Saturday, March 10, 2012

Trove of New Fairy Tales Discovered in Germany

Turns out that the Brothers Grimm had another colleague who was also roaming the German countryside collecting folk tales and fairy tales.

The story of how these came to be lost is fascinating stuff all on its own:
Von Schönwerth compiled his research into a book called Aus der Oberpfalz – Sitten und Sagen, which came out in three volumes in 1857, 1858 and 1859. The book never gained prominence and faded into obscurity.

While sifting through Von Schönwerth's work, Eichenseer found 500 fairytales, many of which do not appear in other European fairytale collections.
Apparently, all of his research on all of these tales had been sitting in the back of some vault at a university gathering dust for all these years.

See?  It does pay to do some Spring cleaning after all!

One of the things I have loved most about getting my new Kindle Fire for a Christmas present this year has been how many fairy tale collections I've been able to load on it. No matter where we go -- endless doctor's office waiting room time, bedtime on a trip, boring intermission at a play -- I have fairy tales at our disposal to read to The Peanut.

It.  Is.  Awesome.

I always take a book along with us to the doctor's office -- have since The Peanut was tiny -- so that the waiting room isn't meltdown central.  But with my kindle, I have a plethora of stories to choose from because I've uploaded several of the "fairy books."  Remember those from childhood?

The Blue Fairy Book was always one of my favorites because it has East of the Sun and West of the Moon in it, along with a number of other old favorites told in ways that aren't the child-sanitized Disney versions of the stories.

But they are all wonderful.

I've also added a number of fairy tales from different places around the world -- Russia, China, Japan, Ireland, and so on -- and we've been slowly working our way through them bit by bit.  Baba Yaga was a particular hit, because it reminded The Peanut a bit of the Miyazake film Howl's Moving Castle.

The funny thing is that if I'm quietly reading to The Peanut in a waiting room, other kids will slowly creep over  to listen, too.  We'll end up with a little knot of kids listening to a story who get very disappointed when we have to get up and go in for our appointment.  So I bequeath to you the knowledge that bringing a story book with you to an office visit can make life far, far more tolerable for everyone in the room. 

Plus, The Peanut loves a good fairy tale.

You can see why this new treasure trove of heretofore potentially unknown stories might catch my eye.  And not just for The Peanut, but also as potential fodder for the school library:
Eichenseer says the fairytales are not for children alone. "Their main purpose was to help young adults on their path to adulthood, showing them that dangers and challenges can be overcome through virtue, prudence and courage."
Now, if I can only get a little bit of a library budget that isn't just out of my pocket and from whatever all of you spend through the Amazon link on this blog. (To date? I've gotten 12 books for the library from Amazon returns on this blog. So huge thanks to everyone who uses the link here to purchase!)

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith. H/T to the Fug girls for their link to the Guardian UK story.  Thanks mucho!)


carolekohn said...

Christy, I'd be glad to purchase books through Amazon for your library, but cannot find the link. Help.

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Oh, carole -- that's so sweet. I have an Amazon link on the side that allows for "wish list" purchases. Most of the books listed are potential library books, but some get on there as suggestions for family members who never know what to get me for holiday gifts. If you scroll down the page, it's closer to the bottom on the right hand side -- it should say "amazon wish list" and then show a few possibilities and if you click through, there's a broader selection.