Mel of The Daily Prophecy asked us to write a post as a part of the Fairytale Retelling Challenge. It’s supposed to be about our first fairytale-related memory and our reasons for loving both fairytales and modern retellings. This topic is very close to me because fairytales were an integral part of my childhood and are still very important to me today.
The fairytales of my childhood came in two types: the literary ones (Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Italo Calvino, Oscar Wilde…) and the made-up ones. My mom was the primary source of the first and my maternal grandparents entertained us (I have a younger brother) with the second.
We had this ritual at home where my brother and I would crawl into my parents’ bed in the evening, one on each side of our mom, and she’d read to us – not just fairytales but other stuff as well – and we loved it. I remember her reading Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid to us and it was so damn scary I cried and was afraid to go to sleep (if you think you know The Little Mermaid based on Disney, think again o_O).
We also used to spend quite some time with our grandparents (who are, incidentally, thrilled to be great-grandparents at the moment) during the holidays, and they both had a number of tales to tell in the evenings. We always got “another one”, too, because they’re delightfully soft-hearted when it comes to their grandchildren.
I then started reading on my own, and while I read a lot of children’s fantasy novels (Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter and The Witches were my favourites), I didn’t read fairytales as such. I watched all the Disney movies, but it wasn’t an obsession or anything. I high school and university, I read loads and loads of classics, but I also became interested in mythology, which is an integral part of fantasy literature and has inspired works of art for millenia.
But my adult encounter with fairytales probably coincides with this wonderful storytelling festival that takes place in Ljubljana every year. It’s all about modern storytelling (mostly folk tales), with Slovenian storytellers and guests from abroad. I heard some wonderful, magical stories there, and I decided to participate in a storytelling workshop three years ago. I was a part of a great group and we had three public performances. I can tell you that storytelling is hard! For this purpose I read loads of folk tales and I discovered that Scottish and Irish folktales are my absolute favourites.
Nowadays, I read quite a lot of fairytale retellings because I read a lot of young adult fantasy, and fairytales (and mythology) are a great source material for authors. I really like those that subvert the old tales, but they aren’t so easy to find (I will probably be reading The Book Smugglers’ collection soon).
I am also looking forward to reading fairytales to my son (we’ve started reading other stuff to him but he’s a bit young for the Grimms at 5 months, I think), because it will be a chance for me to revisit all the old favourites and discover new ones.
Which fairytales are your favourites? Did you read them as a kid?
Which fairytale retellings are a must-read for you now?