirrel had been a better-developed character, Schlitz could have given this story a much better ending, one that didn’t seem out of nowhere.  With the way the book is written, Skuggle’s reminding Flory at the end that she had promised him cherries for letting her ride him out of her house seems like a random note to end on. I think this is because it was never clear in the book what Flory’s relationship with Skuggle was, something that could have been made clearer if he and Flory had been stronger characters.  Skuggle did Flory favors for food in the story, but it was never clear whether they would become closer friends or if one of them would finally get sick of the other demanding things, and they would have an argument, go their separate ways, or even become enemies. Any of those possibilities could have made for a better ending, not to mention a more interesting story, than the book has.

Another thing I love having in fantasy stories is explanations of whole new fantasy worlds and their inhabitants. This book, I’m sorry to say, was lacking in that as well. It could have told us more about night fairies and day fairies. It probably would have needed to if Flory had met other fairies in the story, but she didn’t, which I was disappointed by.

I have heard from other readers of this book that the story is too simple, but I think it’s the characters, not the story, that should have been more complex. A simple story is fine as long as it has well-developed characters, but this story has none. Despite the book’s lacking well-developed characters, I liked the simplicity of this story. The main other thing I liked about the book was how it went into great detail on a fairy’s relationship with the natural world. In doing so, it made some very good points about both Nature and humanity, such as how all animals need to eat, so eating other animals is not an evil deed, and that humans shouldn’t expect birds to trust them even if they put feeders up for them, since humans eat chickens.

That being said, this story still would have been much better with stronger characters. I read in Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin that the main reason many publishers do not accept stories with talking animals is that many authors seem to think cuteness is enough of a personality to give a talking animal.  These authors don’t develop the talking animal’s personality beyond that. From the middle grade fantasy novels I’ve read, including this one, I’d say a similar thing is true about fantasy. Many authors seem to think a fantasy world and fanciful creatures (or talking animals, which are also prevalent in fantasy) is enough to make a story interesting. Thus, they don’t think a fantasy story needs strong characters. This is not accurate. A fantasy story needs strong characters just as much as a realistic story does. Some fantasy stories do have strongly developed characters, like Lynne Reid Banks’ The Indian in the Cupboard series, which I would like to eventually review on this blog. I really hope, though, that more authors discover the importance of developing strong characters for fantasy stories. I am currently trying to do so as an author, and someday I may even create a strong fairy character!

Krampus’ Challenge

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Krampus had his work cut out for him. It was December 5, and his list was finally complete. All the kids on it were categorized as naughty, naughtier, or naughtiest. While the naughty children were simply going to get beaten with birch rods, he would kidnap the rest and bring them to his lair in the Unseelie Court! This is what Krampus especially enjoyed and looked forward to every December. He loved kidnapping naughty children! He wished he could kidnap the nice ones, too, and force them to be naughty, for he hated sweet children even more than naughty ones! But that was not in his job description.  Like most grown-ups nowadays, Krampus could think of nothing scarier than loosing his job.
As Krampus prepared himself for his yearly journey, he thought about what was to come. Once in his domain, the naughtier children would have to work as slaves until the following December. Then Santa, Krampus’ nemesis, would come to the fiery depths of the Unseelie Court and give them a chance to change their ways.  If they chose to do so, they would go back with Santa and work for him with the elves before receiving their presents and returning home. The two naughtiest children, however, would be forced to spend an eternity working for Krampus and other demons! This was the part Krampus liked the most, gaining two eternal slaves!   By contrast, he absolutely hated giving up the naughtier children who had chosen to be good. Last year more than half of these children did! If this kept up, the demons of the Unseelie Court could start deteriorating into nothing!
Krampus tried not to think about this as he gathered up his list and sack of birch rods, flew out of his lair, and assumed the form of a prim but sinister gentleman in a black suit.  As he made his way to the first stop, Krampus heard a very strange sound. At first he thought it was Santa. Wasn’t he a little early? He wasn’t supposed to start delivering gifts until Christmas Eve, which was December 24.  Come to think of it, he didn’t sound right either. He seemed to be laughing backwards.
