Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cinderella #208 ...and the Lost Mice

Illustration by STUDIO IBOIX
and Michael Inman

Once upon a time, in Canada, Cinderella woke up and found a present from her prince. It was a warm winter coat. She thought he was so kind, and her mice friends, Gus and Jaq, agreed. She put on the coat and went out to find the prince, determined to thank him. Just then "the castle's cruel housekeeper entered the room". She shooed away the mice, and when they tried to hide from her, caught them in a trap! Meanwhile, Cinderella and the prince had gone out, riding their horses. As they passed the garden, Cinderella thought that the gardener looked suspiciously at them. It turned out that he had the mouse cage, and was letting Gus and Jaq free! He let them live in a stable, with hay to burrow in, and horses to keep them company. Soon, the prince found out that the mice were in the stable. He told Cinderella, and she was very happy. "Cinderelly! Cinderelly!' the mice shouted happily." A few days later, the prince held a fancy ball to honor the gardener. As for the housekeeper, she was on kitchen duty for life. With a million potatoes to peel, "she would never bother the mice again!"
From Cinderella and the Lost Mice, by E.C. Lopois, illustrated by STUDIO IBOIX and Michael Inman. Random House, New York. 
Notes: What can I say? To millions of people, Cinderella means Disney. And lots of kids like this kind of book. So, what the heck. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: Language/Vocabulary
1. Read this story and look for the following words: cruel, suspiciously, burrow, honor
2. Try to guess what they mean.  
3. Learn that cruel is mean, very mean. 
4. Learn that suspiciously means to think that someone is going to hurt you or trick you, so you are very, very, careful of them. Too careful. 
5. Learn that burrow means to dig down into and under something, such as when a child jumps into a big, cozy bed and snuggles down under the blanket, or an animal digs down into the earth. 
6. Learn that honor is to show a special kind of respect for someone, because they have done something wonderful or brave. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cinderella #207: Cinderella and the Golden Sandal by Lily Alicea

Illustration by
Savanna Choate

Once upon a time, "in a faraway land called Hawaii lived a girl named Cinderella and her father. The girl's mom had past away and her father had remarried to a widow and her 3 daughters, Rubella, Sydney, and Clair." Soon, poor Cinderella was enslaved by her stepfamily, although Clair "was a baby and didn't understand" what was going on. It happened one day that Cinderella "was to check the mail. Inside was an invitation." It read: Come one, come all to the princes ball Everyone in Hawaii is to come." And when Cinderella asked if she could go too, her sisters jeered at her. Then her stepmother ordered her to  make them each a new ball dress. "I want mine violet, Rubella's red, Sydney's orange, and Clair's pink."  So Cinderella sewed and sewed until they were done. She gave her stepsisters and stepmom their dresses.  They put them on and went to the ball, leaving poor, sad, Cinderella behind.  But as she walked home "she heard something in the bushes. She walked closer and closer and then a short, chubby girl shot out of the bushes. 'Hello. I am your fairy hula girl, and I am going to grant your wish. First, get me a pineapple." Then the fairy called for six butterflies, a bird. With a wave of her wand, the pineapple turned into a carriage, the butterflies into horses, and the bird into a fine coachman. Then the fairy said,"Now close your eyes. ZAP! Now open." And when Cinderella opened her eyes "she was wearing a blue spaghetti strap dress and gold sandals. 'Now be back by 12:00 or my powers will fade away." Once she got to the ball, the prince danced only with her. They had a marvelous time, right up until "11:59. 'Oh no! I have to go!" yelled Cinderella as she ran away. That's when she tripped and lost one of her golden sandals.  Two weeks later, she got an unexpected home visit from the prince. He said, "The girl of my dreams lost her shoe. I've checked every house, yours is the last house. Someone in here must fit it." Rubella's foot was too big, Sydney's too small. And Clair was still a baby. When Cinderella finally got her chance, "it fit perfectly. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the other sandal." When the prince asked if she would marry him, she said, "You don't care that I'm ugly." And the prince replied, "I may only be able to see you outside but I can tell your heart is the most beautiful thing on earth.' And they lived happily every after."
From Cinderella and the Golden Sandal, written by L♥ly Alicea and Illustrated by Savanna Choate. Pawsome Author Books. 
Notes: This story came to me through the miracle of the Link+ system. I did a keyword search and came up with this delightful, kid-written Cinderella story. The Hawaiian theme, complete with pineapple coach and butterfly horses is so great. What attention to detail they show in their story line and drawings. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: Language/Writing Fiction/Write Your Own Cinderella story.
1. Read this story and know that two girls, ages approximately nine years old wrote and illustrated it.
2. Go to the library and choose three Cinderella stories.
3. Read them and compare the helper animals, kind of transportation, and style of shoes
4. Now make some changes, and write your own story! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cinderella #206 The Little Bull Calf (Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society

