Littlelot — Now Available in Paperback

Because we love paper. To feel the weight of a book in our hands. To hear the spine crack as we open it. To see the shape of the letters, the words flowing from paragraph to paragraph down the page. Closing our eyes, bowing head into book, we envelope our face in it and breath in the smell of pulp and ink and long, quiet evenings in other worlds with old friends who live there forever and ever.

Peregrine Publishing is pleased to announce Littlelot’s print release. The First Story of Littlelot and Littlelot and the Real Monster are available in paperback on Amazon.

The First Story of Littlelot is also available in a Full-Color Illustrated Edition. The frontispiece and six chapter illustrations by celebrated artists Arthur Rackham, N. C. Wyeth, Thomas Moran, and Herbert James Draper bring Littlelot’s Arthurian adventure to life in this beautiful paperback book.

The First Story of Littlelot

Available on Amazon

Littlelot and the Real Monster

Available on Amazon

 

The First Story of Littlelot: Full-Color Illustrated Edition

Available on Amazon

Choose your own path...


Rez de Jardin, Bibliotèque François Mitterrand

Bibliotèque François MitterrandI met Tom at a café I call the field office. Tom teaches history of religion to high school sophomores in Arizona. He comes to Paris every year to do research at the Bibliotèque François Mitterrand.

Tom said, “I work six floors under ground on the garden level.”

I said, “I gotta see that,” and we made plans to meet the next day.

 

Tom wasn't kidding. The Rez de Jardin is the research floor at the BnF. This photo was taken from the entrance level overlooking the garden, which is rather more like a forest.

Rez de JardinJardin at the Bibliotèque François Mitterrand

Below, the garden is surrounded by room after room of books and work spaces. Labeled by letters K through Y, the rooms are classed by subject: philosophy, history, science and technology, economics, politics, art and literature, and the rare book reserve.

Rare booksTom gave me a tour. We got as far as the rare book reserve…

The rare books are kept in room Y. To get to room Y, there’s a door in the back of room T. The door leads to a narrow elevator that goes up two floors into a low-ceiling space, filled with chest-high book cases, quiet, and dimly lit. A friendly, young man took our accreditation cards and let us browse. I was hoping he’d give us white cotton gloves.

Genesis  Gutenberg BibleThese are facsimiles of Caxton’s 1485 edition of Le Morte d’Arthur and a Gutenberg Bible.

Caxton's edition of Malory  1485

 

 No gloves required.

Choose your own path...


Countdown Sale — The First Story of Littlelot

To celebrate Littlelot’s print release, we’re having a Countdown Sale on the Kindle edition of The First Story of Littlelot.

The countdown sale begins today 8 a.m. PST at $0.99. The 99-cent price will hold through the weekend. The price goes up to $1.99 Monday 4 p.m. PST. The sale ends next Friday at midnight PST when the price goes back to its normal $2.99.

Get yours now!

 

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Ebook
Available on Amazon

 

 

 

Choose your own path...


A Peregrine’s Path, Issue no. 2

The second issue of A Peregrine’s Path went out to subscribers on Saturday.

CONTENTS

Now Available in Paperback
The first two books in the Littlelot series

Leap from a high branch
Haiku illustrated by Cristina Basile

Muses of Montparnasse
Future project preview

Subscribe now and get a free ebook

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

A Peregrine’s Path
News of Stephen’s upcoming releases, previews of his books, and exclusive offers from
Peregrine Publishing

Choose your own path...


Berserkers

Cantercon, followed by the charmed fighting-woman, explored the corridor. At a door on the left, the corridor turned right. Thrace stood guard while the conjurer put an ear to the door.

002Through thick planks, he heard a murmuring voice that rose into a crescendo, “…and kill something!” followed by a chorus of “Yeah!”

He whispered to Thrace, “Berserkers,” and pulled a purse from his belt.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to hire them,” he said and knocked on the door.

A brief scuffling from the room beyond stopped in silence. Then a gruff voice said, “Who’s there?”

“Cantercon. I have a proposition for you.”

The door opened. Three men, armored in leather, swords drawn, stood in the doorway.

The conjurer held forth the purse. “One hundred gold coins and half any treasure found for you if you kill things for us.”

Broad smiles spread across battle-hardened faces.

Choose your own path...


