Category Archives: books
A sweet little Christmas story for kids of about age two through six. The story itself is simple and straightforward, and I like that it incorporates the true Christmas story of Jesus’ birth. We most definitely need more kids’ Christmas books that speak of what Christmas is truly all about, or that are centered around Jesus and His love for us, as opposed to the worldly Christmas view that centers around Santa Claus. The only thing I wasn’t overly crazy about were the illustrations. I am a bit picky about illustration style, especially after having read so many children’s books in the past few years (I have a 7-year-old), and the type of artwork in this book simply isn’t a style that I gravitate toward. It is very 2-dimensional and unrealistic, with the use of a very small amount of colors. My son is a fan of all different types of illustration styles, however, and he liked the illustrations in this book, although the story itself was a bit simplistic for him now that he’s at a higher reading level. All in all, The Littlest Christmas Kitten is a great story that I would recommend for any Christian family at Christmas time, or any time during the year!
(I received a free copy of this book from BookCrash in exchange for an honest review).
To follow up yesterday’s rather fishy post, I thought I’d list some great mermaid reads! You should be able to find most of these at your public library, so dig in! (My personal favorite is Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli!).
2.) Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale (Carolyn Turgeon)
3.) The Forbidden Sea (Sheila A. Nielson)
4.) The Vicious Deep (Zoraida Cordova)
5.) Lies Beneath (Anne Greenwood Brown)
6.) Lost Voices trilogy (Sarah Porter)
7.) The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen)
8.) The Syrena Legacy series (Anna Banks)
9.) To Catch a Mermaid (Suzanne Selfors)
11.) A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World (Shirley Climo)
12.) Daughters of the Sea trilogy (Kathryn Lasky)
13.) Ingo series (Helen Dunmore)
14.) Sirena (Donna Jo Napoli)
15.) Rising (Holly Kelly)
16.) The Secret of the Emerald Sea (Heather Matthews)
17.) Water trilogy (Kara Dalkey)
18.) Antara (Marilena Mexi)
So many great fairy tales, fairy tale retellings, and fantasy books from 2013 … and too little time to read them! Heading into 2014 I am certain there will be many more to add to my list. I’ve included several here which, according to Goodreads, were some of the top reads for the year. Have you read any on the list – or maybe all of them?! Which were your favorites?
I’m privileged to be writing at a wonderful site this week called Speculative Faith. I’m talking about the deeper meaning of fairytales and fantasies, and why I think they are so effective in our minds and hearts – more so, many times, than any other type of fiction.
Head on over to read my post, here, and then stay a while and check out some of the other great articles and discussions on Spec Faith.
By now you will have heard plenty of news about J.K. Rowling’s latest project – a movie version of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The book itself, written by the fictional Newt Scamander, features more than 80 fantastical beasts and beings. Some of them, such as the pixie, the kelpie, the unicorn, the mer-people and the dragon, are well-known to even the most half-hearted fantasy fans. But there are quite a few exceptions. Here are a few fun ones.
- Puffskein: A sphere of soft ur that is fond of eating leftovers and even the occasional spider. It emits a humming sound when it is contented. Fred and George Weasley modified the Puffskein to make the Pygmy Puff.
- Jobberknoll: A speckled blue bird that never utters a peep until the moment before its death. And in that moment, it utters a long scream which consists of every sound it has ever heard – backward. Its feathers are used in Memory Charms and Truth Serums.
- Ashwinder: A thin, gray wisp with glowing red eyes that rises from embers to lay its eggs in a dark corner before it dies. It only lives about an hour.
- Bowtruckle: A twig-like creature, about the size of a person’s hand, which serves as the guardian for its home tree (which it looks very similar to!). A peaceful being, but can become violent when its tree is threatened.
- Chizpurfle: A crab-like, parasitic creature that is attracted to magic. It often attacks magical objects such as wands and cauldrons. When it can find no magic, it will resort to attacking Muggles’ electrical devices and wires.
- Glumbumble: This furry flying insect produces a treacle that induces melancholy, which can be used as an antidote to treat hysteria. It nests in dark places and feeds on nettles.
- Streeler: A giant snail which changes colors hourly. Streeler venom is one of the few things that can kill a Horklump.
- Diricawl: Muggles think of this plump, flightless bird as the extinct dodo bird. But the wizarding world knows it is not extinct – rather, it can disappear and reappear when needed as an escape method. Thus Muggles have not seen it for many years.
Many of the creatures in Rowling’s book (and upcoming movie) are ones she invented herself, although the classic fairytale beasts emerge here and there as well. If you could create a magical beast, what would it be?
Spells, enchantments, potions, charms, hexes and curses … call them what you will, they make up a huge part of both fantasy fiction and the fantastical characters many of us know and love. And though I believe the true magic lies in a well-written story and in the characters that speak to us and endure, that certainly doesn’t stop me from getting pleasure in seeing the varied ways authors and writers of books and movies have used words to express traditional magic! I hope you enjoy them as well.
The Summoning Charm
Is there anyone within a few years beyond or behind my generation who isn’t at least familiar with this one? Ok, so maybe I’m being a little fanatic. Most Harry Potter fans are. But what else can you expect from someone who instinctively calls out “Accio keys!” while searching frantically through my purse …?! Short and sweet, this one simply means “I summon.”
This is the magic law that is etched into the stone table Aslan was killed upon. It is full of power and meaning that, for me and many others, goes far beyond the fictional Narnian chronicles.
If a willing Victim that has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor’s stead, the Stone Table will crack; and even death itself would turn backwards.
Crossroads Uncrossing Spell
Earthy and timeless, these words come from Eileen Holland’s Spells for the Solitary Witch. I don’t know about you, but my somewhat dramatic imagination sees a fey creature, arms outstretched to the skies, crying out this chant.
Guardians of the North, grant me power!
Guardians of the West, send me strength!
Guardians of the South, give me energy!
Guardians of the East, know my spirit!
In the BBC miniseries, Merlin, our main character – Merlin himself! – works magic in nearly every episode. This is one of many examples that I could give – a spell of fire, which translates literally: “You are air in fire’s heat; defeat the hostile one.”
Lyft sy þe in bǽlwylm ac forhienan se wiðere!
Enter the Three Witches …
The evil of the three witches who set out to destroy Macbeth is palpable in the following lines, which are only a few taken from the much longer spell in the play by Shakespeare.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
In April or May, fashion a heart out of willowy rosemary branches. Secure your heart with a yellow ribbon – and for added strength, weave in a piece of your lover’s clothing or a strand of his or her hair. Place the charm in a white envelope, then place the envelope beneath your pillow. When the charm has worked its magic and brought the one you love closer to you, burn the rosemary heart in fire, thinking all the while of the fiery nature of your passion and love. (Taken from The Good Spell Book by Gillian Kemp).
Shield Us From Fire
Eragon spoke these words in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. They diverted fire from both him and his dragon Saphira.
Skölir nosu fra brisingr!
Rush, Waters of Bruinen
Arwen turns to her pursuers, the Ring Wraiths, and utters this spell. Anyone who has seen the movie The Fellowship of the Ring remembers the elven tongue … but what do these mysterious words translate to in English? “Waters of the Misty Mountains, hear the word of power. Rush, waters of Bruinen, against the Ring Wraiths.”
Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer!
There are spells of length, one-worded curses, rhyming and metered enchantments, a deceptively simple string of words … an endless variety of ways the words of magic have been portrayed through fiction and beyond. For me, no one of these methods is better than the other – each seems to fit with the story that is woven around it, and is meaningful and effective within its context.
Which are your favorites, from the above list or otherwise?