I have two new favorite fairytales, unrelated to each other, and an old favorite to share today.
First is Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins: A Norwegian Folktale, retold and illustrated by Lauren Mills. The love between Tatterhood and her twin sister Isabella is totally unaffected by the fact that Tatterhood is wild and unkempt, while Isabella is calm and lovely. Tatterhood is under a curse and together, she and Isabella set out to break it. This story has bravery, selflessness, sisterly love and adventure—such a fun story for girls!
My other new favorite is Robert San Souci’s The Talking Eggs (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney). This one won a Caldecott Honor. It comes from oral tradition of the American South, and sets up the story a little like Cinderella, but then departs from that. A mother has two daughters, Rose and Blanche. She favors spoiled, silly Rose and forces sweet Blanche to do all the chores. One day Blanche assists an old woman in the woods and is rewarded by being invited to the woman’s magical home. She is given amazing gifts and returns home to share with her mother and sister, but of course, they can’t let well enough alone. This story has a great message to share with our elementary-age children.
This last one has a very similar message about being content and the consequences of greed. It is technically in the folklore category of “Noodlehead Tales,” where an ultimately good-hearted person acts in a silly or foolish manner. But it does have a magical talking fish, so I am going to include it in this challenge. It’s The Fisherman and His Wife (there was also a Saturday morning cartoon special in the ’80s about this story, which I’m sure is what solidified it as a childhood favorite for me). In it, a man and woman live poorly in a little hut, and the man goes fishing every day. One day he catches a magic talking fish who begs to be thrown back. The man does so, and when he returns home, tells his wife. She chastises him, asking why he didn’t ask the fish to grant him a wish, and tells him to go back and wish for a lovely cottage. He doesn’t want to but does it, and comes home to find his wife in a lovely cottage. She’s happy for a day or two, but then wants more and sends the man back to ask for a mansion. Then it’s a castle after that. And it escalates until of course, they lose it all in the end because of her greediness.
I read this version (above) with my son a few weeks ago. He really enjoyed it. The very next day, he was playing a game on the tablet, and like so many other times, he started asking to buy a different game, even though he has lots of fun games to choose from. He wants something else just to have it and can end up never enjoying what he does have (I know many can relate!). Well, that day when he started asking for it, this story popped in my head immediately, and I reminded him about the wife and how she could never be happy with what she had. He had that “processing look” on his face for a few seconds, then a funny little smile, and then he stopped asking. And he has not asked for any new games since then! (We’ll see how long that lasts.)
When kids see themselves reflected in stories, it can help them better understand and deal with the struggles they have. This is called a “mirror” experience in reading. Since fairytales deal with these big, universal themes common to all humanity, children are sure to have a mirror experience with some of the stories you share with them!
Hope everyone has a stack of books ready to share with their families this cold, cold weekend! I have more to add to this challenge next week, so check back or sign up for the emails if you want to make sure you get the posts. Thank you!