I love books, love the whole process of falling into a book, have lots countless nights when I couldn’t bear to sleep before I’d finished a book and like nothing more than to lose myself in someone else’s world.

I’m pleased to note that my children share this passion.  Bedtime stories all snuggled up in the same bed together are my particular fave, but sometimes we split it up and read to each child individually. 

Last Christmas we bought our youngest a mini anthology of abridged fairy tales.  They’re very sweet, or so I thought, but it’s only as I read with my daughter recently that I became concerned.  Somehow the stripped out text only serves to highlight the misogyny and I felt my feminist hackles rising.  Would reading this book scar my daughter for life? Will she be leading a new generation of surrendered WAGS? Head in hands I attempted to dissect the subject matter of Rumpelstiltskin with her:

The poor miller has a very clever daughter. He boasts about her.  “Sire, my daughter is so clever that she can even spin straw into gold,” he tells the King.

The King takes the daughter to his palace. He shows her a room with some straw and a spinning wheel.  “Spin it into gold by morning, or you’ll die,” he says.

*Youngest child appears unconcerned by death threats*

The daughter sits down and cries.  She can’t spin straw into gold. Then a little man comes in.  “What will you give me if I spin it for you?” he asks. “I’ll give you my necklace.” she says.

*Youngest child looks aghast, “He’s taking her necklace!!!”

The King is pleased.  He shows the daughter another room with more straw. “Spin that into gold by morning or you’ll die,” he says.

*Not so much as a flinch from youngest child*

Soon the little man comes in. “What will you give me if I spin this into gold for you?” “My ring,” says the daughter.

*Youngest child opens mouth in disbelief*

In the morning the King comes in.  The little man has spun all the straw into gold.  The King is very pleased. But he’s greedy and wants more gold. He take the daughter to a bigger room with a bigger pile of straw. “Spin it all by morning, or you’ll die,” he says.


Soon the little man comes in. “What will you give me now?” he asks.  “I’ve nothing left.” says the daughter. “Promise to give me your first baby when you’re Queen,” says the little man.

*finally something approaching a frown from the youngest child*

In the morning, the King is delighted. “Marry me, and we’ll always be rich,” he says. Soon there’s a royal wedding and the daughter is the Queen.

At this point I stop, too distraught by the messages to continue. Fixing youngest child with a hard stare I ask: “What do you think of this story?”

Youngest child considers before answering: “He took her necklace and her ring!”

“Yes,” I say, “but what about the King? Telling someone you’ll kill them if they don’t do as you say isn’t nice is it?”

*More thinking from the youngest child, followed by vehement head shaking*

“What do you think she should do? Should she have married the king?”

*Youngest child puts on her most serious face while she considers her final verdict*

“NO, she should have poked him in the eye…..”


And then she pokes him in the eye….
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12 thoughts on “And then she pokes him in the eye….

  • October 12, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Ha ha ha! Love it.

    You can rely on 4 year olds to break it down to the important stuff in life. 😉

  • October 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Heh, love it. I think many fairy tales and nursery rhymes were, back in the day, thinly veiled morality tales. Nice that your youngest came up with the Tarantino ending. 😉

  • October 12, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I’m still concerned that she was more worried about the girl giving away her jewellery than the death threats! We’re obv still got a way to go 😉

  • October 12, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    She can usually be relied upon – I don’t think we need to worry too much. And woe betide anyone who tries to take her necklaces!

  • October 12, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Bless her!

    But you’re right, traditional stories are great, they are what much of our culture is built on, and where so many phrases and concepts come from. But they definitely have issues!

    Moo’s just starting to have proper stories read to her, but even nursery rhymes can be disturbing/politically incorrect!

  • October 12, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    That is just brilliant. Brilliant.
    I, of course, am a crap mum and just read them all this shit without a second thought.
    Red riding Hood going to get eaten alive by a wolf? Lovely
    Step mum with a complex going to poison her gorgeous daughter? That’s nice dear

  • October 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    hahaha!!!!! this made me laugh out loud…


    yeah these old stories certainly are the most politically incorrect things around! just you wait – no need to worry toooo much. The E.U. will soon have them all politically correct and boring soon enough 😉

    (god I hope not!!)

  • October 13, 2010 at 7:57 am

    HA! Bless her, she’s a star! Those old tales are frightful but I remember getting very cross when DS1 had a cassette tape of nursery rhymes and all the ditties had been given happy endings..they put Humpty together again!

  • October 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I’ve always thought small children deal really quite well with extreme violence. It’s a relatively small leap from squashing an ant or eating a chicken to being swallowed by a wolf after all. I’m usually most disturbed by the fact that the heroine always marries the prince without asking anything about him. In Rumplestiltskin, she marries the King even though he was happy to have her murdered. I’m not sure he’d make the greatest husband. A poke in the eye is the least he deserves frankly. Good on you Immy.

  • October 14, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Serves him right. Miss L doesn’t seem to blink an eye when the woodcutter serves up a still beating heart to the evil queen, yet is shocked and appalled if Bertie farts.

  • October 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Good for her!! That’s a start…;)
    Oh wow, Paula….I’m depressed now, I have never looked at the stories like that. I have to admit that while I spend and have spent many many hours reading to my children I’ve never been a fan of traditional fairy tales. I didn’t like them when I was young so have never really read them to my children.
    What is worrying is the stereotypical roles still given in modern childrens books.
    Food for thought. X

  • April 22, 2011 at 7:03 am

    as children none of us thought about the morals or death threats, it was a story. As children we realised that. It’s again the parents that are making fairy stories something children should think about with an adult mind. I am so glad your little girl remains a little girl and thinks with a child’s mind. Fairy stories are lovely and we shouldn’t try to make them more than that. Let the child enjoy them without telling them what they should be thinking.
    You saw it from an adult’s point of view, she saw it from a child’s.

    There has never been a child in the history of fairy stories who has been disturbed or damaged by them. They don’t think about it as adults do. The only ones disturbed by the fairy stories here are the adults who then tell the children they shouldn’t like the content and explain why? Let children be children. They have a long time ahead of them as adults with adults views of the world.

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