The Grizzly’s Christmas Part Two: Working With Malcolm Farmer

Rita’s questions last week got me thinking about story adaptations and why we retell the same stories. Indeed, my first thought about The Grizzly’s Christmas was that there are already plenty of stories about Santa and his sleigh. But the closer I looked, the richer the detail and depth. There were reasons, fascinating reasons, for every part of the story.

The process of adapting Malcolm Farmer’s story taught me so much about bears, about the human-bear connection, about Malcolm himself. This week’s interview segment is about Malcolm, his background, his interest in bears. He was a quietly kind and generous man whose story is grounded on his love for our hairy cousins.

Malcolm photoIn this segment I discuss the journey of working with Malcolm, first meeting him as a student at Whittier and then later being invited to adapt his book.

Part Two: Malcolm Farmer

If you knew Malcolm, I’d love to hear about your experiences as a student, colleague, or friend of his.

Next post, I’ll introduce you to Miranda Marks, the illustrator. You’ll be glad you get to become acquainted.

How The Grizzly’s Christmas Got Its Name

Cindy Schuricht's book release, this picture shows an actual grizzly bear waving. He seems to be smiling.If you’ve been following this blog, you may remember that I’ve adapted a children’s story, The Grizzly’s Christmas, written by my college anthropology instructor, Malcolm F. Farmer. The book is currently in the hands of the printers. We reviewed the proof Tuesday.

Rita Mailheau, a professional copy writer, suggested doing a series of interviews about the book. Actually, she more than suggested. She allayed my fears, decided on topics for four segments, organized the shoots, and handled all the technical issues. She’s great. You can go to  to find her blog, the most recent on interviewing, and learn about her services.

Before you view the first segment, here’s a short adaptation of a story I heard Jane Yolen tell. A young man searches the world for Truth. He finally finds her. She is an old, old woman with wrinkles, wispy white hair, and bunions. She teaches him for a year. When he is ready to go back into the world, he asks what he can do to thank her. “Tell them,” she said, “that I am young and beautiful.”

My request to you is that when you tell somebody about the video, please mention that I am young and beautiful. Thank you.

Part One: How The Grizzly’s Christmas Got Its Name or Would You Buy a Book from This Woman?

In this segment of a four-part interview series, I share about adapting Malcolm Farmer’s earlier work into our soon-to-be-released version—The Grizzly’s Christmas. It’s about  a treasure hunt.

Since we’re talking adaptations, I’d like to steer you to one of my favorites. There are many versions of The Water of Life, a Grimm’s tale, but I never felt the heart of the story until I read the version by Barbara Roasky, with gorgeous illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, and wisely published by Holiday House in 1986. Maybe I just need things more spelled out than other people do, but finally the test of galloping down the middle of the golden road made perfect sense.

This version of The Water of Life has become a part of my value system and informs my retelling of The Tortoise and the Hare, but that’s a different adaptation for a different day.

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