Monday, October 31, 2016

Special Halloween Post: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Okay, yes, for those of you familier with great literature, this isn't a fairy tale. And, it's also implied to not even be a fantasy story. But, I needed a post for Halloween, so I chose one of my favorite "spooky" stories, and went with it. (One these days, I'll have to start a Nerd's Great Blog of Great Literature.)

Now anyway, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is one of those stories that our parents had never heard before we read it. My parents didn't really like scary stories, and had not read this particular one. In case any of my readers don't know the significance of this story, it's basically famous for having the legendary "Headless Horseman" in it. Now, even though the Headless Horseman legend did not derive from this tale, it is notable that this story is the reason most people nowadays even know about it.

Anyway, my parents had some books with lots of stories in them, and my brother and I decided one day to read them by ourselves (we were like 7 or 8 at the time). One of the stories in the books was "Sleepy Hollow," and I said, "Mom says that's a scary story." My brother said, "Scary stories are cool sometimes." So we sat down and read it together.

The story is about a school teacher named Ichabod Crane. He is a weird guy who wants to marry a girl named Katrina (presumably because she's very rich). His rival, Brom Bones, also wants to marry Katrina. Brom is a prankster, and, knowing that Ichabod is superstitious, he makes a mess of the schoolhouse, and makes Ichabod think it was a ghost. But this does not stop Ichabod.

Katrina invites Ichabod and Brom to a party, and will only dance with Ichabod. Brom is jealous because of this, and he wants to find some way to stop him.

Later, the guests tell ghost stories, and Brom decides to tell a story about how he was chased by the Headless Horseman. He says that he was chased to the bridge, but the legends say that the bridge is the Horseman's weakness, so the Horseman disappears once Brom crosses it.

Ichabod learns at the end of the party that Katrina does not really like him, and was just using him to make Brom jealous. As he rides home in the dark, he actually meets the Headless Horseman. The Horseman chases him, and Ichabod rides towards the bridge, thinking that crossing it will make the Horseman disappear, like he did in Brom's story. But he crosses it, and the Horseman does not disappear. Instead, the Horseman crosses the bridge and throws his head at Ichabod, knocking him off his horse. The next morning, Ichabod is gone, and none of the people in the town ever see him again. Brom marries Katrina. The End.

Now, when we got to the end of the story, I turned to my brother and said, "I think that the Headless Horseman was really Brom pulling a prank." My brother agreed with me.

And the text actually supports this.

Brom Bones too, who shortly after his rival's disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin, which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.

As for the "pumpkin" the text talks about, it was a pumpkin that was shattered at the site where Ichabod was supposedly "spirited away." Now, where in that entire encounter was there a pumpkin? There wasn't one. The only item mentioned in the encounter was the Horseman's head. But if Brom was pulling a prank, this means that there was no head to throw at Ichabod, which means he had to throw something else, and hope that Ichabod thought it was a head. The pumpkin? Most likely.

We also are told that a visitor to the town claims that Ichabod is still alive with a family in another town. But the people of the town "know" that it has to be true that Ichabod has been spirited away by the Horseman. Isn't this very similar to some people you know? I hear people claim all the time that think there was an alien or a ghost around, and no amount of evidence that it could be something other than that is going to change their opinion.

And think about it, this was only our first time reading the story, and we were little kids! And it was obvious to us that there wasn't really a Headless Horseman in the story. Washington Irving (the author) couldn't have made it any more obvious other than right out telling us it was so.

And this is one of the reasons why I like this story so much. It has that implication to it, and it also has characters similar to people you will meet in real life. Fun story.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Snow White (Part 2)

Okay, it's time to continue talking about "Snow White."

But first, I have to say something that is off topic. Remember a few posts ago when I said I couldn't find a picture of the book I found at Walmart? Well, I found a picture of the cover yesterday.

That's the book that was at Walmart.

(Ironically, I actually had to look up the name of the guy who wrote the text of Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest, Peter Holeinone, to find an image of this book. I find that strange, because the text from the orange book is not the same as the text from GFTTC, despite having the same illustrations (which are not drawn by Peter Holeinone). I know for a FACT that the text in the following link was the text from GFTTC; That was NOT the text that was in the orange book. Did Peter Holeinone write two different versions, or is the information about the book false? I'll have to buy the book and see if my memory is failing me.)

Anyway, back to "Snow White."

When we last left her, she was sleeping in a bed in the house of the seven dwarfs. The dwarfs are waiting for her to wake up the next morning. She wakes up, and tells them why she has come to their house, and they agree to let her stay if she'll do the chores for them. They also warn her not to let anybody in while their away, as they might be the queen in disguise.

Of course, the queen finds out that Snow White is alive, because that mirror of hers rats her out. So the queen dresses up as an old woman and visits Snow while the dwarfs are away. She pretends to sell her some bodice laces, and ties them so tight that Snow passes out. She runs back home, but the dwarfs arrive in time to save Snow.

The mirror rats Snow out again, and this time the queen resorts to witchcraft to kill Snow. She disguises as a different old woman, and pretends to sell combs to her. She uses a (magically) poisoned comb to comb Snow's hair, causing her to die. But the dwarfs arrive again and remove the comb, ending the spell, causing Snow to revive.

But Snow is ratted out by the mirror again, and the queen pays her another visit. This time, she tricks Snow into eating a (magically) poisoned apple, and she dies. The queen rushes home,, and this time the mirror says she is the fairest in the land.

(Of course, the queen shouldn't have been too quick to talk to her mirror, because the dwarfs hadn't even come home yet at that time. The mirror DID say Snow was alive the other two times, but that was AFTER the dwarfs helped her. This time, the queen gets her answer before the dwarfs arrive home, so of course Snow is going to be dead at that point. You COULD argue that the queen asks the mirror more than once during those times, but the story implies that the queen is satisfied with the mirror's answer BEFORE the dwarfs have come home and tried to do anything, which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me. Am I the only person who noticed this?)

