Happy 2014! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here but when I finished my 30 before 30 book list I was kind of exhausted and I still needed to make dinner and finish other stuff (including school work). I have been reading a ridiculous amount (see: school work) but haven’t wanted to blog about it. It’ll be fodder for later.
So, how’s the weather? If you read this after this weekend, you may somehow forget this strange phenomenon called the polar vortex. Basically, it has been colder in Ohio (or Tennessee… or Indiana… or most of the lower 48) than Alaska. I have a sunroom in my house and yesterday the inside of the glass door was covered in ice. Seriously. It was a sheet of ice.
Which makes my read before Christmas especially appealing to write about this week.
First off, anyone actually read the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Snow Queen, before Disney’s Frozen came out this year?
Frankly, I’ve READ it, but I never really liked it, so I couldn’t remember any of the details. I know I saw an adaptation of The Snow Queen when I was a kid, but it either scared me or went over my head. It turns out I read a modernization of The Snow Queen called Breadcrumbs, and then saw Frozen last Saturday. So, here’s a themed post. W00t.
Here’s the main plot of the original: Gerta and Kay (a boy) grow up together and are best friends, until one day Kay stops talking to Gerta. It turns out that there’s a magic mirror that makes beautiful things ugly. A sprite decided to bring the mirror to heaven, except it shatters on the way and pieces land everywhere. The splinters do the same job as the entire mirror, though. A splinter lands in the little boy’s eye and gets into his heart, so he turns against his friends, etc. Essentially, his heart freezes. The Snow Queen convinces Kay to go with her to her palace (not quite sure how it happened). Gerta believes she has to go save him, so she goes and I’m not really following what all happened on her way but fairy tale helpers do their part, etc. The Snow Queen flew off to freeze Vesuvius or something and gives Kay a puzzle to keep him busy. Gerta walks into the palace without an issue. Kay is kinda frozen and half dead so Gerta cries all over him. The tears penetrate his heart and wash out the splinter. They go back home, the end.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Urso is a rather faithful version of The Snow Queen except it takes place in modern Minnesota. The same basic plot: Hazel and Jack grow up together and are best friends but in fifth grade several things change. Hazel’s parents separate and Jack’s mom is depressed, and in fifth grade there’s a lot of peer pressure to not hang out with the other sex. And the thing only Hazel notices: a demon breaks an evil mirror and a piece gets into Jack’s eye. Hazel’s archenemy Tyler tells her that he was going to go sledding with Jack, but he saw Jack go with a tall woman in white into the woods. They both know that she’s the only one who will go. The woods is indeed a fairy tale land, and she gets tempted and helped along the way, weaving in a bunch of fairy tale motifs (red shoes, a swan skin, a woman who turns girls into flowers, etc). It is made abundantly clear that Jack may not want to come back, he could only go with the Queen if he wanted to, so her trip may all be in vain. Hazel talks to the Queen, who says she froze his heart to keep him safe, but Jack can choose to stay or go. Hazel gives Jack a signed baseball, his prized possession, and he remembers who he is, and they go back home.
I really, really liked this. Hazel and Jack are good friends who read books together and use their imaginations and are basically fantastic. Andersen’s style is really flowery and hard to follow and read. The modernization helps the story flow a little more, and I liked the fairy tale symbols tossed in the story as well. I also really liked that Hazel compares everything to a book.
Grades: Ages 8-12 is what the cover says, so 4-7th grades?
OK, folks: probably going to spoil Frozen for you so stop here if you haven’t seen it yet. I’m mostly going with my reactions and how it varies from the original.
I saw Frozen with my family when they were in town to celebrate Christmas. It was a fun movie. There was a LOT of music. We went out to eat after the movie and I swear, all my family decided to sing their order and pretend they were in a Disney movie. It was hilarious. Slightly embarrassing. But awesome.
Disney definitely Disneyfied The Snow Queen, but in the best possible way, I think. I think Idina Menzel’s casting was brilliant, and “in type” for her– it was very Elphaba, in the way that Elsa the Snow Queen is not evil, but people think she is due to this unexplained power. **There’s one evil guy that pretty bluntly says he’s it, and then an extra one you weren’t expecting! Woohoo!**
(Sidenote: You cast Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff, give them one song each (Groff sings less than a minute), and you give Kristen Bell three songs? Not that Kristen had a bad voice, but seriously.)
Anyway, basically Elsa has unexplained powers where she can freeze things and make snow, She accidentally freezes Anna as a kid, and is told to hide her powers. When her powers overwhelm her on her coronation day, she runs away. Anna has to go save her and get Elsa to unfreeze the summer.
High marks for the beautiful scenery, there’s lots of it. The back-to-back songs at the beginning is a bit much, to be honest, but they’re really catchy. Like my entire family has been singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” since Saturday (or using the tune to sing their Olive Garden order or whatnot). I really liked the angle they took the story.
Anyway. The Snow Queen is not my favorite fairy tale, but I really liked the recent adaptations. I think this is mostly me not enjoying Andersen’s style of writing versus the actual tale. I will be very curious to see if Frozen will inspire more adaptations.
“Let the storm rage on…. the cold never bothered me anyway.”