My Little-earth is a community project of The Middle-earth Network that is dedicated to bringing to life classic fantasy literature for children of all ages and their families through both print and the dramatized audiobook medium.
Their first audio work is a great little novel that I just read a couple of months ago: George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin. The tale of a brave young princess, a quick-thinking miner boy, and a magical woman who spins magical thread of spiders’ webs, this story is a beautiful, engaging read. Pub regulars have also probably heard our resident MacDonald enthusiast, Mr. Pond, mention the story at some point; it’s a great intro to the Scotsman’s fairy tales.
It’s no secret that plenty of us academic types don’t take Harry Potter very seriously. For a while, the fashion was to sneer at the saga of the Boy Who Lived as puerile and childish. Now there’s a bit of a fashion of making new critical discoveries about the series, which John Granger made ten years ago.
So now, amid all the buzz and excitement surrounding the movie, as fourteen years of memories and squabbles and adventures come sweeping over us again, it’s a delight to discover a leading academic taking Harry Potter seriously.
Do you remember the first time as a child that you read a story that fascinated you? A book that caught your imagination and took you out of yourself, out of your chair, into another world? And when at last you reluctantly put the story aside, you could hardly believe any time had passed.
For me, that story was by George MacDonald. He’s not as well known now as he should be, but George MacDonald was a Scot who wrote poems and novels and sermons and some of the finest children’s stories of the 19th century. The stories I found first were his fairy tales.
When I say ‘fairy tales,’ I don’t mean the usual handsome-prince-saves-helpless-princess tales we usually see these days. I mean fairy tales that strange and haunting and amazing and, to use the Scots, unco.
Stories like ‘The Day Boy and the Night Girl,’ about a witch who wants to create the perfect, masculine boy and the perfect, feminine girl. So she raises a boy who never sees the dark, and a girl who never sees the light. And the story is about what happens when the Night Girl sees the Day Boy sees the dark for the first time, and what happens when they meet each other.
Stories like ‘The Wow ‘o Rivven,’ about an old man with mental illness, and the young woman who becomes his friend—how she learns how to listen to the great bell in the ruined church, and how she begins to realise that the bell is calling to her.
Stories like ‘The Shadows,’ full of strange, shadow-creatures that visit Ralph Rinkelmann—a humorist and poet who also happens to be the King of Fairyland.
For me, two very important events happened yesterday and today. Yesterday, November 22, 1963, C.S. Lewis died, his death being overshadowed by the assasination of John F. Kennedy. Aldous Huxley also died that day too. Lewis is well known for his Chronicles of Narnia books and also for his Christian apologetical works, even giving a series of radio lectures during World War II which would later form the book Mere Christianity. Among many works, Lewis also wrote science fiction, The Space Trilogy, and also, what I consider to be his best work, Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Continue reading →
The Scotsman reports the results of a Penguin Group poll on the scariest villains in children’s literature. They are:
1 White Witch (The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – 1950)
2 Captain Hook (Peter Pan by JM Barrie – 1904)
3 The Grand High Witch (The Witches by Roald Dahl – 1983)
4 Wicked Stepmother (Snow White by Brothers Grimm – 1810)
5 Cruella De Vil (The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith – 1956)
6 Voldemort (Harry Potter books by JK Rowling – 1997)
7 The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming – from the 1968 film. Not the original book)
8 Miss Trunchbull (Matilda by Roald Dahl – 1988)
9 The Wolf (Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm – 1810)
10 Long John Silver (Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – 1883)