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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Star Maidens - Nadir Quinto

I was originally going to post another entry on the Bill Woggon colouring book I featured at the beginning of the year as I've always had three posts in mind for it.  But somehow I felt I needed something with a bit more colour in my life today - and this lovely story seemed just the ticket.  The illustrations are by Nadir Quinto - one of my favourite artists and someone who has featured in my blog on more that one occasion before. 

I love everything about these illustrations.  The richness of the colours, the subject matter, and the way just looking at them makes my spirit soar into the heavens where it can dance in that vast spangled expanse alongside these fairies and prancing winged horses.

Last week I was feeling very tired, demoralised and pretty glum in general.  I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who left a comment and to those of you I know visit regularly even if you don't always say anything.  I've mentioned before that blogging has surprised me by being such a two way street.  I always hoped my posts would bring enjoyment and delight to the lives of others in the same way that these illustrations have given such joy and pleasure to mine.  I never expected to find my own life enriched in return so much by the people I've met in the process.  I may not have managed to garner hundreds of followers but I've realised that each and every one of you is far more important to me than a thousand voiceless faces - so for that I'd like to thank you all for the wealth of friendship you've brought to my world.

This is another instance where I've had to split my scans into two images because I can only cope with A4 size and the original pages are much larger.  I've tried to do these so that both the illustrations and the text are included.  I may have cut a little bit off on the edges but I hope I've still managed to keep a workable balance.

This story originally appeared in 'Once Upon a Time' magazine. 
Issues 79 to 82
Published weekly between 15 August 1970 and 5 September 1970

To those of you whose blogs I normally visit - thanks again for being so understanding if I don't pop around as often as I used to.  I've found because of my new extended commute (coupled with a demanding work environment) I tend to run out of steam as the week progresses - each day gets progressively worse and by Thursday I'm capable of doing virtually nothing by the time I get home.  Its almost more than I can do to get up on Friday morning but at least then I have the knowledge that on Saturday I don't have to make a 5am start.  Its amazing how well the weekend manages to revive my energy and spirits - but then treadmill continues and its back to the same old routine on Monday again!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Strawberry Fairy

Somehow since moving home I've lost all momentum when it comes to blogging.  I've moved twice before since starting this blog so the effort involved is not necessarily the cause, but something inside me seems to have changed.  Part of the reason for this is my extended work commute - now almost 5 hours each day during the week.  I've realised I've reached the point where I can either visit and support other people's blogs or post something on my own, but no longer do both with regularity.

The most rewarding and unexpected pleasure of blogging for me has been the interaction I've enjoyed with the wonderful people I've met through this blog since starting these posts.  For this reason alone I'm determined to try to continue. Even though we have never met in person I consider many of you really good friends and I would miss your comments and 'company' terribly.  If I'm brutally honest with myself I have to acknowledge that my blog is not as successful as most of those I visit but I'm going to plug on regardless.  I can't network as easily or socialise as much as I should - and I probably won't post as frequently as before, but I'll do my best!      

Because I'm slightly out of sorts myself I've decided to post a story this week that I've always found a bit unusual and slightly off-kilter.  The illustrations, however, have always appealed to me greatly - as a child I found them absolutely fascinating and as an adult they are still able to conjure up a sense of true magic.

The story centres around two children - a brother and sister called Jonathan and Joan.  The book sets the location quite specifically next to 'the banks to the St Laurence River, near to the town of Quebec in Canada'.  The narrative describes them as belonging to a poor peasant family but I've always found this a bit of an anomaly as the children in the illustrations appear pretty middle class to me and they live in a cosy looking thatched cottage straight out of a fairytale (there are some black and white drawings as well as the colour plates).

The children enjoy playing in the forest behind their cottage, but one evening their father comes home from work and makes them promise not to go there any more as rumours have surfaced of wicked fairies living in the woods.  The children forget their promise, wander into the forest the next day and soon realise they are lost.  Suddenly a young girl appears before them, wearing a beautiful gown of green leaves and covered with strawberries.  I've always loved the illustration of this gown - as a child I thought clothing covered with foliage and fruit very special - but I can also remember thinking that this 'fairy' looked more like someone's neighbour from down the road.

The strawberry fairy (for that's what she turns out to be) offers to show the children the way out of the forest and they follow her trustingly.  But instead of doing this she takes them to her own home and locks them into a shed.  She feeds them bread and water and makes them work like slaves in a garden 'full of the most wonderful strawberries in the world'.

One evening while Joan is sitting crying bitterly a beautiful parrot flies through the window of the shed.  To her surprise the parrot (called Jacky) can talk and Joan tells him the whole story.  Jacky flies off and what Joan does not realise is that he is the secret messenger of the Queen of the Fairies.  His duty is to report back to the queen if he discovers any fairy doing something wicked or wrong and so he returns straight away to her castle to tell her everything he knows of the unkind deeds of the Strawberry Fairy.

I've also always liked this illustration of the fairy queen and her court.  These voluptuous and sultry looking ladies appear more like an exotic gathering of the United Nations than a host of fairies, but this illustration has real storybook appeal.

The Queen and her counsellors meet to decide how the Strawberry Fairy should be punished.
The Rose Fairy says they should take away all her roses.
The Bird Fairy thinks they should take away all her birds.
The Cake Fairy decides they should let her starve.
Then one of the middle-aged fairies suggests they change her into an old witch - taking away her youth and beauty is the worst punishment they could give her.  The other fairies agree and congratulate the middle aged fairy on thinking up such a good idea.    

The Queen taps her golden wand on the ground three times and the Strawberry Fairy is turned into an ugly old witch.
Jacky then flies off and frees the children to reunite them with their parents.
The Strawberry Fairy remains as an ugly old witch for 100 years.  She realises how unkind she has been and tries to become a good fairy.  When she is able to prove to the Fairy Queen that she has genuinely changed her ways the Queen forgives her and restores her youth and beauty.  Since then she has apparently always been helpful to children - especially those who lose their way in the woods.

The Strawberry Fairy by Aunt Lucille.
Illustrations by J.C. van Hunn (I could find no details on this artist)
Printed in the Netherlands by Mulder Books (no date given)

A couple of week's ago Barbara from March House Books included two posts in her blog about the Little Grey Rabbit series of books.  They brought back such a powerful memory of the Bunnykins bowl I ate my porridge out of when I was a child.  I still have my bowl (today it is locked away in my special china cabinet).  I can remember how I used to look for the bunnies every morning and move the porridge around to find my favourites.  My sister had the bunnies with the balloon seller, but I always thought my bowl of bunnies skating on a pond was much more special!

And to finish - I discovered some wild primroses in my new garden recently.  Some were a bit overgrown so at first I didn't notice them and it was such a lovely thrill to see them peeking through:

 And some pretty bright rhododendron:


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