Tiny Owl’s Fairy Tale Campaign begins
Pre-order Cinderella of the Nile
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?
To launch our campaign we have a brilliant response from Beverley Naidoo, author of Cinderella of the Nile, the first book in our new One Story, Many Voices series.
Fairy Tales contain deep human truths
1) As a child, I loved Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, the Blue, Red, Green and Yellow (and there were more!). They would all have been imported into South Africa from England. I still have my faded Blue Fairy Book in a 1949 edition by Longmans, Green & Co. I was also lucky to have parents involved with theatre and radio. My father wrote musical plays, including some for children based on fairy and folk tales. So I grew up with the idea that old stories could be told in new ways. (When my dad later adapted Aladdin for a marionette theatre, one of his songs was “New lamps for old!” – sung by the trickster trying to get hold of Aladdin’s magic lamp!)
‘Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper’ was one of my favourite tales in the Blue Fairy Book. It was the Charles Perrault version with the fairy godmother who turns a pumpkin into a carriage and six mice into horses.
Various animal tales were very much part of my childhood, including Aesop’s Fables. These fables attributed to Aesop had survived over 2000 years and I was told that he had been a Greek slave. It was only years later that I realised his animal characters and the tone of his tales indicated his African origins. (I was very excited while researching Cinderella on the Nile to discover Rhodopis’s friendship with Aesop when both are enslaved on the island of Samos.)
As a child, I also loved the sharp-humoured folktales of the American ‘Brer Rabbit’ and ‘Brer Fox’, as told by ‘Uncle Remus’, another slave storyteller who was less distant in time. Last, but not least, there were traditional tales about animals like those in the bushveld not far from Johannesburg.
We didn’t have television but there was a children’s programme on radio, for which my parents wrote a series called ‘Tales of the Bushveld’ with songs composed by my dad. Many of these tales contained wit and wisdom clearly borrowed from both Aesop and Uncle Remus. It was only many years later, when I read Julius Lester’s foreword to his wonderful retellings of The Tales of Uncle Remus that I realised their origins in African folktales about the little trickster hare who uses his wits against bigger, more powerful animals. Their social and political meaning suddenly became clear, adding a whole other layer to their brilliance. Despite the storytellers having been captured, their minds were still free.
2) Many fairy tales contain deep human truths and questions. Set in mythical time, they are constantly open to re-interpretation. How can we not be drawn to them?
Beverley Naidoo is a Carnegie Award-winning South African author living in the UK. She is the author of our upcoming book Cinderella of the Nile.
- 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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