“Beleaguered in Bellingham has some true friends coming to his rescue!” Sagacia said, running in the back door.
“Who do you mean?” Simplia asked.
“Men! I mean men! Look at all these letters from men who have found excellent tales and collections with nary a purple pastel prom princess among them!” She fanned out several letters as she scooted into her chair at the kitchen table.
“What are you talking about?” Simplia asked again.
“Listen up!” said Sagacia as she tore into the first envelope. “I’ll let the men speak for themselves:”
And she did. After Simplia had withdrawn the opposite chair and seated herself in it, after she’d gathered herself into a listening pose, after a dramatic throat-clearing, after a deep breath and an eyebrow lifting, Sagacia proceeded:
“This one is from Adam Hoffman,” she said.
I’m a bit late to the party here, but I think I do understand where this is coming from. When I was growing up, because of the pull certain Mouse-Eared corporations had on our culture, I often felt that fairy tales were a bit of a “girls only” area populated by pretty pink princesses (and the occasional Goldilocks or Riding Hood).
Anyway, I’ve since found that the well is deeper than that. I would like to suggest “How Six Men Got On in the World” as a favorite male-oriented story. It’s filled with adventure, cunning, narrow escapes and five male characters with super-powers. I’d also suggest “The Water of Life” as a tale featuring a prince who does more than dance and kiss sleeping maidens. Also, I’d be remiss to forget the Japanese story of “Momotaro”. That one may lean more to the violent side than Beleaguered wants (it’s a monster slaying story) but Momotaro’s conviction, courage, cleverness and leadership skills should not be overlooked.
“Okay,” Simplia nodded. “Six . . .Men . . . World , Water, . . . Mo . . . mo . . . taro,” she mumbled, pulling her pen across the grocery list pad.
Sagacia looked at her, puzzled.
“Making notes,” Simplia explained.
Sagacia shrugged. “Okay. And this one is from Norman Perrin.
Simplia cocked her pen.
Though there IS a scarcity of collections that focus on male protagonist’s that answer Beleaguered’s request, one collection does fit the bill, Mightier Than the Sword: World Stories for Strong Boys collected by Jane Yolen.
“Mightier . . . Sword . . . “ Simplia mumbled. “. . . Yolen!” She underlined the title. “Got it!”
Sagacia continued reading.
Quote from Yolen’s “Open Letter to My Sons and Grandson”:
“This book is for you. It is for you because this book did not exist when I was growing up. This book is for you because for the longest time boys didn’t know that being a hero was more than whomping and stomping the bad guy.”
“Yeah! That’s what Beleaguered wanted!” Simplia interrupted, earning herself a nod from her focused friend.
Sagacia returned to her reading:
These collections put out by Barefoot Books may also help those wanting to find stories that fit Beleaguered’s request.
If time permits I will find and post titles of more stories if requested. Father and Son Tales, Josephine Evetts-Secker, and
Mother and Son Tales, Josephine Evetts-Secker.
“Requested!” Simplia said, as she wrote out the titles Norman had named.
“Requested–and answered, at least in part,” Sagacia said, “by Nick Smith.”
Maybe I’m misunderstanding the problem, but it seems to me that there are plenty of tales for boys that are not about the brave, fierce, handsome prince winning the day. If you look at the Irish stories collected by Seamus MacManus, for example, many of the tales with male protagonists feature intelligence, wisdom and caring over brute force.
“Seamus Mac . . . Manus,” Simplia wrote out, mouthing the words.
“And this one says,” Sagacia began, pulling the last letter out of it’s envelope.
Does accountability exist? It does here.
“What does that mean?” Simplia asked.
“I don’t know,” Sagacia admitted. “I guess accountability is a good thing for a hero, though.
“Who is it from, anyway?” Simplia asked, picking the discarded envelope off the table.
“It says,” Sagacia continued. “‘If for any reason you’re not happy with one of our participating investment advisory services . . .’”
“Charles Schwab!!?” Simplia read.
“Charles Schwab!!?” Sagacia repeated. “Oh, me!”
Simplia tossed the envelope into the pile at the side of the table, and Sagacia put the letter with it, folding together all the torn bits and envelopes.
“Where’s that list I started last week?” Simplia asked. “You know, the one with Lance M. Foster’s suggestion of “Bearskin” and “The Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was.”
“Probably on a napkin, or in the margin of the crossword puzzle page of the newspaper,” Sagacia said, putting her paper scraps into the recycling bin. “Or maybe on the cardboard tear strip from the oatmeal box.”
Simplia wasn’t too sure what her friend meant by all that, but since any of those answers could be true, she decided not to pursue an explanation.
“Anyway, look!” Sagacia said. “It doesn’t matter! You know them! You’ve got them all in your head!”
“Well, all of them SO far,” Simplia replied proudly. “But, I’m sure there are more out there!”