Monthly Archives: November 2013

Fairy Tale Tuesdays – Three Little Men in the Wood

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

threelittlemen

Another Brother’s Grimm tale, The Three Little Men in the Wood is a story that I’ve heard before in another variation (where the girls meet not elves in the woods but a fairy, and a great deal more uncomfortable things result from speaking – like roses).

Anyway, you will probably recognize it soon enough also, for here is my summary:

Once upon a time there was a man whose wife had died and left him with a daughter, and a woman whose husband had died and left her with a daughter also.  The girls knew each other, and sometimes went out walking together and then went to the woman’s house.

One day, the woman said to the man’s daughter, “Tell your father that I would like to marry him.  If I do, you shall wash yourself in milk every morning, and drink wine, but my own daughter will wash herself in water and drink water.”

The girl went home and told her father what the woman had said.  The man was troubled and said, “Ah, marriage is full of troubles – joys and torment. Let me think about it.” He thought at length and still could not decide, so he pulled off his boot and said, “Here, take my boot, which has a hole in the sole. Go up to the loft and hang it on the big nail there. Pour some water in my boot.  If the water drains out, then I will not marry, but if the water stays in, then I will take a wife.”

The daughter, who was obedient, went upstairs and hung the boot.  She poured in some water, which made the boot swell and closed the hole, filling the boot with water up to the top. The girl then told her father, who went up and saw for himself that the boot was full.  He went out and wooed the widow woman, and they indeed married.

On the morning after the wedding, when the two girls woke, there was before the man’s daughter milk for washing and wine for drinking.  The woman’s daughter had water for washing and for drinking.  The second morning, it was the same, but on the third morning it was the man’s daughter who had water for washing and for drinking and the woman’s daughter who had milk for washing and wine for drinking.  From then on, the water was for the man’s daughter and the milk for the woman’s daughter. The woman was unkind to her stepdaughter, and her treatment grew worse day by day.  She was jealous of the stepdaughter, who was beautiful and loveable and kind, for her own daughter was ugly.

One winter day, the woman made a dress of paper and called her stepdaughter over. “You must put on this dress and go out into the woods to get me some strawberries.  I must have some strawberries.”

“But it is winter! The ground is frozen and covered in snow! No strawberries could grow now!” exclaimed the astonished girl. “Besides, it is so cold, if I go in this paper dress I will surely freeze and be scratched by thorns and branches.”

“You must not contradict me,” the stepmother raged, “You may not show your face in here again until I have a basketful of strawberries!”  Then the stepmother forced the girl to don the paper dress.  She gave the girl a chunk of hard bread to last the day, secretly thinking that the girl would die of cold and hunger and would therefore be out of the stepmother’s way.

The girl, who was obedient, went out with the basket into the cold.  She searched the wood but there was nothing but snow.  She stumbled across a small house where three elves lived.  The girl knocked on the door, wishing the elves a good day and wondering if she might warm herself by their fire.

“Come in,” the elves cried, ushering her near the stove where the girl could warm up.  She took out her bread to eat and the elves said, “Give us some too.”

“Of course,” siad the girl, and she broke the bread in two and gave the elves half.

“Why are you out in the forest, in such a thin dress,” the elves asked her.

“I am looking for strawberries,” replied the girl, “for I am not to go home until I can take a basketful of strawberries to my stepmother.”

After she had finished her bread, the elves gave her a broom and said, “Sweep away the snow at the back door with this.”  The girl obediently went to the back door and started to sweep.  While she was gone, the elves looked at each other.

“What shall we give her, since she has been so kind to share her bread with us?” the elves asked each other.

“My gift shall be that she grows more beautiful every day,” said the first elf.

“My gift shall be that gold pieces shall fall out of her mouth every time she speaks,” said the second elf.

“My gift shall be that a king will take her for a wife,” said the third elf.

The girl, who was sweeping outside, heard none of this, for to her astonishment she found ripe red strawberries beneath the snow.  She quickly gathered a basketful, and finishing her chore, went back inside.  Thanking the men for their kindness, she shook hands with each of them and ran home to her stepmother.

The stepmother was surprised to see the girl home with the basket of strawberries.  When the girl went in and said “Good evening” a piece of gold fell from her mouth! She told her stepmother what had happened in the woods, and as she spoke gold pieces fell from her lips until soon the whole room was full of gold.

