December 9, 2014

Flight or Flop? Our Review of NBC's "Peter Pan"

(Review by Caroline Yu)

  “Off to Neverland!”  Peter Pan Live! aired on NBC last Thursday (12/04/2014) and left viewers thinking happy thoughts.

Ten points for sets.  The Darling house was vibrant and charming.  Outside the famous nursery window lay foggy London, complete with small houses creating the illusion the nursery was a second story room.  When Peter and the Darling children flew over London, those short rooftops made the children appear to be high in the starry sky.    
Equally impressive was NBC’s take on Neverland.  The ground of the adventure-crammed island was a painted map.  Island features included colorful flowers, bulky mushrooms, and greenery.  While a far cry from the setting of Barrie’s original stage play, the home under the ground had the chaotic feel you’d expect from a lair of motherless boys.
If any happy thought could lift you into the air, it would be a thought of Allison Williams (Peter).  Her performance was spot-on—animated yet believable.  Each facial expression seemed genuine, not to mention her stellar singing voice. 

In Disney’s film adaptation and the live action film featuring Jeremy Sumpter, Mr. Darling and Captain Hook are played (or voiced) by the same actor.  I believe that’s traditional.  NBC tried something new.  Christian Borle doubled as Smee and Mr. Darling.  He and Kelli O’Hara (Mrs. Darling) made a perfect couple. 

As for Wendy and the lost boys?  They didn’t look like kids.  Taylor Louderman (Wendy) and the lost boys were clearly teenagers.  Worse, the lost boys were teenagers donning real clothes.  Shouldn't they have worn leafy clothing or animal skins?  
Most disappointing was Christopher Walken's Hook.  Barrie’s play and novel portrayed Hook as a fierce villain, a worthy opponent to Peter Pan.  Though an established actor, Walken lacked the cool fierceness that makes Hook memorable.

Overall, the musical was a faithful adaptation, though certain musical numbers seemed jarring (caution: if you watched the program, “I’m Flying” might be flying around in your head for several days).  While I don’t remember the Mary Martin musical, Disney’s classic film proves songs can coordinate with, rather than disrupt, the plot.  If you’re familiar with the musical, the numbers may have felt more natural.

Like most adaptations, NBC failed to fully capture the conflict Peter’s eternal youth creates for Wendy.  Their challenging relationship and reluctant parting set Peter Pan apart from other “children’s stories.”  Of course, Barrie’s original works best convey Peter’s complexity and Wendy’s confusion.

NBC did hold onto the most famous scene in Barrie’s play: Tinker Bell’s near death, prevented by the clapping of believing children.  Like Barrie’s first audience, I clapped.  My husband (after a nudge) clapped too.

Despite a few pitfalls, NBC made a wonderful choice for their holiday musical.  There was a definite charm in seeing Peter Pan in its original form: a stage play, flight strings and all.  The musical and film adaptations attest to Peter’s timelessness.  His story cannot be outgrown.                  

November 16, 2014

New Features at Timeless Tales

Yesterday, we launched Timeless Tales Magazine's Issue #3. With it, we added a few new features to our website that I wanted to inform our readers about.

1. Pay With a Tweet: We're trying out a new system to attract more readers. It's called "Pay With a Tweet." 

This will keep Timeless Tales free, but require a tweet/facebook post about T.T. to get access to our stories. We played around with it and loved how crazy-simple it is. You should give it a try! 

2. Patreon: We rely on the donations of our readers to support Timeless Tales

With Patreon, we are able to offer our Patrons all sorts of goodies. With a donation of any amount, you can get the awesome professional-quality audio versions of all our stories. Stay tuned for even more awesome rewards. Click HERE to go check us out. 

November 15, 2014

Oh, and Don't Forget...

Just a quick reminder that we offer high quality audio versions of all our stories. They're exclusive to Timeless Tales Patrons, though. Want to know more? Check out our new Patreon page for full details (more on Patreon in tomorrow's newsletter).

Read Timeless Tales Issue #3 Now!

At long last, it has arrived! Our latest issue is full of retellings of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" and I think you'll love them. Some of the best features in this issue include:

  • A time storm
  • Dancing honeybees
  • A private detective
  • Colonial America historical fiction
  • A basketball team
  • The slippers' side of the story
And so much more! If you haven't seen all the covers yet, here's the full set:


Well, what are you waiting for? Go read it and come back to tell us in the comments which one is your favorite story. 

November 4, 2014

Issue #3 Publishing Date (and first look at the cover!)

Our Twelve Dancing Princesses issue is almost here. For this issue, we went the extra mile and designed mini-covers for each story. We'll be teasing them on facebook over the next week with quotes from all eight retellings. However, here's what the main cover will look like:

I wanted a design that challenged some of the "medieval pretty princess" stereotypes of the original tale. As usual, there is a wide range of genres represented in this issue, so be ready to see this story in a whole new way. 

