Today is World Book Day in the United Kingdom. It is celebrated every year on the first Thursday in March. When I was a smaller fairy, I loved listening to the children reading stories with their parents. When they grew up and began reading books by themselves I would borrow their books when they were not using them and read all the fabulous stories. I do hope that when they have children of their own they will read their favourite stories with them so that the magic of reading books continues.
A book is a really special thing. Imagination powers the land of make-believe and keeps us fairies in good health. I have my own tiny books that I like to read. In fact, I have many but a few are my favourites. Of course, I love stories that have fairies in them but these are my favourite fairytales that are not strictly fairy tales...
Puss in Boots
Once upon a time, there was a miller with three sons. The miller asked his sons, what they would like to be left after he had gone. The first son asked for the mill as he thought it would make him rich. The second asked for his father's donkey as it was strong and healthy. The third and youngest son asked his father for his cat. The two older brothers laughed as they thought the cat was useless. It was manky and uncombed and not strong or useful.
The young lad washed and combed the cat and took good care of him calling him Puss. Then one day, Puss did a very surprising thing. He talked. Even in this magical land, cats that talked were not something you came across very often and the lad was astonished. Puss asked the young man for a pair of boots, a hat and a sack. The young lad was so surprised that he immediately went out and bought them for the cat.
Puss, wearing his new boots and hat, went into the woods with his sack filled with vegetables from the garden. He placed his sack open on the ground and waited for some rather dumb greedy rabbit to come looking. As soon as the rabbit climbed in, Puss bounced on it, and took it back to his master for tea.
Puss caught his master plenty of rabbits but he took the largest and juiciest to the King's palace. The young master did not question Puss. He trusted him completely. The guards at the palace were so shocked to see a talking cat dressed in boots and a hat that they let him in to see the King.
Puss introduced himself to the King as the loyal servant of the Lord of Carrabas. And he offered the King the rabbit as a present from his master. The King was impressed with the rabbit but more impressed with this talking cat dressed in boots. What kind of lord had such a peculiar servant?
The next day and every day, Puss took more presents to the King. The King asked Puss if his master was wealthy and Puss said that his master, the Lord of Carrabas had lots of land, a great castle and many faithful subjects. The King replied that he should like to visit the Lord to thank him for his gifts.
The next day, Puss took his master to the river, near the road where he knew the King would pass. Puss told his master to take off his clothes and go for a swim. As usual the young lad did not question the smart and resourceful cat. As the King passed, Puss called out to stop the carriage. Help, he cried. My master, the Lord of Carrabas has been robbed. Thieves stole his clothes while he was swimming.
The King commanded his men to help the lord from the river and fetch him some fine clothes to wear. When the young man appeared in the King's clothes, he looked very different, no longer the miller's son but every inch a lord. He was very handsome and the King's daughter, travelling in the carriage, fell quickly in love.
As the King and the Lord of Carrabas travelled towards the Lord's castle, Puss ran ahead and shouted that the King and Lord were on their way through the land. They couldn't believe their eyes and ears. Puss told them that if they didn't show respect to the King and his friend, the King would be angry with them so as the King's carriage passed, they shouted praise to the King and Lord Carrabas.
Puss arrived at the castle long before them. The castle was of course not really home to any lord but home to a powerful ogre who terrified the land. Puss introduced himself to the ogre as the loyal servant of the Lord of Carrabas and announced that he brought gifts from his master. The ogre let the cat into the castle, thinking that he could eat the cat if the gifts were not to his liking.
Puss told the ogre that before he could hand over these gifts, the ogre would need to prove his powers. The ogre changed into a massive lion and frightened Puss but the brave cat shook his head. The ogre changed into a giant and told Puss to give him these gifts now. But Puss shook his head and said it was easy for the ogre to turn into large creatures but no ogre could become any small animal. The ogre laughed and transformed himself into a tiny mouse but no sooner had he changed than Puss leapt on him and gobbled the ogre up.
When the King arrived at the castle he was so impressed that he immediately offered the miller's son turned lord his daughters hand in marriage. The town folk rejoiced that the ogre was gone and the good Lord of Carrabas was to be the future King. And Puss in boots was richly rewarded.
Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red was on her way to see her grandmother. Her grandmother was a sweet kind lady who lived in a cottage in the wood. Little Red loved her Gran very much and so she had asked her mother if she could take her Gran some fresh baked bread and cakes. Her mother had agreed on the condition that little Red stayed on the path and went straight to Grandmother's house.
Little Red had every intention of staying on the path but she had spotted some pretty flowers not far from the path. She knew that Grandmother loved flowers and she didn't see any harm in picking some for a short while if she didn't go too far into the wood. But the nicest and prettiest flowers seemed to be further away.
Suddenly, Red turned around and noticed she could no longer see the path. She had wandered too far and got distracted by the lovely flowers. She spun around searching for the path and was shocked when she saw two large eyes staring at her. The eyes were terrifying enough but then she saw a great big smile that was even scarier. The smile was full of sharp yellow teeth.
Don't be afraid, said the wolf. There's no need to run. What is a little girl like you doing all alone in the woods?
Little Red explained that she was on her way to see Grandmother and had lost the path. The wolf smiled and said that the path was not far. Pointing the way back to the path, the wolf wished Little Red a safe trip to her Grandmother's house and disappeared. Little Red was so relieved when she found the path and headed off as quickly as she could to Grandmother's house, unaware that the wolf was also heading there and would get there first.
When the big bad wolf arrived at Grandmother's he knocked the door. Grandmother didn't answer the door to strangers, living in the middle of a dangerous wood, but the wolf cried out in a quiet high-pitched voice, Grandmother, it's me, Little Red. When Grandmother opened the door, the big bad wolf swallowed her whole in one big gulp.
Little Red arrived at Grandmother's house and knocked. There was no answer so she called out, Grandmother it's me, Little Red. Come in dear, it's open, came a voice. A slightly strange voice. Little Red entered and saw what she thought was her grandmother, tucked up in bed with the covers pulled up.
Grandmother, are you unwell? she asked.
Come closer dear, come closer so I can hear you, said Grandmother putting her hand to her ear.
My, Grandmother, what big ears you have? said Little Red noticing her grandmother's strangely pointy large ears
All the better to hear you with my dear.
Little Red stepped closer and noticed her Grandmother's eyes peaking out over the covers behind her glasses. But they were far larger than she remembered and scarier, not like Grandmother's but strangely familiar.
My. Grandmother, what big eyes you have?
All the better to see you with, my dear. Come closer and let me have a look at you.
Grandmother's bed covers fell slightly and a horrible yellow smile came into view. Little Red recognised the smile but it was not her Grandmother's.
Grandmother, what big teeth you have?
All the better to eat you with, said the wolf and he pounced out of the bed, gobbling up poor Red in one big bite. The girl screamed as the wolf devoured her. She screamed so loudly that a hunter nearby heard her. The wolf was very happy with himself and laid back in bed, quickly falling asleep. The hunter came to the cottage and seeing the wolf asleep in the bed, cut open the beasts tummy.
Little Red and Grandmother climbed out of the wolf, thankful that the wolf had been so greedy he hadn't bothered chewing them. Little Red gave the hunter, the bread and cakes to say thank you and promised to never again leave the path or speak to strangers.