The Making of a Fresco

“As far as Artimus knew, his would be the first attempt to actually recreate the cartoon as an authentic fresco. This was no small undertaking, nor was it a temporary commitment. A fresco was created by covering a large surface, usually a wall, in fresh plaster. The pigments would then be applied directly to the wall while the plaster was wet. Done improperly, the work could mildew if the mix was too wet, or reject the pigment and flake if it was too dry. Worse, the colors might shift as the plaster dried.”

—James A. Owen, The Barbizon Diaries

One of my first questions when contemplating any possible truth behind the legend of The Millet Fresco is this: Who among the assembled artists had the skill to make a fresco?

In The Dictionary of Art (Vol 11, Grove 1996), Jane Turner corroborates Owen’s description of the process. Turner also says that the artist generally employed a team of workmen:

“Fresco painting was technically demanding and was usually carried out on a large scale, so the painter had to be accurate in drawing up his composition and capable of organizing a team of skilled hands, from the masons to the assistant painters who were assigned the less important parts of the work.” (p. 760)

The description seems the antithesis of the lone landscape painter in a straw hat, easel strapped over a shoulder, box of paints in hand, ambling along a country road to a favorite meadow with a pleasant view.

Dictionnaire de l'art  de la curiosité et du bibelot 1883Not that it wouldn’t have been possible for any of the Barbizon painters to attempt such a work. They were all trained artists. Only I had hoped to find one of them had particular experience in fresco painting—or at least a mentor who did, so as to make a convenient target for further study. Cursory research into the lives of the principle characters mentioned in the legend reveals no obvious connection to any fresco painters.

The easiest way to avoid the question is to assume that when they spoke of a fresco the Barbizon painters referred to any kind of mural, no matter the technique.

The Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Alain Rey, 1992) summarizes the origin of the French word and its evolution. In French, the term peinture à fresque [pronounced fresk] was borrowed in 1550 from the Italian dipingere a fresco, literally: painting freshly.

(In English the awkward literal translation painting freshly is replaced by painting in fresco. This is not the same as alfresco, also from Italian, which is used for dining as well as painting outdoors.)

By 1669, the French word fresque was used alone to indicate a mural painted with pigment on fresh plaster. Then, as soon as the end of the next decade (1680), though technically incorrect, fresque as any large wall painting came into general usage.

Furthermore, writing in the 1880s—thus contemporary to our would-be fresco painters—French architect Ernest Bosc describes the pigment on fresh plaster method. However, Bosc then goes on to say, “By extension, we use this term for wall paintings using encaustic (beeswax and resin) or wax, oil paint or by stereochromy.” (Dictionnaire de l'art. Firmin-Didot 1883. Translation mine)

So it’s within the realm of possibility that the Barbizon painters planned to make a mural using techniques more familiar to them.

However, in The Barbizon Diaries as well as in my discussions with the author, James Owen insists that, according to the legend told to him by his Uncle Clair, the work was to be a real fresco, pigment on fresh plaster. Supposedly, its difficulty is the reason Millet had refused earlier requests to undertake such an endeavor.

Therefore, in my research, I’ll keep an open mind and allow both possibilities: a pigment-on-fresh-plaster fresco as well as any other large wall painting.

As a side note, I find it as ironic as it is appropriate that these Realist painters, rebels against Neoclassicism, would choose to produce a monumental work in a classical medium.

Hemicycle d'honneur by Paul Delaroche

Hemicycle d’honneur by Paul Delaroche, 1837-41

This fresco à la cire (wax) covers a hemi-circular wall approximately 15 feet high, 80 feet wide at l’École des baux arts in Parisour next stop on A Pilgrimage to Barbizon.

___
Sources:

The Dictionary of Art, Vol. 11. Jane Turner, editor. New York: Grove, 1996.

Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Historical Dictionary of the French Language). Alain Rey, editor. Paris: Dictionnaires Le Robert, 1992.

Dictionnaire de l'art, de la curiosité et du bibelot (Dictionary of Art, Curiosity, and Ornament). Ernest Bosc, editor. Paris: Librairie de Firmin-Didot et Cie., 1883.

Choose your own path...


Magic!

My mom told me I had to clean my room because toys were scattered all over the floor. It’s a lot of fun taking toys out of the toy box to play with them, but putting them back in is a chore.

