Sleeping Beauty re-written: An animal-loving, magical tomboy

A wondrous future lies before you – you, the destined hero of a charming fairy tale come true. And in yonder topmost tower, dreaming of her true love, the Princess Aurora! – Sleeping Beauty, Disney

Robin McKinley’s Spindle End is one of those books which makes you want to read everything written by the author, simply because of how much she makes you fall in love with the characters, the heart-warming storyline, and the curious magical-ness of it all. Spindle’s End brings to life the story of Sleeping Beauty, in a kingdom set where magic is so thick it “settles like chalk-dust everywhere”, and it’s an ordinary occurrence to ‘de-magick’ your kettles of magic, to stop your bread turning into larks, your clothes from running away, where it is illegal to have dealings with fish, and where fairies make an honest living in local villages. And yet the story has a traditional, just King and Queen who strive for a child, and after many years, manage to have a beautiful baby girl, celebrating the occasion with a grand ‘Name-Day’, inviting twenty-one (not three, Disney!) fairies to bestow gifts.

And gifts are bestowed, must to the disgust of one of the main characters, young fairy Katriona, who listens to “pearly teeth”, ‘golden hair” and “a sweet singing voice” being given, until the inevitable, a jealous evil fairy, here named Pernicia, gate-crashes with her own gift, a dangerous sleep for the newborn when she turns twenty-one. It is here that the life of the novel really begins, in the race to protect the Princess, she is smuggled away and raised by Kat in a secret life, “as safe as ordinariness can make her.”

Rosie, as she is lovingly named, becomes a creature to test her adoptive family as well as capture their hearts: she may have a voice like a bell, but it depends on how loud and robust the bell is; she may have a talent for dancing, but you’d have to convince her to dance first, and she may have golden ringlets like corn, but it’s difficult to see the curls after she chops all her hair off. Rosie, then, becomes a feminist in her own right, insisting she is not ‘pretty’ but intelligent, she doesn’t need to wear dresses when she can run after animals in breeches, and insisting that she will have her own career rather than settle down. Deeply entrenched in a lifestyle of her magic-using ‘Aunts’ and her family of animals and male friends, Rosie goes against every archetype of being a Princess, perhaps so because she remains blissfully ignorant of her true identity.

Weaving together the practicalities of magic, the complications of growing older, and the ever-questionable concept of ‘happily-ever-after’, McKinley shows how appearances are not always what they seem. Always through the novel is the underlying threat of the malevolent Pernicia, always searching and always threatening to change their fragile lifestyle, with McKinley creating some tense atmospheric scenes which really show the strengths of characters, putting to test their love for each other.

Rosie, remains, at the heart of all this, an ordinary, confused young woman, constantly re-shaping her identity, her perceptions of family, and the idea of destiny and grand love. While at the forefront, she remains an unusual character who refuses to conform to societal values of what it is to be a young woman, the vestiges of  fairy-tale era still remain – we see how family can mean different things to different people, how duty is perceived, and above all, the idea of Good being expected to triumph over Evil.

This is a novel which makes you fall in love with Rosie, as a Princess, as an unruly child, and as a brave, old-style heroine – and it is not the idea of being a singing, pearly-teethed young woman who remains, but an ordinary (and ironically magical) sister, daughter and fierce friend, who fights for her family and friends as much as she tries to determine her own fate. A recommended book for all, especially if you like fairy-tales with a bit of a kick in them.


Weekend Pretty: Plasticine Rainbows

Because sometimes it’s fun to mix plasticine up and pretend to be a sculpture. Heck, you can even have a Ghost moment if you’re into that kinda thing. Just be careful that the colours don’t get squished together too much and turn into a big, mushy, browny-grey mess. Cos no one likes making vomit coloured animals.

Shakespeare, Branagh and Bean – the London Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012!

At last, it’s here! From a top-hatted Kenneth Branagh, a piano-playing Mr Bean to the industrial revolution and the history of British music, I was pretty impressed! Oh, and don’t forget those flying Mary Poppins too!

You can watch the entire ceremony here, and let me know what you think! Personally, I think Danny did good (yes we’re on first name terms, no he doesn’t know it) and the Opening Ceremony celebrated London in the best way possible : )

Olympic Street Art

Saw these bold, colourful murals in East London today while out in the sunny sun, and thought they were great – they make a nice colourful corner which really adds some character to the walls.

It’s nice when the country pulls together for the Olympics, isn’t it? Now, to band together and burn down the Big Brother House. (Okay, any crazy readers out there, that’s not an invitation to go lighting matches, now).

My favourite one is the first one, it’s so funky yet seemed completely suitable for a very, very sunny day!

Weekly Samosa Links

Hope you’re all having a good rest this weekend, I’m loving the idea of doing a 30-day Ramadan Journal which charts your progress, your thoughts and your aspirations in this month – something you would consider? In the meantime, some linkies.

If using social networks wasn’t enough, now you can dress up as Facebook, Twitter or Youtube! Now that’s hardcore internets-ing.

Bert & Ernie’s debut as rappers. You’ll never look at them the same way again. Okay, that’s not true, this song is perfect for them.

I thought this was brilliant – children’s drawings made into toys! Now, to submit my drawing of a laser-eyed Barbie with 6 arms…(seriously, a rabbit with 6 eyes and a sheep with killer teeth wool! Amazing stuff! And I think we all recognise the long Rupunzel-ed hair princess at the end, we’ve all done that at some point.)

If Lord of the Ring had a Facebook page during the er…quest to destroy the ring, it would probably look like this – now in One Thread to bind them all.

I’m pretty sure this is a valid explanation for almost anything that goes missing.

I love re-vamps of Disney movies – this is how Beauty & the Beast may have been like if Belle lived in the ‘hood.

And some heartwarming videos caught on CCTVs by Coca-Cola, which I thought were pretty sweet!

(I’m pretty sure I went to school with this kid. Or at least bumped into him a few years later ‘expressing’ himself in Arts and Drama class)

The Dress of all Dresses…

…the Jelly Bear dress. Made from 50,000 jelly bears, apparently. I have no idea if they make up these numbers or if someone had to count them, but the real topic  here is I WANT ONE. They even made a pretty zigzag pattern on the dress to make it all pretty and fashionable, and it’s all laid out nice (can we eat the gummy bears if they’ve been on the floor? Does the 5-second rule apply here?)

Soooo….I’ll be waiting for someone to deliver me  one of these. Although I’d probably turn it from a ball gown dress to a two-piece bikini pretty quick 😀

Image Source

It was a dark, dark night…

…I loved those Funnybone books (and cartoons) as a kid!

Here’s a weirdly shaped tree I saw a while back (yes, I know, me and my obssession with trees), and some arty-farty tricks I did with the picture (i.e. with Instagram!) to make it look like something from a horror film.
I’m quite pleased with it actually, it’s almost Tim Burton-y!

Perhaps this is something which can start a story off, I’m thinking something along the line of evil trees that come to life and kidnap small things? No? Okay, a bit too Snow White-ish then!