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“Snow White and Rose Red” illustrated by Rie Cramer for Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 1927.

Simplia ran into the kitchen, leaving the back door ajar. “Listen!” she commanded.

Sagacia finished wiping the saucer and slipped it onto the shelf, then put down her dishtowel.

“It’s from Norman Perrin,” Simplia announced. She came to a halt and held a business-sized letter in the light of the window, where Murzik dozed peacefully on the sill.

“He found lots of women friend stories! Listen!” she ordered again. “He says . . .

The Four Winds Library is still in storage, however my feeble memory recalls a few friendly female partnerships and I still have a few books with me.

The Wood Lady is a Czech tale in which a young woman dances for three days with a Wood spirit.

Sorche Nic Leodhas’s “The Stolen Bairn” has a friendship between a young woman and an old Roma grandmother that allows her to find and rescue her child from the Sidh. It’s from Thistle and Thyme.

Also in Thistle and Thyme: “The Lass Who Went Out at the Cry of Dawn.” A young woman rescues her sister from the Fairy Folk.

Habetrot: A mysterious spinner and her two sisters help a young lass accomplish an impossible spinning task in return for an invitation to her wedding. There is another version, “The Three Aunts,” in Angela Carter’s Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales.

There is a collection of Mother-Daughter Tales by Barefoot Books.

There is a section of Mother-Daughter tales in Hasan El-Shamy’s Tales Arab Women Tell, though these would take a bit of work to retell.

And lastly, there is a story in Italo Calvino’s Italian Folk Tales Pantheon in which a trio of women help a young woman gain revenge on the man she disenchants by enduring a terrible trial. …the man is in the form of a bird and she sits for a year? exposed to the elements to save him.

“Wow, he brought up a lot of examples, all right!” Sagacia said.

“Yeah!, I hope his Four Winds library gets up and running again soon!” Simplia noted.”Toronto misses it, Norman!” she called out, as though he could hear.

“I don’t know most of those stories; I’ll have to look them up,” Sagacia said. “They must be lesser known fairy tales with strong, positive female friendships.

Then she added: “But, I wonder why they are ‘lesser known’”?

“Hmmm…” Simplia pondered. “I wonder. Did people hear or read them once and not like them? Not retell them or pass them on? Does Disney need to animate them to get our attention?”

“I don’t know about that, but I can tell you that fairy tale women can be the greatest of friends!” Sagacia said with confidence, squeezing her friend’s shoulder.

“I agree,” Simplia replied. “But we are looking for evidence! Nobody’s going to take our word for it!”

“But, what I’m saying is that, well, WE are evidence!”


“Us!” Sagacia pronounced firmly. “Here we are, two fairy tale women, . . .”

“Fairy Tale Women!!?” Simplia wasn’t sure about that dubbing.

“Yeah! Fairy Tale Women,” Sagacia insisted. “The course of our lives has been altered by magic!”

“Like Vasilisa’s letters magically appearing on the third day of each month?” Simplia asked.

“Yeah!” Sagacia said, growing bolder. “And, we have been transformed by our experiences  together.”

“Yes, and by those with our other friend Vasilisa!”

“Right! We are archetypal women! And we have helped and supported other women and men–and been supported and helped by them–in our common drive to understand things better, . . . ”

“Archetypal!Simplia proclaimed.

“Right! Like…” But before Sagacia could go on, a strange thing happened. Murzik, sleeping and sunning on the windowsill, stretched and turned and rolled over–right onto the floor! He landed on his feet, of course, but was he embarrassed! The poor feline lowered his ears and shook himself.

“We have animal friends!” Simplia stated lifting an index finger into the air.

“And magical friends!” Sagacia scooted over beside her and raised another.

“We are women who agree . . . ”

“And disagree!” Sagacia disagreed.

“Politely, of course! (though that’s not necessarily a fairy tale novelty)—

“But disagreements can call up further adventures.”

“And create stronger friendships!” Simplia affirmed.

(Murzik gave a final shudder.)

“We are women who love and comfort one another to the end—to the end, I tell you!” Sagacia said, reaching out to embrace her friend.

“Yes!”Simplia hugged back.

“WE are fairy tale women friends.”

“So let’s see that letter from Amy in Amityville. We may have the perfect answer to it.” Simplia said.

“We may BE the perfect answer to it!” Sagacia said, pulling the letter from the stack on the table. “Here. Read.” She sat down and picked up Murzik to her lap to listen with her.

Dear Vasilisa the Wise, (Simplia read)

I found a question for (your friends at) the Fairy Tale Lobby! I read a folktale recently that ended with two girls – a mortal and a dragon princess – becoming friends. This made me think: How often do we see female friendships in fairy tales? I thought maybe positive sisterhood, but even that seems rare… Are there any good traditional—

“Arrgh! Traditional!” Simplia interrupted herself. “We aren’t traditional!”

“Oh, well, . . . ” Her friend shrugged, trying not to seem too disappointed. Murzik hopped down from her lap.

“At least,…” Simplia began, her eyes twinkling.

“Not yet!” They both sang, hoisting those index fingers in the air assertively.

Murzik blinked then hopped back up onto the windowsill, nestled himself close, and began to purr.

“Tea, dear?” asked Simplia.

“Now there’s a tradition I can be a part of!” Sagacia replied. “I’ll put the kettle on.”