October 12, 2014

New "CINDY" Webseries Gives Cinderella an Extreme Makeover

One of the newest trends in the Youtube community--one that I am heartily enthusiastic about--is turning classic novels into modern vlogs (examples: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Emma Approved, and Victoria Frankenstein, M.D.). 

Now, Cinderella is getting this treatment, but with a new twist--it will be filmed in a reality television style. Now, when they say "reality tv", I have to assume that they don't mean Survivor or Say Yes to the Dress. But maybe they'll have the Prince Charming character hosting some Bachelor-esque competition? We shall see!

Perhaps most intriguing facet of the CINDY webseries is that it's being marketed as a dark comedy, similar to creator Larry Wilson's other projects (Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, and The Little Vampire). For example, the fairy godmother has a drug problem and the "handsome prince" is old enough to be Cindy's dad. 

Now, here's the catch: The series is currently in pre-production mode and still needs crowdfunding through Kickstarter, so if you want to see CINDY happen, go help support it before the Oct. 28 deadline:  . Time is quickly running out and they're currently only halfway to their goal, but I think we could make that change!

Apparently, this is NOT the prince!
And to lead by example, I just contributed my $25 to the campaign, which means I'll be getting an MP3 of the themesong and a CINDY poster. Other perks for contributors include signed movie posters of Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, and Beetlejuice. For really generous backers, you could even get a screenplay consultation with Larry Wilson himself.

You can bet I'll be watching this project closely because of the high production quality and because I think it has the potential to be crazy popular. What do you think, fairy folk? Check out the trailer:

October 11, 2014

Book Review: Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

Reviewed by Brogan Merrill

Cinderella is a difficult fairytale to keep fresh since it is so frequently retold. But if anyone can manage a new twist on this famous fairytale, it’s veteran reteller Cameron Dokey (she has at least eleven published). Sure enough, YA novel Before Midnight does not disappoint.

In many Cinderella stories, her father is dead, but in Before Midnight, not only is he alive, but he’s the villain. La Cendrillon does have difficulties with the stepmother/stepsisters, of course, but there is much more at stake here than domestic squabbles.

Alternate Cover
Perhaps the most interesting feature in this book is Dokey’s magic system. In Before Midnight, magic isn't reliable. While wishes have great power, only certain types of wishes are potent enough, and the timing is always tricky. When magic finally does happen, it is understated and without flourishes. Particularly, Before Midnight’s magic involves love at first sight, a magic that is both a blessing and a curse, and whose power you underestimate at your own risk.

Some may argue that the ending is a bit too tidily wrapped up, but the bulk of this story is hearty, not saccharine. La Cendrillon’s hardships shape her into someone better than she would have been without them. In the end, your family is who stands beside you during the rough times, and your choices, not your circumstances, make you a hero or villain. 

September 16, 2014

Interview with Author Alissa Heyman

About a month ago, I posted a review of Twelve Dancing Unicorns and now I'm delighted to bring you an interview with its author, Alissa Heyman.
Reprinted with permission from Twelve Dancing Unicorns © 2014 by Alissa Heyman,
Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations by Justin Gerard.
1. What’s the origin story behind Twelve Dancing Unicorns? Why retell this particular fairy tale?

My editor felt that retelling this fairy tale with unicorns instead of princesses would be a fresh and appealing approach and asked me to come up with an idea for an adaptation. I was intrigued by unicorn mythology, especially the lore behind the famous medieval Unicorn Tapestries, which led me to explore the idea of captivity and the role of young maidens in taming these wild creatures. I wanted to have a strong female protagonist who had a special bond with the unicorns.

2. Most people don't realize just how difficult picture book writing is because of the length restrictions. How do you keep things short while still telling a full story?

I write more than I have to and then I pare it down, figuring out what is essential. I write poetry, and poetry, with its necessary concision, is perfect training for writing picture books.

3. Do you write other genres?

I write poetry and prose for all ages.

4. Do you have a favorite fairy tale?

I’ve written poems based on some of my favorite fairy tales—Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, and Rapunzel, among others. I also enjoy Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince.”

5. How do you know if a picture book idea might work?

I think an idea works if it has a strong story, memorable characters, appealing, age-appropriate writing, and is something that would interest young children.

6. Tell me about some authors who have inspired your own writing.

Paul Zelinsky’s Rapunzel has inspired me because it is such a beautiful retelling of the fairy tale. Also fantasy writers such as J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Lloyd Alexander, and Susan Cooper, because of the way they create completely believable worlds in which to explore human nature.

7. What’s next for you?

I’m working on several picture books, a collection of poetry, and a young adult novel.