Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stories for the Season: Snow Queen

Poster for Sherman Cymru's production of "The Snow Queen"
by Savage & Gray Design

One of the obvious stories for the season is "The Snow Queen", despite Christmas not being a featured part of the story. Andersen's long-form fairy tale has grown in increasing popularity (again) the past few years with more and more plays and ballets being staged specifically during the Christmas season, providing an alternate to the traditional Nutcracker production (companies staging Snow Queen are likely to be doing Nutcracker too, to keep their regulars happy though).
English National Ballet's 2009 Production of "The Snow Queen"

It's easy to see why it's quickly become a family holiday theater favorite. The story has remained popular throughout the years and there are many wonderful elements to work with for any form of presentation.

I have to say, that though many people include The Snow Queen when you ask about Christmas fairy tales it's not the whole 'Snow Queen steals Kai away and Gerda rescues him from the Queen and the Ice Palace' that makes me include it too. It's the sequence with the robber girl and the reindeer. Though those characters only appear for one of the chapters in Gerda's long journey to find and free Kai, to me it's the most 'Christmas' part with the robber girl maturing and learning to be a true friend and, in the end, helping Gerda escape, along with the generous gift (and letting go) of her pet/captive reindeer. The reindeer itself helps the Christmas sense too, of course.I won't go into the story too much as SurLaLune just had a Snow Queen week (see HERE) and showcased some gorgeous retellings , while The Fairy Tale Cupboard posted a fabulous article on The Queens of Ice and Snow (see HERE). There are a couple of other Snow Queen things I'd like to bring to your attention as additional resources.

Firstly, HERE is an article by a teacher of children's literature on the difficulties of teaching on the story and her fascination with the Andersen tale since childhood, which some of you will find interesting.

I also haven't yet seen anyone post on the made-for-TV movie Snow Queen (produced by Hallmark), so I wanted to mention it too. It's a very nice retelling of the story (gorgeous artistic direction!) with Gerda having to travel through the seasons to find Kai. In this version Kai is a boy/young man Gerda meets as a girl on the brink of womanhood. The robber girl isn't represented the same way as the original story or in books I've seen (and prefer) but the context for this movie makes sense. (I don't much care for the Summer sequences but that's very likely just my personal taste. I enjoy it again once Autumn appears, as inconsistent as the acting is in that section and the resolution of the movie is well done enough that I can forgive it trying to wrap up all the loose ends.) The power of love - especially true love, though mother's love is highlighted too - is the driving force of this retelling and is nicely handled.

By the way, if you've liked the Snow Queen illustrations in this post they're by award winning Ukranian artist Vadyslav Yerko and are available in a truly gorgeous looking book. You can see a preview HERE and find out more information about the book, the author (HCA of course) and the illustrator HERE.

There are just a few more stories I want to highlight before New Years, the idea being to give you plenty to enjoy if you're lucky enough to be getting any leisure time between Christmas and 2010, so keep watching. After that I will be taking a brief blog break to spend some time with both my family and my new books before I return with tons of news and fairy tale finds as usual. :)
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