Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday Thirteen #335

Today I am sharing with you some of my favorite fairy tales and fables. I wonder if these are still taught in school? If not, perhaps they should be.

1. The Princess and the Pea. This is a story about a princess who is so sensitive that she feels a pea even though she is sleeping under 20 down-filled mattresses. This tale was explained to me as a cautionary one, as in - don't be the person who is so sensitive as to feel the pea. However, the real fairy tale says the woman who is so sensitive is really a true princess. In which case, I must be a true princess a zillion times over.

2. Seven at One Blow. In this tale, a tailor kills seven flies; he creates a belt announcing his great deed. He then goes on through trickery to eventually become king. I have always admired the little tailor's daring; he decided he wanted better and set out to make it so.

3. Snow White and Rose Red. In this tale, two sisters are kind to all creatures, including a visiting bear and an ungrateful dwarf. In the end, they marry princes. From this tale I learned that kindness is its own reward, and sometimes is returned.

4. The Golden Bird. This story is about the youngest prince and his efforts to please his father. He learns the value of good advice and that looks are deceiving. I always admired the young prince as well as his advisor for their inability to give up on their quests.

5. Puss and Boots. In the original story, Puss is the friend of the youngest son, and the cat is all the young fellow inherits when his father died. The cat says, "Trust me, and give me a pair of boots." The young man does this, and soon he finds himself rich, thanks to the clever Puss. This might be classified as a trickster tale, because Puss certainly does pull off some tricks. From this tale, I learned to trust my friends. I also learned that being clever has its own rewards.

6. The Frog King. A young princess loses her treasured golden ball down a well. She promises the frog he can live in the palace if he fetches the ball, but she breaks her word. The frog follows her home anyway. Lessons? Keep your word. Don't look down on others.

7. The Emperor's New Clothes. The Emperor commissions a new set of clothes from imposters, who present him with thin air. However, they told the Emperor that anyone who couldn't see the clothes was either stupid or unfit for office. It wasn't until a child cried out, "He has nothing on!" that the truth came to light. This tale strikes me as particularly relevant in the political world today, as we have so many people shouting "look, look" at absolutely nothing, or at the wrong things while the real issues are elsewhere. The rest are foolish enough to look and/or agree. Apparently we need more children shouting "No clothes!"

8. Rumplestiltskin.  A miller tells the king his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king locks her up and tells her to spin. A little man comes in the room and asks for a token in exchange for spinning the straw into gold. On the third night, the daughter has nothing left to give, so he asks for her child. She agrees. When the baby is born, the man comes for the child, but agrees to give her three days to guess his name. Lesson? Don't lie to the king, for one thing, and don't make promises you have no intention of keeping, for another.

9. The Twelve Brothers. The version I link to has the brothers turn into ravens, but I have also seen them turned into swans. In this story, a king tells his wife if she has a daughter for their 13th child, the other twelve sons will be put to death. She bids her boys to flee, which they do. The daughter grows up and sets out to save her brothers. Innocently, she plucks some enchanted flowers and the young men turn into ravens. She can only save them by being mute and not laughing for 7 years. I'm not sure what I learned from this story, but check out Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, for an interesting retelling of a similar story.

10. Aesop's Fables. Everyone should be familiar with these little stories, which offer lots of lessons that are applicable even today.

11. The Wren and the Bear. In this tale, a bear insults the children of a wren, who want vengeance for this insult. The wren declares war, then outsmarts all to become the victor. Lessons? Be careful who you insult. Small things can hurt as much as big ones.

12. The Fisherman and His Wife. A magic flounder grants wishes. The wife wants more and more, until she wants to be Lord of the Universe. The fish puts her back in her hovel. Lesson? Be careful what you wish for, I suppose. But also perhaps to be happy with what you have.

13. Chicken-Licken (also known as Chicken Little). The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king! So says the hapless chicken upon whom the acorn has fallen. Lessons? Don't be stupid and be careful whom you trust.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here. I've been playing for a while and this is my 335th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. I remember most of those. The first... Freshman year in HS, my school put on a performance of Once Upon a Matress, the musical version of the fairy tale. Several of my friends were in it, and I still know many of the songs -- "Normandy," "Shy"..."Happily Ever After." Love that musical! ☺ My Bookish T13

  2. I love fairytales and was just telling my grandsons about the Princess and the Pea. I love the Emperor Wore No Clothes, some real truth speaking in that one ... and the Nightengale was a favorite.

  3. A lovely collection, indeed - and I'm relieved that I'm familiar with all of them! Hurrah!

  4. Cool list, alright; some of my favorites.
    Also: Three Billy Goats Gruff

  5. I used to love watching "Fractured Fairy Tales" on Saturday mornings :)

  6. We used to listen to story time on Sunday morning radio when we were kids and heard a lot of these. Ah, memories!

  7. Most of these were bed time stories we read to our kids.

  8. Especially love your first shot with those dots of blue.


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