Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mortimer's Christmas Manger

Well, I never did get around to posting our list of Christmas favorites, let alone the new books we tried out this holiday season. It has been busy, if you'll excuse the worn, tired, and largely unconvincing word. Instead of a list, I'm offering just the most noteworthy book on my children's book radar for this Christmas season.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger, by the fantastic Karma Wilson (author) and Jane Chapman (illustrator), was a the top of my Christmas book delights. Mortimer is a mouse who decides to move into one family's mouse-sized nativity display, removing Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, making himself completley comfortable. But in the morning when he goes foraging for food, he returns to his newly acquired home only to discover that the figurines are back in place. Night after night, to his great displeasure, he is forced to redecorate in order to keep his new home. Then one night the family gathers in the living room to read aloud the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus, and Mortimer, upon hearing the Christmas story for the first time, has a change of heart toward the nativity residents he has previously been trying to evict.

Mortimer's Manger has all the charm of previous Wilson/Chapman installments, with the bonus of the story of Christ's birth sweetly and gently woven in. A pleasant shift in focus during a season that is dominated by the craze of commercialized Christmas and, of course, a certain jolly old elf and his team of reindeer.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oh, bother.

Disney, on a never ending quest to remake! retell! sell!, seems to have decided that Christopher Robin isn't trendy enough for today's young audience. Yep, Disney, in it's misguided marketing zeal, is giving Christopher Robin the boot. So who will be accompanying Pooh on future adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood in his stead? A red-headed, six-year-old tomboy of a girl, who will make her debut in a new Winnie-the-Pooh televison series that will air on the Disney Channel in 2007.

An article from The Age summed it up this way:
It is hardly the first time Disney has outraged Pooh purists, of course. They bought the rights to the Pooh stories and images in 1961. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and the rest were duly Americanised and their characters changed; the wistful bear of little brain, who was regularly described as "growling", acquired an effete little voice and West Coast perma-cheer.


"The charm and flavour is not there in Disney," says illustrator Anne James, whose South Melbourne shop, Books Illustrated, does not stock the Disney versions of Pooh. "The fact that they took it and changed it so drastically means they haven't got a sense of the thing they wanted in the first place." Sadly, she says, many children now know Pooh and his friends only as Disney characters.

As I was reading over this and other articles about the newest development in this version of Winnie-the-Pooh, an image of Disney and it's overhandling sprang to mind in the memory of the following poem (one I enjoyed repeating as a girl):
Funny how Felicia Ropps,
Always handles things in shops!
Always pinching, always poking,
Always feeling, always stroking
Things she has no right to touch!
Goops like that annoy me much!

- "Felicia Ropps", Gelett Burgess

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Once Upon a New Location

Once Upon a Story, formerly located here, has moved. Or rather, is being moved.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Happy December!

'Tis the season to share favorite Christmas books, if only I can remember to sneak them out of my son's room before putting him down for bed. (Nights like tonight, when he actually goes right to sleep, right away, are nights I don't want to take any chances--not even for the cause of a good book or two.) We have a couple of Christmas favorites that we've read often enough that I don't need them in front of me for reference, but I prefer being able to flip through them before doing a little review just the same, so they'll have to wait. Besides, it's only the 1st of December--I have all the time in the world, right?

(Nudge, wink.)