|Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson|
The end is nigh! It's hard to believe that 2012 is drawing to a close. To mark it's passing, I've drawn up a list of some of the year's more memorable moments. And so, without further ado, here is Yellow Brick Reads' top ten for 2012:
10. 200 years of Grimm
2012 was a year of anniversaries. And there were some big ones. First up is the 200 year anniversary of the publication of Children's and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm. The Grimm influence was everywhere in 2012 from television shows such as Grimm and Once Upon a Time to movies such as Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. The various book adaptations and rewrites are too numerous to mention here, though Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales for Young and Old (reviewed here) ranks highly.
9. Titanic Anniversary
2012 also marked the one-hundred-year anniversary of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. The sinking of the Titanic on the 15th of April 1912 claimed the lives of 1,517 people and remains one of the worst maritime disasters in history. In children's literature, the anniversary of this tragedy was creatively addressed in Nicola Pierce's thoughtful novel The Spirit of the Titanic. The book explores the events on board ship from the perspective of one of its earliest casualties: fifteen-year-old Samuel Scott. Find a full review here and author interview here.
8. Dickens Bicentenary
The 7th of February 2012 would have been Charles Dickens' 200th birthday. Though the author did not write solely for a children's audience, Dickens' novels are deeply concerned with the way in which the heartless machinery of society dealt with its weakest members. Many of his novels examine the lives of children forced to overcome hardships and negotiate a cruel and inhospitable adult world. Pip, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist are prime examples.
Interestingly, the bicentenary of Dickens' birth ushered in many fraught debates surrounding current education practices and the alleged dumbing down of children. In an age of television and video game entertainment, would children of today have the attention span required to read the novels of Dickens? A further exploration of this topic can be found here and here.
Other publishing behemoths seem to be finally chugging to a halt with the final installment of the movie adaptations of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series in Breaking Dawn: Part 2 and the much awaited opening of Pottermore to the general public. However, a final twitch of life from the Harry Potter Corner has been hinted at with rumours of a new short Potter film. This one isn't for general release but will be shown at some of the franchise's theme parks. Sigh! Too much of a good thing perhaps, people? I'm starting to wish the Dark Lord had won...
6. Death of Maurice Sendak
Sendak fans were distraught to hear that the 83-year-old author died on the 8th of May 2012. The author and illustrator is best known for his classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are, which has captivated readers since its first publication in 1963. His New York Times Obituary described Sendak as 'the most important children's book artist of the 20th Century.'
5. A New Laureate
In Ireland, we said goodbye to former laureate Siobhán Parkinson and welcomed the arrival of a new children's literature laureate, Niamh Sharkey. One of her early initiatives as the country's reading and writing ambassador was to pledge a free book to every child in Ireland. As a self-described picture book maker, Sharkey is keen to place art and illustrator at the forefront of her laureate activities. In this video you can watch Niamh invite children to help her decorate the Christmas window of Hodges Figgis bookstore in Dublin.
4. A Hobbity Year
The release of the first Peter Jackson film adaptation of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been met with mixed reviews. Critics are skeptical about the director's decision to split the short novel into three films. The 3D and 48 frames-per-second technology have also been broadly criticised. Will the lauded director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy manage to win audiences over with this more risky endeavour?
2012 was also a big year for The Hobbit in Ireland as the book which has been translated into over 50 languages already, was translated into Irish for the first time. An Hobad, nó Anonn agus Ar Ais Arís went on general release in April. Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat, a Bhiolbó! More on this story here.
3. Finding Lost Treasure
|King Golden Hair, one of the newly discovered fairy tales|
2012 was a year for finding lost treasures, particularly those of a fairy tale kind. In March, 500 new fairy tales from the Franz Xaver von Schonwerth collection were uncovered. Many critics have read the von Schonwerth tales as a welcome alternative to the more sanitised tales of the Brothers Grimm.
Another new fairy tale was discovered in December as historian Esben Brage happened upon an unpublished tale by Hans Christian Anderson. The story, which is entitled The Tallow Candle is believed to have been written while Andersen was still in grammar school.
2. Fighting Words
On a personal note, this year also offered me the opportunity to see the wonderful works of the folks at Fighting Words Story Centre up close. Established by Roddy Doyle and Séan Love, Fighting Words is a Creative Writing Centre that gives students at both primary and secondary levels the chance to compose and publish their own stories. At the end of the session, each participant receives a printed copy of their own book with their name and photograph on the back. The work being done in the centre is fantastic and deserves every bit of support it can get. To read more about Fighting Words, read this entry here.
1. James Joyce's Children's Books Controversy
Finally, 2012 was a year of some controversy in children's literature circles, as James Joyce's The Cats of Copenhagen has been published for the first time. The tale was written as a 'younger twin sister' to Joyce's other children's tale The Cat and the Devil and like that other story, it first appeared in a letter to Joyce's grandson Stephen. The controversy surrounding the publication stems from a disagreement between the publishers and the Zurich James Joyce Foundation as to whether or not previously non-published materials are to be considered out of copyright. A more detailed account is available here.
So wherever you are, I hope it's been a fabulous 2012 and I wish you all a very Happy New Year from Yellow Brick Reads. And rather than crush yourself under the weight of all your New Year's Resolutions, why not take Calvin's advice and just stay as perfect as you already are.