The dwarfs come home, and they can't break the spell because they can't remove the apple that Snow ate (I think the implication is that they don't even know about the apple). They remove her clothes and wash her, but nothing helps. They weep, and lay her in a coffin, where she lays for many days without her beauty fading.

An interesting part of the story here says, "she remained as red as blood, as white as snow, and her hair remained as black as ebony." This is interesting, because this is the only time that we're told what parts of her are which colors, and even then it's only the ebony black part. We're just used to the idea of her lips and skin being the red and white parts of her, but since the story doesn't tell us, we can't know for sure (though I can't think of how else it would make since). And in the first edition, her EYES are ebony black instead of her hair. I can't think of a reason the Grimms changed it (were they tired of the common blonde female heroine or something?), but it is an interesting change nonetheless.

A prince comes by and sees Snow in the coffin. He wants her because she is so beautiful (I read an informational book once that said that Snow was probably naked in the coffin, because the story never said that the dwarfs put her clothes back on after washing her. I'm not sure if that's what the Brothers Grimm wanted to imply, but if that's the case, than the prince is more of a creep than I originally thought). He asks for the coffin, and the dwarfs give it to him. As the walk, one of them trips and drops the coffin, and the jolt knocks the piece of apple out of her mouth, breaking the spell. The prince asks Snow to marry him, and she agrees to ( I sure hope she was at the dwarfs for quite a few years before the prince found her, because she was only seven at the beginning of the story).

(In the first edition, the prince has the dead Snow in his possession for quite some time, and one of his men gets frustrated with his obsession for her and slaps her on the back of the head, making the apple fly out. I guess the Grimms thought this part was weird or something.)

They invite the evil queen to the wedding, and of course the queen asks her mirror who is most beautiful again. The mirror says that the new bride is, and the queen goes there and finds that it's Snow. But this time, it's Snow who gets her revenge on the queen (or maybe the prince was mad at the queen or something). The queen is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies. Yeah. Weird.

"Snow White" is basically a story about jealousy. The queen and Snow White are the two central characters, with Snow being the innocent girl who can't help what she looks like, and the queen being the jealous mother/stepmother, who won't let anybody (not even her own daughter) stand in the way of her beauty.

The Disney version includes the same thing, but it's kind of pushed to one side once the dwarfs come along. The dwarfs in the Disney version are funny people who sing and dance in a style that's stuck with Disney films ever since. The queen also only uses the apple in this version, and the other two weapons are cut out, but this is forgivable, because it would have been repetitive. Also, the prince kisses Snow to break the spell, rather than the apple coming out of her mouth. And while removing the apple from her made more since from the story's logic (remove the comb to break the spell, remove the apple to break the spell), this was an exceptable change, as the film was for kids.

Oh yeah, and we also get Snow singing to animals while they help her clean. While not necessarily a bad change, this also got carried over to other female characters in Disney films, and became rather cliche. Oh well.

And, thanks to the Disney film, many people now know the story as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." While accurate for the Disney film, the Grimm story does better as just "Snow White," since the dwarfs are hardly in it.

Anyway, not a bad story. Still a pretty well known one, but it's one of my favorites.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Snow White (Part 1)

Okay. yeah. So for those of you who couldn't figure out what story was illustrated on the cover of "Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest" Book 5, that story was, in fact, "Snow White."

Now, like I said before, if I didn't remember that the story didn't look interesting to me before I saw the Disney movie, and someone told me about this fact, I wouldn't believe them for a second. This is because "Snow White" is one of my all time favorite fairy tales. (Strangely, before I saw the cover of Book 5 of GFTTC on Google Images, I somehow remembered the cover illustration having Snow White reading a book to the dwarfs while sitting in a chair, though the rest of the picture would have been the same. I don't know why I remember it that way, because that's definitely not the case. Maybe I'm getting it mixed up with some other book cover for a different story, who knows).

Anyway, I was at my grandmother's house for a few weeks for a reason I can't remember (possibly Bible School at her church, but there's a whole flood of possibilities, so I don't know for sure). She happened to have the Disney movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," on VHS, and she put it in for me to watch.

It didn't take long for me to start seeing similarities between the movie and the illustrations from GFTTC Book 5. Now, of course, the illustrations were not inspired by the Disney movie (I think GFTTC was actually originally published in Italy, and was translated to English for the Canadian edition), but things didn't have to look one hundred percent the same for me to figure out that they were basically the same thing. Because here's what I noticed:

A Queen looking in a mirror and frowning, just like in GFTTC.

A girl with dark hair, just like in GFTTC.

Dwarfs, just like in GFTTC.

The girl with dark hair lying on the ground next to an old woman, just like in GFTTC.

And finally, the girl laying in coffin, just like in GFTTC.

It wasn't long before I realized this must have been "the other story." I didn't know for sure though.

(Here's a funny story. I have like the most random dreams ever, and one of them still makes me laugh when I think of it. Before I actually came across the orange book at Walmart where I re-saw the Three Pigs illustrations, I had a dream where we obtained a new copy of GFTTC Book 5. I opened it up, hoping to see that I was right about the second story being Snow White, but I was wrong, because it was some Christmas story instead. But the funniest part was that, when I opened the book again, the pages were in the wrong order, and then I woke up. But no, after looking up the book online later, I discovered I had been right the whole time.)

Anyway, the book I found at Walmart didn't have Snow White in it (or at least I didn't see it in that book), so I have never seen those pictures again aside from the cover illustration, which makes me sad. I'm going to have to buy a book with those illustrations too (maybe I can save money by just buying a new GFTTC Book 5).

Okay, enough of my history with these stories. I apologize to any of my friends from school who happened to come across this blog on their own Google search, because you've heard this same story from me a zillion times.

Let's get on with actually talking about the story, "Snow White," as recorded by the Brothers Grimm.

Now, unlike the classic Disney version, the Brothers Grimm version goes more into the backstory of how Snow White was born. Basically, a queen is sewing and pricks her finger. The blood falls out the window on the snow outside. The queen looks at the red blood, the black ebony wood of the window frame, and the white snow, and basically says, "I want a kid like that."