The stepsister was jealous and wanted to go into the forest also to look for strawberries.  The stepmother said, “No, no, my dear, it is too cold!” But the daughter would not give up, and at last the mother agreed.  She dressed her daughter in a glorious fur dress and gave her soft bread and butter and cake to take with her.

The girl went into the forest and straight to the little house.  The three little elves peeked out the door but the girl did not even greet them.  Without speaking, she went awkwardly into the room and sat down by the stove to eat her bread and butter and cake.

“Give us some,” cried the little men.

“No!  There is hardly enough for myself, so how can I give it away?” said the girl.

When she was finished her food, the elves said, “Take the broom and sweep away the snow at the back door.”

“I am not your servant,” said the girl, “Sweep yourselves.”  She saw then that they were not going to give her anything, so she went out the door to look for strawberries.

“She is so naughty and has a wicked, jealous heart.  What shall we give her?” the elves asked themselves.

“I grant that she will grow uglier every day,” said the first elf.

“I grant that a toad shall spring out of her mouth with every word she says,” said the second elf.

“I grant that she may die a miserable death,” said the third elf.

The girl could find no strawberries outside so she stormed home.  When she went to tell her mother what had happened, a toad leaped from her lips with every word.  Everyone was seized with horror by her speech, and the girl strove to be silent always.

The stepmother was even more angry with her stepdaughter, and could think only of how to injure her stepdaughter.  The stepdaughter’s beauty grew daily, and she remained kind and obedient. At last, the stepmother took boiled some yarn in a cauldron over the fire.  When it was done, she flung the yarn over the girl’s shoulder, gave her an axe and told her to go rinse the yarn.

The poor girl went out to the frozen river and took the axe to cut a hole in the ice.  As she hacked at the ice, a magnificent carriage came driving by, carrying the King.  The carriage stopped, and the King, who was halted by the girl’s beauty, asked, “My child, what are you doing?”

She replied. “I am rinsing yarn, for my stepmother insisted.”

The King felt compassion for the girl, and said to her, “Will you go away with me and be my wife?”

“With all my heart,” said the girl, rejoicing to get away from her cruel stepmother and stepsister. She joined the King in his carriage, and they went to the palace.  Their wedding was grand and celebrated with pomp and circumstance.  After some time, the new Queen gave birth to a son.

The stepmother heard of the girl’s good luck, and came to the palace to visit.  The King had one out, and when no one else was around, the stepmother and her daughter seized the Queen and threw her out of the window in to the stream which flowed underneath. Then the ugly daughter got into the Queen’s bed and covered up.

When the King came home he wished to see his wife, but the stepmother cried, “She must rest, you cannot see her today.”  The King did not suspect, and did not return until the morning.

That night, a duck swam up and said to a kitchen boy who was by the door, “King, what are you doing? Are You awake or are you sleeping?

The kitchen boy did not reply, so the duck said, “And my guests, what about them?”

The kitchen boy said, “they are sleeping soundly.”

The duck then asked, “what of my little baby?”

“Asleep in his cradle,” answered the kitchen boy.  Then the duck turned back into the Queen and went upstairs.  She nursed her baby, made it’s bed, and tucked it in.  Then the Queen turned back into a duck and swam away down the river.

In the morning, when the King came to check on the Queen and inquired after her health, the girl answered him, and as she spoke toads sprang from her mouth.  The king was confused and alarmed, as previously gold had dropped from her lips, but the old woman assured him that the Queen was ill and he should leave her alone for now.

That night, the Queen again came and nursed her child as everyone was sleeping. She came again on the third night, and then she said to the kitchen boy, “Go tell the King to take his sword and swing it three times over me on the threshold.”  The kitchen boy ran and woke the King, who came with his sword.

With the third pass over the duck, it was transformed once again into the Queen, and the King rejoiced to see his wife alive and healthy before him.  She told him what had happened, and the King then hid her in another chamber.

The King then went to the stepmother and her daughter, still dressed as the false Queen, and asked, “What does a person deserve when they drag someone out of bed and throw them in the water?”

“Nothing better than to be put in a barrel of nails and rolled downhill into the water,” replied the stepmother.

