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Violet_Fairy_Book_1902Sagacia had picked up the tape dispenser and was just fixin’ to pull off a long ribbon of it to seal the box of replies to Eavesdropping from Evanston.

“Wait!” Simplia cried out, running into the room. “Here are some more!” she said, dumping a small pile of index cards onto the table. “Remember? We left those cards in the Fairy Tale Lobby for people to write their thoughts on. And they did!”

Sagacia sighed and put down her tape. “Okay,” she said. “Let’s see what they have to say.

She reached for the yellow card on top. It was from Charles Kiernan.

Has anyone mentioned the Joseph Jacob collections? English Fairy Tales, More English Fairy Tales, Celtic Fairy Tales, and More Celtic Fairy Tales. Actually, he is only one of many 19th century collectors, not to forget his sometimes rival Andrew Lang and his “color” fairy books.

A green card from Jane Dorfman agreed and elaborated.

I would second Joseph Jacobs’ books. I also tell several stories from Jane Yolen’s Folktales of the World. And when I first heard, and then read, James Stephens’ Irish Fairy Tales I knew I wanted to tell them. I suspect he was an ‘active participant’ in the folk process, as there are some stories in there I have never been able to find other versions of.

And Simplia pulled out a blue card from Tim Ereneta.

I like Lang’s breadth and appreciate his dedication to sharing folklore, but I find his work is a stepping stone… his editing choices, to make the tales “appropriate” for children, mean I have to look elsewhere to find the story.

“I didn’t know that!” Sagacia said. “But it kind of fits, now that I think about it.”

She picked up a pink index card note from Adam Hoffman.

If we’re talking about collections of folk tales, then we can’t forget the collections by Asbjornsen and Moe, Italo Calvino, Aleksandr Afanas’ev and Henri Pourrat.

“Oh, my!” Sagacia said. “Maybe someone should ask Vasilisa to list favorite fairy tale collections sometime.

“Yep,” said Simplia, picking up the last card, an orange one one from Tim Ereneta.

“I better get cracking on this reading list. I have a lot of catching up to do.”

“Me, too!” said Simplia, crushing the cards into the box with the other letters.

Sagacia pulled her tape along the back seam, then across the ends, and the Simpletons set out for the US Post Office. It was such a pretty day that it seemed almost too soon when they arrived and climbed the steps to the great portals. Simplia grasped the brass handles and ushered her friend inside where they hoisted their box onto the scales.

“$4.90,” said the clerk.

“Anything for us?” Simplia asked, handing him a $5 bill.

“Haven’t seen anything,” he replied, sliding the bill into his drawer and picking out a dime.

“It’s just that we often get something on the third day of the month,” Sagacia said. “That is, Vasilisa does.”

“And we pick it up for her,” Simplia explained, putting the dime in her coin purse.

The postal clerk turned around and checked the little boxes behind him again. “Nope,” he said. “Nothing here. Nothing fo . . . .”


The clerk wobbled then sank. Something had hit him on the side of the head right before the Simpleton’s very eyes! It looked like a small, flat brown box, but it had come rocketing from the west at a speed and intensity greater than normal, normal being—oh, say the flight speed of a bird or insect.

Simplia climbed up over the high desk and peered downward. On the floor, the clerk was rubbing his head. Beside him was the box wrapped in brown paper, stamped and labeled for mailing.

“What happened?” Sagacia asked from behind.

“He’s okay. Hold my foot!” Simplia ordered, pushing herself up and over the desk.

Sagacia clasped Simplia’s ankle and braced herself as her friend stretched to reach the postman’s hand.

Turnip-pulling style, they lifted him up and out, and he arrived at upright with the little box in his hand.

“Oh! It’s for Vasilisa,” he said, holding it at a distance to read the address.  “Will you take it to her?

“Of course!” Sagacia said, accepting the little package. It wasn’t nearly as heavy as it had seemed at the moment of boink, she noticed.

Once out the door, the Simpletons quickly opened Vasilisa’s package, drew out a tightly folded page, and greedily read:

Dear Vasilisa the Wise:

When I go to the library, I always try to get myself a collection from Joseph Jacobs or one of Andrew Lang’s color fairy books. I’ve read collections by Henri Pourrat, Italo Calvino, Jane Yolen and James Stephens, Asbjornsen and Moe or even your own Alexander Afanas’ev. Those seem to be some of the classic cultural collections of fairy tales, but my small village library doesn’t seem to have any from continents other than Europe.

Anyway, something wonderful has happened! Our librarian has asked me to recommend some folktale collections that she should buy. If I want to read them, everyone will, she said. Of course, I can’t pass up an opportunity like this! Won’t you suggest some of your favorites for me?

I’m interested in other European collections, but please don’t stop there! There are five other continents! I know that fairy tales are sometimes mixed in with folktales and legends, and that’s okay. Oh, and would you please say something about them to get me started? Just an anecdotal comment about each would be perfect!

Thanks so much! I’ll just sign off as . . .

Princess of Pittsburg

“Is it just a coincidence that Princess of Pittsburg started off by naming the very same collectors that some of our magical friends recommended?” Sagacia asked.

“I don’t know,” Simplia replied. “But our magical friends are good for many more collectors and titles. I am sure of that!”

“Me, too!” Sagacia said. “Come on! Let’s go post this request at the Fairy Tale Lobby.”

“Okay! I’ll check the supply of index cards while we’re there, too!” Simplia agreed.