Okay, I'm paraphrasing. But that's basically what this passage is saying. Snow White is literally born from a wish (or at least that's what I think the story implies). And this is where we come into one of those differences between the first and last editions of the Grimm's Collection.

In the first edition, there is only one queen in the entire story. In the second edition onwards, there are two separate queens. The first queen dies giving birth to Snow, and the king takes a new wife. Now, the reason this was changed is because the Grimms saw that their collection was somewhat popular with families, and, not wanting to frighten little children, they split the one queen into two separate queen characters. This is because the queen is evil, and the Grimms didn't think it was a good idea to portray a character's own mother as evil.

(Ironically, this has just enforced a well-known stereotype in fairy tales; evil stepmothers. I've actually heard kids that have had fairy tales read to them that they are afraid of stepmothers. I guess folk tales will never be perfect.)

Now, of course, we come to the well known point of the story, where the queen goes to her mirror, and asks it who the most beautiful person in the country is. Of course, the mirror always says the queen is the most beautiful. But then, one day, it says that Snow White is now the most beautiful.

Yeah, of course this queen is angry. So angry, that she wants to kill Snow. It makes me wonder if the queen ever had any other people put to death before this happened, because she wanted to be the most beautiful.

Now, I just have to point out here that Snow is only seven years old at the time of this story. So what we basically have here is a grown woman wanting to have an innocent little girl put to death just because she's more beautiful than she is. Now THAT'S evil!

But, nevertheless, she does attempt to have her killed. She gets the hunter of the kingdom to take Snow into the forest and cut her lungs and liver out of her, bringing them back with him. She also wants to eat Snow's organs. So I guess she needs to eat Snow in order to believe that she's dead (anyone who can explain that to me, please do).

Of course, if Snow died this early on, the story would have to end there. So of course it has to turn out that the hunter is a coward. He sees how beautiful she is and backs out of it, abandoning her in the forest to get eaten by wolves instead. He brings the queen hog organs to eat instead, claiming that he got them from Snow.

Of course, Snow manages to find shelter before any wolves can get to her. She finds a small cottage, and (in a point of the story that's so similar to "Three Bears" that it makes me wonder if the two stories have some kind of connection) enters it, eating from the plates, sitting in the chairs, and sleeping in one of the beds.

The owners of the house, seven dwarfs, come home to find that someone has broken in, and find Snow laying in one of the beds. Instead of waking her up and scaring her away (like the bears did), the dwarfs leave her there to wake up the next morning, and resort to the most ridiculous method ever so that they all still have beds to sleep in. The seventh dwarf has to share a bed with one of the dwarfs for each hour, changing which bed he sleeps in once the hour is up (did all the dwarfs want him to share their own bed or something, and couldn't agree on which dwarf should be the one?)

Okay, this is getting pretty long. I'll continue talking about this story in the next post.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Missing Piece of My Childhood

Okay, so I know it's been more than a month since my last post. This post was very hard to write, and you will see why.

So, a couple posts ago, I talked about "The Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest." I mentioned that, when I was a little kid, my family had books four and five of series one, but they were the individually sold versions of them. The cover of book five looked like this:

Now, although we had both of these books simultaneously, I only knew about the book four for quite a long time. I was one of those kids who would take the books off the shelves occasionally, and sometimes find some cool book I had never seen before.

Actually, come to think of it, my memory just triggered a little bit. I think I actually DO remember knowing about both books at the same time, I think I didn't look at book five because I wasn't interested in it at the time. I don't know anymore. The point is, I didn't look at this book for a long time and would only look at book four.

So, anyway, it do happened that it occurred to me one day that I had never looked at "the book that was like the Red Riding Hood book, only it was pink and had different stories in it."

So, I decided to take it off the shelf and look at it. I opened it up, and was greeted by a picture of three pigs. One was standing around eating carrots, and had yellow stripes on his shirt. One was sitting in a wheelbarrow, and had blue stripes on his shirt. And the third was pushing the wheelbarrow, and had red stripes on his shirt.

There were other pictures on that page. The pig with blue stripes was binding together some straw to put on his half-finished house. The pig with yellow stripes was nailing some boards on the roof of his house. The pig with red stripes was putting the finishing touches on a brick house.

"It's The Three Little Pigs," I thought to myself.

The pictures were pretty good. I enjoyed looking at them very much. In this version of the story, the Wolf didn't fall in a pot of water, but instead upon the flames of the fireplace, and there was a picture of it.

I had my dad read the book to me a couple times. There was a second story in it, and it was illustrated on the cover. But I never asked my parents to read it to me (I was still too young to read at the time), because it didn't look interesting (if I didn't remember being disinterested in it though, and had someone tell me that I was, I wouldn't believe them for a second, because it's one of my all time favorites now). I DID look at the illustrations though. There were dwarfs, and a girl with dark hair, and a queen looking into a mirror and frowning, and an illustration I distinctly remember, with the girl with dark hair lying on the ground next to a doorway with and old woman standing next to her, and an illustration of her in a coffin outside.

Everybody knows what story I'm talking about already. But, I did not know the title at the time. It was only after this book got thrown in the trash and was gone forever that I finally realized what story it was, since I saw the Disney movie a few months later (and even then, it was only my guess what the story was, because I was using logic. I hadn't figured out yet how to look up these kinds of things online. I must have been a very logical thinker though, because I was completely right, and I was so young!)

Now, you might think that the fact it was thrown in the trash indicates that I looked at it so much that it fell apart. But, alas, that was not the case. It's time for the story of one of my worst phobias.

When I was younger, I didn't pay much attention to detail in pictures. I liked pictures, of course, but, I didn't pay much attention to detail.

That changed only a few weeks after my "discovery" of this particular book. I was sitting on the floor (it's a big book), and for some reason, it was then that I decided to look at the details. Then, it happened...