A fiery dragon.
Illustration by Cole, H.
Once upon a time, in England, there was a little boy who had a little pet bull-calf which his father had given him. But soon after, his father died. The man his mother married was cruel, and had no love for the boy or his bull-calf. Soon, he threatens to kill it. When the boy and his bull-calf go into the forest to eat some barley bread, "an old man appears, and advises him to go away with his bull-calf to seek his fortune."This the boy does, and soon comes to a farmhouse. Here he begs a crust of bread, and when he gets it, shares half with the little bull-calf. He continues on for a very long way, and at last comes to another farm house. Here he is given "a rind of cheese", and again offers to share half with his little bull-calf.  But the animal says,"I'm going across this field into the wild wilderness, where are tigers, leopards, wolves, monkeys, and a fiery dragon. I shall kill every one, except the fiery dragon, and he'll kill me." At that, the little boy began to cry. But the dragon tells him that it must be so, and that, when he is dead, the boy must cout open his gut and take out a length of it. If he blows it up like a balloon, and dries it out, it will kill anything that the boy hits with it. In the meantime, the boy needs to protect himself from the monkeys. This he will do by climbing a tree, then faking like the cheese is a stone, and squeezing the oil from it. So the little bull-calf goes into the wilderness, and the boy climbs a tree. When the monkeys come, he squeezes the cheese, and yells, "I'll squeeze your hearts like this flint stone." Then the boy watches the little bull-calf fight all of the animals and kill them, until at last, the fiery dragon kills it. So the boy comes down from the tree and goes on. "He comes to a king's daughter, staked down by the hair for the fiery dragon to eat." He sits with her and makes conversation, though she implores him to leave before the beast arrives. He will not, When "the dragondraws near with a terrible roar, the little boy hits it about the face with the bull's gut. But the dragon has bitten off his front finger, [so] he cuts out the dragon's tongue." He sits with the girl awhile, and tells her that he must leave. She implores him not to. He insists, and because "she is sad at parting him, she ties a diamond ring into his hair." Then the boy departs. Soon the king comes, expecting to find only the bloody remains of his daughter. When he discovers that she has not been devoured after all, he is overjoyed. And when he hears that his daughter's life was saved by a valiant young man, and that the dragon bit his finger off, he declares that he will find the man. Then he learns that the young man took the dragon's tongue as payment for his finger, so he orders his crier to announce a search for a man who is missing a finger and carrying a dragon's tongue. Then gentlemen come from all parts of England, with their front fingers cut off, and with tongues of every description. But when the boy who has save the princess comes forward, he is scoffed at and turned away. Yet he persists in presenting himself among the king's sons, and at last, manages to "dress a bit better", and the king takes a bit more notice. Then he says to his daughter,"I see you have an eye on that boy, and if it is to be him, It has to be him." When the other suitors hear this, "they are ready to kill him, and ask that he be turned out" but the king asks him to show a claim if he can. And that is when the boy draws out a diamond ring, with the princess's name on it, and the tongue of a fiery dragon, and "is married to the king's daughter, and has all his estate. Then his wicked stepfather comes, and "wants to own him, but the king doesn't know such a man."
From Cinderella: 345 Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O'Rushes. Cox, M. R. (1893)The Little Bull Calf (Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, "Tales in a Tent", by Sampson, J.
Notes: This story has echoes of St. George and the Dragon, in which the hero slays a dragon when it comes to devour a maiden, as well as many classic "dragon-slayer" myths of England and Northern Europe. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: Fundamental Needs of People/Spiritual Needs/Religion/Mytthology
1. Read this story. Does it make you wonder who the gypsies are?
2. Learn more about the Roma people, who are also called gypsies. Gypsy Kids : The Adventures of Colby Myers and Mark Howard or The Gypsy Princess 
3. Learn more about St. George and the Dragon: Saint George and the Dragon or St. George and the Dragon and the Quest for the Holy Grail or St George and the DragonSt George and the Dragon

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cinderella #205 Chandralekha (Tinkle Collection Folktales of South India)

Chandralekha was as brave as
she was beautiful.

