and he jumped out of bed and looked out. What did he see?”
Don’t you think it’s time Oscar Wilde visited the blog? I do.
Okay. Sure. “Visited” the blog is a bit much. It’s not like I’ve called forth his spirit, but I am featuring one of his children’s stories today.
In 1888, Wilde’s own collection of original fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, was published, and it included a story called “The Selfish Giant.” In March of this year, Noteworthy Books released a new picture book adaptation of this tale, which includes orchestral music on an accompanying CD from composer Dan Goeller and narration from British actor Martin Jarvis.
The story itself is a heavily didactic Christian allegory, all about a giant whose garden is visited by neighboring children, while the giant is away for seven years visiting his bud, a Cornish ogre. Upon his return, the Giant orders the children to leave. He is then visited by the Snow and the Frost (my favorite illustration, pictured below), delaying Spring for entirely too long. After the Spring finally arrives, the children return, his cold heart thaws (in more ways than one), and he ventures outside. He befriends a young boy, who eventually disappears after the Giant knocks down the wall which had kept the children out. In his old age, after years of friendship with the children, he sees the young boy again, outside in his garden one winter morning. The boy has nail prints in his hands and the prints of two nails on his feet, and he calls them “the wounds of Love.” When the giant asks the boy who he is, he simply responds, “You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”
Later, the children find the Giant dead under the tree, “all covered with white blossoms.”
I didn’t plan this post this to coincide with Rapture’s Eve. Pinky promise. (I am typing this on the night before some people are claiming Rapture will take place and the world will end.)
Anyway. Curious little fairy tale, huh? Who knew? Well, I didn’t. I hadn’t read any of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales before, which he evidently wrote for his sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.
It’s the illustrations I want to feature today. Artist Chris Beatrice’s vivid illustrations, on full display below, are … well, lush would be the best word. His colorful and highly dramatic paintings are rich and detailed, and every now I then I like to feature the artwork of someone like this who can wow you with his ability to portray light in a room or landscape. I mean, there’s a reason I open the post with the illustration above. Wow, huh?
So, without further ado, here are some of Beatrice’s illustrations from the book.
and play in the Giant’s garden.”
TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. He was a very selfish Giant.”
and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall.”
and that the flowers were resting.”
THE SELFISH GIANT. Book copyright © 2011. Illustration copyright © 2010 by Chris Beatrice. Published by Noteworthy Books, Sioux Falls. All images reproduced by permission of the publisher.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
2) I love this new picture book from John Rocco. More on it later, as he’ll be visiting 7-Imp very soon:
2½) I also saw an early copy of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back (Candlewick), and—as my seven-year-old would say—I laughed so hard I thought I’d run out of laughs. So did my girls. If this picture book were a dinosaur, it’d be a hilariousaurus rex. More on this book later.
3) I finally saw, within the past couple of weeks, some of those 2010 films I never made it to the movie theater to see. None of them were particularly “up” films, but boy howdy and howdy boy was the acting good. The Fighter. Oh Christian Bale, you nailed that role and really deserved that Oscar. Rabbit Hole. Difficult to watch if you’re a parent, but beautifully done and what a tight film. Blue Valentine. Didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, but the acting was good. (I have to say, I could have used less improv and more screenplay, though.)
I think it was Dan Santat who referred to Blue Valentine as a horror film for relationships. True. But the stories behind how it was filmed are rather fascinating.
4) I not only drove to Knoxville yesterday for this wonderful reading festival (a fabulous and very fun annual event over in East Tennessee), but I also did a short presentation there for parents about picture books and, to be erudite about it, why they RAWK. I could have talked all day. Anyhow. Notice the visiting authors and illustrators? That was fun. My seven-year-old, who loves Robert Sabuda’s picture books (he is pictured left in the kinda-blurry-so-my-apologies picture I quickly snapped on my cell phone), was rather starstruck to see him, and we got to meet Grace Lin and hear her presentation.
6) I got a really wonderful, thoughtful gift from a friend this week. It involves Sam Phillips’s funky and most wonderful collages, so of course I was thrilled to receive it. I also got a handful of mixed CDs from a friend with good and very eclectic taste in music, so I’m grateful for the new tune-age.
7) I enjoyed writing this for Kirkus this week. I also didn’t plan that for Rapture’s Eve. Cross my heart. As an affable and well-intentioned but theologically-addled person trying to raise children in this world, I appreciate books like that.
What are YOUR kicks this week?