The book which I mentioned in the last post, The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Fairy Tales, is a compilation of tales from several authors: The Brothers Grimm of Germany, Hans Christian Anderson of Britain, Charles Perrault of France, and a few others who are lesser known. The tales were passed around and adapted by different folks and several variations developed.
For instance, one version of Cinderella has the step-sisters feet chopped off; another has them become statues who can see, hear, and feel in order to suffer while Cinderella receives her rewards for being virtuous. Another example is of The Three Bears: an old English version, thought to be the original, has an old woman sampling the bears’ porridge, chairs, and beds–yet even this version is said to have changed from a beast tale in which the old woman was actually a fox.
This particular book, English Fairy Tales, collected and edited by Joseph Jacobs, (originally published in 1898), contains many true “folk” versions. This means they are not romanticized or made more literary as many of those adapted by Hans Christian Anderson and Charles Perrault. They were, apparently, cleaned-up a bit by Jacobs, as the country folk liked their “bawdy” tales. However, they can still be shocking for children.
For parents, I recommend pre-reading the book and choosing age-appropriate fairy tales. However, the book could be handed to a child of age 12 and up. Audio versions and e-books are either incredibly inexpensive or free, however, I am an advocate of unplugging and dragging a paper book around from a sofa, to a beach chair, to a stump in the woods.
Something else which is fun to imagine is that several of these English tales were actually verses (poetry) which were sung. Apparently, the English country folks were a jolly bunch.