Monday, 13 February 2012

Fairy Tales

Fairy tales in general are in the news - and one in particular is coming our way to Moffat on Saturday Feb 18th. A headline in today's Feb 12 2012 Daily Telegraph screamed

Fairytales too scary for modern children, say parents

Traditional fairytales are being ditched by parents because they are too scary for their young children, a study found.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the first feature length animation made by Disney in 1937 Photo: WALT DISNEY

One third of parents said their children have been left in tears after hearing the gruesome details of Little Red Riding Hood.

And nearly half of mothers and fathers refuse to read Rumplestiltskin to their kids as the themes of the story are kidnapping and execution.

Similarly, Goldilocks and the Three Bears was also a tale likely to be left on the book shelf as parents felt it condones stealing.

The survey of 2,000 adults was commissioned to mark the launch of the hit US drama GRIMM, which starts tonight at 9pm on Watch, and sees six gritty episodes based on traditional fairytales.

And 52 per cent of the parents said Cinderella didn't send a good message to their children as it portrays a young woman doing housework all day.

Steve Hornsey, General Manager, Watch, said: ''Bedtime stories are supposed to soothe children and send them off to sleep soundly.

''But as we see in GRIMM, fairytales can be dark and dramatic tales so it's understandable that parents worry about reading them to young children.''

''As adults we can see the innocence in fairytales, but a five year old with an over active imagination could take things too literally.

''Despite the dark nature of classic fairytales, as we see in GRIMM, good will triumph over evil and there is always a moral to the story.''

When it comes to bedtime reading, over a third of parents don't like to tell their children about 'The Gingerbread Man' as he gets eaten by a fox.

And 'Queen Bee' features a character called 'Simpleton,' which 35 per cent of mums and dads deemed unsuitable.

The study also found two thirds of mums and dads try to avoid stories which might give their children nightmares.

However half of parents said traditional tales are more likely to have a strong moral message than a lot of modern kids' books, such as The Gruffalo, The Hungary Caterpillar and the Mr Men books.


1. Hansel and Gretel - Details two kids abandoned in the forest and likely to scare young children

2. Jack and the Beanstalk - Deemed too 'unrealistic'.

3. Gingerbread Man - Would be uncomfortable explaining gingerbread man gets eaten by a fox

4. Little Red Riding Hood - Deemed unsuitable by parents who have to explain a young girl's grandmother has been eaten by a wolf.

5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - the term dwarves was found to be inappropriate

6. Cinderella - Story about a young girl doing all the housework was outdated.

7.Rapunzel - Parents were worried about the focus on a young girl being kidnapped.

8.Rumplestiltskin - Wouldn't be happy reading about executions and kidnapping

9.Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Sends the wrong messages about stealing

10.Queen Bee - Inappropriate as the story has a character called Simpleton

By way of contrast, a real life fairy tale will come true for me on Sat Feb 18. It all began on the night of Dec 21 2011, when I heard a radio interview on the BBC World Service with Eowyn Ivey, a young Alaskan first-time novelist, about how her book The Snow Child had been inspired by a Russian fairytale and, again,quite by chance, how she (Eowyn) and her - as yet unfinished - manuscript had been spotted at a book fair.

I contacted the young author by email and when it was known that Eowyn was going to be touring the UK with her now best-selling book, already number 2 in the UK bestseller charts, also BBCR4's choice as Book at Bedtime for April 2012, I asked Eowyn to include Moffat on her itinerary.

Much to everyone at Moffat Book Events' delight, Eowyn agreed, and she will be here at the Mofat House hotel on Sat Feb 18 6-8pm to be 'in conversation' with me, to answer audience questions and to sign copies of her book.

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