Category Archives: storytelling

F is for Fairy Tale

Another Kay Nielsen: Hansel and Gretel

Another Kay Nielsen: Hansel and Gretel

A fairy tale is a tale of grace: an unexpected blessing. In fairy tales, something magical intervenes to transform an individual’s social/emotional state as when a broken home is healed (Hansel and Gretel), a marriage created (Marya Morevna), a lost relationship recovered (Rapunzel and her prince), or a vocation empowered (The Shoemaker and the Elves). By hearing of others overcoming obstacles to reach a state of joy, our own spirits are lifted vicariously. “Once upon a time” opens the door for the tale to be our own, and when “happily ever after” befalls the protagonists, it also falls upon us.

Find meaningful fairy tales for each stage of life in these volumes:

Andersen, Hans Christian and Maria Tatar, The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen. W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.

Chinen, Allen B., In the Ever After Fairy Tales and the Second Half of Life. Chiron Publications, 1989.

Pearson, Carol S., The Hero Within. HarperOne, 2013.


Drop by my booth 2511 at the Texas Library Conference this week!

E is for East of the Sun and West of the Moon

Kay Nielsen from East of the Sun . . .

Kay Nielsen’s graceful art fills the 1914 edition of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

. . . and all around the world people besides the Brothers Grimm collect stories! These tales from Scandinavian lands were collected by Peter Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. Alexander Afanas’ev collected Russian tales and Lafcadio Hearne, Japanese. Bozena Nemcova gathered Czech folktales, and the poet William Butler Yeats collected the Irish ones, both in efforts to build national pride during times of struggle. Madame d’ Aulnoy was the first to write down the fanciful stories told in Parisian salons, and another collector, Charles Perrault, named them “fairy tales.” Americo Paredes collected Mexican folktales and J. Frank Dobie brought Texas tales to print.

Here are a few more:

Hamilton, Virginia, The People Could Fly, Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Walker, Barbara. The Art of the Turkish Tale. Texas Tech University Press, 1990.

Yolen, Jane, Favorite Folktales from Around the World. Random House, 1988.

Who are your favorite collectors?

H is for Hodja

Turkish folktale collector Warren Walker gave me a copy of this Hodja drawing made by a student of his.

Turkish folktale collector Warren Walker gave me this line drawing of Hodja sitting backwards on his little donkey. It was drawn by a Turkish student of his at Texas Tech.

If you go to a grand mosque in Istanbul, your clergyman is an imam; if you go to a tiny mosque in a village, he is a hodja, and if that hodja is Nasruddin–Ah! I see you smiling already!

His wife picks on him, his students play tricks on him, his neighbors badger him, his little donkey won’t cooperate, his congregation doesn’t let him get away with anything, even the great Tamerlane tries to sneer him down! Yet somehow the hodja maintains his charming toehold on wisdom. Like Aggie jokes, Hodja stories let people laugh at life and themselves.

Be sure to have a hodja tale or seven on your 398.2 shelves:

Clark, Raymond C., Nasreddin Hodja, illustrated by Robert MacLean. Pro Lingua Associates, 2004.

Demi, The Hungry Coat. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004.

Shah, Idries, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin. Penguin Books, 1993. (Shah has two other volumes, too.)


Texas Library Association Conference is in full swing! Drop by and say “hello” at booth 2511!

D is for Dancing Princesses


Henry J. Ford is best known for his illustrations of Andrew Lang’s color Fairy Tale books.

Another misleading fairy tale title! It’s not about princesses; it’s about the king, a father of teens. The tale begins and ends with him; it is he who transforms from being outraged by disobedience to accepting that–hey!–teenagers sneak out of the house. Throw a fit, but get over it. You did it yourself as a prince! And the old soldier? Couldn’t he be more appealing? Should he pick the youngest? the eldest? In the end, it doesn’t matter. The princesses sneak out, the soldier spies, but the king?–he is transformed, and that’s what fairy tales are about.

Do you have this tale in your library? If not, try these:

Grimm, Brothers, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, illustrated by Dorothee Duntze. NorthSouth, 2013.

Lang, Andrew, The Red Fairy Book. Any edition.

Pullman, Philip, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Viking Adult, 2012. (He uses the alternate title, “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.”


Shall I see you at the Texas Library Association Conference in San Antonio next week? I’m in booth 2511.

C is for Cinderellas


As long as there are abused children, or even children who believe their siblings have an easier time of it than they, there will be Cinderella stories to heal their wounds.


Cinderella Paper Doll by John B. Gruelle (Yes, that’s Johnny Gruelle who created Raggedy Ann). From McCalls Magazine in 1911.

The Blue Bull
The Brocaded Slipper
Cendrillon, The Cinder Maid
The Glass Slipper
Fair, Brown, and Trembling
Gold Star
Katie Woodencloak
Little Burnt Face
The Little Red Fish and the Clog of Gold
The Magic Orange Tree
Sodewa Bai
Vasilisa the Beautiful
. . . and more, of course.

To get through the known variants, you would have to read one a day for a year!

Do you have several Cinderella variants in your library? If not, try these:

Climo, Shirley, The Egyptian Cinderella illustrated by Ruth Heller. HarperCollins, 1989.

Louie, Ai-Ling, Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China illustrated by Ed Young. Perfection Learning, 1996.

Martin, Rafe, The Rough-Face Girl, illustrated by David Shannon. Putnam Juvenile, 1992.

Also, check out the Cinderella pages on Heidi Ann Heimer’s Sur La Lune fairy tale site. (

A is for Ali Baba

Aubrey Beardsley's Ali Baba.

by Aubrey Beardsley

Ali Baba may be the most beloved character from The 1001 Arabian Nights, yet he was not part of the original 11th-century manuscript Alf Leyla Wa Leyla. His tale was added in the 18th century by French translator Antoine Galland who probably heard it told orally in Syria.
Though Ali Baba is the protagonist in the most familiar part of the story, the “Open, Sesame” episode, the true hero of the narrative is his slave Morgiana who saves her master’s life and reputation and is rewarded by marriage to his son. Neither slave nor son objected to the union!

Do you have a copy of this classic tale in your library? Try these:

Burton, Richard and Anonymous, 1001 Arabian Nights. Bibliolife 2009.

Kimmel, Eric, The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Holiday House 1996.

Mahdi, Muhsin and Husain Haddawy (translator), The Arabian Nights. Norton and Company 1990.

You can hear the complete “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” on my CD, 1001 Years of 1001 Nights. If your Texas library does not have a copy, email me the address and I will send them one.



Hi! I’m joining the A to Z Blogging Challenge. 1513848_10203484217488510_161894052_n

I’ll write a short blog post each day in April on my theme: Stories! I’ll be sharing observations and anecdotes about the traditional tales found in the 398.2 section of your library – Folktales, Fairy Tales, Legends, Myths and Fables – as well as their protagonists and villains, collectors, illustrators, and scholars. Starting with Ali Baba on April 1, I’ll work my way through the alphabet and the month; with Sundays off, that’s 26 days. And since I’m a tad compulsive, I promise you exactly 100 words a day (plus a 3-book bibliography for those who want more.)

Note: That was 100 words.