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Interview with NY Times bestselling KidLit author David Elliott

David Elliott is a New York Times bestselling writer of books for young readers. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife of 33 years and a rescued Dandie Dinmont terrier mix.

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For what age audience do you write?

I write for the very young, the middle grades, and with the release of BULL in March, teen readers. I’m currently working on one of each kind of book. I like to have a few things going at once. It’s the ADD.

Henry: Given the slow speed of the publishing industry, working on multiple projects simultaneously isn’t just ADD, it’s a good idea! Speaking of which, I recently wrote a picture book featuring an OCD owl and an ADD hummingbird.

Tell us about your latest book.

BULL (HMH, March 2017) is an expansion of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. I know that sounds kind of highfalutin – expansion. But I use it because the book doesn’t at all change the outline of the myth; rather, it fills in areas about which the myth remains silent – the Minotaur’s childhood and adolescence, for example. At least that was my intention. The story is told in the various voices of the main players, each character speaking in a distinct poetic form. It practically killed me, but I loved writing it.

Henry: BULL is terrific. Sort of a YA mashup of Homer and Eminem.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

O dear. I think I’d better leave that to the readers. But it would be terrific if one or two saw that each of us has the potential to become either Asterion — the Minotaur’s’ actual name, by the way, meaning Ruler of the Stars — or the Minotaur. Or maybe even more important, the ability to encourage one or the other in the folks around us. We are now seeing at the national level what happens when the monstrous is excited — the uptick in hate crimes, the increased cruelty in our schools, all of that. Our leaders on both sides of the aisle seem lost in the labyrinth.

Aside from that, I hope readers will enjoy the humor in the book and the language used to tell the story, their language (for speakers of English.) It’s resilience. Its playfulness. It’s beauty.

Henry: We should mail balls of string to Congress so they can navigate the labyrinth!

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Oh, writing comes easily to me. But writing well comes very, very hard.

Henry: That pesky adverb well again! When I first began writing for children, I was surprised at how many revisions are necessary. Not like writing when in school, where the first draft was the final draft!

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I think sometimes people feel that publishing a book changes your life. And I guess it can if you’re someone like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, at least in terms of material security. (Uh . . .that has not been my experience.) But here’s the thing: Even after that book is on the shelves, you are still who you are. There’s no escaping that.

For me, and especially since every book is different, being a writer is a process, not a result. I now try to think of myself as a scribe rather than the more elevated “writer”.

Henry: I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how collegial the KidLit author/illustrator community is. Not at all like the hyper-competitive Hollywood scene.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Well, the most memorable is very difficult to describe, and if I did, people would think I was crazy, so let me just say that a few years ago, I was invited to Germany to visit schools there. My wife and I became very good friends with the person assigned to interpret for me. She is still an important of our lives. How lucky is that?

Henry: So, you think describing a memorable experience will push people over the edge on assessing the sanity of a man who fractured a Minotaur myth with rap?

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Accept all criticism as one hundred percent accurate.
For twenty-four hours.

Henry: Interesting approach. Another good piece of advice I’ve read, is never read reviews of your own work. The positive reviews don’t tell you anything you don’t already know, and the negative ones are so rarely constructive, that you’ll just end up depressed.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Here are three:
“If you haven’t surprised yourself, you haven’t written.” Eudora Welty.
“Habit is more important than inspiration.” Octavia Butler.
“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow

Henry: So, Doctorow was a pantser, not a plotter? Isaac Asimov said “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” Then there’s Ray Bradbury: “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

My entire life has been, and continues to be, One Strange Ritual. I think everybody’s is.

Henry: Capitalizing the phrase makes it sound like a great book title. Well played, sir.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I know from the one I already possess – the ability to eat non-stop –that superpowers are very difficult to control. I think it might be wiser to bestow them on those better equipped to manage them.

Henry: Isn’t it only a superpower if you can eat all you want and NOT gain weight?

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

Not many people know this, but Charles Dickens and the Polish poet Wyslawa Symborska are conjoined twins, so if invite Charlie, he’ll have to drag Wyslawa along. (The original meaning of Plus 1, by the way.) That’s also true of Teju Cole and Richard Wilbur. Then there are those famous triplets, George Eliot, Shakespeare and Moliere. Journalist Masha Gessen and the Australian novelist David Malouf are my alternates.

