Monday, April 25, 2016

Grimm Reviews – “The Elves”

“The Elves”


There once was a poor shoemaker who only had enough leather left to make one pair of shoes. So he cut them out and set them aside to make in the morning. But when he woke, the shoes were made. He was able to sell the pair for enough to buy leather to make two pairs of shoes.

He cut them out and set them aside to make in the morning, but when he awoke they too were done. And so he would cut out the pieces for shoes at night, and they would be made into shoes when he awoke. By this he was able to make his living.

One night he asked his wife if she wanted to stay up to see what happened in the night. She agreed, and they sat up that night. At midnight, two little, naked men appeared and put the shoes together.

The next morning, his wife suggested that since the little men had made them rich, they should return the favor by making them tiny clothes. So they made the clothes and set them on the table and hid themselves to watch.

The little men found the clothes and were very happy and danced around. They then left and never came back, but the shoemaker still prospered.


There once was a maid who found a letter by the door. She took it to her master and mistress because she couldn’t read. It was an invitation from the elves for her to be godmother to one of their children. The maid wasn’t sure what to do, but was told it was unwise to deny the elves.

So three elves came to take the maid to the mountain where they lived. The maid stood godmother, and wanted to leave, but the elves begged her to stay for three days while they made merry. They then filled the maid’s pockets with gold and took her back home.

But the three days with the elves had been seven years outside, and her master and mistress had died.


The elves once took a human baby and replaced it with a changeling who did nothing but eat and drink. The mother was worried and sought help from her neighbors. They told her to boil water in egg shells, which would make the changeling laugh. Once the changeling laughed, the elves brought the real baby back and took the changeling.


So these were three, quick little stories about elves. I think all the things I knew about fairy tale elves comes from these three stories. They like shoes, they exist in a weird time, and they sometimes steal human babies. I don’t really have much to say about these, other than they just seem to end.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Grimm Reviews – “Sweet Porridge”

“Sweet Porridge”

There was this poor girl and her mother who didn’t have anything to eat.  One day the girl went into the woods and an old woman gave her a little pot.  When told to “Cook, little pot, cook,” the pot would make sweet porridge.  To stop the porridge, all they had to say was, “Stop, little pot.” The girl went back and she and her mother ate all the porridge they could.

One day the girl went out and the mother got the pot to cooking.  But she must have been a bit senile because she couldn’t remember how to stop it.  So the pot cooked and cooked until the village was full of porridge.  The girl returned and got the pot to stop, and people had to eat their way to their homes.


I have a couple questions about this tale.  Did the girl and mother keep this pot to themselves, because they apparently could have fed the whole village?  Of course, a diet of porridge would grow tiresome after a while, but still there were probably other poor, hungry people in the village.  Also, the mother could remember “Cook, little pot, cook,” but couldn’t remember “Stop, little pot?” Seriously?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Grimm Reviews – “The Young Giant”

“The Young Giant”

There once was a farmer who had a son no bigger than his thumb. (That must have been common thing back then: “Tom Thumb” and “TomThumb’s Travels.”) One day, after the boy cried that he wanted to go with him, the farmer took him out into the field.  A giant came along and picked up the boy and carried him off.

The giant suckled the boy for two years and the boy grew.  The giant took the boy out into the forest and the boy was able to pull a small tree out of the ground.  The giant wasn’t satisfied and suckled him for two more years.  After that, the boy was strong enough to pull an old tree out of the ground.  The giant still wasn’t happy and suckled the boy for another two years.  After that, the boy was able to tear the strongest oak out of the ground without any trouble.

The giant was happy and took the boy back to the field of his father.  The father didn’t think this giant man was his son, but the boy told his father to go home and have his mother fix a large meal.  He then plowed the field by hand.

He went home ate all of his parent’s food, but that barely satisfied him.  So he figured he would need to go on his own.  He asked his father for an iron staff that he could not break across his knee.  His father goes to the blacksmith and comes home with even bigger and stronger iron staffs – the final one requiring eight horses to pull – but the son breaks them all.

So the son goes to apprentice for a blacksmith to make a staff himself.  But instead of being paid, all he asked was to give the blacksmith three blows.  The blacksmith was greedy, and was happy to not have to pay someone.  That is, until he saw how strong the boy was when he drove the anvil into the ground.  To “pay” him for his little bit of work, the blacksmith let him give him a small kick, which sent him over a field.  The boy then grabbed the biggest iron bar and left.

He came to a farm and asked to be a servant, again asking for no wages but to give the bailiff three blows.  So the next morning, all the servants went out to cut firewood, but the boy slept in, saying he would get wood but still be back before all of them.  When he finally woke, he ate a leisurely breakfast, then went to the wood.  At one point, he barricaded the road.  He passed the other servants taking their loads of firewood back.  He ripped two trees out of the ground and loaded them up.  The other servants were stopped at the barricade, and the boy just carried his horse and wagon over it so he made it back before them.

When it came time to be paid, the bailiff was afraid and tried to work out of the deal.  He asked for a short delay and the boy agreed.  After talking it over with some people, the bailiff asked the boy to clean out the well.  When the boy was down there, they rolled a millstone in on top of him, but it didn’t bother boy.  The bailiff then asked him to go to a haunted mill and grind some corn at night.  The boy went to the mill and that night, a table, chairs, and food just walked in.  The boy joined in the meal.  But afterwards, the candles went out and something hit him on the ear.  This continued, so the boy returned all the blows that came to him.

He survived the night, and this cleared up the haunting, somehow.  He took the milled corn back to the bailiff and asked to give him the blows.  The bailiff couldn’t think of another way to distract him and the boy kicked him off into the air.  He then kicked the bailiff’s wife, and the two are floating in the air somewhere.

And the boy picked up his iron bar and left.  The end.


I don’t know if it’s just me, but I like stories that make sense.  “The Young Giant” does not make sense.  Why did the giant suckle him for six years?  Why did he want an iron bar if he never uses it?  Why instead of money did he just want to kick people?  Was he just a bully?  What was his motivation?  What was the deal with the haunted mill?  When I read this, there was no light-hearted delight you expect from fairy tales, there was just confusion.