, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Ugly Duckling by Vilhelm Pedersen.

By the time the Simpletons arrived at the Fairy Tale Lobby, the story swap had already begun. Magical friends were sitting practically on top of each other on the Chesterfield and bubbling up onto the arms of chairs; some lined up cozily on the window seat and others sat criss-cross applesauce on the carpet. Murzik purred contentedly on the sideboard as Diane Cox did Asbjørnsen and Moe proud telling “The Princess on the Glass Mountain,” then he hopped over to the footstool to hear Mij Byram relate the Russian adventures of Ivan the Ninny in “Salt.” Suzie Garfield (That is, Susan A. Garfield, PMP, to her professional peers) told a fractured tale, “A Project Management Professional Looks at the Three Little Pigs,” then Mark Goldman spun more enchantment with his original story, “The Princess and the Storytelling Frog.”

Just as Lois Sprengnether Keel got to the heart of her delicious Old Peter’s Russian Tale, “Little Prince Ivan, the Witch Baby, and the Little Sister of the Sun,” Sagacia’s cell phone went off, and Murzik lowered his ears. Lois and her listeners, however, were undaunted!

Csenge Zalka, Tarkabarka to some, related the amazing tale of “Zal the white-haired prince and the Simurgh” from the Persian Shahnameh, and the Red Phoenix Terrie Howey wound up the swap on an oh-so-satisfying note with Grimm’s “The Little Pine Tree.” As Murzik swooned and stretched, guests chatted appreciatively. Simplia brought out plates and glasses, and Sagacia followed with lemonade and blueberry scones.

“So,” Simplia began. “What did you think about Pondering in Pomona’s question this month? Is there any such thing as a new fairy tale?”

Csenge Zalka picked up the cue. “‘Fairy tale’ by definition does not mean it has to be folklore. Some fairy tales have authors, like Andersen. I personally do have favorite fairy tale authors. Madame D’Aulnoy had some very pretty ones (‘Prince Ariel’ would be my favorite). Of course, that does not qualify as “new,” but you get the point: people write stories, and some of those stories are fairy tales. Even today.”

Camille Born nodded in agreement. “When reading the summaries of books available to you, how do you know you have found a new fairy tale? Because its summary will tell you it includes magic, fairies, elves, witches, a battle of good vs evil or nice vs mean or another meaningful message, talking animals, items with power, and other similar iconic fairy tale motifs.”

Cathy Jo Smith jumped right in. “There are new stories using old motifs and fresh views (or fresh motifs and old views) being created all the time. Same as it ever was–there are so many variations on tales because the old tellers did not repeat word-for-word any more than most of us do, and they were willing to change the tale as they saw fit. A tale with a known author might not be a folktale, but it can certainly be a fairy tale.”

“Robert Munsch comes to mind,” said Mark Goldman. “…The Paper Bag Princess. It has a prince, a princess, a dragon and magic. I think it qualifies…. I told an original tale, ‘The Princess and the Storytelling Frog.’ I wrote it last year (so it is new), and I believe it contains the elements of a traditional fairy tale. Look at the StoryCrafters, I believe they have also created new fairy tales to go along with the re-worked old tales they tell. Just think, 100 years from now, people will be looking at those tales as ‘old.'”

Tony Toledo set his glass down on the coffee table. “Hans Christian Anderson did it. Jane Yolen does it. Because they are known authors, their books get cataloged under the author’s name rather than in the Fairy Tale Section.” Tony looked over to Nick Smith and added, “There’s gold in them there stacks.”

“Actually, all of the libraries in my area file Hans Christian Andersen under fairy tales,” said Nick. “…Just as they include the works of other older ‘known’ creators, from Aesop to Perrault, in that same section.”

At that moment, Nick noticed Sagacia’s book, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, on the end table and picked it up.

“MacDonald isn’t there, partly because his stories were largely book length, rather than short fairy tales,” Nick continued. “So, his books are filed along with the books of Baum, Barrie and Nesbit, rather than with fairy tales. I believe that he and other more ‘modern’ creators of fairy tales have simply not maintained the ‘market share’ that the tales of Andersen and Perrault or those collected by the Brothers Grimm have maintained in the reading marketplace. Jane Yolen is simply so prolific that no one story of hers is as well-known, even though they are remarkable modern fairy tales.”

After some nods of agreement then a moment of quiet, Sagacia looked around the room. “You all seem to be answering Pondering in Pomona’s question in the affimative,” she said.

“Yeah,” said Simplia. “Aren’t there any dissenting opinions?”

You are invited to leave your comments here on the blog,on the Storytell listserve, or on Facebook (Storytellers or Fairy Tale Lobby).