Posts tagged ‘stories’


From "Tales from Old Ireland" by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey.

You can’t help but wonder at the mystery surrounding All Hallows’ Eve. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film, Halloween has inspired popular culture for ages, spreading from Northern Europe to as far as Hong Kong!

But how did Halloween become the holiday we know today?

  • Halloween as we know it evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats for spirits who roamed the streets during a sacred festival that honored the dead, called “Samhain” in Ireland and “Nos Calan Gaeaf” in Wales.
  • Samhain festival-goers started dressing in ghost, witch and goblin costumes to escape the notice of real spirits wandering the streets. To this day, these remain revelers’ most popular Halloween costumes; just ask the spooks from our very own Barefoot Book of Giants, Ghosts and Goblins!
  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits on the Samhain holiday.

From "Tales from Celtic Lands" by Caitlin Matthews, illustrated by Olwyn Whelan

  • If you’re the last one frolicking about the bonfire on Nos Calan Gaeaf, watch out! According to Welsh legend, the spirits of a giant black sow and headless woman might carry you with them back to the spirit world!
  • According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside-out and walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.
  • Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.

Not so keen on wearing your clothes inside-out or hanging wet sheets by a fire? Celebrate instead with our monstrously fun Halloween craft, spooky recipes or scary-fun books! Befriend a not-so-scary giant (above), gallant heroes, fiendish folk and more in Tales from Old Ireland.

Wishing you and your family a safe and spooktacular Halloween!


Last week, I went to a neuroscience-meets-psychology seminar in London about infant-parent relationships. It was delightful to be reminded how even the smallest babies are ready and eager to engage with the adults in their world and to tune into what is being shared with them. In the wake of this experience, I was very happy earlier this week to read the news from the American Association of Pediatrics that it will now be a requirement for health professionals to give guidance to young parents of the value of reading to their new babies.


 

You’ve probably heard the term “brain drain” tossed around in the media. What is it? Is it a real phenomenon?


Our favourite events each year have to be our annual Barefoot Books Ambassador Conferences. These weekend-long events in Oxford, England and Concord, Massachusetts are a great opportunity for Ambassadors from all over the globe to gather as one and experience the joy of Living Barefoot. Our Ambassadors represent the Barefoot mission and work hard to build businesses of their own. This year our Conferences are in May and we can’t wait for the sound of our community celebrating, laughing and bonding—it’s the true sound of spring for us!


Today is the first annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day, designed to shine a light on great books for children that feature stories from around the world.
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Blog_JenniferWaldon

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Waldon

Adults aren’t the only ones who feel the stress of the busy holiday season. Between parties, entertaining, shopping, wrapping, decorating, hosting visitors, baking, and other festivities that go along with the winter season, it can be exhausting even to think about, never mind take part in!


Princess of Springs Blog

Illustration by Martina Peluso from the upcoming The Princess of the Springs

American academic Jack Zipes is what a British newspaper calls the ‘Merlin of folklore studies.’  He has spent his life stepping inside stories and has written and edited scores of books, including The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales and The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature. He is passionate about fairy tales, their meaning and their importance. He believes in the power of fairy tales to hold up a mirror to our lives and show us ‘the gaps between truth and falsehood in our immediate society.’ Like all of us at Barefoot, Jack is convinced that story is not a commodity or entertainment but a means to explore and express ideas. So how lucky a few of the Barefoot Books Oxford office’s editorial team felt when we had the chance to listen to him talk at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) in London.


Photo courtesy of Bankstreet Bookstore

In a tiny village, in a valley, high in the mountains of Tibet, a little boy was born. He loved to fly kites. On clear nights he liked to look up at the Milky Way and the stars. “There are other worlds up there,” he said to himself. “Someday I’m going to visit them…” So begins the story of The Mountains of Tibet, one of the first books published by Barefoot Books back in 1993.


I have been wondering about picture books lately. I have been wondering what it is that attracts me to this very particular art form. What was the impulse that led to the founding of Barefoot Books — to twenty years of shaping and sharing stories with words and pictures? The child in me has one way of exploring this question, the adult another.


Creating art for a book starts with sketches in a small journal I always have with me.

I think of the characters and how they could be dressed, then decide on a time period for the style of the costumes and the setting, whether it’s the 18th century, 19th or a mixture of time.