Archive for June, 2008

We’re pleased to be able to announce now that the first issue of Les Bonnes Fees is published! It can be accessed via the “Cover Page” (web based publishing makes the idea of covers a little unclear, but we have one and we like it!). Over the next few days, we’ll be talking ore about the stories and articles in this issue, but for now – just read and enjoy.



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From the Christian Science Monitor:

Rumpelstiltskin, the fairy-tale rogue who spun straw into gold, has nothing on Miguel Yacaman and Jorge Gardea-Torresdey.

The two University of Texas researchers have developed a way to draw gold from wheat, alfalfa, or – best of all – oats.

No spinning wheel required. In this day and age, a simple solvent will suffice to turn homely vegetation into a source of precious metals.

But if you’re thinking of quitting the day job and buying an alfalfa farm, don’t be too hasty. The quantities of gold at stake won’t quickly cover the cost of a harvesting combine.

The yields, in fact, are microscopic. The gold appears as particles mere billionths of a meter wide…[more]

Not quite the stuff of fairy tales, but interesting nonetheless!

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I have never been a fan of Salman Rushdie; I find his work too overblown, too in love with itself. But, after an interview about The Enchantress of Florence–a book that sounded like a literary and historical Harry Potter–my interest sparked.

Then, during my escape to an air-conditioned coffee shop this morning (it’s 33 C as I write this), I discovered a New York Times Book Review, pages still unsmeared and just itching to be read. Within, a review of the new Rushdie book.

David Geter, The New York Times Book Review:

From the very beginning of his new novel, “The Enchantress of Florence,” Salman Rushdie plunges us into a world of marvels: “In the day’s last light the glowing lake below the palace-city looked like a sea of molten gold. … Perhaps (the traveler surmised) the fountain of eternal youth lay within the city walls — perhaps even the legendary doorway to Paradise on Earth was somewhere close at hand? But then the sun fell below the horizon, the gold sank beneath the water’s surface, and was lost. Mermaids and serpents would guard it until the return of daylight.” And sure enough, that’s where he began to lose me. I’m probably not Rushdie’s target audience: in literature, at least, I find the marvelous tedious, and the tedious — as rendered by a Beckett or a Raymond Carver or even a Kafka — marvelous. But if I can upset myself over the plight of a traveling salesman who wakes up one morning as a bug, why did this ingenious and ambitious novel — no less than a defense of the human imagination — leave me unmoved? [more]

Still interested? Read the first chapter here.

Will I still read the book? Probably. Enchantress falls within the looser bounds of fairy tale literature. But, based on the first chapter, I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

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The Bryant Park Project Book Club on NPR talked about Neil Gaiman’s “Anansi Boys” the other day (link to audio below). Anansi Boys is the tale of “Fat Charlie,” the “mundane” son of a charismatic old n’er-do-well who is also the African trickster god Anansi. When Charlie’s father dies, he is thrust into a world of spirits and powers that he wants nothing to do with, and discovers that he has a twin brother – a brother with all the charm and powers of their late father.

I read Anansi Boys a while ago – being a Neil Gaiman novel, it was on the shelves at the local comic book store with the Justice League and Iron Man for weeks after it was first published, so I could hardly miss it.

As the discussion says, Gaiman succeeds at a twofold task – capturing the magical world of Anansi and his fellow powers, but also the normal world of Fat Charlie – his sibling rivalry and relationships.

Anansi Boys is a sort of sequel to American Gods – there is no definitive statement I can find that this is the same Anansi that features in Shadow’s adventures (especially as he is dead throughout the book, except in flashbacks) – but he is very similar in personality.

NPR – Bryant Park Project Book Club [via neilgaiman.com] – Beware, spoilers abound in the discussion posts.

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Fairy Tale Fridays

Peta has her own blog, where she posts and talks about an interesting fairytale approximately each Friday. This week, we have “The Golden Bird” – I’m reposting it for Les Bonnes Fees readers consumption. She is too modest to post this herself, and she wouldn’t let me do it if she knew I was 😉

The Golden Bird is sometimes known as The Fox’s Brush, referring to the fox’s tail (see Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Stories and Tales of Elves, Goblins, and Fairies, available through GoogleBooks). This was my favourite fairy tale for a long time–I loved the wonderful images the fox’s brush brought to mind, and so very desperately wanted a fox of my own!


In times gone by there was a king who had at the back of his castle a beautiful pleasure-garden, in which stood a tree that bore golden apples. As the apples ripened they were counted, but one morning one was missing. Then the king was angry, and he ordered that watch should be kept about the tree every night. Now the king had three sons, and he sent the eldest to spend the whole night in the garden; so he watched till midnight, and then he could keep off sleep no longer, and in the morning another apple was missing. The second son had to watch the following night; but it fared no better, for when twelve o’clock had struck he went to sleep, and in the morning another apple was missing. Now came the turn of the third son to watch, and he was ready to do so; but the king had less trust in him, and believed he would acquit himself still worse than his brothers, but in the end he consented to let him try. So the young man lay down under the tree to watch, and resolved that sleep should not be master. When it struck twelve something came rushing through the air, and he saw in the moonlight a bird flying towards him, whose feathers glittered like gold. The bird perched upon the tree, and had already pecked off an apple, when the young man let fly an arrow at it. The bird flew away, but the arrow had struck its plumage, and one of its golden feathers fell to the ground: the young man picked it up, and taking it next morning to the king, told him what had happened in the night. The king called his council together, and all declared that such a feather was worth more than the whole kingdom.

read more of the story (from a Grimms Collection)

And then there’s the analysis/commentary:In the absence of overwhelming scholarship – and I’m sure there’s some around for AT 550, just not available through my regular sources – I present a comparison of a few tale types, much as I did for Suan the Guesser. The tales I’ve chosen – The Golden Bird (Grimms, most likely German), The Bird Grip (Swedish), Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Grey Wolf (Russian), The Nunda, Eater of People (Swahili), and The Greek Princess and the Young Gardener (Irish) – are an interesting collection of tales within the same type, with The Nunda, Eater of People being a good example of the variation than can exist within a given group, and The Bird Grip aptly illustrating how some tales fit within two groupings. I’ll post some links to, or versions of, these tales in the coming days.

Read more about the tale

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spent the better part of today marking up pages for Fees. I’ve never liked tweaking code, but a very fun part of making the pages is finding graphics. While trying to find an illustration, or a piece of clip art suitable for Merrie Haskell’s Rampion in the Belltower (more on this soon, and be sure to keep an eye out for Merrie talking about her experience as a carillonneur interest in carillons), I stumbled upon this site, a clipart library provided by the folks at Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse.

Of genus Amaryllis- A genus of bulbous plants, natural order amaryllidac�, with large, bright colored, lily-shaped flowers upon a stout scape—Whitney, 1902.

All the images are in the public domain, and most of them appear to come from some lovely-sounding old books. This illustration of belladonna, for instance, is from William Dwight Whitney, The Century Dictionary, an Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language (New York: The Century Co., 1902).

These images of dragonflies, too, are so pretty that I think I may be actively searching for something dragonfly related soon!

And then there’s the fairy tale art. A quick search yields 78 records for tower, while decorative letters, famous people, and literary characters each have their own category.

Fairy tale, meantime, returns 158 results, including illustrations (see below), borders, and letter art. Images are available as .gif or .tiff, and instructions on downloads and use are provided at the bottom of each page.

And finally, an image to catch your fancy on a late Tuesday night…

The Fox’s Brush

From The Brothers Grimm and Louis Rhead, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Stories and Tales of Elves, Goblins, and Fairies (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1917)

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