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“A Tale from the Decameron” (1916) by John William Waterhouse.

“You, know, we wouldn’t have found this book at all if we hadn’t happened in just as that young lady returned it,” Simplia said as they left the library. She held the door open for two small children and a mom with an armload of books and a baby.

“That was lucky, all right,” Sagacia agreed. “I know we both like to read reviews of Young Adult novels, but since we don’t go around browsing the shelves in the teen room, we don’t always see the actual book. Anyway, I like kids—er, youth— to have their own space at the library without old ladies like us invading it.”

Sagacia nodded. “But I hadn’t actually read anything about The Sleeper and the Spindle; it was you who told me about it.”

Walking toward the car, Simplia flipped through the pages, quickly taking in Chris Riddell’s intricate illustrations on the pages. She would do more careful inspection later.

Flip, flip, she went. And then “Ooh! What’s that?”

A loose sheet of paper fell from the book and was lifted a few steps away by the light spring breeze.

Simplia quickened her pace and retrieved it, not being a litterbug and all.

Sagacia popped the trunk and they put their book bags inside. Once settled in, Simplia shook the paper straight and read aloud:

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,

I just checked out Neil Gaimon’s The Sleeper and the Spindle from the public library, and inside it, like a bookmark, was a strip of paper on which someone had written:

Boccaccio, Decameron
Contes de Fées
Snow Queen — and other H. C. Andersen
John Ruskin’s King of the Golden River
Peter Pan—J.M. Barrie
Alice in Wonderland—Lewis Carroll
Princess Bride (author?)
Oscar Wilde
George MacDonald

What do you make of this?

“That’s odd,” Simplia interrupted herself. “A note in a book about a note in a book.”

“Well, it is the magical third day of the month,” Sagacia reminded her. “It’s always odd!”

“Oh, yeah.” Simplia sighed. “So, where was I? Oh, yeah!” He says . . .

I’ll tell you what I think. I think someone started making a list of literary fairy tales and authors. Anyway, it got me thinking.

What role do literary fairy tales play in the lives of people today? Do you think their effect is stronger because they were written by contemporary or more modern writers? Or set in contemporary times? Or not obviously a fairy tale until you’re already hooked?

What are some other literary fairy tales that people have found to be charming or powerful? Let’s add to the list!

Mario in Maryland

PS: Vasilisa, you may not remember me, but we met once at a wedding in Novgorod. We talked briefly about Robin McKinley’s Deerskin—an odd thing to come up at a wedding now that I think about it.

Deerskin. Well, that’s one to add to Mario in Maryland’s list,” Simplia commented, fastening her seat belt. “Our first step in finding good answers for . . .” she looked down at the paper again. “Mario.”

“And our next step will be to head over to the Fairy Tale Lobby and post it on the bulletin board for our Magical Friends,” Sagacia said as she switched on the engine. “Maybe some are already there and talking about fairy tales.” She checked the mirrors and shifted into reverse. “I’ll just bet one or two of them will have something to say about this!”

“Literary fairy tales,” Simplia sighed. “I guess that’s like Fairy Tales II.”

“Son of Fairy Tales” Sagacia said, craning her neck to back out of her parking space.

“Bride of Fairy Tales.”

“Return to the Planet of Fairy Tales.” Sagacia shifted into Forward and accellerated.

“Fairy Tales: they’re not just for breakfast any more.” Simplia asserted.

Sagacia rolled her eyes. “Given the present course of this conversation,” she predicted, “It’s going to be a long ride over to the Fairy Tale Lobby!”