December 5:  Disney Day

Today is the birthday of Walt Disney, who was born in Chicago in 1901.  In 1928 he introduced the world to Mickey Mouse in the animated feature Steamboat Willie.  Disney revolutionized animation, mixing sound and color to produce full-length feature films based on classic children’s stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  For Disney, fantasy on the big screen was not enough.  He also pioneered the fantasy-themed family vacation when he opened Disneyland in California in 1955 (1).

Walt Disney 1946.JPGDisney was a man who paid attention to details, and he knew that the appearance of his characters as well as their names mattered.  In the 1930s, for example, when Disney was adapting the Brothers Grimm’s  Snow White, he made a list of 47 potential names for the dwarfs, which included Awful, Baldy, Dirty, and Hoppy (2).  In case you can’t remember the names that made the final cut, they are Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Doc.

As a film producer, Disney won 22 Academy Awards, far more than anyone else.  Disney died in 1966, but his name lives on.  The Walt Disney Company, the small animation company he founded on October 16, 1923, has grown into the world’s second largest media conglomerate.

Today’s Challenge:   Escape to Cartoon Mountain
Who would you argue should be on the Mount Rushmore of Cartoon Characters?  Brainstorm a list of cartoon characters.  Don’t limit yourself to just Disney characters.  Select your final four, the four that that you think are the most influential, most important, or just most entertaining.  List the names of each character along with a rationale for each character’s selection.  (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day:  First, think. Second, believe.  Third, dream.  And finally, dream. -Walt Disney

1-Gottlieb, Agnes Hooper, Henry Gottlieb, Barbara Bowers, and Brent Bowers. 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium. New York: Kodansha International, 1998.

2-http://www.listsofnote.com/2012/03/47-dwarfs.html

12/5 TAGS Disney, Walt, Steamboat Willie, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Mount Rushmore

January 4: Grimm’s Fairy Tales Day

Today is the birthday of Jacob Grimm, who was born in Hanau, Germany on this day in 1785.  Grimm, along with his brother Wilhelm, is know as the author of one of the best known works of German literature, Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

While in college at the University of Marburg, the Brothers Grimm developed an interest in German folklore and began a lifelong process of collecting and recording folk tales  The first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales was published in 1812 and contained 86 stories.  The book was revised and expanded several times, until 1857 when the 7th edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales was published with over 200 stories.  Published in more than 100 languages, the fairy tales became known throughout the world, and even today the name Grimm remains synonymous with children’s literature (1).  

Whether we were read adapted versions as bedtime stories or whether we watched filmed versions adapted by Walt Disney, the stories originally collected by the Brothers Grimm remain some of the most familiar stories of our youth:

Snow White

Sleeping Beauty

Rapunzel

Hansel and Grethel

Little Red Riding Hood

Rumpelstiltskin

The Pied Piper of Hamlin

Today’s Challenge:  Your Fairy Tales and Fables Final Four
What children’s stories would you enshrine in the Children’s Literature Hall of Fame?  What makes them so memorable and enduring?  Select four separate children’s stories from Grimm’s Fairy Tales or from other children’s literature.  Write an explanation of why you would enshrine each of your chosen stories into the Children’s Literature Hall of Fame.  (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.  –Albert Einstein

1- http://englit.org/eiland_shared/critical/grimm.htm