“You have declared your own sentence,” replied the King.  He ordered a barrel of nails to be brought, and the stepmother and her daughter were put  inside.  The top was fastened in place and the barrel rolled downhill into the water.

There is a great sense of similarity to many of the Grimm brother’s tales.

At least for this one, the good girl didn’t have prickly roses or sharp diamonds dropping out of her mouth, as well as gold.  You have to wonder if the King married her, at least in part, to reap the benefits of the gold.  But if it was real gold, why didn’t the girl just talk a lot and buy herself to a better place in life? The Grimm brothers must have missed the catch.

Always with the jealous stepmothers who have the ugly daughters.  It’s super unfair that ugly = bad and beautiful = good in the world of the Brothers Grimm.

I’m definitely reminded of Ron Weasley’s backfiring curse (uuugh slugs) in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and think that toads would at least be able to jump away and would not be as slimy as slugs, hopefully.  Ewww.

HARRY-POTTER-AND-THE-CHAMBER-OF-SECRETS

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Fairy Tale Tuesdays – Rapunzel

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

Please excuse me for missing last week!

This week is a classic – Rapunzel! A well-known story, I will recite it anyway.  Again, I go by the Grimm Brothers, and here is my summary:

Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long tried for a child, with no luck.  After much time, the woman at last became pregnant and the couple was very happy.  They lived in a small cottage, and out their back window they could see a beautiful garden.  This garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to enter it because the garden belonged to an enchantress.

One day, the woman was looking out the window and spied some rampion (rapunzel) which looked so fresh and green and delicious that the woman longed for it.  She craved the rampion greatly, with increasing desire every day.  So much was her desire, that she began to pale and pine away.  Her husband was alarmed and worried at the change and asked, “What is the matter?”

“I need some rampion, which I can see growing in the garden behind our house.  If I do not have some, I think I shall die.”  She said it with such conviction, that her husband, who loved her, decided to take the risk. In the evening, he climbed over the wall into the garden.  There, he gathered some rampion and clambered back over the wall without ever seeing the enchantress.

The woman was very delighted with her rampion and immediately made a salad and ate it.  Her desire then for rampion only increased, and the very next day she longed for it much more than before.  Her husband, alarmed, decided to once more go into the garden.

This time, as he descending over the wall, the was confronted by the enchantress.

“How dare you enter my garden and steal my rampion? You will suffer for it!” cried the enchantress.

“Please,” he begged, “have mercy!  It was for my beloved wife, who is with our first child, that I dared to enter your garden.  She had such desire for your rampion that she felt she should die without it!”

“Very well,” said the enchantress, mollified, “If this is the case, then I will allow you to take as much rampion as you like.  There is one condition. You must give me the child when it is born.  Do not fear, for it shall be well treated and I will care for it like a mother.”

The man was terrified and agreed to everything.  He returned with the rampion to his wife, which satisfied her desire.  When the child was born, the enchantress came and took the baby girl away at once, naming her ‘Rapunzel’.

The enchantress cared for Rapunzel, who grew to be a beautiful girl with magnificent long golden hair.  When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut Rapunzel into a tower to hide her away from the world.  The tower had no stairs nor a door, but at the top was a little window.  When the enchantress wished to go in, she would stand below and cry,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me.”

Rapunzel would then unfasten her beautiful braided hair, wind them around a hook above the window, and lower her tresses for the enchantress to climb up.

Years passed, and Rapunzel remained in her tower.  One day, a King’s son rode through the forest near the tower.  As he passed by, he heard a sweet song that was so charming it stopped him in his tracks.  Rapunzel was singing in her tower, to pass the time she spent alone.  The prince looked for a door but found none.  He rode home, but could not get the singing out of his mind.  Every day, he went into the forest and listened to it.  One day, when he was sitting behind a tree, he saw the enchantress come.  He heard her cry,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me.”

The prince watched as the enchantress climbed up Rapunzel’s beautiful golden hair. He vowed to himself to try himself, and the next evening he returned.  The prince went to the base of the tower and called,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair to me.”

At once, Rapunzel released her tresses, and the prince climbed up.

Rapunzel was very surprised and frightened to see a man at her window, but the prince began to talk to her like a friend.  He explained that his heart had been stirred by her song, and that he had listened for days and had to meet her.  Rapunzel lost her fear, and when the prince asked her if she would have him for a husband, she consented.

