I decided to re-read Grimm’s fairy tales.
Why? It started because I was looking up the tale of Frau Holle. As I read the tale aloud to my friend, I realized I had definitely heard that story before. Each story beat hit at something in my memory, something that had been buried for years. Unlike the more popular Germanic tales like Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood- Frau Holle hasn’t been turned into movies or popular re-imagined novels. Many of us are familiar with the main plot points of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but don’t know the original versions (or older versions, since “original” is hard to pin-down) of even the most popular stories. Re-reading a tale I could almost remember made me want to rediscover other tales. Hence, my re-reads.
I even started giving them reviews.
I recently started giving book reviews on TikTok (shameless plug-in, if you want to follow for short book reviews @AMaeFlowers). Since I enjoy book reviews, and fairy tales- I thought giving reviews on each story, as it is recorded in the Barns and Nobel Classic’s edition would be fun. That’s when I noticed some interesting things about the writing.
My copy of Grimm’s starts with the Frog Prince.
Who isn’t familiar with The Frog Prince, especially after Disney’s Jazzy musical “The Princess and the Frog”? Of course I knew this story. I have read it before. I’ve seen the movie a dozen times. But, I didn’t pay much attention the original fairy tales structures. It turns out that Fairy Tales aren’t always well-written or structured; The Frog Prince is a prime example. In summary, from a writing standpoint, this short story needs serious work-shopping.
What do I mean?
The Frog Prince feels like it is missing pieces. This makes sense as the Grimm brothers reportedly gathered these tales from all around the land, compiled the bits and pieces they found, and translated them. I simply hadn’t noticed how much was missing from some of the stories. The Frog Prince, for example, doesn’t explain why the prince was cursed, who the witch was, why the prince was in another royal’s kingdom, or why that other king’s daughter had to break the curse. All of this is enough to raise questions for the main plot, but then at the very end of the story we are introduced to another character call Trusty Henry (sometimes called Iron Henry), who shows up in the last paragraph or two. Why he is important? What was he doing while his boss was a frog? Why isn’t he mentioned before? We never know. He isn’t important to the main plot, but we are supposed to care about him for the last few sentences of the story anyway. It’s like Trusty Henry as supposed to play a bigger role in the story, but his role was forgotten.
So, I thought it would be fun to re-write the tales.
Trusty Henry’s diminished role inspired me to give him a purpose. After all, any man who would put iron bars around his heart to keep it from breaking when his friend is cursed deserves to have his story told. Mostly, I just think it would be fun. Everyone and their dog has re-imagined classic fairy tales. I even took a stab or two at it for writing classes in high school and college. Since this is just for fun, I’m not creating prompts for deadlines. When I come up with something, I’ll post. You can enjoy it, hate it, read it, ignore it, whatever you want.