Sunday Storytime: A Collection of Fairy Tales

I grew up with a copy of The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, which is a pretty comprehensive collection of classic stories from Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, and more. I was obsessed with the illustrations; they were so different from what I was accustomed to seeing.

There’s the usual tales: Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White. The Emperor’s New Clothes, Puss in Boots, The Elves and The Shoemaker. Sleeping Beauty, Jack in the Bean Stock, Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince. Familiar story lines, illustrated with unique characters bordering on caricature.

Then there’s the less popular stories, like The Steadfast Tin Soldier, which had the saddest ending. I felt so betrayed each time, because that’s not how fairy tales are supposed to end.

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The Valiant Little Tailor is a story about a tailor who I remember to be quite clever, but upon rereading, he starts off being mostly arrogant. He swats seven flies dead, and decides the whole world must know, so he immediately makes a belt that says, “Seven at one blow” and then sets off into the world. He pretends to squeeze milk out of a rock by hiding cheese in his hand, and tricks a giant into doing him all sorts of favors.

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Watching Frozen, I realized that its loosely based on The Snow Queen, a story about a queen who shoots ice into the heart of a little boy, and takes him captive. Fortunately, his sister loves him quite a lot, and rescues him and melts the ice. I always marveled at how brave she was, venturing into the unknown to save her brother.

So it doesn’t have to be THIS exact collection, but traditional fairy tales should be a staple to any child’s reading, if only to provide a broader understanding of where Disney gets its movie ideas.

Sunday Storytime: Heart of a Tiger

Marsha Diane Arnold starts by explaining Naming Day, when “each animal born the previous spring chooses its own name.” But there’s a catch: they only get to keep that name if everyone agrees that it is fair and honest.

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“Four supposed he should name himself Smallest of All. But he was afraid if he named himself that, it would always be so.”

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“In my heart I am bigger than what you see.”

He journeys into the jungle in search of himself, and calms back calm and confident, ready to claim his identity.

 Ideally, won’t our kids do the same? Maybe not in a jungle, although that’s as good a place as any.

You have to go find yourself, discover yourself, without the influence of others.

And it’s a kitten.

 

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Introducing: Sunday Night Storytime!

How long has it been since you read a children’s book?

If you’re a parent or a child or someone who spends time with children, then probably not that long, but for the rest of us, without a reason to pick up a picture book, it’s probably been a lot longer.

But they’re so good! I have fond memories of the children’s section at our local library, where I’d spend ages looking through the books for just a few titles to take home. George and Martha, the hippos, were the stars of some of my favorite books, and sometimes I still wish I had one of their books lying around so I could dive back in to their world.

Two Best Friends. Awwww.

Ohhhh the memories. 

Among the perks of returning to live with my parents (no rent, steady flow of food, clean kitchen…) is being close to our extensive collection of children’s books. And as I clean out my childhood bedroom (no easy feat) I’ve been rediscovering a few favorites. Every Sunday night I’ll share one of these books with you, and explain why that particular story has remained one of my favorites as I’ve grown up.

Tonight we’ll start with The Bee Tree. When Mary Ellen complains that she is bored of reading, Grampa takes her on an adventure, and ends up bringing the whole town with him as they chase a bee in hopes of finding the hive and harvesting some honey.

That's Pooh Bear on my left. He'll be joining me for storytime.

That’s Pooh Bear on my left. He’ll be joining me for storytime.

Mmmm, the sweetness of that honey. The illustrations are marvelous, but what stuck out to me the most on this read through was the names of the characters! Seriously.

In order of appearance, we have:

  1. Mrs. Govlock, with baby Sylvester in the carriage
  2. Einar Tundevold, on his squeaky old bike
  3. Olav Lundheigen, on a stroll with…
  4. Petra and Dorma, the Hermann sisters.
  5. “Klondike” Bertha Fitchworth
  6. and last, but most certainly not least, Feduciary Longdrop, and his herd of goats

I think Patricia Polacco is Russian, and perhaps that accounts for such foreign names (or maybe they came from her imagination,) but I’d recommend practicing a few times before attempting to read this one aloud. Stumbling over the silly names really messes up the flow of the adventure, although they definitely contribute to this carefree and whimsical story.