“I will gladly go away with you, but I don’t know how to get down,” she said. “Bring a skein of silk with you when you come, and I will make a ladder.  When the ladder is ready, I will come down and you can take me on your horse.”

They agreed that the prince should come to visit in the evening, because the enchantress came during the day.  Every evening the prince visited, and the old woman was none the wiser.

One day, when the enchantress came to visit, Rapunzel unthinkingly complained, “how are you so much heavier and slower for me to draw up than the prince?”

“You wicked child,” exclaimed the enchantress, “I thought to protect you from the world and you have deceived me!” The enchantress was furious, and took hold of Rapunzel’s hair.  She hacked the beautiful tresses off and cast poor Rapunzel out into a desert.  Rapunzel there lived in grief and misery.

In the meantime, the enchantress fastened the length of hair she had cut from Rapunzel’s head onto the hoot.  That evening, the prince came and cried, as was customary,

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair.”

The enchantress then let the hair down.  The prince climbed up, and was surprised to find the enchantress who gazed at him with fury.

“You come looking for your dearest Rapunzel,” the enchantress mocked, “but the bird is no longer in the nest! The cat has got it, and will scratch your eyes out as well!  Rapunzel is lost to you, and you will never see her again!”

The prince, mad with pain and grief, jumped out the window of the tower, landing in a bush of thorns.  The thorns pierced his eyes, blinding him.  The prince then wandered through the forest, living on roots and berries, lamenting over the loss of his dearest Rapunzel.  He roamed about for some years and at last came to the desert where Rapunzel now resided.

Rapunzel had given birth to twins, a boy and a girl, and the little family barely scraped by.  As the prince shuffled, he hear a familiar voice that drew him near.  Rapunzel recognized him, despite his tattered clothes, beard, and pierced eyes.  With a glad cry, she embraced him and wept with joy for finding him again.  Two of her tears splashed his eyes, and at once his eyes grew clear again and he could see.

The two rejoiced, and the prince led her and their children back to his kingdom where they were joyfully received.  They lived happily ever after.

I do like this tale, but am glad for some of the more modern retellings, like Disney’s Tangled, where Rapunzel is more kick-ass, and there is more of a basis for their relationship than her singing and beauty.

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Skybreaker

Skybreaker

I feel like life has been a bit … chaotic lately.  I haven’t really had much time for anything recently and will admit that I desperately need to re-charge my batteries, so to speak.  One of the ways I refuel is reading, and I haven’t had much time for that recently.  It was with relief that I finally picked up a book – Skybreaker – and spent some much needed time zoning out from real life!

Skybreaker is the sequel to Airborn, where Kenneth Oppel introduces the reader to Matt Cruze and Kate de Vries. I actually think I liked Skybreaker better than Airborn, although I enjoyed both.  There will be some spoilers of the first book in my description of the second – necessarily, so here’s your warning.

In this book, Matt, who is now a student at the Airship Academy, happens to identify the mysterious ghost-ship Hyperion.  A legend, the Hyperion disappeared fourty years ago.  It’s reclusive but fantastically wealthy owner, Grunel, was rumoured to have filled the ship with all his wealth and treasures.  An inventor, Grunel was an eccentric. Matt is swept up in the search for the elusive airship, along with Kate (who is still headstrong, stubborn, inquisitive, and bold). They are joined by the captain of the Sagarmatha, a new brand of airship fitted with specialized skybreaker engines allowing it to rise high above the earth – high enough to reach the drifting Hyperion. They are also joined by a feisty and mysterious young gypsy girl, Nadria, who wants in on the prize and holds a special key necessary to it’s release.  Hal Slater, Captain of the Sagarmatha, is also hoping for a cut of the salvage.

Unfortunately for Matt and his team, they aren’t the only ones searching for the Hyperion.  This is a full-blown adventure in the sky, complete with frigid temperatures, thin high-altitude air, fantastical creatures, steampunk inventions, fights with bad guys, and teenaged romance tinged with jealousy.