“Oh, oh, oh!” the strange voice called. “Oh, oh, oh!” This did not sound like the insufferably jolly Santa Claus Krampus was familiar with. No, this voice sounded much more respectably evil. Finally out of curiosity, Krampus stopped and waited. He wrinkled his nose. A foul stench was coming from the same direction as the mysterious sound. As a demon he would not have minded or even noticed a smell like that, but as a gentleman he most certainly did.
Having heard and smelled this mysterious being, Krampus tried very hard to see him. He looked in the direction the sounds and smells were coming from, but saw nothing until suddenly, the sound grew louder and the stench grew stronger! He felt movement coming towards him and tried to get out of the way, but he was too late. Krampus found himself being mauled by a team of huge, muscular, vicious deer! They were all on top of him, so at first he couldn’t even see their eyes. When he finally got a glimpse, Krampus saw that they were blazing red-hot, much like his own eyes in demon form.
Krampus quickly took this form again, for as a gentleman, he had no defense against these creatures. Once in his demon form, Krampus rose from the deer depths! He saw the person leading the deer, and expected him to flee at the sight of him, for this was a thin, bald, delicate old man, who looked like a housefly could scare him.  A
housefly maybe, but not a demonic creature! As soon as this guy saw Krampus, he smiled and leered.
“Hello there!” he said. “I was expecting you!” As this man spoke, Krampus noticed the smell was coming from both this person’s breath, which smelled strongly of cigarette smoke, and one of two sacks he was carrying. Confused, but not frightened, Krampus tried to keep his cool. He was sure, however, that this man had made a mistake.
“Oh, really?” he asked. “Well, who do you think I am?”
“I know who you are,” answered the stranger. “You’re Krampus, the Christmas demon! I don’t suppose you know me?”
Krampus was silent. There was no way he would admit to this man that he had no idea who he was. Demons were supposed to know everything!
“I will give you one minute to answer,” continued the man. “If you haven’t spoken by then, I will know you are ignorant of my identity! Tick, tock, tick, tock!”
Krampus remained silent with what he hoped was a ponderous expression on his face. Suddenly, the mysterious man spoke again.
“Time’s up!” he said. “Well, what do you know!  A mere human villain like me knows something a demon does not! Well, I guess devilish powers aren’t everything!”
“You’re a villain?” asked Krampus, his rage competing with newly-found curiosity.
“Why, of course!” answered the man. “Did you think a good guy would fly around with pain deer and a sack of trash?”
“So that’s what the smell is?” asked Krampus, though in his demonic form he could no longer smell it. He wasn’t at all surprised by what these sadistic deer were called, although he could not help acknowledging that he had never seen one before.
“Yes!” exclaimed the man. “I dump this trash in the homes of good little girls and boys! Would you like to see what’s in my other sack?”
“First tell me who you are!” challenged Krampus.
“Atnas of the South Pole,” he answered, offering his hand. Krampus refused it.     “You’re a villain, I’m a demon,” he asserted. “I think you ought to bow!”
“I think not!” Atnas spat at him. “I am here to challenge you to a duel!”
“Oh, really?” asked Krampus, quickly forgetting his curiosity about the
other sack. “So, you want to become a demon?” He knew very well that challenging a demon to a duel was the only way a villain could reach demon status.
“I,” began Atnas, slimily, “would like to gain my rightful place as Santa’s worst nightmare!”
“YOUR rightful place?” spat Krampus. “Why, you’re a feisty one, aren’t you? Stealing the rightful place of a demon?”
“I ain’t stealing,” Atnas asserted. “Santa is MY brother, and after he gained the status of a Seelie Court being and confined me to the South Pole, I want to be a demon, so I’ll have the privilege of thwarting his goal to make children happy!”
“How did he confine you to the South Pole?” asked Krampus.
“He isolated me,” Atnas replied.  “Then he had all the good fairies, angels, and nature spirits cast a spell that made me unable to escape.  The only way I could break that spell was by making a deal with the Devil to work as his slave for several years!  That’s why I couldn’t escape until now!”
Krampus was finally starting to respect this man. If he was willing to be a slave to the Devil, maybe he was capable of becoming a demon. Krampus would be fine with that, for with all these naughty children reforming, more demons were needed in the Unseelie Court. He still needed to set things straight about who had the rightful place as Santa’s worst nightmare.
