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!