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Tiny Owl’s Fairy Tale Campaign continues 

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For thousands of years, people have been telling stories. From this rich global heritage, we can find fairy tales that are strikingly similar but also different. Each culture has their own version of these tales, and, even today, fairy tales have a lasting significance. Children from all over the world still grow-up listening to them.

Our new series, One Story, Many Voices explores well-known fairy tales told from unique perspectives from all over the world. So, with this in mind, we contacted authors, and experts, asking them the same two questions:

1) What versions of well-known tales were you told as a child? Who told them to you? And where did they come from?

2) Fairy tales often come from stories told a long time ago. Do you think these stories are still relevant today? And, if so, why?

We have a wonderful response from Heather Robbins.

Heather Robbins: 

Children love to hear about monsters and injustice, especially if someone cunning saves the day

Heather Robbins

 

1.We had the complete Grimm’s collection with tissue-thin pages and old woodcut illustrations, along with picture books we found at the local library. My mum read them to me sometimes, but mostly I think I read them to myself.

 

2.Italo Calvino said ‘Folktales are real (le fiabe sono vere)’; as Marina Warner explains in Once Upon A Time, he means they speak of poverty, scarcity, hunger, anxiety, lust, greed, envy, cruelty.  J.R.R. Tolkien, in his On Fairy Stories, also noted that fairy tales are about ‘hunger, thirst, poverty, sorrow, injustice, death’ – themes which are always relevant. Warner goes on to say that fairy tales have two functions: to bear witness to these terrible things and also to convey messages of resistance – a hope of escape. Indeed, Angela Carter said that the spirit of fairy tales is ‘heroic optimism’. Lots of authors have used the fairy-tale form to envision change, new societies, to transmit lessons and philosophies.

And, having just read the complete Grimm’s to my children and telling made-up ones of our own, I can tell you that children still like to be a bit scared – we protect them too much from the darkness of the old stories, when really they love to hear about monsters and death and injustice, especially if someone cunning saves the day at the end.

Heather Robbins is the Research Assistant at the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy.

  • Read more responses here and here
  • Read this introduction by Tiny Owl publisher Delaram Ghanimifard of our One Story, Many Voices series
  • Cinderella of the Nile selected as ‘One to Watch’ by The Bookseller

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