I got to the page where the Wolf fell into the fire, and I noticed something; standing next to the fireplace was one of the pigs. He had a spade in his arms that was raised over his head. Now, since I didn't know why he would be doing something like that, I found it very weird. So weird, in fact, that I was scared of it. I instantly told my parents that the picture frightened me. They understood (though they didn't know the exact reason), and they put the book on the shelf, and told me a wouldn't have to see it.

Unfortunately, when you have brothers, things don't always go as planned. One of my brothers liked to look at books, and he would often take the book down and look at it. I was so terrified that I didn't dare to enter the family when he was looking at it. And this got even worse, because he had the habit of leaving books sitting open on the couch when he was done looking at them, and it sometimes ended up that the book would end up open to the page with the frightening illustration when he left it there, I was scared out of my mind.

Eventually, Dad got down every single book version we had of "Three Little Pigs" and opened them to the pictures of the Wolf falling into the pot of water in those versions. "Do these ones scare you?" he asked me. I answered no, ad they asked me why I was scared of a particular illustration. What was different about it that it scared me so much?

I realized that they didn't know exactly why it scared me. They were thinking about the illustration in terms of how the majority of small children would be frightened by it (i.e.: the Wolf burning up). I wanted to explain to them the real reason, but I didn't have a wide enough vocabulary back then, so I couldn't.

So, my parents threw the book in the garbage. For the next for days, until the trash from that can was taken to the outside trash can, I never threw anything away when my parents asked me to, when normally I would have been glad to. I was so afraid of the book that was inside.

I've realized since then that have a really bad phobia. A phobia of bizarre images. And, unfortunately, It's not something I can avoid. A particular one that I've seen again and again accidentally is the original Denslow illustration of the Wicked Witch melting from the "Wizard of Oz." It pops up again and again online, and I have never gotten less afraid of it.

Ironically, the illustration that started it all doesn't actually scare me anymore. I was at Walmart about five years later, and they had some hardcover books there. One of them was this particular book:

Okay, no. It wasn't actually that book. I just got tired of looking for an image of it on Google Images (I can't remember the title of the book. I remember it was orange, and it had the picture of the pigs with the wheel barrow on the cover). That IS an illustration from the book though. The last illustration from the story to be exact. I have a good memory.

Anyway, my mom took the book and started looking at it. I recognized the pictures immediately. "Oh no," I thought. Mom didn't recognize the pictures. I had to think fast. I dived at the book, and tried to snatch it before the page could be turned to the picture that started at all.

But I was too late. I saw the picture. But it didn't scare me anymore, much to my surprise. And to my even greater surprise, I felt so happy seeing the pictures in that story again. I had thought before that I would never see them again, and I was glad about it. But seeing them there, at Walmart? It was like meeting an old friend after so many years.

The picture did not scare me anymore because I didn't find it weird anymore. I knew exactly why the Pig had that spade raised over his head. (If only I could find a way to think that a Wicked Witch with three pigtails and a goofy frown wasn't weird. If only.)

Unfortunately, Mom said she was only going to buy me one book that day. One of the books there was a Thomas the Tank Engine book, and being a big Thomas fan, I somewhat wanted that one too. So, I thought for a few minutes, and finally, I chose...

Thomas the Tank Engine.

I've come to regret that decision ever since. I have never found another book with those illustrations ever since that day (and haven't even seen the picture that started the whole thing since that day).

I will order a book with those illustrations some day, because they hold a nostalgic value for me. But right now, I'm only about to enter college. I don't have the money to order books online right now. But I will eventually obtain a copy of "The Three Little Pigs" with those illustrations, and I will not lose it again.

Okay. yeah, this post had hardly anything to do with fairy tales. Sorry about that. But I promise that my next post will talk about another fairy tale. One that I actually mentioned in this post...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Three Little Pigs

Okay, it's time for that other story that has a wolf as a villain; "The Three Little Pigs!"

Now, I first heard this story from a book that was based on the old Disney cartoon. I didn't see the cartoon until years later, but the book was a very entertaining read when I was a kid. So, naturally, I knew the watered-down version before I knew about the more gruesome version.

Now let's say that line that you're probably getting tired of me saying.

Everybody probably knows the story already (there you go). There are three pigs that leave their mother to seek their fortune. They build houses. The first pig builds a house of straw, the second builds a house of sticks, and the third builds a house of bricks. Despite warnings from the Third Pig that their houses aren't strong enough, the First and Second Pigs refuse to spend the time building stronger houses. Unfortunately for them, the Big Bad Wolf comes to the neighborhood and blows down the straw and stick houses, forcing their owners to flee to the house of bricks. Their brother lets them in, and tells them that his house is the only safe one built, as he said before. Sure enough, the Wolf is unable to blow down the house. Unable to get to the pigs, he gives up and goes home, never to bother the pigs again.

Simple story isn't it? Basically a lesson that hard work really does pay off. But this story has changed quite a bit.

Now, although for the first three months so that I heard this story it was from a book based on the Disney cartoon, my parents later started reading it to me out of two different books. These were "The Golden Goose Book" and "Paul Galdone's Three Little Pigs." Both of these used the text of Joseph Jacob's version (although the Galdone version had simplified vocabulary), which is what most of the modern versions are based on. I have the Jacobs version memorized to this day, and if you asked me to recite it, I would, and I would do it very well.

Now, the stories of Joseph Jacobs are for a considerably younger audience than the tales of the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault. As such, they aren't as dark. That's not to say that they're completely child-friendly, but they are more light-hearted and humorous, which makes them very fun.

Now, people who aren't familier with the Jacobs version will probably be surprised to find out that the "house-building" aspect is actually a very minor plot point in the story. Basically, we get something like this:

"The first pig built a house of straw, which the wolf blew down. The second pig built a house of gorse, which the wolf blew down. The third pig built a house of bricks, which the wolf couldn't blow down."

I'm exaggerating a little bit, but that's basically how important that whole section is in this version of the story. In fact, the first two pigs don't even survive in this version. The wolf eats them. They are in this story for such a short time that they might as well have not been in it at all, and the story should have been called "The One Little Pig."

