Into the Woods, 1: The Language of the Earth
Into the Woods, 3: Tales of the Forest

Into the Woods, 2: The Gift of Wonder

In the lovely video above, children's book author Cornelia Funke speaks about the need for wilderness in children's lives. "Kids are so very good at still being shape-shifters," she says, "and shifting into feathers and fur. They still understand that we are connected to everything in this world, and that we are part of an incredibly intricate woven web of life and creatures."

Raised and educated in Germany, Funke was originally a book illustrator before turning her hand to writing fiction herself -- creating magical novels such as the The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, and The Inkheart Trilogy that have become international bestsellers. She now lives in Los Angeles.

The Deer Child copyright Terri Windling

"In a way that I haven’t yet figured out how to fully articulate, I believe that children who get to see bald eagles, coyotes, deer, moose, grouse, and other similar sights each morning will have a certain kind of matrix or fabric or foundation of childhood, the nature and quality of which will be increasing rare and valuable as time goes on, and which will be cherished into adulthood, as well as becoming -- and this is a leap of faith by me -- a source of strength and knowledge to them somehow. That the daily witnessing of the natural wonders is a kind of education of logic and assurance that cannot be duplicated by any other means, or in other place: unique and significant, and, by God, still somehow relevant, even now, in the twenty-first century. For as long as possible, I want my girls to keep believing that beauty, though not quite commonplace and never to pass unobserved or unappreciated, is nonetheless easily witnessed on any day, in any given moment, around any forthcoming bend."   - Rick Bass ("The Return" )

Bunny girl sketch copyright Terri Windling

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”  - Rachel Carson (A Sense of Wonder)

“I wonder how it is we have come to this place in our society where art and nature are spoke in terms of what is optional, the pastime and concern of the elite?”  - Terry Tempest Williams (Leap)

Bunny friends sketch copyright by Terri WindlingThis post is for Charlotte Hills and all of the other teachers out there, with gratitude for the vital work you do. The pictures above: one of the deer children from my old Desert Spritis series, and two bunny girls from a Devon sketchbook.

Comments

My boys and I love Cornelia Funke's books. I'm going to share this video with them. (Love the deer and bunnies!)

Oh Terri, you bought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. I feel I have a friend of spirit and mind in you, and those others who read and write in the world of myth and legend. We may never have met but you bring together a convocation of lovely people.
Your pictures are wonderful and the words you chose are inspiring.

My collection of stories is gathering apace, I have a found a wonderful Inuit story of a fox wife, the Scots Selkie; why Anansi became the man-spider and the European tales I love so well.

Charlotte, the reading lists at the end of these two articles might help:

Married to Magic: Animal Brides and Bridegrooms
http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/rrMarriedToMagic.html

Shapeshifters
http://www.endicott-studio.com/gal/gshifters.html

Do you want animal-transformation folk tales only, or also fiction based on them? If the latter, there are two Young Adult anthologies on the theme:

The Beastly Bride, edited by Ellen Datlow & me
Half Human, edited by Bruce Coville

Ah, you've already answered my question in the comment section of Saturday's post. I wonder if there are any animal folktale collections out there published specifically for kids or YA? Jane Yolen might know....

I'm going to repeat the conversation from the other thread here, in case anyone else can help:

ME: Are you looking for animal-transformation fiction, folktales, or both?

CHARLOTTE: Both,though mainly folk tales as the springboard, they are oral by nature anyway and I want this to be open to all my kids, whether they read well or not. I teach a high level of new to English, non native mother tongue children. They have a narrow range of experience that is typical of the inner city child. I want them to be able to retell a story without have to worry about decoding black squiggles on a page but because they know it in their hearts and bellies. I want them to draw, sculpt and mould the tales. Finally we will write them, publish them along with their drawings, story maps and photos. Or that is the best made plan.

Thank you so much.

I'm smitten with Cornelia Funke's magical attire in that video, what fun!

Love the artwork, Terri; fun and at the same time fey! And I also love Cornelia Funke's wonderful stories. In fact I'm proud to say that, in a way, I'm almost her colleague, as her books in Britain are published by the same company that publish mine. I hope one day that we'll both take part in the same events so that I'll actually be able to meet her.

I SO long to raise my children in the woods. Right now, we live right on Main Street in the city. Thank God for local State Parks! My children are getting older and we're no closer to my forest dream. Perhaps my grandchildren one day will visit "Grandpa" and me in our forest home...

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