The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 5, No 1 (2001)

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Spyglass


ThE MaD hAtTeR


BACK TO SCHOOL

It is with great delight that the MaD hAtTeR announces his departure to one of the world's great educational institutions, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The hAtTeR wants to follow the long line of those inclined to pull things out of hats and in preparation will be spending his summer immersed in the pages of Adabert Waffling's Magical Theory and The Standard Book of Spells by Miranda Goshawk. The hAtTeR has even been pre-sorted and is a member of Ravenclaw House!!! Being accepted to Hogwarts is no longer quite as exclusive as it might once have been - not with the Harry Potter movie coming out this fall. No, anyone can become a Hogwarts student!!! Even a hAtTeR!!! Just go to the official web site for the official Harry Potter movie site. Not only can you, like the hAtTeR, become a Hogwarts student, but you can get sorted by the sorting hat and find out what kind of wand you'll need to complete your magical training. Not having a fast enough modem, the hAtTeR is still waiting for his magic wand, but fall term doesn't start until November so he's trying not to be too impatient.

SILVER SCREEN

And talking about movies, the hAtTeR has been seeking rumours here, there and everywhere to find out what famous (and infamous) children's books are being adapted to the screen this fall. Now after the decidedly poor adaptation of Stuart Little for the big screen (what, the hAtTeR wants to know, did that film have to do with E.B. White's classic!!!), and The Lord of the Rings set to open in neck-in-neck competition with Harry Potter, the hAtTeR has recently heard that Tuck Everlasting is next on the block with William Hurt and Sissy Spacek as the Tucks and Ben Kingsley as the Man in the Yellow Suit. Meanwhile, Irish bestseller Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer is in the can as is Philip Pullman's I Was A Rat, transformed, or so the hAtTeR has heard, into Cinderella and Me in a joint Canadian-U.K. production that stars Tom Conti, Brenda Fricker, Edward Fox, Don McKellar, Ned Beatty and Sheila McCarthy. Whatever's next, the hAtTeR wonders? Keep your eye on Spyglass and you'll find out!!!

TRAVELLING MAN

The hAtTeR has been spending his summer touring the world seeking out theme parks inspired by great children's books. He's visited Muumimaailma Oy in Finland, Parco di Pinocchio in Italy, Parc Astérix in France, El faro del Fin del Mundo based on the Jules Verne classic in Argentina and Green Gables on Prince Edward Island in Canada, The Children's Museum in New Haven Connecticut where the "great green room" from Goodnight Moon has been reproduced, and Metreon Attractions with the biggest storybook ever built based on Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are in San Francisco. The hAtTeR has also heard that there's an Eric Carle Museum opening next year in Northampton, MA of all places! As well as Carle's work, the hAtTeR has heard rumours that there is also to be a grand exhibition to mark the opening with original illustrations from the likes of Maurice Sendak, Lucy Cousins, Mitsumasa Anno, Jane Dyer, Petra Mathers, Leo and Diane Dillon, Lisbeth Zwerger and Chris Van Allsburg. hAtTeR Heads-up! Franklin the Turtle, one of the superstars of contemporary Canadian children's books, is getting a theme park of his own on the Toronto Islands that will focus on Franklin and his animal friends and the environment - it's the hAtTeR's belief that you never let kids just have fun if you can get a message in there as well!

NOW YOU SEE HER, NOW YOU DON'T

Talking about magic and transformations, the hAtTeR has learned that acclaimed Canadian YA novelist Martha Brooks has just released her first jazz CD, Change of Heart, in collaboration with jazz composer and pianist Knut Haugsoen, bassist Steve Hamilton and Kelly Marques on drums/percussion. Change of Heart includes six jazz standards as well as five contemporary pieces composed by Haugsoen with lyrics by Brooks.

Imagine the hAtTeR's surprise when he learned that Brooks has been singing jazz since she was four years old and that she developed a classically trained coloratura soprano voice in her teens which, later, Winnipeg jazz legend Jimmy King joyfully helped her ruin, "by bringing the whole thing from the attic to the basement."

In the past six years Martha has been performing in Winnipeg and gigging regularly at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre's La Foyer, The Storm Restaurant, and the Sheraton Hotel's Windows Lounge. For the past four years, her trio has been the house band at McNally Robinson's Cafe au Livre. For those who have enjoyed Brooks' lyrical fictions, the hAtTeR highly recommends spinning this fabulous CD!

NONSENSE IN NARNIA

The hAtTeR has heard from a decidedly good source that there's a call to arms being heard today in Narnia. Apparently HarperCollins, publishers of The Chronicles of Narnia series announced earlier this year that they're going to re-package the books removing any hint of Christian imagery and theology with which, the eminent publisher is afraid, they're tainted. The move has elicited outcries from the general public, C.S. Lewis fans, scholars and the children's literature community. Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, who with his brother David, owns the copyright to Lewis's works, asked on an electronic forum for Lewis fans, "What is wrong with trying to get people outside Christianity to read the Narnian chronicles?", adding that the "surest way to keep secularists and their children from reading [The Chronicles of Narnia] is...to firmly link Narnia with modern evangelical Christianity." Gresham is most concerned that the Narnia books aren't relegated to the Christian or Religious section of bookstores. The hAtTeR didn't realize that only Christians read the Narnia books, being Church of England himself, and that the copies he's seen in the children's sections in bookstores throughout North America had been shelved incorrectly. What's next, wonders the hAtTeR? Since we all know that stuffed animals don't really talk, there'll have to be a re-write of the Pooh books with all the dialogue coming directly from Christopher Robin and, please, get rid of Mr. Toad who has a country house and a motorcar. And who, the hAtTeR wants to know, still believes in fairies, other than those silly enough to fall victim to a roving production of Peter Pan? The hAtTeR wants readers to know that he for one has pots of hot tea at the ready to aid his Narnia cousins in their moment of need!

RAISING A GLASS

The hAtTeR wants to raise a glass of the very finest vintage Moominwine - at least he hopes he can find a bottle somewhere - to the late great Tove Jansson who so enriched children's literature with her most marvellous Moomins. The hAtTeR takes off his hat in memory of Ms. Jansson, American children's illustrator Fred Marcellino as well as the late great Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler who gave children's literature the Jacob Two-Two trio!

NEWS FLASH

The hAtTeR has learned from The Independent newspaper in London that Penguin books who own the copyright to Beatrix Potter are changing the illustrations to Peter Rabbit. Apparently the "new" illustrations will give Peter bigger eyes as well as being more colourful (all those bland Potter colours must be a problem for young eyes) and with cleaner and more distinctive lines. The hAtTeR is now accepting offers from kind souls with tea-tables that need unusual guests - after all, if Penguin is tinkering with the Sainted Beatrix, isn't it likely that Alice will be next?!!!


Have you got something you want to share among friends? Something you might not want just anyone to know? Contact me, the MaD hAtTeR . I promise to be really discreet and it'll be for my eyes only!

 


Volume 5, Issue 1, The Looking Glass, 2001

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680