Note: contains violence. Once upon a time, in a forest somewhere in India, a beautiful "dancer lost her way in the woods. 'It's getting darker." She said to herself, and took shelter under a tree. Suddenly, she heard voices. "Good Lord, robbers!" said the poor girl to herself. Then she hid behind a tree just in time. A whole band of armed men came out of the woods, clapping each other on the back, and telling each other what a great day of robbing and stealing it had been. The leader said,"Let's hide our loot here. But before we do, O magic kannakol, go and hit any spy who may be around." So the robber's magic stick flew around and then it hit Chandralekha but she "bravely bore the pain without a sound." Then the robbers shouted to their leader, "Hurry up! It's past midnight." So the leader and his men quickly buried their loot under a certain tree. Then they all ran away into the forest. As soon as they were gone, Chandralekha scurried over and dug it up again. She couldn't believe how much treasure she had found! Because Chandralekha was as strong as she was beautiful, she had no trouble in balancing the heavy chest on her head and carrying it away. But when the robbers came back the next day and saw the empty hole they yelled,"Our treasure is gone!" Then they examined the area and found a bit of blood. They knew, then, that someone had been hit by the magic kannakol, and that the person must have been brave not to cry out. Meanwhile, back in the market place, Chandralekha was talking to a healer about buying an ointment to heal the cut on her arm. When the healer saw it, he realized that it had been made by a kannakol, and that the only person who had one of those was the robber chief. And that is when the robber chief walked over! He observed the girl who needed this ointment ,and then he followed her home. Later that night, when she was sleeping, he and his men snuck into her room. She woke up, but pretended that she was still fast asleep. When they picked up her bed and carried it outside, the robber chief said,"Look, she has hidden the boxes under her bed. Come on, let's teach her a lesson." And Chandralekha said to herself,"You think you are very clever, my friend ,but you are in for a surprise." When the bed passed under a lime tree, she clung to a branch, and dropped a huge bunch of limes onto her bed, instead. Then brave, clever Chandralekha ran home and hid the treasure. When the robbers opened the chests they had taken from her room, they fount that they were filled with stones. That made them really, really angry. They ran back to Chandrelekha's house planning to attack her. But she was ready, hiding behind the door with a curved scimitar in her hand. When she heard the robbers approaching, she said to herself, "Welcome friends! I am ready to receive you. Here comes the first one." And when the first robber ran through the door, she cut off his nose. He ran away screaming, and his companions rushed to see who the powerful person was who had stolen their treasure. When they saw Chandralekha, they jeered, saying, "The coward is running away from a girl!" Then another man volunteered to fight her, but a moment later, he came running out with his nose cut off too. The other men screamed, "A-ay-ee-oh! She is a devil! Run!" And they all ran away, and left Chandralekha, and her treasure, in peace. Chandralekha said to herself, "They're gone, thank God! And I don't think they'll dare to come here again." And she lived all by herself, happily ever after. 
From Tinkle Collection:256 Folk Tales of South India (1993) Mumbai: India Book House
Notes: I love graphic novels, or comic books, as we used to call them back in the day...Richie Rich and Caspar the Friendly Ghost were my faves. The front notes to this volume discuss the value of folk tales in learning about a culture, and the way reading them can "turn the clock back hundreds of years, thereby giving us an opportunity to sample the delectable flavour of the past." I couldn't agree more. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: India/Indian Culture/Fundamental Needs, Religions of India
1. Read this story and know that it has been told to children by their families for hundreds of years in India. Somebody finally wrote it down and drew the pictures for it. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cinderella #204 Dover (from the Blue Fairy Book)

Illustrated by Noble, M.

Once upon a time, "there was a gentleman, who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen." She had two daughters, every bit as unpleasant as herself. The gentleman had a daughter who was the opposite in nature, sweet and gentle, and fair of face. And no sooner had this tender girl's stepmother move in, than her life changed for the worse. The new mother made her do the hardest, most difficult tasks. Each day she "scrubbed the madam's chambers, and those of her daughters." No longer allowed to sleep in her comfortable bedroom, she spent every night "up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw bed. She never complained to her father, even when her stepsisters began to call her Cinderwench, or Cinderella. It happened one day that a ball was to be held at the palace. The stepsisters "were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in choosing out their most becoming gowns, petticoats and headresses." They kept Cinderella busy for days preparing them. When at last the night of the ball had come, and this sad girl sat alone in the kitchen, crying, she heard a voice. "This godmother of hers, who was a fairy, said to her,'You wish you could go to the ball, is it not so?'" And Cinderella said yes, it was so. Then the fairy sent her out to pick a pumpkin. When she had done so, and a trapful of mice and rats was brought, as well as some lizards, the fairy godmother waved her wand. Suddenly, a golden coach pulled by six white horses stood ready, with footmen and a jolly coachman too. But Cinderella asked, "Must I go in these nasty rags?" Then "her fairy godmother only just touched her with her wand, and, at the same instant, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels." Then she turned her shoes into glass slippers, "the prettiest in the world", and warned her goddaughter to be home by midnight. For that is when the magic would wear off." When Cinderella got to the ball, "even the King, old as he was" could not take his off her. The prince danced with her all evening long, and was so "intently gazing on her" that he had no taste for dinner. She was kind to her sisters, who were there as well, and "showed them a thousand civilities". And that is when she heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters. She fled, and ran straight to her chimney corner, where she curled up amongst the cinders. The sisters soon came home and teased Cinderella and asked her if she didn't wish that she could have gone too?  She begged them, then, to stop mocking her, saying that a Cinderwench could never go to the ball. But the next night, her fairy godmother worked magic again, and once again, Cinderella mystified the prince. All evening they danced, but when she heard the clock begin to strike, and realized that midnight was upon her, she ran away. And that is how she lost one of her little glass slippers. The prince found it, and vowed to marry the maiden who could put her dainty foot into it. First the royals, then the nobles, and, at last, the common people were called to try on the shoe. When it came to Cinderella's house, her eldest sister tried it on first, but it would not fit. Then the younger stepsister attempted to wear the slipper, but she could not wear it either. Then Cinderella said, "Let me see if it will fit me." And though her stepmother objected, "the gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked at her earnestly, and, finding her very handsome, said,'It was but just that she should try, and that he had orders to let everyone make trial." So she put the shoe on, and everyone marveled that it "fitted her as if it had been made of wax". Then the fairygodmother appeared and "touched her wand to Cinderella's clothes [and] made them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had before." They brought her to the Prince, who declared his love for her, and "a few days after, married her. Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day married them to two great lords of the court."
From Cinderella and Other Stories from the Blue Fairy Book (Dover Thrift Children's Classics, 1996)
Notes: The Dover Thrift Editions are always great; they used to sell for a dollar, and it is still not much more than that. This little volume also has Goldilocks and the Three Bears, my second fave fairy tale! However, it lacks the morals that Perrault included. 
Montessori connection: History/France/Charles Perrault/17th Century
1. Read this story, and know that it was retold in the year 1697 by a man named Charles Perrault. Learn that he wanted children's stories to teach them values as well as entertain them. That is why he included morals with each of his fairy tales. (This Dover book did not include them.)
2. Learn that when Perrault wrote his Cinderella story, the king of France was King Louis XVl.
3. Learn more about the 17th century in France:Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, Austria-France, 1769 (The Royal Diaries).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cinderella #203 Find the Stars for the Fabulous Fairy Tale Follies