It's understandable though, why this part of the story became so famous, while the rest of it has kid of been pushed into near obscurity. This part of the story includes some repetitive rhyming when the wolf comes to the houses;

"Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"

"No, no, by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin."

"Than I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"

So classic. And yeah, it IS very memorable. Plus, who doesn't want to teach their children about the value of hard work?

On a side note, Jacobs speculates that because pigs don't actually have hair on their chins, that they must have been goats in earlier versions of the story. This somewhat loosely ties this story with "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids," which actually has variants with three kids instead of seven.

Now, like I said, this opening to the story really has very little importance, it might as well have began with the part with the wolf trying to blow down the brick house, bacause that's where the main part of the story starts. The main focus of the story is that the wolf is trying to get to the third little pig.

Also note that the wolf isn't called the "Big Bad Wolf." I don't know who came up with that idea (though it IS kind of catchy).

And the wolf doesn't just give up either, he's STILL determined to get that pig. He decides to trick him into leaving the house. He invites him to come along with him the next morning to the field to pick turnips. The pig agrees, but sees through the wolf's plan, and cleverly heads out an hour before the wolf intends to meet him. He picks the turnips and gets back home before the wolf arrives, which ticks him off. Then the wolf invites him to an apple orchard.

Once again, the pig heads out an hour early. However, he is at the orchard longer than he expected, and the wolf arrives while he's up on a tree. The pig, however, uses his wits, and tosses the wolf an apple. While the wolf is running to pick it up, the pig climbs out of the tree and runs home.

The wolf then invites the pig to a fair in Shanklin (which definitively sets this version in Britain). The pig once again heads out an hour early and goes to the fair. As he's heading home, he sees the wolf coming. So he hides in a butter-churn he bought at the fair and rolls down the hill in it. The wolf is frightened by it and runs home.

He later goes to the pig's house, only to find that the pig was inside the butter-churn that scared him. Angrily, he resolves to go down the chimney and eat the pig. But the builds a fire in the fireplace and puts a big pot of water over it. The wolf falls into the pot, and the pig slams the cover over it so that the wolf can't escape, killing him. The pig eats him for supper. The end.

Now, not all modern versions end with the wolf just giving up after he can't blow down the brick house. In some (including the Disney cartoon), the story actually cuts to him coming down the chimney. In some versions where this happens, the wolf doesn't die, he just gets burned badly by the hot water, and runs away forever. But this doesn't really make since, because water doesn't heat up that fast. The Jacobs version, where the pig slams the cover on until the wolf has been boiled, actually makes more sense. Some modern versions take note of this, and don't have the pot of water on the fire. Instead, the wolf burns his tail from the flames of the fire.

The modern versions focus more on the value of hard work, while the Jacobs version tells the reader to always be smarter than the villain. Both are valuable lessons, and I've actually combined both lessons in a script I wrote for a comedy movie based on the story (yes, I like to write things in my spare time). I have all three pigs survive. The first half of the script focuses on the house-building aspect, while the second half focuses on the wolf's attempts to get the pigs to leave the house. I honestly wish more of the modern versions had the rest of the story, as it's very humorous. But, for a children's story, I think this does very well.

There's also another, very different, version of the story included in The Green Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. But I'll talk about that in a future post.

Which version of the story do YOU prefer? The version that focuses more on the houses, or the version that focuses more on the wolf's attempts to get the pig(s) to leave the house?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Red Riding Hood

Okay, so if you haven't figured it out already, I've been trying to cover these stories in the order I encountered them, because it's "nostalgia." However, after I get past that Richard Scarry VHS, it's kind of hard for me to figure out EXACTLY the precise order I encountered these stories in (even if I DO have a really good memory). So I'm covering these next few only ROUGHLY in order, as I encountered them around the same time. I'll start with "Red Riding Hood."

Now, in the early 90's there was a collection of books at was apparently printed in Canada by a company called "Tormont Publications." It was called, "The Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest." I'm going to try to explain his clearly, because it took me awhile to figure out exactly how these books were published, and I'm not sure I'm even entirely correct. So bear with me. I'm trying to help you understand.

"Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest" is a series of about five "series" if you know what I mean. Each "series" in the series in the series was composed of five tall, skinny books that were included in a tall, skinny box. Each "series" had its own box, as well as its own border. And they included wonderful illustrations by a guy with the pen-name of Tony Wolf, as well as (I think) one or two other illustrators.

Now, being born in the LATE nineties (rather than the early nineties, when these books were published), and living in AMERICA (rather than Canada), it would seem strange that we would have had any of these books at all. But we did have a few of them, though I don't know exactly where my parents even got them from.

From what I've gathered, it appears that the books that were from the first "series" we're also published individually without the numbers at the bottom of the books. You can see the books from series one in the picture below.

Now, we had books four and five of series one, but they were from the individually published versions, rather than the ones from the collection, so the volume numbers were not at the bottoms of the book covers. It appears that the individual versions also were different colors than the collection versions. As you can see from the picture, all the books from the collection version were blue. However, our copy of book four was green, and our copy of book five was pink. You can see the cover of book four below. It's the only picture I could find of it. And of course, ours was green instead of blue.

Now I'm sure you have two questions. The first is probably why I didn't post a picture of book five as well. The second is probably why I'm talking about these books so much. The answer to the first ties into the answer to the second. I will say that we eventually also got a copy of the complete series four, but that doesn't matter right now. About the two questions, book five actually has an interesting nostalgic value that I feel is worth talking about in a post of its own, so I'm saving a picture of it for when I do a post about it. And that won't be long from now either. I needed to introduce these books because it will make more sense when I post more about them later.

Now you've probably guessed from the title that book four has the story of "Red Riding Hood" in it. And yes, it does. It also has "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Obstinate Goats."

Now "Read Riding Hood" was popularized by French author Charles Perrault. His version of the story introduced most of the elements we know from the story today, such as the red hood. His version literally translates to "Little Red Riding Hood."