Henry: Boy, give you and inch, and you take a mile! Wikipedia helpfully offers:
Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.

Teju Cole is a Nigerian-American writer, photographer, and art historian. Cole is the author of three books: a novella, Every Day is for the Thief (Nigeria: Cassava Republic, 2007; New York: Random House, 2014; London: Faber, 2014), a novel, Open City (New York: Random House, 2012; London: Faber, 2012), and a collection of more than 40 essays, Known and Strange Things, published in 2016. He is currently working on Radio Lagos, a non-fictional narrative of contemporary Lagos. Salman Rushdie has described Cole as “among the most gifted writers of his generation”.

Richard Purdy Wilbur is an American poet and literary translator. He was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987, and twice received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1957 and again in 1989.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

As you know, I’ve spent quite a lot of time with The Minotaur recently. I think I might choose someone a little cheerier next time around, The Mad Hatter, maybe. Or someone really solid like the armored bear, Iorek Byrnison, in Philip Pullman’s wonderful book, The Golden Compass. I do wish the Oracle of Delphi had a better sense of humor.

Henry: Please note the minotaur on the cover of MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES in the header image above. But, I’m with you on the panserbjørne!
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What do you like to do when you’re not working?

These days, I feel like I’m always working. I’ve got three separate and very different (from each other) projects going right now, and the administrative part of the writing life – interviews like this one, for example, are taking more of my time. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Who doesn’t relish the opportunity to talk about himself?) To complicate matters, for the first time ever I’ve become actively political. Nobody is more surprised about that than I am.

Staring out the living room window into the fields behind our old house is a wonderful thing.

Henry: Can we say your passion for democracy has trumped your desire to focus on writing?

What would you like it to (accurately) say on your tombstone?

He wasn’t afraid.

Henry: You gave me a Monty Python opening, and I’m taking it.

Bravely bold Sir Robin
Rode forth from Camelot
He was not afraid to die
Oh, brave Sir Robin
He was not at all afraid
To be killed in nasty ways
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin

He was not in the least bit scared
To be mashed into a pulp
Or to have his eyes gouged out
And his elbows broken
To have his kneecaps split
And his body burned away
And his limbs all hacked and mangled
Brave Sir Robin

His head smashed in
And his heart cut out
And his liver removed
And his bowels unplugged
And his nostrils raped
And his bottom burnt off
And his penis split and his…

“That’s… that’s enough music for now, lads.”

Where can readers find your work?

Wherever weird books are sold, but especially at your local independent bookstore.

Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, David. For something completely, different, check out David’s THIS ORQ (HE CAVE BOY)
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Meet the Monsters – Ogres

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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Ogres

Ogres are featured in mythology and folklore throughout the world. They are large, strong, dimwitted and dangerous humanoids who eat humans. Giants, trolls, and ogres are sometimes represented as the other in fiction. For example, Tolkien refers to the ogre-like creatures in THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS as trolls.

The term ogre has several possible origins. In the Bible, Og is the giant Amorite king of Bashan. The Etruscans worshiped a cannibalistic god Orcus. Greek mythology includes the river god Oiagros, father of Orpheus. A female ogre is called an ogress. Or perhaps real-world Neanderthals, which coexisted with Cro-Magnons, were the original inspiration for ogres.

ogre01 Per the New World Encyclopedia, “Another explanation for the ogre myth is that the ogres represent the remains of the forefather-cult which was ubiquitous in Scandinavia until the introduction of Christianity in the tenth and eleventh centuries. In this cult, the forefathers were worshiped in sacred groves, by altars, or by grave mounds. They believed that after death a person’s spirit continued to live on, or near, the family farm. This particularly applied to the founding-father of the estate, over whose body a large burial mound was constructed.”