Written and illustrated by
Graham Philpot
On this page, look for a blonde, with "a pink feather in her hair". She willl be wearing a blue gown, (with a bit of white!), dressed for the ball. You'll recognize her by the "small glass slipper" and "white gloves."
Ugly Sister #1:
Short and stout; bad taste in hairdos; look for color clash of green, pink, purple, and yellow. Don't forget the orange and yellow!
Ugly Sister #2:
Lunatic glasses; a feather of purple, green-and-purple ball gown. Gloves of pink. 
From: Find the Stars for the Fabulous Fairy Tale Follies. Philpot, G. (1994) New York: Random House

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cinderella #202 Vasilisa the Fair

A happy family of dolls from
Russia and the Slovak Republic

Once upon a time, in Russia, lived a wealthy merchant. He and his wife had one child, a daughter, "the beautiful Vasilisa". One sad day, before the girl's ninth birthday, "her mother was seized with a fatal illness." She called Vasilisa to her and gave her a little doll. Then she said,"Listen, dear daughter. Remember my last words." She said that she was dying, and would leave for Vasilisa, "with a parent's blessing" the little wooden doll. She told her girl to always keep it beside her, yet covered from the eyes of others. And, "If at any time you are in trouble, give it some food and ask its advice." With that, the woman kissed her beloved child for the last time, and died. As soon as the mourning period was over, Vasilisa's father took another wife, an especially pleasing "certain little widow,no longer young, who possessed two daughters of about the same age as Vasilisa." But when these moved into his home, the life of Vasilisa quickly became miserable. The hardest tasks were piled upon her in impossible amounts, and she was constantly threatened with beatings. The only way that the girl endured this was by means of her little doll. "As a rule, she kept a dainty morsel of food" aside, and late at night, would feed her and talk over the day's troubles. She said, "Now dear, eat and listen to my grief! Even though I am living in my father's house, my life is joyless, a wicked stepmother makes me wretched; please direct my life and tell me what to do."The doll replied that she would do the tasks the next day. In this way, Vasilisa survived several years. And as Vasilisa grew older, though she spent many hours outdoors at heavy labor, her beauty only increased. Her stepsisters, however, became uglier with each passing day.  Soon the young men of the village were calling as suitors for Vasilisa, which only enraged her stepmother. It happened that the merchant announced to his wife that he had to go on a journey of several years. In the meantime, he said, the family would have to move to a small house in the woods. No sooner had they done so than the woman began sending her stepdaughter, "on some pretext or other, into the forest". She knew that danger was close by. "In the forest was a glade in which stood a cottage, and in the cottage lived Baba Yaga, who admitted nobody to her cottage, and devoured people as if they were chickens." One evening, when the last candle had sputtered out, the stepmother announced that someone would have to go to borrow a light from Baba-Yaga, for the sewing remained undone. The first girl said, "I can see my pins. I shall not go." Her sister said, "Neither shall I, my needles are bright." So they made Vasilisa go. She first went to her doll, fed her, and begged her guidance. The doll replied,"Go on your errand, but take me with you. No harm will befall you while I am present." So the girl went into the woods, with the little doll in her pocket. Deep in the woods, the girl trembled with fear. "Suddenly, a horseman galloped past; he was white and dressed in white, his steed was white and he had a white saddle and bridle." Dawn was breaking. Vasilisa kept walking and much later, "another horseman rode past; he was red and dressed in red and his steed was red. The sun rose." On she went and finally she came to Baba Yaga's cottage. The fence around it was "made of human bones, and on the fence there were fixed human skulls with eyes." She was terrified, but just then "another horseman rode up; he was black and dressed in black and upon a black horse." Darkness had fallen. With a scream and a swoop, "Baba Yaga appeared, riding in a mortar which she drove with a pestle" and sweeping her tracks away with a broom. The old woman yelled, "Phoo! Phoo! I smell a Russian. Who is here?" And Vasilisa said,"It is I, Granny. My stepsisters have sent me to you for a light." So the old lady told her that in exchange for work, she could have light, but that if she refused, she would be devoured. Then she told the girl to bring her the food in the oven. Vasilisa did, and thought that it would "have fed 10 men". Then she fetched "kvass, and honey, and beer and wine" from the cellar, and the old lady drank all of that as well. Vasilisa ate the scraps. Then she told her that the following day she would have to "clean the yard, sweep out the cottage, cook the dinner, and get ready the linen. Then go to the cornbin, take a quarter of the wheat and cleanse it from impurities." If this wasn't done, the girl would be devoured. So she went and took her doll from her pocket,and begged its advice, while feeding it a nibble of bread. The doll told her to say her prayers and sleep, for "morning is wiser than evening". And when Vasilisa awoke next day, the chores were done. But Baba-Yaga ordered her to do the same list of tasks again, with the addition of sifting earth from the bin of poppy seeds. Once again Vasilisa turned to her doll for help, and once again, the tasks were done in an instant. So Baba-Yaga had to give the girl the fire. Then she gave her permission to ask a question. Vasilisa asked the meaning of the white horseman, and the witch told her, "He is my clear day." Then the girl asked about the red horseman, and the witch answered, "He was my little red sun." As for the black horseman, he had been "My dark night; all three are my faithful servants." said Baba-Yaga. Then she told the girl that it was fortunate her questions had been of matters outside her cottage, for she would otherwise have eaten her. She sent the child back home with a skullful of fire, and soon, the girl was home again. Yet when she brought in the skull, the fire shone through its eyes "and looked continually at the stepmother and her daughters". The strain of running from that gaze caused them to burn to cinders; Vasilisa was left alone. So she went into a nearby village, and found companionship with an old woman. She asked this one for some good flax to spin, and it was brought. In spring, she bleached the fine linen, and told the old one to sell it. But it was so fine that Granny could not bear to sell it, and so brought it as a gift to the tsar. So soft and supple was the fabric that he soon called for shirts to be sewn from it, but none could cut it. At last, Granny took it home for Vasilisa to sew. When she had done, and the tsar put on the shirt, he declared that he must meet the seamstress. And when Vasilisa came, he told her, "I cannot bear to separate from you; become my wife!' So she did, and  she "took the old woman into the palace, and never separated from the little doll, which she kept in her pocket."
From The Young Oxford Book of Folk Tales, edited by Crossley-Holland, K. (1998) Oxford Press
Notes: Baba Yaga is an ancient character, found in eastern Europe; she can be benevolent as well as evil.
Montessori Connection: Extension for the Third Great Lesson, The Coming of Humans: Making Fire
1. Read this story and notice that without help from a neighbor, the family would have had to stay in the dark.
2. Think about what it was like before people learned how to make the nighttime as bright as day. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cinderella #201 Bápkádi (1893)

