Monday, December 31, 2007

Twice Upon a Time and other stories

Before Lucia was born, Bede would sometimes tell me stories to help me get to sleep. (After Lucia was born, we had little trouble getting to sleep-- the issue then was staying asleep for a significant stretch of time.) One of the stories he told me was a tale he'd remembered as a little boy, about a storyteller who journeys to a kingdom where everything is twice as abundant as anywhere else in the world. When the king demands the storyteller to give him a tale, the storyteller begins with "Once upon a time." The king insists that in his kingdom, stories must begin with "Twice upon a time." When the storyteller refuses to comply, the king throws the storyteller in prison. However, the storyteller decides to comply and starts the story with, "Twice upon a time, there were two kings..." Of course, the king realizes then that there cannot be two kings in one kingdom, repents of the errors of his ways, and everyone lives on happily in the new world order.

I was delighted with the story, and wrote my own version of it. Then, it occured to me that I should find out the actual source of the story before I got carried away. I'm glad I did. It wasn't a folktale in the public domain, but an original story by Irwin Shapiro, illustrated by Adrienne Adams, called Twice Upon a Time. The main character is not a storyteller but a writer named Rambling Richard. I ordered the out-of-print book for Bede for Christmas:



Even though the story is on the long side, it makes a surprisingly good read-aloud. Adams' pictures are evocative of the art in Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" film. The only blip would be the now-archaic use of the word "gay" to mean happy. I'd like to see this book come back into print, as well as the other books on my ever-growing list of books I believe should come back into print before publishing houses can push any more newly-published dreck onto the shelves.

The Short List:

The Boy Who Lived with the Bears: And Other Iroquois Stories--Joseph Bruchac
"I Can't," Said the Ant--Polly Cameron
Zzzng!, Zzzng!, Zzzng!: A Yoruba Tale--Phyllis Gershator
Dinner at Alberta's--Russell Hoban
Zigger Beans--Diane Redfield Massie
Elephant Buttons-- Noriko Ueno
Rich Cat, Poor Cat--Bernard Waber

Big applause to the New York Review of Books for bringing back the Jenny Linsky books by Esther Averill.

This is my last post for 2007. I send out blessings and good wishes to everyone who reads this. Please pass them on!

9 comments:

TadMack said...

Happy New Year!
How cool to find an old book from childhood!!! I have a first run copy of Dear Enemy that I happened upon in a bookstore, I love it, and I have The Avion My Uncle Flew -- a first edition, though in 2000 they reprinted it, huzzah. I am still in search of a book called Ginny and the Cooking Contest which was one of my first chapter books -- can't recall the author or anything, but I remember the girl made a crab soufflé, and had to walk very softly through the house.

Anyway -- blessings on you bookish musical gleeful types for coming year!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

TadMack: I enjoyed Dear Enemy very much, even more than Daddy Long-legs. I'll keep an eye out for Ginny and the Cooking Contest! You never know... I stumbled across Rich Cat, Poor Cat for 50 cents at Half-Price books.

Lone Star Ma said...

I love a book by Joseph Bruchac called The Arrow Over The Door - we read it in First Day School.

HipWriterMama said...

Bede must have loved the book. Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2008. Happy New Year!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: I'll look for it. I'm a fan of Bruchac.

HWM: Yes indeed. I think his favorite of my finds was the book Dinosaur Comes To Town. I needed the help of PUBYAC librarians for that one!

Happy New Year, y'all.

Noodle said...

I love giving gifts that appeal to the heart. I know that he loved it.

Looking forward to more wonderful songs and stories (and recommendations!) in 2008!

blue island librarian said...

tadmack, Ginnie and the Cooking Contest is name of the book and the author is Catherine Woolley.

The book is available for purchase through Amazon.

BTW it is also one of my childhood favorites.

Saints and Spinners said...

Blue Island Librarian: Thanks for the information! I forwarded your comment on to TadMack.

Saints and Spinners said...

Update: TadMack says she's found a copy of Ginny and the Cooking Contest! Many thanks to the bloggers for locating copies and for sellers who posted their copies for sale.