Ogres appear in the movies Shrek, in the tabletop games Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Warhammer, and in the books PUSS IN BOOTS, HOP O’ MY THUMB and, SLEEPING BEAUTY (original version) by Charles Perrault, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis, XANTH by Piers Anthony, THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

ogre2Puss in Boots before the ogre. Note that one of the platters on the table serves human babies (Illustrated by Gustave Doré).

ogre3Hop-o’-My-Thumb steals the ogre’s seven-league boots. (Illustrated by Gustave Doré.)

ogre4Kwakiutl house pole representing the cannibal ogress Dzonoqwa

ogre5Oni (Japanese ogre)

ogre6The ogre from “Hop-o’-My-Thumb” at Efteling

ogre7The ogress Sanda Muhki represented at Mandalay Hill

 


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Meet the Monsters – Minotaurs

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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MINOTAURS

According to Greek mythology, minotaurs are strong, man-eating creatures with the head of a bull and the body of a human. The original Minotaur lived within a labyrinth created by Daedalus* for King Minos of Crete. The Minotaur was the monstrous offspring of the white Cretan Bull (a gift from Poseidon to Minos) and Minos’s wife Pasiphaë (who Poseidon made fall in love with the bull as punishment for Minos’s disrespect for Poseidon. It was only much later that the word “minotaur” came to represent a species of fantasy creatures.

*Recall Daedalus later created wings for his son Icarus, who ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun, with disastrous results.

minotaur01Conflicting legends tell that Minos’s son Androgeus was either killed by the Athenians, or by the Cretan Bull at Marathon. Minos waged a war of vengeance against Athens and won. Minos’s cruel revenge included a demand for seven boys and seven maidens be periodically sent to be fed to the Minotaur. Prince Theseus, son of the Athenian king Aegeus, volunteered to fight the Minotaur. It was agreed upon his successful return that he would put up a white sail. If he died, his crew was to hoist a black sail.

Upon Theseus’s arrival in Crete, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus, and aided him in navigating the labyrinth using a ball of thread (knowing full well the futility of a bread crumb trail). Theseus slayed the Minotaur and sailed home. BUT, he forgot to put up a white sail. King Aegeus, seeing no white sail, assumed Theseus had died, and jumped into the thereafter eponymously named Aegean Sea. The Greeks are really into the whole tragic tale thing, no?

Minotaurs appear in the movies Time Bandits, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, and Wrath of the Titans, in the tabletop games Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer, and in the books INFERNO by Dante, SEDUCTION OF THE MINOTAUR by Anais Nin, THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.
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Pasiphaë and the Minotaur, Attic red-figure kylix found at Etruscan Vulci (Cabinet des Médailles, Paris)

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The Minotaur in the Labyrinth, engraving of a 16th-century CE gem in the Medici Collection in the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

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William Blake’s image of the Minotaur to illustrate Inferno XII

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Detail of a paved floor in Conímbriga, Portugal, showing a minotaur

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Minotaur bust (National Archaeological Museum of Athens)

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Sculpture of Theseus and the Minotaur by Antoine-Louis Barye

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Theseus fighting the Minotaur, mosaic from Formia in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, Italy

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Theseus slaying the Minotaur (1932), Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia

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Theseus slays the Minotaur. Sculpture at the entrance of the Zwinger at the side of the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, Germany


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Meet the Monsters – Manticores

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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MANTICORES

According to Persian mythology, manticores were fierce, man-eating creatures with the body of a lion, the head of a man (except for three rows of sharp teeth), and sometimes horns or wings. They sport a dragon or scorpion tail, from which they can shoot poisonous spines! And if that wasn’t charming enough, it is said to eat its prey whole, leaving behind no trace.

For a pretty odd-sounding creature, it provoked some actual historical discussion. The Greek Pausanias referred to a description of manticores by a physician at the court of person King Artaxerxes II, Ctesias:

“The beast described by Ctesias in his Indian history, which he says is called martichoras by the Indians and “man-eater” [androphagos] by the Greeks, I am inclined to think is the tiger. But that it has three rows of teeth along each jaw and spikes at the tip of its tail with which it defends itself at close quarters, while it hurls them like an archer’s arrows at more distant enemies; all this is, I think, a false story that the Indians pass on from one to another owing to their excessive dread of the beast.”

manticore01Famous Greek author, naturalist and philosopher Gaius Plinius Secundus included manticores, mis-transcribed as manticorus, in his encyclopedia, NATURALIS HISTORIA.