Note: Contains violence. Once upon a time, in Mumbai, there lived "a gôsanvi (an aescetic who goes about begging,smeared with ashes) with a wife and six daughters." For many years he had been begging in his own neighborhood, receiving each day barely enough rice to keep them all alive. It happened one day that a cruel woman answered the beggar's plea by pouring "rice, boiling hot from the cauldron" into his hands, blistering his thumb. When he got home that night, he begged his wife to pierce  it with a needle. Yet each time she tried, a tiny voice cried out,"Father, if you break it, break it carefully." With the tenderest of care, his wife cut the blister open, and "a little girl comes out and walks about." But the gôsanvi felt more grief at the thought of another mouth to feed than joy for the new life. One night, he came home and asks his wife to make some polê. or special rice cakes. But his wife said it would be too much bother, since the six girls would surely gobble the cakes without either parent getting a bite. Yet he pestered her until she complied. Meanwhile, he shut the six daughters into the cellar, and locked the door. But when the girls smelled the rice cakes cooking, the littlest called out an excuse to step out for a moment. Her father let her out, and quick as a wink! She ran to the kitchen and ate one of the cakes. Now each girl in turn cries to be let out for a moment, and each one runs and grabs a cake. Their father is furious, and declares that he will take them away for good. Telling the children that he will take them to "visit their maternal uncle" and his wife that he will leave them in the forest, the family sets off. Deeper and deeper into the woods they go, until, in the blackest part of the woods, during the darkest part of the night, the father tells the children to lie down and go to sleep. They do so, and for some hours lie peacefully with their father nearby. But "the youngest child, who came out of the blister, is in the habit of sucking her father's thumb while she sleeps, and wakens when it is removed." So he cuts off his thumb and leaves it in her mouth so that he will not wake her. In the morning, the girls discover that they are alone. Furthermore, finding the bloody thumb in their sister's mouth, they accuse her of having eaten him, and call her Bápkádi, "literally eater of the father". They conspire to run away from her, but she follows behind. Soon they come to a deserted mansion, which has seven bedrooms. Each girl, including Bápkádi, chooses one. Each girl finds that it contains all she needs to live: food, fresh water, fine clothing, and a soft bed. Bápkádi's "is the best, containing clothes and furniture and having a stable attached." She does not allow her sisters to discover her fine room or clothes, and continues to wear her old rags. When Sunday come, the girls ask her  if she will go to church with them, and she refuses. But when they are gone, she puts on a rich dress and golden slippers, then mounts a horse and rides to church. The king's son is there, and gazes at her the whole time. As soon as the service is over, she rides quickly home and changes clothes. When her sisters come in, they mock her, telling her of the beautiful lady who came to church, and what a sight she missed by staying home. The following Sunday, the scenario is repeated, and again, Bápkádi runs away. But the king's son finds her shoe, and falls into a deathly grief at the memory of the girl who wore it. Eventually, the king is forced to summon all of the maidens in his kingdom to try the shoe on. Thus, Bápkádi is found, and the prince regains his health. They are married, and for awhile, joy reigns over all. But the six sisters, though they still hate Bápkádi, have been ordered to serve her as maids. When she finds that she is with child, the prince is elated. As he is leaving on a journey, he casts a spell, declaring that "should a son be born to him, a shower of gold will fall on his ship, and should a daughter be born, a shower of silver will fall." The months pass, and a boy is born to the princess. Overjoyed by the shower of gold that pours down, the prince rewards his crew with sugar and wine. But the sisters bind Bápkádi's eyes, and take her child away. They substitute a rock, and when she wakes, tell her that he child has died. When her husband returns he is desolate, grieving for his lost son. He departs after some days at home, and in nine months, another son is born to the princess. Again a shower of gold falls on his father's ship, and again, his six aunts steal the child and give Bápkádi a stone. Once again, the prince returns home to sad tidings, and once again departs. A year later the princess is delivered of a daughter. Silver showers onto her father's ship, but she is soon stolen away. Returning home to find that his third child has died, he casts Bápkádi into the dungeon. Then he takes all six of her sisters for his wives. For three years, Bápkádi languishes, living on kitchen rubbish "Meanwhile, the hand of the Almighty has saved her children, and they grow to be from ten to fifteen years old. They live by begging." One day, a trio of beggars passes by outside the palace.  They sing a strange song. "The king of the country is mad; he married seven wives; he is our father." When the king hears this, he demands that the beggars be brought in to explain themselves. They insist on singing the song over and over again. Now the king commands each of his six wives to give them rice. But the beggars refuse to take it. They demand instead that the king "Let your seventh wife, who is in the dungeon, come out. Place seven curtains between her and us, and watch what happens. Then you will come to know everything." So the king follows these unusual instructions and calls for Bápkádi to be brought. Now "three streams of milk fall from her breasts, and penetrating the seven curtains, run into the children's mouths." Now the prince knows that his wife had no part in the plot against the children, and orders that they all be bathed and dressed in finery. As for the sisters, the prince has "their hair and noses cut off and they are seated on donkeys and banished from the country." They are never heard from again, but Bápkádi and the prince and their children live happily ever after. 
From Cox, M.R. (1893/2011) Story #219 p. 260
Notes: This story has some very bizarre imagery. No comment on the symbolism of the severed thumb. It is eerie how certain elements (the vengeful sisters who steal the newborn babes, the redemption of the princess when the deception of her sisters is discovered, etc.) are nearly identical to European versions of the tale. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: World Cutlures/Legends and Mythology of India
1. Read this story and notice how it is alike, and different, from other Cinderella's you have read.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cinderella #200 Ludse Lurveætte (Lucy Ragged-Hood)