The story was made even more popular by the Brothers Grimm, who toned the story down quite a bit, and gave it a much less dark ending. Their version is "Rottkapchen" (I think that's how it's spelled), which is a diminutive form of "Red Cap" However, some translations of it for children still call it "Red Riding Hood."

Now, everybody probably knows this story already (aren't you tired of hearing that from me? LOL.).

There's a little girl who always wears a red hood. Her mother sends her into the woods (and out of the woods! and home before dark! LOL!) to bring food to her sick grandmother. She tells her not to leave the path, and not to talk to strangers. A wolf meets her on the way, and she foolishly tells him where her grandmother's house is. The wolf convinces her to leave the path to pick flowers, and then races the the grandmother's house and locks her in the closet. He dresses up as Grandmother and jumps into her bed. Red arrives at the house and suspects that something isn't right. She can tell that her grandmother isn't what she usually looks like, and just when she figures out it's the wolf, she's too late, and the wolf pounces on her. But before he can eat her, a hunter enters the house and shoots the wolf. He rescues Red and her grandmother, and Red promises to never talk to strangers, and never leave the path again.

Now, the majority of modern versions of the story are based on the Brothers Grimm version, and although it is very similar, there are quite a few differences.

The first is that the Brothers Grimm version doesn't focus on the talking to strangers aspect. At all. It's main focus is how Red is supposed to stay on the path. Talking to a wolf is apparently normal in this version. Red's fault is in taking the wolf's advice to leather path, which gives the wolf time to get to Grandmother's house first. And at the end, there's actually an epilogue where Red keeps true to her word and ignores the advice of the next wolf who tries to trick her into leaving the path, allowing her to get to Grandmother's house first and plan ahead to defeat the wolf. A very satisfying ending, in my opinion.

And the most memorable difference is that the wolf doesn't even lock grandmother in the closet. He eats her! And he eats Red too! And it turns out they were swallowed whole. And the hunter must have taken advice from the mother goat from "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids," because he does the exact same thing she did! And the wolf has the same fate!

Now granted, not all kids versions have used the revised ending I mentioned earlier. In fact, the version from "Great Fairy Takes Treasure Chest" actually combines both endings! The wolf eats both Red and her grandmother, the hunter shoots the wolf, and then cuts the protagonists alive from his stomach.

But if you thought the Grimm version was dark, just look at the Perrault version.

This version DOES focus on the talking to strangers aspect. The wolf convinces her to take the longer path, and he takes the shorter one. When Red arrives, he tells her to remove her clothes and get in bed with him. The story takes on the familiar "Red is suspicious" plot point, but after the wolf eats her, that's the end of the story! Yup, she's dead!

Some have interpreted this story as being about avoiding sex offenders, and while I get kind of tired of scholars interpreting nearly every fairy tale as having to do with... something like that, in this case, it actually seems like a pretty valid interpretation.

There are older versions of this story too. In some of them, the wolf tricks Red into drinking her grandmother's blood! And while quite a few end with the wolf eating her, there are some early versions where Red outsmarts the wolf by asking to use the outhouse. Then she goes outside and runs away! And they say that women are helpless in fairy tales!

I personally like the ending where Red dies the best. I think it really drives the point home that kids should not talk to strangers, and should stay on the path. But I don't mind the other endings. They are all very clever, and, to be fair, I grew up with the happy ending!Plus, as a guy who really likes the movie "Hoodwinked," (yes, that will get its own review someday) I can't resist a bit of comedy in these stories!

Now, next time, I'll get to another famous fairy tale that has a wolf as the antagonist. You can probably guess what it is already! ;-)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Golden Book Richard Scarry VHS: Part 2: The Bremen Town Musicians

Okay, so in my last post, I was talking about the "Richard Scarry's Old MacDonald's Farm and Other Stories" VHS. I talked about the adaptation of "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" that was on it. Today, I'm going to talk about the other fairy tale that was on it; "The Bremen Town Musicians."

Now, once again, this was my introduction to this story, so I kind of have a nostalgic feeling for it. This doesn't take as many liberties as "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" did, but it still has quite a few differences.

I'm going to start by giving the plot of the Brothers Grimm tale.

A donkey, dog, cat, and rooster get away from their abusive owners, and head off toward the city of Bremen to become musicians. At night, they look for a place to rest, and discover the home of a band of robbers. They stand on top of each other and scare them away. They enter the house and fall asleep. One of the robbers returns to the house to investigate, and the animals attack him. He can't see very well in the dark and mistakes them for monsters. He runs away and tells his companions. They are scared, and run away, never to return. The animals decide they like the house so much at they stay there, and never go to Bremen.

Now, the funny thing about this story is that all of the humans in this story are antagonists. The animals are having to leave their abusive owners, and the robbers are humans. However, there are a few versions of this story that feature a human protagonists. In these versions, the human accompanies the animals on their journey, and they help him out. So, that's kind of interesting.

The plot of the story can vary too. Sometimes, there's hardly any plot, and it just states, "a donkey went on a journey, and he met a dog, and then they met a cat, etc." Sometimes, it has more of a plot, like the Grimm version does. The ending varies sometimes too. I've always preferred the ending where the robber thinks the animals are monsters, because it's always made me laugh. Especially how he thinks the rooster's "cock-doodle-doo" is "kill the robber, do!" LOL!

In other versions, the robber is able to see the animals, and knows what they are, and they end up killing him by tossing him back and forth. Sometimes, all the robbers return to the house and get killed! In some versions where the protagonist is a human, he takes the robber's stolen goods back to their rightful owners, and is rewarded with riches.

This story has still remained basically the same though. And you can actually see this statue in Bremen that's based on the story:

Now to talk about the Richard Scarry version.

At the point when this version was written, Scarry had stopped putting humans into his stories, and instead made all of the characters animals, which is kind of cool. So, in this version, instead of the animals running away from abusive owners, they are simply bored with the jobs they have at home, and long to become famous.

