This week’s Inheritance Books are from Alethea Kontis. Hi Alethea, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Alethea Kontis. I am a princess and the author of many shiny books for children of all ages. (I’m published in more genres than you think!) I am both timeless and versatile, much like the fairy tales I love.
Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?
I began reading at the age of three, and was an avid reader by the age of five. The Puzzle of Me is composed of so many book pieces, it’s nigh impossible to choose a Favorite or Most Important. There are definitely two that stand out, however, because those books were given to me by my grandmothers.
In 1984, my French grandmother (Memere) gave me a gigantic volume of Grimm and Andersen fairy tales. While these were not the complete tales (I didn’t realize at the time *just* how many tales Grimm and Andersen had collected), they were beautifully illustrated, and unexpurgated. That’s right — Sleeping Beauty’s name was Briar Rose and The Frog Prince got thrown into a wall by the snotty princess and Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off pieces of their feet to fit in that slipper. And you know what? I turned out just fine.
I built my moral compass with these tales. I learned karmic justice, the price of being selfish, and the benefit of being clever. I learned to keep my promises, to always tell the truth, and to never judge someone by their appearance. The burden of seeking my fortune was always up to me, never my parents.
I was eight years old.
When I was ten, my Greek grandmother (Nana) gave me a blank book with a built-in ribbon marker and gilt-edged pages. She had heard about my affinity for poetry and encouraged me to write them all down. Nana herself was both a poet and a calligrapher, so she understood the importance of recording great ideas in one’s own hand.
Which book would you leave for generations below you? Why?
If I could, I would gift both of these books to each child born on this planet. Psychologists and scholars and religious leaders and conservative parents have argued for hundreds of years about the appropriateness of fairy tales and nursery rhymes for young children. I am very much in the camp of handing them over to the children–and I don’t mean the pretty, homogenized Disney versions. Even with all the fairy tale films and television shows currently available, it seems that the classic written tales are being forgotten…and their lessons along with them. I can think of no greater tragedy.
With them, too, is the lost art of handwriting. Children these days keep their journals online for all the world to see, becoming performers long before they become mature. I would give every child a blank book in which to record their private thoughts, in which to express themselves however they please, without audience or judgment.
What a lovely idea to leave a blank notebook. Thanks for sharing your Inheritance Books with us Alethea, all best with with your fairy tales.