A cat appeared, with fine, thick fur. 

Once upon a time, in East Jutland, "there lived a man with three daughters." He treated the elder two well, but despised his youngest child. He made her "stay at home and milk the cows whilst the others went to church." As the girl does the milking, a cat which she has never seen before comes and rubs against her legs, begging for milk. Its fur is so soft, and the girl has such a kind heart that she cannot resist giving the cat a bowlful of it. Her mother, however, notices that there is not as much milk as usual. She accuses the girl of drinking it herself, and though the girl denies this, beats her for it. The week passes, and once again Sunday morning finds the girl milking the cows, alone in the barn. Again the strange cat comes and the girl feels compelled to give it some more milk. For this kindness she receives another beating.  When Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday have gone by, the cat comes once more. But now the girl truly fears the punishment from her mother if milk is missing again. She tearfully tells the cat that she just cannot give it any more, but the cat says, "You will be happier if you do." So she does, and the moment the cat has drunk the milk it begins to grow. Larger, and larger it grows, until it is the size of a woman. This woman now steps out of the skin and tells the girl to put it on. She advises her to go to "go to the king's palace and ask for a situation, calling herself 'Ludse". The girl follows this advice, and is given a position at the palace kitchen. Soon it is Sunday again, and all of the palace servants go to church, leaving Ludse alone. She cannot go, for she has nothing to wear but the catskin. Now the cat appears again and gives her "a magnificent dress, a golden carriage, and two horses, and bids her go too." So she does, beautifully arrayed, and all the guests marvel. But when the service ends, the mysterious girl calls out,"Light before, dark behind!' and vanishes." The next Sunday, the cat brings the girl another dress, golden shoes, and a coach of pure gold. This time, when the girl arrives she finds that King himself has come. When the service is over, she calls out again,"Light before, dark behind!" and vanishes. But not before the King manages to grab ahold of one of her golden shoes. Now he has the Royal Pages cry the news that the King will marry whichever maiden can fit into the golden shoe he found outside the church. So all the maidens of the kingdom line up, and though "some cut their heel and some their toe... none can get the shoe on." Just as the King is about to give up, he hears a little bird singing. It says,"Cut a heel and cut a toe! The shoe fits the girl in the kitchen, I know!" Now all the servants of the palace are called to try the shoe, and so Ludse is brought in as well. The shoe fits, perfectly! She and the King are married at once, and when the cat appears,"its head is chopped off and buried beneath the pear tree. Thereupon the cat becomes a prince, the brother of the king."
From: Cox, M.R. Cinderella: 345 Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap'O'Rushes. (1893/2011)p.232
Notes: This story is identified by Marian Roalfe Cox as having been "Written down by Miss Anna Brasse"
Montessori Connection: Literature/Cats
1. Read this story and notice that it is a cat which is not only the helper animal but the magical being as well. 
3. Learn more about cats in literature for children ages 9-12:The Catwings Collection (4 Volume Set) or Alice in Wonderland

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cinderella #199 Stifdatteren (The Stepdaughter)