Of  course, the robbers are all animals also. One of them is the fox from Scarry's version of "Gingerbread Man," and another is the wolf from "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" and "Three Little Pigs." Or, at least they look just like them.

Also, in a notable difference from the Grimm version, the animals don't actually realize that the men in the house are actually robbers in the Richard Scarry version. Instead, they think they are "friendly folk." And they end up scaring them away by accident, rather than on purpose, as they are trying to get invited in. They don't know what scared them away, and decide to wait in the house until they return, so that they can meet them. When one of the robbers returns to the house, they don't recognize him from before, and think that he's come to rob the house of the "friendly folk." So they attack him. The next morning, they notice that the "friendly folk" still haven't returned. They are afraid that the "robber" might return, so they agree to stay at the house to keep it safe and tidy until the "friendly folk" return. And since they never do return, and the animals never find out that they were robbers, they end up staying at the house forever. But they are content now, and live together happily.

Honestly, I don't know which version of the story I like better. They are both really cute stories about animals who go on a journey. And the moral of both versions is the same: You don't need to be rich and famous. What matters is having a nice house and a family.

I honestly can't decide whether I prefer the Grimm or the Richard Scarry version.

Which version of "Bremen Town Musicians" do YOU prefer?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Golden Book Richard Scarry VHS: Part 1: The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids

So, in my last post, I said I'd be talking about a VHS I watched when I was a little kid. So, of course, that's what I'm going to talk about.

Now, when I was very little, some of the first VHS tapes that I had were made by the Golden Book company, and they each had a few stories on them that used pictures from the Little Golden Books along with voiceovers for the characters(with some of the pictures digitally edited to give them a "movie" feel).

Now, even though I had about five different VHS tapes from this series at the same time, there was really only one that I watched when I was three. I wouldn't watch the other ones until quite a bit of time later. This particular VHS tape was titled, "Richard Scarry's Old MacDonald's Farm, and Other Animal Tales."

Now, I watched this video A LOT when I was young, and it was one of my favorites. I come across it  on YouTube sometimes, and I just HAVE to watch it, because I get all nostalgic. In fact, I re-watched it right before I came to write this post.

This VHS includes three stories by Richard Scarry. The first is about Old MacDonald, and how his kids throw a huge family reunion at his farm. Oh, and they grow pickles too, which is even funnier when you're an adult and watching this, because you know that pickles don't actually grow. You have to grow cucumbers and pickle them to get pickles!

The other two stories were Richard Scarry's adaptations of "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids," and "The Bremen-town Musicians." These are both based on fairy tales, and since they were my introduction to BOTH stories, I decided to talk about them both. But, in order to keep my posts from being too long, I will cover "Bremen-town Musicians" in my next post, and just talk about "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids."

Now, before I begin, I strongly suggest watching this entire VHS before you read my thoughts about it, because it is HILARIOUS! The entire VHS has been up on YouTube for quite a few years, and you can watch the entire thing by clicking on this link.

The story is, of course, way softened in the Richard Scarry version. In the original, a wolf is trying to get into a house where seven young goats live while their mother is away, but they won't let him. He tricks them, and they let him in.

The original Brothers Grimm story implies that the wolf completely successful at his trickery, while the Richard Scarry version portrays him as a stereotypical idiot. And it is very funny. Plus, the kids get to slam the window on his fingers, so... Yeah!

In the original, the wolf swallows all the kids whole (except for one, who hides). He goes to rest under a tree, and the mother goat cuts him open, frees the kids, fills him with stones, and sews him back shut.

In the Richard Scarry version, the wolf puts all the kids in a sack, so that he can take them home and have a feast. While he's resting under the tree, the mother goat cuts open the sack, frees the kids, fills the sack with stones, and sews it back shut. Wouldn't it have been easier just to untie the sack?

The ending to the Richard Scarry version is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the original ending. In the original, the wolf takes a drink by the lake, and the heavy stones inside him cause him to fall in and drown.

In the Richard Scarry version, the wolf is completely humiliated! He gets home, opens the sack, and finds that there are stones in it instead of goats. He is angry and hungry, and the story doesn't end there! No! It has more to it, as the wolf gets humiliated more! He doesn't die at the end, but at the end, I'm sure he'd rather be dead than in the situation he's in! I'm not even going to spoil it for you. Watch it yourself, because it's hilarious!

I know this is kind of strange coming from a partial-purist, but I actually like the Richard Scarry version better than the original. Maybe it's just because of the nostalgia, but it's just SO funny! It's the version that always pops into my head when I hear "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids."

Next time, I'll get to the other story, "Bremen-town Musicians." Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Three Bears

Okay, so for my fairy tale posts, I decided to start with one of the first fairy tales I can remember being read to me; "The Three Bears."

Now, I was very, very, VERY young when this story was first read to me. I was two years old or younger. I had the book that you can see in the picture below (that is, you can see the picture if that stupid glitch doesn't happen).

Now, I'm sure everybody knows this story already, because it's one of the most famous fairy tales out there. Basically, it's this family of bears that go for a walk while their porridge is cooling, and a little girl named Goldilocks goes into their house and eats their porridge, sits in their chairs, and lays in their beds. Then the three bears come home. Their porridge bowls have been eaten out of, and their child's porridge is completely gone. Their chairs have been sat on, and their child's chair is broken. Their beds have been used, and Goldilocks is still in their child's bed. Goldilocks wakes up and sees the bears and runs away in fear, never to return again.

Now, of course, this book that had been read to me was a little kid version of the story. So, of course, it had an innocent little girl who survives at the very end. And the bears end up sharing their porridge in order for their son to have some after his is eaten, and they fix his chair. Yeah. It was for kids.

Now, I was one of those kids who wanted my favorite stories read to me over and over and over again. So this book got read to me about a million times, and I never got tired of it. In fact, this WAS the story of "The Three Bears" for me until I was about five years old, and my parents bought another book called, "The Golden Goose Book."