The Greek Flavius Philostratus, author of THE LIFE OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA, was more skeptical:

“Accordingly Apollonius asked the question, whether there was there an animal called the man-eater (martichoras); and Iarchas replied: “And what have you heard about the make of this animal? For it is probable that there is some account given of its shape.” “There are,” replied Apollonius, “tall stories current which I cannot believe; for they say that the creature has four feet, and that his head resembles that of a man, but that in size it is comparable to a lion; while the tail of this animal puts out hairs a cubit long and sharp as thorns, which it shoots like arrows at those who hunt it.”

Manticores appear in the movies The Last Unicorn and Napoleon Dynamite (!), in the tabletop games Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer, and in the books A SPELL FOR CHAMELEON by Piers Anthony, THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie, the Harry Potter series and FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM by J.K. Rowling, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

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Manticore in an illustration from the Rochester Bestiary (c.1230-1240)

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Manticore or mantyger badge of William, Lord Hastings, c.1470.

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Manticora Topsell 1607

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Stone relief of a manticore with a slain ram in its fangs. Exterior atrium south wall of the parish church Our Lady at Maria Gail in Villach, Austria

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Pictish stone, showing a manticore and a human. Things are not looking good for the human…


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Meet the Monsters – Imps

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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IMPS

According to German mythology, imps are lesser goblins who often seek humans on whom to commit mischievous, not evil, acts. Imps are described as small, wild and willful; in some cultures they are synonymous with fairies. They are sometimes depicted as unattractive small demons. Although immortal, imps could be harmed with magical weapons or kept out of one’s house with magical wards.

There’s a certain pathos associated with imps, as their mischief is meant to attract human attention and friendship, but typically produces the opposite effect. Even in “successful” situations, the imp remains true to its nature, and continues to play pranks on its human host. Hence the term “impish” is often used today to describe someone who is a trickster or practical joker.

imp01Given their quasi-demonic appearance, some believed that imps were servants of witches and warlocks, sometimes known as familiars. Such familiars, in the form of the all-too-common black cat, black dog, or toad, were considered proof of witchcraft during the era of witch hunts.

imp02Imp legend in some cases associates imps with a container or object. Some imps were kept within a container, like a bottle or lamp. Others were not contained within, but magically bound to an object like a sword or jewel.

Imps appear in the games Forgotten Realms and Dungeons & Dragon, and in the books THE BOTTLE IMP by Robert Louis Stevenson, LIVES OF THE NECROMANCER by William Godwin, THE IMP AND THE CRUST by Leo Tolstoy, The Oz series by L. Frank Baum, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES and WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY by Henry Herz.

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From Robert Louis Stephenson’s THE BOTTLE IMP by William Hatherell

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Meet the Monsters – Hydras

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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HYDRAS

According to Greek and Roman mythology, the Hydra of Lerna (aka Lernaean Hydra, or simply Hydra) was a multi-headed snake-like water monster. The Hydra’s counterpart in Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian mythology was a seven-headed serpent. The Hydra’s lair was the spring of Amymone, a cave at Lerna lake in the Argolid region of Greece. The Hydra served as a guard for Lerna lake, which was considered an entrance to Hades’s underworld.

 

hydra02The Hydra was the offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna (herself half snake and half woman). These two begat other famous monstrous spawn, including Cerberus (the three-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hades), Chimera (part lion, part goat, and part dragon), the Sphinx (a monster with the body of a winged lion and woman’s head), the Nemean lion, and the Caucasian Eagle (who subsisted on a daily diet of Prometheus’s liver). Imagine the family dinners…

hydra03The seven labors of Hercules began with him slaying the Hydra’s sibling, the Nemean lion. Hercules second labor was to defeat the Hydra. According to legend, Hercules approached the spring of Amymone and fired flaming arrows into the cave. As Hercules cut off heads from the Hydra, he discovered its rather disturbing ability to grow back two heads in place of a severed one. Hercules’s nephew Iolaus suggested using fire to cauterize the Hydra’s neck after each decapitation to prevent regeneration. This gruesome innovation succeeded. Finally, Hercules dipped his arrows in the Hydra’s poisonous blood. He subsequently put those poison arrows to good use fighting the Stymphalian Birds, the giant Geryon, and the centaur Nessus.

hydra04Hydras appear in the movies Jason and the Argonauts and Hercules, the fantasy miniatures game Warhammer, and the books BIBLIOTHECA by Apollodorus, PERCY JACKSON: THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

Interestingly, two real-world animals now bear the names of hydra and echidna.