Crows on a telephone pole,
Berkeley, CA 

Once upon a time, in Jutland, there lived a man whose wife had died. She had left him with a daughter to raise, so, as soon as he could, he married again. This lady was not kind, and her daughters were downright cruel. They quickly took over their stepsister's bed chamber and clothing, and forced her to do all of the heavy work. She was "made to live in the kitchen, amongst the dirt and ashes." The girl began to go, each Sunday evening, out to her mother's grave. There she wept such a volume of tears that her mother "is moved in her grave, [and] arises, and comforts her." Now her mother told her that she must go to church the following Sunday. If her stepmother should forbid her to, then she must "go to a little service-tree (Sorbus aucuparia)...knock at it thrice, and say,'Open my store, I am going to church." So the girl asks permission to go to church the next Sunday, and the stepmother, of course, refuses to give it. Now the girl follows her mother's directions and "the tree opens and out drives a chariot and four, with men-servants; and there is a silk dress for her, and gold shoes." When the girl has put on the dress and shoes, and gotten into the carriage, the footmen "throw a bagful of mist before them, and a bagful of mist behind them, that none may see whence they come or whither they go, and they hie to church. Arriving to find all seats full, the girl goes to her stepmother's pew, from habit. This woman, not recognizing her own stepdaughter, in all her finery, is flattered that the mysterious lady has chose her family's pew, and  makes her own girls press closely together so that there is room for them. The minute the service is over, the strange woman flees. Her manservants throw another bagful of mist behind, and before the carriage, and no one can see which direction they ride. The following Sunday, everyone is wondering whether the beautiful lady will come again. News of her loveliness has reached the king's son, and he too has come to watch for her. She comes, and once again sits in her stepmother's pew. But when the service is over, her servants throw mist again. But when the prince tries to follow her, all he can see is "something like the long beam of a shooting star. Yet he runs after this, and manages, at least to "put his foot on one of her shoes, which she is obliged to leave behind as she vanishes, like a shooting star into mist." Now the prince takes this shoe back to the palace and summons all of the maidens of the kingdom to come and see whether it will fit upon their foot. Girls and ladies of all kinds form a line at the palace gates. Some have small feet and some large, some wide and some narrow. Some are so determined that they will fit the shoe that they carry knives, and when it is their turn, attempt to cut off a toe or bit of heel so that the shoe will fit. But it fits no one. Just as the prince is about to give up, a crow, who has been sitting on the fence observing the human activity, caws, "Cut heel and cut toe! In the ashes sits the girl who has worn the golden shoe!" Just then, the girl "arrives through the mist like a shooting star and puts her foot into the shoe which fits her exactly." That's when the prince asks her to marry him. She agrees and they go back to the palace. The celebration of their marriage "lasted for fifteen days. The stepsisters turn yellow and grey with vexation, and, since they cry their eyes red, nobody cares to court them." 
From Cox, M. R. (1893/2011) Cinderella: 345 Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap'O'Rushes. 
Notes: I wish that I could throw mist out before me and behind me, so that nobody could see whence I came or whither I went...It is interesting to see the cut heel and toe motif here, as well as in the classic Brothers Grimm version. I believe that Jutland is in Northern Europe, though am unsure if it still exists as a separate country or is a part of Finland or Denmark. 
Montessori Elementary Connection: Astronomy/Shooting Stars
1. Read this story and notice how the girl, dressed in finery, is described. (like a shooting star)
2. Discuss shooting stars with a friend. Has either of you ever seen one?
3. Learn more about shooting stars. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cinderella #198The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest (Grimm,1812)