It’s a good one!  I’m definitely glad I purchased the series, and am looking forward to the next installment, Starclimber.  4 / 5

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what happened to goodbye

What happened to goodbye

So, last weekend I had epic reading plans.  I had downloaded six books on my Kobo, because I was flying home for the weekend. I figured that between the airport time and the flights, I would get a lot of reading done. Being a bit scatter-brained before I left, I carefully packed everything – or so I thought.  Upon arriving at the airport, I discovered that, although I’d packed my kobo charging cord, I’d forgotten my kobo itself!  So frustrating!  I ended up buying two books at the airport bookstore and watching movies instead.  One of those books was what happened to goodbye by Sarah Dessen.

I’ve come to expect rather heavy topics from Sarah Dessen, and I felt this book had a lighter theme than most: Divorce.  Maybe I treat divorce too casually (my parents split when I was 14) since I experienced it myself.  I didn’t quite get to the point where I thought “Mclean, just get over it” but I came close.

Mclean Sweet is a high school senior who is onto her fourth town in two years.  After her parents divorced, she opted to stay with her dad, who works as a restaurant consultant.  This is a mobile job – he swoops in to revamp struggling restaurants and swoops out again when done. Mclean has used this as an opportunity to reinvent herself in each new town – using her middle name (Elizabeth) to provide different personas (Eliza, Lizbet, Beth) to mach her ‘new self’ each time.  This latest town, she figures, is just another temporary stop, but somehow Mclean ends up as herself – not the ‘Liz’ she’d planned to be here.  She makes friends, sets down some tentative roots, and gets to know the cute guy next door.  All while negotiating the emotional minefield that is her relationship with her mother.

What resonated the most with me, for this book, was the mother-daughter drama.  I would definitely classify my relationship with my mother as ‘rocky’ and there were a lot of parallels between my experiences dealing with mom drama and Mclean’s.

If you’re looking for a relatively light, pleasant read, I would recommend this book.  Nothing earth-shattering, but thoughtful, fun to read, and enjoyable. 4 / 5.

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Fairy Tale Tuesdays – Little Brother and Little Sister

Fairy Tale Tuesdays

Little Brother and Little sister 3

Happy Tuesday!!  It’s been a rough week, so this is barely in time, but at least I made it!

Today’s tale is again from the Brother’s Grimm: Little Brother and Little Sister.  Here is my interpretation:

Once upon a time there was a little brother and a little sister.  The brother took his sister’s hand and said to her, “Since our mother died things have been terrible.  Our stepmother beats us every day and we eat nothing but hard bread crusts!  The dog is treated better than we! Our poor mother would be heartbroken if she knew.  Come, let us go and find a better situation.”

So, the brother and sister walked away, over meadows and fields and stones.  It began to rain and they still went on.  At last, as evening was gathering, they came to a huge forest.  So tired, sad, and hungry, they found a hollow tree to spend the night and fell asleep right away.

The sun was hot and shone down into the tree by the time the siblings woke.  The brother confessed, “I am so thirsty.  Let us find a brook – I think I hear one nearby.”  The brother took his sister by the hand and led her deeper into the forest in search of water.

Little did they know, but their wicked stepmother was in fact a witch, and she had seen them run away.  The witch had followed them in secret, and now she bewitched all the brooks in the forest.

When the siblings came upon a little brook running clear and merry, the brother stooped to drink but the sister stopped him.  She heard the brook repeat “Whoever drinks of me will become a tiger.”

“Do not drink, my dear brother, for if you do, you will become a wild beast and tear me to pieces!”  Her brother did not drink but led on through the forest.  His thirst increasing, they found another brook.  This one also whispered to the sister.
“Whoever drinks of me will become a wolf,” the brook repeated.

The sister cried, “Do not drink, my dear brother, for if you do, you will become a wolf and eat me up!”  The broker did not drink, but his thirst was great.

“I will wait, but I must take a drink at the next brook, for I am far too thirsty to continue past it,” said the brother.

They continued walking and found another brook. This one whispered, “Whoever drinks of me will become a fawn.” The sister tried to warn him, but the brother’s thirst was too great and he knelt and took a sip of the clear water. As soon as his lips touched the liquid, he was transformed into a young deer.

The sister wept over her brother, and the deer wept also.  “I will never leave you,” said the sister to her fawn.  She fastened her golden garter around the fawn’s neck, and wove a rope from the reeds to fasten it.  Then she led the fawn deeper into the woods.