If it looks familier, it's because it's a very famous book that has illustrations by Leonard Leslie Brooke. His drawings in the book are fantastic and worth looking at if you haven't seen them. This book is in the public domain, and is on Project Gutenberg, so you can take a look at it if you want.

This book included the stories of "The Golden Goose," "The Three Bears," "The Three Little Pigs," and "Tom Thumb." My parents started reading me and my brothers "The Three Bears" out of this book, and we enjoyed it a lot. In this book, the girl who trespassed in the Bears' house was named "Goldenlocks" instead of "Goldilocks," which I thought was kind of funny.

I found out more about this story when I was in middle school (which is when I started looking into the older versions of the fairy tales). I found out that most modern versions are based on a story by Robert Southy I was surprised to find out that originally, the intruder was not a little girl at all. Instead, it was an old, ugly woman. And not only that, but the story describes many times how she uses bad language, and how she would have stolen the Bears' spoons if they had been made of silver instead of wood. And at the end, they leave it up to the reader what happens to her after she jumps out the window after the Bears discover her. It gives you the idea that maybe she broke her neck, or ran into the woods and was lost, or found her way out and was "taken up by the constable to the house of correction for the vagrant she was." Clearly, this was not the innocent story that most kids heard from their parents. This was a breaking and entering story.

But that wasn't the most surprising part. The most surprising part was that the Bears weren't even a family. We're used to hearing "Father Bear," "Mother Bear," and "Baby Bear." But in this version, they were "the Great Huge Bear," "The Middle Bear," and "The Little Small Wee Bear." And ALL THREE OF THEM were male bears! Haha! I'll let you have your own opinion on whether these Bears were just friends who lived in the same house or something

The version of the story in "The Golden Goose Book" was Southy's version. But it had been edited to replace the Old Woman with Goldenlocks (as well as remove the nasty things that she does), and change the Middle Bear to female.

Apparently, the change from an Old Woman to a little girl first appeared about ten years after the story's publication, where she was replaced with a girl named "Silver-Hair." This girl apparently went through a lot of name changes before publishers decided that "Goldilocks" was the name that most people preferred.

Interestingly, there is a variant of this tale, called "Scrapefoot," which includes a fox as the intruder instead of a human. Joseph Jacobs thought that maybe when Southy heard the story, it had included a vixen (female fox) as the intruder, but he misunderstood "vixen" to mean "spiteful woman." That's a very plausible theory, in my opinion.

The funny thing about modern versions of this story is that they appear to make Goldilocks the character that most kids connect with. It's the character that they like to hear about the most, and they're happy when she escapes the Bears. In reality, it's really the BEARS that we should be connecting with. They're the ones who have trespassing problems. The intruder is the antagonist, not the hero, and I'm afraid that modern versions have made that hard for kids to realize. In fact, Roald Dahl made note of this in a parody poem he wrote of the story, where Goldilocks does really awful things in the Bears' house, and then gets eaten by them at the end!

All, in all, this story hasn't really changed that much from the older versions. But it's still worth noting that modern versions should probably cast Goldilocks in a more negative light, and make the Bears the characters that we identify with. 

As a story that I remember fondly as a kid, it's nice to go back and remember it. Next time... I'll be talking about a VHS tape that I watched as a little kid. What VHS is it? Well... You'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


There was once a time-period where people were encouraged to use their imaginations. In this time-period, people would make up fantastic stories, which they would tell to people. The stories were very interesting, and they would be passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

As the stories were passed down, they evolved, and more details were implemented into them. Sometimes people would take the familier stories, and make new stories out of them.

Then, one day, someone decided to try to write the stories down. And so he did. And when that happened, more people decided to try writing down the stories being told in their countries as well. Soon, many books had been written that contained these fantastic stories, which contained marvelous creatures like dwarfs and fairies. And these stories were enjoyed for many generations.

But alas, like most wonderful things in the world, these stories were soon taken over by more popular items.

The motion picture was invented, and it allowed people to watch stories play out on screen. Of course, these marvelous stories were prime choices for these new inventions, and we're soon put to screen. Unfortunately, many things that happened in these stories didn't play out very well on screen, and had to be changed. Many of the important parts of these stories lost their meaning in adaptation, and the factor that children would be watching the films increased the need to change the stories.

And, sadly, over the next hundred or so years, the people realized that they didn't need to read anymore, because they could just watch the stories play out on screen. So they got rid of most of their books, and watched these films almost every day. Little did they know that the stories they thought they knew were much different. But few people even cared anymore, and the versions of the stories on screen became the ones that people thought about when the stories were mentioned, and not the ones that had been written so long ago.

But there was still hope. For there was a collective group called the Nerds. The Nerds wrote many books about these stories, trying to release them to the public once again. They kept trying, over and over, for many years.

And soon, there came the arrival of an amazing invention, which allowed people to communicate with each other worldwide. It was called the Internet. The Nerds wasted no time in putting their thoughts on the Internet, and the results were fantastic. Many more people became Nerds as a result of this worldwide sensation, and many of the Nerds met each other as a result.

But still, the public at large didn't know about these stories. But did this stop the Nerds from trying? No.

In fact, more Nerds more born as the years went by, and more thoughts were contributed to the Internet.

One Nerd was born in the nineties. His name was Ozfan95, who was raised a Nerd from childbirth. He read many stories from these great time periods many, many times. He loved them so much. In sixth grade, he discovered many more of these stories at the Public Library, and decide to study them even more than he ever had. And he did, for many years afterwards.

And then, one day, he decided to share his thoughts about the stories on the Internet, just as many other Nerds had done for about twenty years. This is his blog.

I'm Ozfan95, and I'm not just some random person. I'm a Nerd, and I'm proud to be one. This blog will explain all about fairy tales, including those of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Joseph Jacobs, among others. While many others have written blogs on fairy tales in the past, every person's opinion matters. And so I'm here. And I dedicate this blog to everybody who loves these stories, and wants to hear more about them.