Ep. 19. Cast in Bronze: Books immortalized in public art
When we were young girls walking the streets of our native city of Havana, we used to walk pass a public sculpture of Don Quijote on top of his horse Rocinante. Both horse and knight look scrawny and rawboned but fierce and righteous nonetheless. Without having read Don Quijote, just by looking at the famous sculpture anyone was able to form a picture of the character of the "Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance". Ever since, we have developed a weakness for public art celebrating books or famous literary characters, and you can bet we will have a picture in front of any we encounter in our travels. For the readers like us who would love a photo-op with sculptures inspired by their favorite books, we have compiled a list of them in this episode.
Photo by Sebastian Voortman
📗 The Complete Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Andersen's fairy tales are so well known that their characters and lessons are embedded in our collective consciousness. Since the book contains so many fairy tales, there are several public sculptures throughout Denmark, Andersen's country of origin, inspired by this book.
One of them is the statue of The Little Mermaid in Langelinie pier in Copenhagen. The popular statue have been vandalized several times, sometimes missing an arm, the head, and it was even blown to pieces once. But the statue have been restored every time and today The Little Mermaid sits on her rock looking sadly into the distance.
Photo by Robert Fisk
Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense (about a 100 miles west of Copenhagen) where, in his honor, various signals for pedestrian crossing feature the image of Andersen in his iconic cape and hat. There are also several sculptures inspired by his fairy tales around the city, and we have found a map to guide you on a walking tour of Odense while visiting the sculptures of The Tin Soldier, The Paper Boat, The Wild Swans, and so many others.
Map and information available at Visit Odense
📗 Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
We all know about the story of the wooden marionette who dreamed to be a real boy. But did you know about two huge sculptures created by Jim Dine and inspired by Pinocchio? One of them is in the sculptor's native city of Cincinnati outside the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio, featuring Pinocchio pointing his long nose into the sky. The second and bigger one is, unexpectedly, in Boras, Sweden. The gigantic statue in Boras stands despite some local resistance due to its exorbitant cost.
The cover of the 1969 Dutch edition of Pinocchio was illustrated by Willem Jacob Rozendaal. The cover was created using only four colors and it is reminiscent of stained glass, a medium in which the artists also worked. We have chosen this vibrant design for our Cover Gallery this week.
📗 Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
In this beloved story a cute bear arrives in London Paddington Station carrying a suitcase full of jars of marmalade. At the station after which the bear was named there is a bronze sculpture of the cute bear with his signature hat and suitcase.
Since Paddington's politeness won him an invitation to tea right after arriving in London, which led him to find a loving home, the authors of The Story Cure recommend this book as bibliotherapy if you need to teach good manners to a child ... of any age.
📗 The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Many readers have been captivated by this story which starts when Lucy discovers a secret door inside a wardrobe leading to a fantasy frozen world. As much as many of us would desire to visit Narnia, it is only possible to do so, as far as we know, by reading the books. But maybe a close second would be a visit to C. S. Lewis Square in Belfast, a public sculpture park with art commemorating this fantasy land. Walking through the square will grant you a view of many of the characters: Aslan, Mr. Tumnus, and The White Witch among them.
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge
For lovers of the Chronicles of Narnia Series, Oak Lane Studio sells a bracelet with the inscription "Courage, dear heart", the phrase Aslan whispers to Lucy to vanish fear and inspire hope. Or maybe bring Narnia home with an ornament with the famous lamp post from Cylch O Bren or candles inspired by the book from Forage Candle or Book and Reverie.
Clockwise from upper left: Winter in Narnia candle by Forage Candle; Lamp post ornament from Cylch O Bren; "Courage, dear heart" bracelet from Oak Lane Studio; Through the Wardrobe candle from Book and Reverie.
📗 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
From Narnia, to Wonderland. I don't think there is anyone who have not at least heard about the story of Alice following a white rabbit and arriving in the fantasy world of the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, and so many other unique characters. Alice in Wonderland has inspired retellings, movie adaptations, songs, and probably any other thing a book can inspire; so obviously there is a statue of it. The bronze sculpture is in Central Park in New York City. It features Alice, of course, and other characters from the book, and it is designed so that kids can climb on it and play among the inhabitants of Wonderland.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland sculpture in Central Park, New York City
The tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter has inspired so many theme parties and recipes that we have decided to craft our seasonal menu for this Spring around Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The menu includes savory and sweet recipes inspired by the book and you can download a printable version here. It is quite the ultimate menu for an unbirthday Wonderland tea party, including recipes for fried oysters, card suit cheese bites, Queen of Heart's tartlets, and so many others. And it will not be a tea party worth of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland without some "Drink Me" tea, which you can serve on a thematic 7-piece tea set available from Angioletti Designs, or a topsy-turvy cake, which you can bake using a specialty pan from Euro Tins
We are including a recipe for fried oysters in our seasonal menu, but if you are around Seattle, you can visit The Walrus and The Carpenter oyster bar for a recipe and a restaurant inspired by Alice's Adventures.
📗 Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
Near the Springfield Museum in Massachusetts, there is a whole sculpture garden dedicated to Dr. Seuss and designed by his step-daughter. Your inner child will have a blast walking around the Lorax, the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, Horton, Yertle the Turtle, and so many others from the Seuss universe. Because in this park there is a giant book with the words of Oh The Places You'll Go and this book happens to be our favorite from Dr. Seuss, we have chosen it for our Six-Word Review: Metrical, condensed, and wisest graduation speech.
Speaking of gardens featuring sculptures of characters from children's literature, this week we have chosen two contenders for Book vs. Book where the location of the sculptures coincides with the setting of the book.
📗 Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
The well known story about a duck couple and their eight ducklings have been immortalized in bronze at the Boston Public Garden, the same place where the story takes place. With the help of a Boston police officer, the couple of Mallard ducks arrives in Boston Public Garden looking for a place to settle down with their eight ducklings. The sculptures of Ms. Mallard and her eight ducklings are so famous in Boston that they are used as reference when giving directions and children climb and touch them so often that they rarely need to be cleaned up.
Make Way for Ducklings at the Boston Public Garden
📗 Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Beverly Cleary grew up in the neighborhood around Portland's Grant Park; in fact, several places in the neighborhood made it into her beloved Ramona Quimby series. In homage to the beloved author, three of the most popular characters in the series, Ramona, Henry Huggings, and the dog Ribsy, have been immortalized in bronze in Portland's Grant Park. A cool and unique feature of the sculptures is that they are also a fountain, and when they are turned on, gives the impression that the kids and the dog are splashing in puddles of water.
Fans of Ramona Quimby can venture on a walking tour that extends beyond Portland's Grant Park and includes several sites featured in the series.
There is a statue in Kensington Garden in the exact same spot where the character it represents made its literary debut. Would you be able to guess the character and the eponymous book from its first line in GuessWork?
To buy books covered in this episode, visit our TBR Bundles.