Gustav Moreau’s 19th-century depiction of the Hydra

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Pollaiuolo’s Hercules and the Hydra (c. 1475)

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Caeretan black-figure hydra (c. 346 BC)

 


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Meet the Monsters – Harpies

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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HARPIES

Today in Meet the Monsters, we’re going to meet harpies. A harpy is a terrifying creature that has the head and body of a woman and the wings and legs of an eagle. Many people know of harpies as death spirits—cruel torturers of those who angered the Greek god Zeus and savage abusers of souls on their way to the underworld. For more than 2,000 years, many have thought of harpies as ugly, old, and nasty. In Dante’s Inferno, harpies even infest the seventh ring of Hell.


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Harpies in the infernal wood, from Inferno XIII, by Gustave Doré, 1861

HarpyReliefBut human-headed birds aren’t always so simple. More than 5,500 years ago, stories began to be told about the Sumerian goddess of war and love, Inanna (who was later also known as Ishtar). She was frequently depicted in carvings as a harpy-like woman with wings. Inanna/Ishtar was a force to be reckoned with; when the goddess visited the underworld, she demanded that the gatekeeper open the door or she would unleash a plague of zombies!

The Burney Relief, which is almost 2,000 years old, shows a figure that may be Inanna/Ishtar.

Some harpies are actually good spirits. A 700 year-old tomb in Turkey is covered with intricate carvings of harpies and other fantastical beasts; the harpies on her tomb were “soul-birds” who would protect against evil while carrying her soul to the underworld. The harpy also appeared as a guardian in Islamic art from across Syria, Egypt, and Muslim Spain. There is even a tale that Alexander the Great sought out a wise harpy to ask for advice!

karyobinga  Kalavinka

Another kindly harpy figure is a Buddhist creature called the kalavinka. It is associated with paradise and music, and is said to sing beautifully. They were frequently featured in the art of the empire of Western Xia, until it was wiped out by the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan.

So what do you think? If you saw a harpy, would you say “hi?” Or run away screaming?

Harpies appear in THE ARGONAUTICA (Jason and the Argonauts) by Apollonius Rhodius, THE AENEID by Virgil, THE DIVINE COMEDY by Dante, THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare, THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

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A harpy in Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Monstrorum Historia, Bologna, 1642

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Greater coat of arms of the city of Nuremberg, Germany


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Meet the Monsters – Gnomes

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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GNOMES

According to European mythology, gnomes are small, shy, and cunning humanoids who live underground and can move through earth as easily as humans move through air.

Per Wikipedia:

The chthonic, or earth-dwelling, spirit has precedents in numerous ancient and medieval mythologies, often guarding mines and precious underground treasures, notably in the Germanic dwarves and the Greek Chalybes, Telchines or Dactyls

gnome5The English word is attested from the early 18th century. Gnomes are used in Alexander Pope’s THE RAPE OF THE LOCK. The creatures from this mock-epic are small, celestial creatures which were prudish women in their past lives, and now spend all of eternity looking out for prudish women (in parallel to the guardian angels in Catholic belief). Other uses of the term gnome remain obscure until the early 19th century, when it is taken up by authors of Romanticist collections of fairy tales and becomes mostly synonymous with the older word goblin.

Pope’s stated source, the French satire Comte de Gabalis (1670), used the term gnomide to refer to female gnomes (often “gnomid” in English translations).

In 19th century fiction, the chthonic gnome became a sort of antithesis to the more airy or luminous fairy. Nathaniel Hawthorne in TWICE-TOLD TALES (1837) contrasts the two in “Small enough to be king of the fairies, and ugly enough to be king of the gnomes”. Similarly, gnomes are contrasted to elves, as in William Cullen Bryant’s LITTLE PEOPLE OF THE SNOW (1877), which has “let us have a tale of elves that ride by night, with jingling reins, or gnomes of the mine”.

