But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness.
With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . . .
- Rumpelstiltksin, Grimms. Of course, the story that started it all for me! When I was young I had a Fischer Price record player and one of the records was an audio version of Rumpelstitksin. I listened to it often and thought it was so creepy! Who was this little man who spun straw into gold and bargained for babies? I think the mysteries of this story were what appealed to me, as well as the bizarreness of Rumpelstiltskin’s name and ultimate demise.
- The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. The author credit is actually very important here, because he actually did write the original story, unlike most popular fairtyales, which were merely collected and recorded after many generations of oral tradition. The original Little Mermaid is quite different from the Disney version, at least the second half. I love the ethereal beauty of the undersea world, the haunting culture of the mermaids, and the desperation of the little mermaid that seemingly brings her to a tragic end, but also opens up a gate to a beautiful eternal destiny. Though I understand Disney’s motives for changing the ending, I think Hans Christian Anderson had a far more truthful and lasting message in his tale and I think he would turn over in his grave to see it so altered for commercial appeal.
- Jack and the Beanstalk, Joseph Jacobs/Andrew Lang. Magic Beans! Giants! A hen that lays golden eggs! What’s not to like? The sheer adventure in this story is enough to draw anyone in. Most people are familiar with versions based on Joseph Jacobs’ recordings, but I actually prefer the version by Andrew Lang where we come to find that the giant actually gained his castle and riches by stealing from Jack’s noble father, then killing him, while Jack’s mother fled with her baby in arms and from then on lived as a peasant. This history gives Jack ample justification to take back from the giant that which is rightfully his, thereby satisfying any moral issues we might have concerning Jack’s behavior.
- Hansel and Gretel, Grimms. In a sea of tales where girls are asleep or stuck in a tower awaiting rescue from a knight or prince, Hansel and Gretel is one where a female saves the day, and not with brawn but her brains! Gretel’s clever bravery sends a much-needed message that girls can and must be active in solving their own problems as well as helping others.
- Little Red Riding Hood, Grimms. I think what I like most about this story is the powerful symbolism. The red cape, the wolf, the path…all of it works together so well, and we’ve used this story time and time again to frame our thoughts on so many things, from female sexuality to predatory tactics, and moral lessons like not talking to strangers or straying from the path. You can look at this story from so many different angles and interpret in in so many ways. It was one of the more challenging tales for me to work with, mostly because the possibilities were endless.