At length they came upon an empty cottage in a clearing.  The sister decided to make it their home.  She brought leaves and moss to make a bed for the fawn.  In the morning, she gathered roots, nuts, and berries for herself, and grass for the fawn.  The fawn was content to eat out of her hand, and frolic about.  In the evening, the sister laid her head upon the fawn’s back as her pillow.

They lived like this for quite some time and if only her brother was human they would have been quite happy.

One day, the King of the country held a large hunt in the forest.  The hunting party made much noise, with horns bugling and dogs barking and merry shouts ringing through the trees. The fawn heard it all, and was anxious to be there. “Please let me go,” he said to his sister, “I cannot bear to stay here.”  He begged and begged and at last the sister agreed.

“You must come back in the evening,” she said, “and you must knock on the door and say, ‘My little sister, let me in!’  I will lock the door while you are gone, for I am wary of the rough huntsmen, and if you do not say these words I will not open it again.”  At this, she opened the door and the fawn bounded away.

The King and his huntsmen saw the fawn, and tried to pursue but they could not catch him.  In the evening, the fawn ran back to the cottage, knocked, and said, “My little sister, let me in!”  The sister opened the door and they went to bed, the sister sleeping with the fawn’s flank as her pillow.

In the morning, the fawn again heard the horns and was anxious to go out. He again begged, and the sister repeated her deal from before. “Don’t forget, you must come back this evening and say your password,” she said. The deer then sprang away.

Again, the King and his huntsman saw the young fawn with the golden collar and they chased him.  He was again too quick and they could not catch him.  By evening, the huntsmen had surrounded him, and managed to wound him a little in the foot, but the got away.  A hunter stealthily crept after the fawn, and saw him come to the cottage.  He heard the fawn say, “My little sister, let me in,” and saw the door open to admit the deer. The hunter  then returned to the King and told him all that he’d observed.

The sister was frightened and distraught by her brother’s wound even though it was slight.  She bathed him and dressed the wound.  By the morning, the fawn felt much better, as if he was not even hurt, and again begged to go out. “I must go out,” he said, “I cannot bear to stay here!”

“What if they catch you? What if they kill you?  I am alone here in the forest! I won’t let you out,” cried the sister.

“I will die of grief instead!” the fawn exclaimed, “for when I hear the horns call, I cannot help myself.  I must go!” He begged again, and the sister, with a breaking heart, at last opened the door for him.

Upon seeing the deer with the golden collar, the King told his men to chase the deer all day but not to harm it.  As the sun set, the King had his hunter lead him to the cottage in the woods.  Before the fawn could return, the King went to the door and knocked.  He called, “My little sister, let me in!” The door was opened, and the King walked inside.

The sister, who was a maiden more beautiful than the King had ever seen, was frightened and surprised to find a man come in and not her little fawn.  The king looked at her kindly and fondly. He took her hand gently and said, “My dear, would you go with me to my castle and be my wife?”

“Yes,” replied the sister, “but my little fawn must come as well.  I will not leave him.”

“If it pleases you,” said the King, “that fawn will stay with you as long as you live, and want for nothing.”  At this moment, the fawn came running in and the sister tied him with her cord.  Together they went with the King back to his palace.

There was a lovely wedding, and the sister, now the Queen, lived happily with her King.  The fawn was also well looked-after and lived in the palace gardens.

The wicked stepmother, who had long ago cursed the brother, heard word of the children.  She had long assumed that the sister had been eaten by the beats in the wood, and the brother had been shot by the huntsman.  The stepmother was very dismayed to find that the sister and brother were so happy and prosperous.  Envy and hatred consumed her heart, and she plotted against them.  Her own daughter, who was ugly and only had one eye, grumbled as well.  “I should have been a Queen,” moaned the daughter.

“Never mind,” said the old stepmother, “We shall bide our time.”

Eventually, the Queen had a son.  The King was away hunting when the Queen delivered.  The wicked stepmother took the form of a chamber-maid, who went to the Queen.  “Come, you must bathe.  It will do you good,” said the witch.  The Queen was exhausted, and allowed herself to be helped into the bath.   The witch shut the door and ran away, for she and her daughter had built a fire of such heat in the bathroom that the beautiful young Queen suffocated.

