Speaking to babies is important to help them understand and learn language. So when I get bored of my out-loud running commentary on pouring kettles and explaining the latest plot while I catch up on Game of Thrones to keep Georgia entertained, I grab a book.
Georgia’s collection is so far very small, with a lovely Little Miss Giggles book courtesy of an equally lovely Aunty, some bedtime stories and a classic treasury of Fairy Tales. It’s also a lot less mundane than my running commentary and should involve a lot less beheadings – or so I thought.
Magical world of fairy tales
When I was picking out the fairy tale compendium, purchased in The Works, I was drawn to stories such as the little mermaid and little red riding hood – the classics that I remember with fondness from my own childhood from my ladybird books.
Each short story is taken as an extract or abridged version of classics with a few pages from the original stories and nice big pictures. Turns out though that the originals are a lot darker than the fluffed up fantasy versions of my past.
So far I’ve read her 4 of these stories told through 43 pages – in quite big font and big pictures befitting of a children’s bedtime story book… but so far the language is quite complex in places and unreasonably dark. Here is a list of deaths so far from the 4 stories I’ve read.
* Peasant’s wife – unknown cause of death
* Aladdin’s father – Died due to being grieved by Aladdin’s idleness
* 40 wolves – hacked apart with the tin man’s axe
* 42 crows – necks wrung by the scarecrow
* Swarm of bees (not too fussed by that one)
* Tinman dropped on sharp rocks by flying monkeys
* Scarecrow pulled apart by flying monkeys
Now come on… for a selection of children’s stories, that’s a lot of death to deal with and not all were the ‘baddies’. It’s not only that there are a large number of deaths – as death is often an important story line as the tragedy that needs to be overcome. It’s the way that they are dealt with in this book without providing a happy ending that has shocked me.
In my day (yes, I did just say that…), even short stories had happy endings, or at least a lesson to be learnt if more of a fable, but there seem to be very few happy endings so far. As an example, poor Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz is set to live out her days in slavery from where we leave her at the end of the story.
Understandably, these are just extracts from the original books added to this ‘childrens’ book to fit them all in, but if I just read these to Georgia, then she’ll end out growing up thinking that these are the full stories, without knowing that there is eventually a happy ending in the full versions (I hope).
This certainly wasn’t my intention to scare her with stories which won’t be appropriate for future bedtimes unless I want a daughter that doesn’t sleep and I’m disappointed that whoever made this book didn’t think to add the happy ending parts – a vital part for any fairy tale.
Will there be a happily ever after??
I’m frankly concerned about reading further. My world of The Little Mermaid before reading the short story was a singing Jamaican crab and a handsome prince Eric who ends out living happily ever after. There was even a rainbow. I was looking forward to reading her this happy tale of the bright red headed girl. But instead I was confronted with her tongue literally being cut out by the witch with the story ending with her heading to the surface to live her new life in excruciating pain from her new legs as if she were a morphine addict going cold turkey. I have no idea if the classic version of the little mermaid leads her to meet the handsome Eric, but I was shocked by this stark contrast from my Disney-tinged reality.
Maybe children are being bought up with less rose-tinting and more Grimm, but I’d rather Georgia keep her innocence for as long as possible.
We may try a happier book next time… it may involve fairies, sparkles and happiness. Anything but murder, pain and deception that I’ve read so far that leaves me in a no better place than explaining the plot of Game of Thrones.