“I respect your willingness to work for the Devil,” he began.  “Thus, I will help you become a demon. But only if you respect me and leave my status alone!”
“No, thank you!” spat Atnas. “I don’t want help from anybody who denies me MY rightful place!”
“Suit yourself,” said Krampus.
“I’d much rather fight you for it!” Atnas continued. “But I’m not ready yet. Give me one year. I’ll find someone to duel with who will help me gain my demonic status before the year is up. Then I’ll be ready!”
“Sure,” said Krampus. “I accept the challenge. Now will you shake on it?”     “Yes,” said Atnas. “But first, show me how to get to the Unseelie Court.”     “Alright,” said Krampus. “But promise not to fight me until you’ve reached
demonic status. You should know right away that the Devil only lets villains go demon if they play fair.” He wanted Atnas to think this was the only reason for that rule, while in reality, he did not want Atnas to sick his pain deer on him again. Secretly, Krampus believed that with a weapon like those deer, Atnas would have very little trouble becoming a demon.
After showing Atnas how to get to the Unseelie Court, Krampus went on his way, beating naughty children, collecting the naughtier ones, and carefully seeking out the naughtiest. Once he was finished, Krampus returned to the Unseelie Court, presented the naughtier and two naughtiest children to the Devil, and went back to his usual demonic deeds for the rest of the year. He saw very little of Atnas, and had no idea which demon had decided to help him.
But then, one day in November, Krampus was approached by an unrecognizable demon. He had no idea who this was until he spoke.
“It is I, Atnas,” he said. “I am ready for our duel!”
Krampus was shocked. He could not believe the frail old man he had met almost a year ago had become a demon almost as terrifying as himself! But he recovered quickly enough to make the first move.
“Suit yourself, Atnas!” he said. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with!”     The two of them dueled for a long while. Krampus was impressed by the antics of someone who hadn’t even been a demon for a year. He wondered how long ago Atnas had gained the status. Finally, as he had initially believed he would, Krampus brought Atnas down. He thought he had won until he heard a whistle and the unmistakable trampling of hooves. He looked at Atnas, expecting him to get up and control his deer, but he didn’t. For a joyful moment, Krampus relished the fact that Atnas was too weak to get up, possibly even unconscious. But then he remembered the pain deer. Soon they came and started trampling him. Down came their hooves, undoubtedly crushing some of his bones. They chomped on his flesh! Their spike-covered tails swept across his body, and their sharp antlers stabbed him! Krampus tried to fight back, but he could not. Atnas must have found a helper who knew exactly how many pain deer he needed to overtake Krampus. For the first time in a long while, Krampus was afraid, but he didn’t stop his feeble attempts at stopping the pain deer until everything went black.
Krampus did not know how long he stayed unconscious. He didn’t even know he was unconscious until he woke up to a most unpleasant sight. Fairies, angels, and beautiful nature spirits were everywhere. Standing right in the middle of these goody- goodies was Mother Nature Herself. Krampus was sure he was dreaming. He blinked his eyes, rubbed them, then opened them again, but all the good beings were still there. Seeing that he was in the Unseelie Court, Krampus wondered what they were doing here. Then he remembered Atnas. Forget these Seelie Court goody-goodies, where was the demon who had dared to overtake him? Krampus longed to get his hands on this demon and teach him a lesson, even if it meant facing the pain deer again! He looked in the direction where he had last seen Atnas, and sure enough, there he was. He didn’t seem to have moved from that spot since Krampus felled him. Ha, so there! Atnas wasn’t that strong! Krampus did not have long to relish his victory, however, for Mother Nature was approaching him.
“Freeze!” She said. Krampus did not have to stand still, for these words out of Her mouth were enough to cover him in solid ice. He couldn’t move a muscle!
Noticing Her error, Mother Nature unfroze Krampus’ ears so he could listen. He wished She would unfreeze his mouth, too, so he could tell to her to get out of the Unseelie Court and leave the demons alone.  He knew, however, that Mother Nature would only do this if She wanted to. He kept what he wanted to say to Her inside his head, and considering those thoughts, it was surprising what he heard out of Her mouth!
“You’ve done a very brave thing, Krampus,” She said. “You tried to defeat a terrible threat to me and my children. Unfortunately, you did not succeed. Atnas is still alive, and he now knows how to break his imprisonment in the South Pole. The most we can do is try to keep the Devil from helping him out of there again.”
