Showing posts from June, 2012

Matches and Races, By Teresa Robeson

Editor's note: Teresa Robeson's take on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl," mashes up the chill of New Year's Eve with ... the dog track. The unlikely pairing is well worth a read.

Her parents slammed the door behind her with a decisive thunk. She was not to return until she had sold all the matches in her apron pocket. It didn’t matter that it was New Year’s Eve and the cruel chill of winter had a stranglehold on the town.

There was to be no celebration in the house anyway. Being dirt poor meant there was hardly ever enough food on a daily basis, let alone on special occasions. What little money they occasionally had was gambled away by Papa, who always swore, “I have a good feeling about this one.”

When the girl was old enough to accompany her siblings to town to sell matches, she saw other girls her age whose smiling parents held their hands, and who wore velvet or silk pinafores. Her own parents certainly never held her hand or smiled at he…

The Talking Skull, By Jennifer A. McGowan

Editor's note: This winning poem grabbed my attention in a big way. While based on a folk-tale rather than a fairy tale, it honors the fairy-tale tradition by having elements of wonder and transformation -- of a rather dark sort. Jennifer adapted it from a Nigerian folk tale.

A hunter
in search of food for his family
walked and walked
but found no prey.
The plains stretched on
and the sun beat
and even he was weary.

There was one tree
that stretched its branches
and he sat beneath it.
Propped his feet
on a white rock
and drank.
When he was rested, he noticed
the rock had two eye-holes
and teeth.  Alone
in the vast expanse
except for the sky,
he addressed the rock
in a casual fashion:
“What brought you here, my friend?”
Then he laughed,
grateful no one could hear him.

So perhaps it is to be forgiven
if the hunter jumped
when the skull fixed him
in its empty gaze and said,
“Talking brought me here!”

Food and family forgotten,
he ran to the king
to tell him of this wonder
and the kin…

Dancing With the Devil (and Other Strategies for Fighting Evil), By Lissa Sloan

Editor's note: The Devil gets plenty of due in fairy tales, as Lissa Sloan adeptly points out in this guest post. The image here is not exactly a perfect fit, but is too darkly lovely to resist.

No one wants to run into the Devil, right? What with him leading people into temptation, and making bargains for their immortal souls, it’s just too risky. But it works out fine for Colonel Philip Lightfoot, an arrogant Colonial Virginian who is challenged to a dancing contest by Satan himself. His tale is recounted by Mary Quattlebaum in Sparks Fly High: The Legend of Dancing Point. Fortunately for Colonel Lightfoot, he realizes the error of his ways in time to mend them, and beats the Devil at his own game.

But what if you are not light-footed, but two-left-footed and you encounter the Prince of Darkness? As usual, fairy tales provide some useful suggestions. Number one: be clean (spiritually and physically). In The Handless Maiden, the maiden’s father promises his daughter to the …