A book with no happily ever after

When Georgia was a baby, one of the first books I bought her was a classic treasury of fairy tales.

It turned out that the stories weren’t so magical. It taught me a valuable lesson about never to judge a book by it’s cover – ┬ánot even a children’s book.

Here’s the grimm story… and an update 2 years later….

A book with no happily ever after

The not so magical world of fairy tales

Fairy Tales Book for ChildrenWhen I was a kid, I remember being drawn to the ladybird books and classic fairy tales. So, to start off Georgia’s collection, I opted for a classic treasury. This was one of the first books I EVER bought her.

The front cover pictured little red riding hood, kneeling down in the wood with a shadow of the wolf hiding in the background. Quite innocent and gave me all the feels.

All I needed was a mug of coco and some giant marshmallows and I was ready to hunker down and read a story to my new baby girl.

This particular book promised to have stories such as the little mermaid, little red riding hood and Aladdin – the classics right?

Each short story was taken as an extract or abridged version of classics with a few pages from the original stories and nice big pictures.

Sounds great, right?

But it turns out that the originals are a lot darker than the fluffed up fantasy versions of my past.

I  read my daughter four of these stories as a baby before I gave up on the book.

Fairy tale meets Game of Thrones

The stories were unreasonably dark. Whoever put the book together had obviously been following suit from George R.R Martin as they weren’t afraid to kill off beloved characters. Here is a list of deaths from the first 4 stories I read:

  • Peasant’s wife – unknown cause of death
  • Aladdin’s father – Died due to being grieved by Aladdin’s idleness (apparently that’s a thing)
  • 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
Wicked Witch of the West

Last page of Wicked Witch of the West story… leaving Dorothy in slavery.

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.

Even short stories should have happy endings in children’s books. Or at least a lesson to be learnt if it’s a fable, but there seem to be very few happy endings so far.

Dorothy the slave…

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.

I quote:

“So Dorothy became a slave for the Wicked Witch, and realized that it would be harder than ever to get back to Kansas again.”

I’m disappointed that whoever made this book didn’t think to add the happy ending parts – a vital part for any fairy tale.

The little mermaid is a crack addict

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.

*swoon*

There was even a rainbow.

I was looking forward to reading her this happy tale of the bright red headed girl *cue the glockenspiel*.

Instead I was confronted with her tongue literally being cut out by the witch *drops glockenspiel*. The story ends 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 expectations.

Maybe children are being brought up with less rose-tinting and more Grimm nowadays, but I’d rather keep a bit of innocence for as long as possible.

Happily ever after…?

Okay, so after I published the above story 2.5 years ago, I sent a strongly worded email to the publishers, Miles Kelly.

I wasn’t happy.

They agreed to look at the book and after having a meeting to talk about it decided to PULL THE BOOK!

I’m now really happy to confirm that the book is no longer available on their website and instead it looks as though they’ve moved in a happier direction.

They also sent me a couple of books as an apology and I have to admit that we’re still reading those ones.

So although this particular book didn’t reach a happy ending, our tale does.

And they all lived happily ever after…

The End.

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21 Comments

  1. September 20, 2017 / 7:06 am

    Those original tales were frightening, to say the least! #fortheloveofBLOG

  2. September 20, 2017 / 9:23 am

    My youngest daughter recently read the book Charlotte’s web and was so sad about the ending for the mere fact that Charlotte dies. Although this is reality of life, I’m all for happy endings in children’s books.#fortheloveofBLOG

  3. September 20, 2017 / 9:58 am

    Well done you! I very often think the same about fairy tales – and nursery rhymes! Georgie Porgie especially. A rhyme about kissing the girls and making them cry is not good in my eyes! #fortheloveofblog

  4. September 20, 2017 / 3:13 pm

    Sounds like these are based on the originals rather than the delicate Disney versions. Fairy tales were once really dark! And the nursery rhymes. I still hate ‘It’s Raining It’s pouring’ after I realised it was about someone dying of a traumatic head injury! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Kelly Edwards
      September 25, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      Oh my god, I didn’t know that! That’s really sad! They’re all very dark aren’t they!

  5. The Mummy Bubble
    September 20, 2017 / 7:18 pm

    Wow well done you! You did absolutely the right thing. We bought a book for our toddler the other day, it featured baby dinosaurs being killed off in a different way on every page. They all come back to life at the end but still a Bit grim! X #fortheloveofblog

  6. September 20, 2017 / 7:52 pm

    Hi, this post is making me think of my childhood books, and next time I watch Wizzard of Oz I will watch in a different light #fortheloveofBlog

  7. September 20, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    Aaah the actual fairy tales versus the Disney films. I love them both for very different reasons. Though as I like my child sleeping he only gets Disney at the moment. Plus one of our old books condoned children walking on ice and that wasn’t even how the duckling died :/ #fortheloveofBLOG

  8. September 20, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    I hate the Disney little mermaid – in the real one she changes herself completely for a guy who doesn’t notice she exists and runs off to marry another woman while the mermaid is isolated and in pain for the rest of her life….I loved the Matchgirl as a kid and she died in the snow….they’re all good! #FortheloveofoBLOG

  9. September 20, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    Wow, well done you! Not often you can get such positive results from a publishing house but you did and quite right too. There’s enough dark stuff going on in the world these days – kids just need some good old fashioned fairy tale magic in their lives. #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. September 21, 2017 / 11:23 am

    People forget how “grimm” the origonal stories were. Makes you think twice about going for a walk in the woods on your own lol.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  11. September 21, 2017 / 11:34 am

    Most disney films, too, seem to follow the predictable ‘parent character dies in first 15 minutes’ routine. It is morbid, to say the least! I stick to cbeebies! #fortheloveofBLOG

  12. September 21, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    The original versions of so many fairy tales are seriously gruesome! On a personal level, I loved reading and studying them at university, but there are definitely a few I wouldn’t read to the kids justyet!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  13. September 22, 2017 / 12:02 pm

    I’m not sure why they ever called them fairy tales! Maybe fairies are quite wicked? Most are quite sinister aren’t they unless you watch the disney versions and even then it’s not all roses! x #fortheloveofblog

  14. September 22, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    It was only a few years back that I realised just how brutal fairytales really were! No Hollywood, happy ending there! Definitely not something to read to kids unless you want them to have nightmares! #fortheloveofBLOG

  15. September 23, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    I actually hate reading fairy tales to my little girl. They are all so miserable, and really quite scary. We opt for more modern books where possible because they aren’t so grim. #fortheloveofBlog

  16. September 24, 2017 / 10:39 am

    My daughter was bought this book as a birthday gift when she was about 3. I started reading it and gave up after the first couple of pages…it was awful!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. September 24, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    Awwww – that’s so good that you made a complaint and it was acted upon – the book sounds horrific so it’s good it’s been pulled! #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. September 25, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    The original Grimm tales were truly horrific. Like you I prefer happy ever after endings. #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. September 26, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    Fairy stories are my ultimate bugbear !! They’re so horrific and rub the feminist in me completely up the wrong way!!! The parents certainly never come off well!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  20. September 30, 2017 / 1:50 am

    Well done! Speak up and speak out! We cannot tolerate things like this for fear that they will then become the norm! BRAVO! You should be one proud mama! #fortheloveofblog xoxo

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