Krampus was confused, and as with most demons, his confusion soon turned to rage. The rage heated his body and began to melt the ice. Seeing this, Mother Nature re-froze him, but unfroze his mouth so he could ask questions. Krampus knew what this meant, and he began.
“What do you mean, ‘a very brave thing’?” he asked. “I’m one of the bad guys, remember?  Why are you congratulating me? I didn’t do anything for you, Lady!” Mother Nature cringed at his rudeness, but tried very hard to contain Herself. She calmed down until She could smile again.
“You’re no enemy of mine!” She replied.
“I’m-I’m not?” asked Krampus, knowing better than to argue with Mother Nature, especially when She smiled.
“No, you’re not,” She said again, more gently this time. “You give naughty children what’s coming to them. Every time you beat them, I hope that motivates them to be better people in the coming year. As you know, when you bring naughtier children to the Unseelie Court, most of them are given the opportunity to help Santa and change their ways.”
“I know,” said Krampus, scowling.  Tthat’s my least favorite part!  I hate sending them to the North Pole! That’s a loss of valuable slave labor!”
“I know,” said Mother Nature, still very gently. “I am very sorry to hear that. I am also sorry to say that the two naughtiest children you take away each year are the least likely to change.” Mother Nature shook Her head sadly.
“Anyone’s capable of changing,” She continued. “That’s why I wish those children didn’t have to live in the Unseelie Court forever.” She sighed. “But if I hadn’t let you keep two slaves each year, you wouldn’t have accepted this job.”
“That’s right!” jeered Krampus defiantly.
“It’s a very important job,” She continued, ignoring him. “Maybe someday you’ll understand that the point of it is to improve the children of the world, not gain slave labor.”
“I wish I could say the same for Atnas’ job,” She continued, looking at Atnas for the first time since She approached Krampus. Krampus noticed that he had regained his old man form.
“Atnas doesn’t want to help naughty children change their ways,” said Mother Nature. “On the contrary, he wants to help them further their naughtiness. Did you see what was in his other sack?”
“No,” admitted Krampus, suddenly remembering he had never looked in it.
“Here, I’ll show you,” said Mother Nature. With that, She took one of two sacks from the unconscious Atnas, opened it, and showed it to him. Krampus stared at its contents, shocked.  This sack was full of blindfolds, disguises, ropes, handcuffs, and other items naughty children need to create more naughtiness.
“That’s right,” said Mother Nature, clearly seeing Krampus’ shock. “Atnas’ wish is to give bullies, brats, and other naughty children anything they need to further their naughty deeds. He hopes that if enough nice children keep getting bullied and having trash dumped in their homes, they will stop believing in Santa, Santa will stop trying to make them happy each year, and they will stop being nice.  Atnas hasn’t been able to do these evil deeds for years, and children certainly haven’t stopped believing in Santa, but if you don’t help us stop him, he just might succeed in both of those endeavors.”  Mother Nature sighed and sadly shook Her head.
Krampus didn’t know what to say. He had never thought of his work as good before, but then again, this was the first time he met a mere villain with a goal worse than his!
“I will be leaving now,” said Mother Nature. “I will give you time to think about it, for I can see you’re undecided. I sincerely hope you decide to help us, though. Come along, everybody.” With that, Mother Nature walked away, dragging the unconscious form of Atnas and followed by the other beings of the Seelie Court. Soon they all vanished, and the Unseelie Court was back to normal. Krampus was left with lots to think about, something demons are not accustomed to.

Epilogue
Alas, Krampus did not make up his mind in time. Atnas regained consciousness and escaped from the Seelie Court. Santa was able once again to confine him to the South Pole, and both he and Mother Nature are trying their best to keep him from making any more deals with the Devil.  As a demon, though, he is still able to temporarily leave the South Pole, and every summer solstice, he manages to travel to every home around the world, dumping trash in the homes of good little children and giving naughty children equipment to further their deeds. The good beings of the Seelie Court have yet to stop him, and who knows if they ever will? So next summer solstice, you had best be careful if you are a good little girl or boy, or you’ll end up with a trashed house and bullies more powerful than you can imagine!