From California Fairy Tales

Once upon a time, "there was a man whose wife and died, and a woman whose husband had died; and the man had a daughter, and the woman also had a daughter." The children played together, and one day, the mother who had lost her husband said to her daughter's playmate, "LIsten, tell your father I want to marry him. Then you shall wash yourself in milk every morning and drink wine, while my daughter will wash herself in water and drink water." So the girl asked her father to marry her friend's mother, and the man said to himself, "What shall I do? Marriage  is both joy and torture." He decided that to solve the dilemma, he would let his boot do it. Taking one boot off, he gave it to his daughter and said, "Take this boot, it's got a hole in the sole. Carry it up to  the loft, hang it on a big nail and pour water into it." If the water ran out, he would stay a single man; if it stayed in, he would marry. So the girl did this and the water stayed in, and the man agreed to marry the mother of his daughter's playmate. "On the day after the wedding, when the two girls got up, the man's daughter had milk to wash herself and wine to drink, while the woman's daughter had water to wash herself and water to drink. On the second morning, both girls had water to wash themselves and water to drink. On the third morning, the man's daughter had water to wash herself and water to drink, while the woman's daughter had milk to wash herself, and wine to drink. And that's the way it remained." As time went by, the stepmother came to hate her stepdaughter more and more. She schemed to get rid of her,and, one day when it was winter, and bitterly cold, she "made a dress out of paper and called her stepdaughter to her." She told her to take off her woolen dress and put on the one of paper, and go into the forest, and fill a basket with strawberries. The girl protested saying that "The wind will blow right through this dress, and the thorns will tear it off my body." But her stepmother insisted that she had a taste for strawberries, and threatened to beat the girl if she did not go. So the girl put on the paper dress,and took the basket, and went into the woods. When she had walked a long way she saw "nothing but snow as far as the eye could see, not even a blade of grass." But finally, she reached a small cottage,where she could see "three little gnomes looking out the window.She wished them good day and knocked politely at their door." They let her in, and watched as she warmed herself by the fire. When she drew out her meager provisions, they asked her to share. She said, "Gladly." And gave them half of her bread. After they had eaten, they asked her what she meant by wearing a paper dress in the snow, and she told them of the errand she was on for her stepmother. Then they said, "Sweep the snow away from the back door." and gave her a broom. The girl obeyed and was delighted to find "lots of ripe, dark red strawberries shooting out of the ground.' She quickly filled her basket. Meanwhile, back in the cottage, the gnomes were deciding on gifts for the nice girl in the paper dress. The first said, "She shall become more and more beautiful each day that passes." The second declared, "Each time she utters a word, gold pieces shall fall out of her mouth." And the third announced, "A king shall come, and take her for his wife." When the girl came back inside, "she thanked the little men by shaking hands with each of them, and ran home to her stepmother, bringing her what she had demanded." When the woman questioned her as to why it had taken so long, the girl told her about the gnomes in their cottage. At each word, she dropped a gold piece. Now her stepsister said, "Just look at how arrogant she is! The way she throws money around." And then the sister said that she would go to the forest to get gifts as well. Her mother gave her "bread and butter and cake" to eat along the way, and a fur coat to wrap herself in. The girl set out boldly, and when she saw the cottage, she walked right in. With nary a word to the three little gnomes she drew out her cake and bread, and ate every crumb without offering them so much as a morsel. When they gave her a broom and asked her to sweep the snow from the back door she said, "Do your own sweeping. I'm not you maid!" So the first gnome said to his brothers, "What shall we give her for being so naughty and having such a wicked and greedy heart that makes her so stingy?" So one of his brothers replied, "She shall grow uglier with each day that passes." The next brother said," Each time she utters a word, a toad shall spring out of her mouth." And the eldest said, "She shall die a miserable death." When this girl reached home and her mother saw the effects of her horrible gifts, she grew more determined to rid herself of the other girl. So "she took a kettle put it on the fire and boiled some yarn in it. When the yarn was boiled, she hung it on the poor maiden's shoulders , gave her an ax, and ordered her to go to the frozen river, where she was to chop a hole and rinse the yarn." The poor girl obeyed, for what else could she do? When she got to the river, a king saw her chopping ice while draped in the heavy wool. Seeing her beauty, he asked her,"Would you like to ride with me to my castle?' and she answered, "Oh yes, with all my heart." She was grateful to get far away from her stepmother. The king, having fallen in love with the girl draped in wool, asked her to marry him. The wedding was celebrated with feasting and dancing, and a year later, the young queen gave birth to a son. But the stepmother heard this news, and came to the castle with her own child, feigning love for the queen. When they were admitted to the queen's chamber, "the evil woman seized the queen by her head and the daughter grabbed her by the feet. They lifted her from the bed and threw her right out the window into the river flowing by the castle." Quick as a wink, the ugly daughter jumped into bed and began to nurse the babe. When the king came in and saw how ugly his wife looked, the mother in law said that it was just a fever. And when the false queen spoke to the king, she spewed toads instead of gold. Alarmed, the king demanded to know the reason. Again, the stepmother said that it was an effect of the fever, so the king departed. Later that night, one of the kitchen' boys observed a duck swimming by in the drain. It said, "King, my king, what are you doing? Are you awake, or might you be sleeping?' When the boy did not answer, the duck said,'And are all my guests now sound asleep?' Then the kitchen boy answered, 'Yes, indeed, you can't hear a peep!' Then she asked again, 'How about that baby of mine?' He replied, 'Oh, helps asleep and doing just fine."  That's when the duck transformed into the ghost of the queen, who went upstairs "nursed the baby, plumped up his little bed, covered him, and returned to the drain where she turned into a duck." For three nights in a row this happened. On the third night, the duck said to the boy, "Go and tell the king to take the sword and and swing it three times over my head on the threshold." So the boy gave this message to the king and when the king had done this, the ghost became the queen again, alive and well. He treated her gently, and kept her and the baby closely guarded until Sunday, when the child was to be baptized. That's when he sent for the false queen and her mother and asked them,"What does a person deserve who drags someone out of bed and throws them into the river?" And the stepmother said, "The scoundrel deserves nothing more than to be put into a barrel studded with nails on the inside. And then he should be rolled down the hill into the water." "You have pronounced your own sentence, ' said the king. And such a barrel was brought, and the two evil ones put inside and the lid nailed on and the barrel shove down the hill to the sea. But the King and the Queen and their child lived happily ever after. From The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.  p. 45
Notes: This is another one of those fairy tales with all the classic elements: a queen transformed into a duck, the impossible task, here it is filling a basket with strawberries during a freezing European winter. This task is the very same demanded by the stepmother in the Czekoslovakian tale, "The Twelve Months." In that story, the girl meets 12 old men, who are the months. The 3 male gnomes serve the same role as that of Baba Yaga when she is benovolent, or the 3 water spirits who show up so much in Cinderella stories. 
Montessori Connection: Cultural Geography/Northern Europe/Gnomes
1. Read this story, and watch for the gnomes.
2. Using a map of Europe, locate Germany, the country where this story was collected. 
3. Now locate Czekoslovakia, which is now 2 countries, The Czek Republic and the Slovak Republic. 
5. Learn more about mythical "little people" in other cultures:Elves, Fairies & Gnomes