When the Queen was dead, the witch took her daughter and told her to lie down in bed in place of the real Queen.  She gave the girl the shape and look of the Queen, although could do nothing for the lost eye.  So she told the daughter to lie down on the side, so that the King would not know.

When the King returned, he rejoiced that he had a new son.  He then went in search of his wife, to see how she was doing.  The witch, still disguised, cried, “You must leave the curtains closed, for the Queen should not see light and must rest!”  The King was fooled, and did not find out that there was a false Queen lying in the bed.

At midnight, the house was all asleep except for the nurse.  She sat in the nursery, watching over the new Prince who lay in his cradle.  The door opened, and the true Queen walked in.  The Queen took her son, cuddling and nursing him.  When he was sated, she laid the boy down again, covering him with a little quilt.  She then went to the fawn, who was sleeping in a corner of the room and stroked his back.  After this, the Queen went silently out again.

In the morning, the nurse asked the guards if they had seen anyone come into the palace during the night.  “No one came or went,” said the guards.

The next night, and the next, as the nurse watched over the baby, the Queen again returned to feed her baby and pet her fawn.  The Queen came for many nights, and the nurse saw but did not dare speak about it to anyone.

One night, the Queen spoke.  She said, “How fares my child, how fares my fawn? Twice I shall come, then never more.” The nurse did not reply, but in the morning she went to the King and told him everything.

“What on earth?” said the King, “I shall myself watch the child tonight!”  He went to the nursery in the evening to spend the night by his son’s side. At midnight, the Queen appeared.

“How fares my child, how fares my fawn?” said the Queen, “Once I will come, then never more.” The Queen nursed her child, patted her fawn, and then disappeared.  The King dared not speak to her, but returned the next night to watch again.

The Queen returned the next night and said, “How fares my child, how fares my fawn? This time I come, but never more.”

The King, who loved her, jumped up and said, “You can be none other than my dear wife.”

“I am your dear wife,” she answered, and at once came alive, healthy and rosy.  She told the King of the evil witch and her dreadful daughter, and how they had deceived him.

The King ordered the witch and the daughter to court, and judgement was swift.  The daughter was taken to the forest, where she was eaten by wild beasts.  The witch was cast into a fire and burned. When the witch was burnt, the fawn changed back into a human.  The sister and brother then lived happily for the rest of their lives.

Man, the wicked stepmother thing.  Brutal.

I have also noticed a theme:  when you’re beautiful, a King will come and marry you.  Just like that.

Another theme: justice comes to the wicked, and it’s usually pretty harsh.

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Filed under Fairy Tales

Airborn

airborn

I had picked Airborn up at a used bookstore because it seemed interesting AND the copy had been signed by the author.  Kenneth Oppel is also apparently a local author, which made me feel good about the purchase.  It’s a bit of an older book, which means that the two sequels are both out!  I’m excited to pick up the next two books!

Airborn tells the story of Matt Cruze – a cabin boy aboard the airship Aurora.  He dreams of one day advancing through the ranks, to sail the ship himself.  In the sky, Matt imagines himself light as air, and has no fear of heights.  Matt helps to rescue a dying balloonist, who tells of beautiful flying creatures.  Matt later meets this man’s granddaughter (Kate), who is convinced her Grandfather’s creatures were not fanciful hallucinations. She’s determined to prove that these mysterious creatures are indeed real.

When Matt’s beloved ship is besieged by pirates, what seemed like a routine transcontinental flight turns into an unexpected adventure!  Pirates and storms combine, and when the ship is blown off-course, it appears that Kate might have a chance to find the elusive creatures she seeks – with Matt’s help, of course.  Scientific explorations aside, Matt wants to save his ship, and he’ll need all his cunning to do so!

I liked:

  • Matt. He is a well rounded, interesting, and likeable character. I empathized with him, and cheered him on. He’s a smart, sometimes cautious, and ambitious guy.
  • Kate.  She’s definitely a headstrong young lady – curious, interested, ambitious and stubborn.
  • The adventure!  Pirates, shipwreck, tropical islands – this is a classic adventure tale.
  • The hint of steampunk.  I would definitely say this is a solidly science fiction novel.
  • The writing style.

I would definitely recommend this book!  A solid 4 / 5.

Cheers!

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Filed under Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult Books