After World War II (with early references, in ironical use, from the late 1930s) the diminutive figurines introduced as lawn ornaments during the 19th century came to be known as garden gnomes.

Gnomes appear in the game Dungeons & Dragons, and in the OZ series by L. Frank Baum (referred to as “nomes”), THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series by C.S. Lewis (sometimes referred to as “earthmen”), GNOMES by Wil Huygen, the SHANNARA series by Terry Brooks, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK by Chuck Sambuchino, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

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Gnome with newspaper and tobacco pipe by Heinrich Schlitt

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Illustration by E. Stuart Hardy for THE BOOK OF GNOMES Fred. E. Weatherly

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Gnome King Kyrië in Hoogeloon, the Netherlands.

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Alfred Smedberg’s THE TROLLS AND THE GNOME BOY in the childrens’ stories collection AMONG PIXIES AND TROLLS

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To the left a gnome who is cutting stones in the underground.

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Night Gnome by Victor Hugo – 1856

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The worlds biggest Garden Gnome, called “Solus”, recognized by Guinness World Records Book 2009, placed in Nowa Sól, Poland (5,4 m. high)


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Meet the Monsters – Giants

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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GIANTS

According to mythology from across the globe, giants are enormous and powerful humanoids.

Per Wikipedia, “In various Indo-European mythologies, gigantic peoples are featured as primeval creatures associated with chaos and the wild nature, and they are frequently in conflict with the gods, be they Olympian, Celtic, Hindu or Norse.

There are also accounts of giants in the Old Testament, most famously Goliath, Og King of Bashan, the Nephilim, the Anakim, and the giants of Egypt mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:23. Attributed to them are extraordinary strength and physical proportions.

giant01Fairy tales such as “Jack the Giant Killer” have formed the modern perception of giants as stupid and violent monsters, sometimes said to eat humans, especially children (though this is actually a confusion with ogres, which are distinctly cannibalistic). The ogre in “Jack and the Beanstalk” is often described as a giant. In some more recent portrayals, like those of Jonathan Swift and Roald Dahl, some giants are both intelligent and friendly.”

Giants appear in the movies Jack the Giant Slayer and Trollslayer, the game Dungeons & Dragons, and in THE BIBLE, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien, Rick Riordan’s THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS series, HAMMERED by Kevin Hearne, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

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The giants Fafner and Fasolt seize Freyja in Arthur Rackham’s illustration of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.

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David faces Goliath in this 1888 lithograph by Osmar Schindler.

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Hercules faces the giant Antaios in this illustration on a calix krater, c. 515–510 BC.

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King Arthur faces a giant in this engraving by Walter Crane.

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Poseidon (left) holding a trident, with the island Nisyros on his shoulder, battling a Giant (probably Polybotes), red-figure cup c. 500–450 BC

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Gilt-bronze Enceladus by Gaspar Mercy in the Bosquet de l’Encélade in the gardens of Versailles

 

 


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Meet the Monsters – Fauns

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Meet the Monsters is a web series providing background on the mythological creatures featured in MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES.

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FAUNS

According to Greek and Roman mythology, fauns are simple, forest-dwelling creatures with the head, arms, and torso of a human, two goat legs, and goat horns on their head. They represented forest or animal spirits, and as such, would aid or hinder humans traveling through wooded areas.

 

 

 

faun01In Greek mythology, Pan is is the god of the wild, shepherds, flocks, nature, and rustic music. His appearance is like that of a faun. He is reputed to be the son of Hermes. As a rustic god, Pan was worshipped in caves and grottos. He is often shown carrying his pan flute, made from hollowed reeds of different lengths.

Unlike fauns, satyrs were originally depicted with horselike tails and ears, and served as humanoid male companions of the Greek god Dionysus. However, satyrs gained a more faun-like appearance over time from conflation with a Roman nature god named Faunus..

Fauns appear in the movies My Dinner with Andre and Pan’s Labyrinth, and the books THE MARBLE FAUN by Nathaniel Hawthorne, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis,  THE SON OF NEPTUNE by Rick Riordan, and MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES by Henry Herz.

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