Merlin Paints the Young Knight's Shield by Gustave Doré
Merlin Paints the Young Knight's Shield by Gustave Doré from Vivien by Alfred Lord Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon & Company, 1867

It would be easy if I were a wizard, like Merlin in the picture book I read with Granddad. I’d just raise my arms, close my eyes, and say the magic words: “Anath orthibis bethad!” and all the toys would be back in the toy box.

What if I am a wizard and just don’t know it? There was only one way to find out. I stood in the center of the room and raised my arms, closed my eyes, and said, “Anath orthibis bethad!

When I opened my eyes, the toys were still there.

But even if I’m not a wizard, I can always pretend to be one. So I stood in the center of the room and raised my arms, closed my eyes, and said, “Anath orthibis…

Then I ran around the room as fast as I could, picking up toys. When I came around to the toy box, I dumped them in and kept going. Once, twice, three times around, picking up toys and dumping them in the toy box.

After I dumped the last toy, I ran to the center of the room and raised my arms, closed my eyes, and said, “Bethad!

I opened my eyes. The floor was clean and all the toys, in the toy box.

Just then my mom came in to check on me. Looking around the room, she said, “How did you do that so fast, Littlelot?”

I grinned at her and said, “Magic!”

 

Stephen Wendell is a grown-up who believes in magic. He’s the author of the Littlelot series of books for children and parents who read to them.

 

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

GET IT FREE
with your subscription to
A Peregrine’s Path

 

 

 

The First Story of Littlelot: Full-Color Illustrated Edition

The First Story of
Littlelot

Full-Color Illustrated Edition

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Paperback
Available on Amazon

 

Littlelot and the Real Monster

Littlelot
and the
Real Monster

Littlelot must overcome his fear to confront the monster that threatens to eat him and his family too!

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

Available on kobo

 

 

Choose your own path...


Cantercon

The tall, armored woman let out a breath. Her sturdy frame relaxed. The magic-user studied her expression.

“What’s your name, fighting-woman?”

“Thrace.”

Her eyes didn’t narrow; her brow remained uncreased. By these signs, he knew the spell he cast on entering had been successful. It made her predisposed to friendliness toward him.

“Thrace,” he repeated, trying the name on her. He admired how she held herself, straight and confident. “Call me Cantercon. I search these rooms for a book. I invite you to join me.”

“How do you know there’s nothing under the statue, Cantercon?”

“Nothing of value,” he said. “The runes on the pedestal indicate it represents the wizard Ardendred Faerthoht, Doommaker, builder of this elaborate complex. In the early phases of construction, he hid great treasures beneath representations of himself.”

Deep Dungeon Doom“Great treasures?”

“All his wealth secured, in later phases he hid deadly traps instead.”

Her eyes shifted to the pedestal beneath the stone-robed figure. Cantercon pointed behind to the archway with the monster-head keystone. Its one eye stared down at them. “Faerthoht favored the cyclops motif in later phases.”

The conjurer allowed a moment for his new friend to assimilate the information.

“Come.” Motioning for her to follow, he stepped toward the corridor beyond the statue. “We’ll divide treasure evenly.”

Choose your own path...


Preface to The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of Littlelot on AmazonThe First Story of Littlelot is an Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures.

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

 

Preface

The valiant knight in shining armor rides a resplendent steed on dangerous adventures. He surmounts overwhelming obstacles, rights terrible wrongs, and rescues the damsel in distress…

That’s what I want to be when I grow up!

Alas, I was born centuries too late. As were you, Young Reader, if such might be your own grown-up ambition. Left to us in our times are stories of those chivalric heroes, models that we may yet apply to our modern lives.

The quintessential tale of noble knights is that of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table as told by Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte d’Arthur. Reputedly a knight himself, Malory compiled his fifteenth-century rendering from various sources, among them, the Vulgate Cycle, the Prose Tristan, and the Stanzaic Morte Arthur. Each of which drew on earlier works, including Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain and a collection of stories by the French troubadour Chrétien de Troyes. In turn, Malory’s work has inspired a profusion of novels, narrative poetry, films, and other forms, collectively known as “Arthurian legend.”

The First Story of Littlelot recounts the adventure of the most renowned of all the Round Table knights, Lancelot, and his rescue of Gwenevere, drawn from Book VII of Le Morte d’Arthur. My own retelling differs from Malory’s in length as well as in certain details.

Stephen Wendell
December 14, 2016
Paris, France

 

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

GET IT FREE
with your subscription to
A Peregrine’s Path

 

 

 

The First Story of Littlelot: Full-Color Illustrated Edition

The First Story of
Littlelot

Full-Color Illustrated Edition

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Paperback
Available on Amazon

 

Littlelot and the Real Monster

Littlelot
and the
Real Monster

Littlelot must overcome his fear to confront the monster that threatens to eat him and his family too!

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

Available on kobo

 

 

Choose your own path...


Hanami, Ancient Japanese Tradition

The way opens between two hedge rows. Birds chitter within. Entering by a narrow lane, the world blooms into rosy hues. A soft breeze through branches carries the delicate scent of cherry blossoms. Cherry tree in bloom  Parc de SceauxCheckered blankets spread beneath them, well dressed men and women clink glasses. Laughing children roll in lush green grass. Tiny birds flit from branch to branch, tree to tree, twittering the news: “Spring, spring! Springtime is here!”

I walked into a cherry orchard at the Parc de Sceaux. All the trees were in full bloom, all the people were there to see them, and everyone brought a picnic.

Cherry blossoms  pink and white  dazzle in sunlightA Japanese guy set up a camera on a tripod. Its lens, as long as my forearm, extended toward pink and white blossoms, dazzling in the sunlight. The hollow pop of a cork leaving a Champagne bottle turned heads and made a girl giggle.

“Is there a party?” I asked the guy, my American accent coming through the French.

“Hanami,” he said with a Japanese accent, “ancient Japanese custom, big spring celebration.”

We chatted for a few minutes while he lined up a shot with the camera. I took a few photos as well and made a note to look up this custom when I got home. This is what I’ve found so far:

In eighth-century Japan, neighboring Chinese culture was considered more sophisticated. Such was its influence that the Japanese capital, Nara, was modeled after its Chinese counterpart, including numerous plum trees imported from China. Plum trees bloom in late February and mark the end of winter.

Tranquility beneath a cherry tree

Emperor Saga in the early ninth century is credited as the first to throw a party in a blooming orchard. Thus Hanami, “flower viewing” in Japanese, began among the elite of the imperial court.

Due to a rebellion in China, that country’s exports to Japan halted. This intercultural rupture is marked by the 894 abolition of Japan’s official delegations to China, which required an arduous crossing of the Sea of Japan. Reduced influence from the mainland allowed an independent Japanese culture to flourish, and the native cherry tree gained in popularity over the old plum tree. Blooming at the end of March, cherry blossoms mark the arrival of spring.

Curious margin note: The popularity of plum and cherry blossoms is measured by the number of mentions each receives throughout history in various writings, such as chronicles, diaries, and poetry, including waka and haiku. So many mentions for plums in this century versus only this many for cherries. The next couple centuries see an increase in cherry mentions and a decrease in plums. Vote for your favorite thing in writing!

Yayoi or Sangatsu  Asukayama Hanami
Yayoi or Sangatsu, Asukayama Hanami (Third Lunar Month, Blossom Viewing at Asuka Hill) by Kitao Shigemasa (1739–1820), from the series Jūnikagetsu (Twelve Months), between 1772 and 1776. Color woodblock print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Hanami remained a practice of the elite until the eighteenth century. His people suffering from poverty, Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune invited local subjects into a private cherry orchard to share in the springtime festival, which included a feast as well as cherry blossoms. The event was well received. The shogun then ordered the planting of cherry trees along rivers and lanes and encouraged the people to participate in the annual event.

Today, Hanami is as popular as ever in Japan, and the custom has spread around the world. In April of each year, some 200 Japanese cherry trees attract members of the local Japanese community and Parisians to two orchards in the Parc de Sceaux, south of Paris.

I’m still hunting down the provenance of these particular trees. I’ll update this article when I find out. Meanwhile, if you want to see the spectacle, it’s happening this week!

 

Stephen Wendell lives near the Parc de Sceaux, where he goes for a daily run. He is the author of the Littlelot series of children’s books and The Way to Vict’ry, a book of three haiku inspired by Sun Tzu, Matthieu Ricard, and a magpie flight instructor.

Northern cherry orchard  west of the Grand Canal

View of the northern (pink) cherry tree orchard, west of the Grand Canal, Parc de Sceaux

Choose your own path...