Mrs Kinton’s Book Club – Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (Chapters 16-18)

Hi everyone – hope you’re all doing okay and are still managing to keep up with some reading here and there. I’ve left off updating the chapters for a couple of weeks for some of you to be able to catch up. I love that so many of you are enjoying it and sharing your thoughts with me in school. Please feel free to share them here too if you’re not in school yet, we’d all love to get your opinion on how you’re interpreting the story. For those of you who love writing, creating, imagining and winning prizes, head over to my last post, which tells you all about the ‘Family Fairy Tale Writing Competition’ which I launched last week. The deadline to submit is the 17th July 2020 – so there’s still plenty of time to get scribbling. So… without further ado, let’s get on with chapters 16-18 of Charlotte’s Web – it’s getting tense!

Chapter 16 – Off to the Fair

  1. The night before the fair, everyone seems to dream about what might happen.  Fern dreams she gets sick on the swings!  She doesn’t dream about Wilbur, which makes me wonder if he has become less important to her than he once was.  Have you ever been to a fair and got sick on a ride?  Which is your favourite ride at the fair?
  • The morning of the fair is all hustle and bustle!  Everyone is busy readying things in one way or another.  Right at the last minute Charlotte and Templeton decide to join Wilbur in his crate.  Why do they suddenly decide to go to the fair with him?
  • Wilbur is once again horrified at the thought of being eaten!  Fainting when he overhears Mr. Arable’s remark about what good bacon and ham he will make.  Once revived, Wilburn makes an almighty fuss about being put into the crate, which ultimately reassures the humans that his is not in fact sick at all.  Why do you think Wilbur does this?

This chapter feels like there’s a real sense of change about to occur.  There is repetition of occurrences of the before and after.  It’s a pivotal point of everything that has been and all that will occur.

Chapter 17 – Uncle

  1. Wilbur, and the unseen Charlotte and Templeton, arrive at the fair.  There is no real explanation as to why Wilbur has been taken to the fair, and it is only in this chapter that we learn that farmers take livestock to rural fairs to enter them into competitions and to be judged.  Have you ever been to a farmers fair?
  • Charlotte’s Web is set in rural America during the 1950’s.  The reader can see this through the ‘one-ounce candy bar’ only costing a ‘nickel’.  They cost far more now-a-days.  Fern and Avery instantly start asking for spending money and get given 70 cents.  If you went to a fair, how much money do you think you would be given to play with and would you be allowed to run off with just a warning to be careful? 
  • Crowds watch as Wilbur is put into a temporary pen, which has a much bigger pig called ‘Uncle’ in the pen next door.   Charlotte crawls over to Uncle’s pen to investigate him more closely and concludes that he’s ‘going to be a hard pig to beat.’  Have you ever entered a competition? 

With all the readers and the humans within the book now believing that Wilbur truly is a remarkable pig – and with him now being compared to Uncle, which seems quite unpleasant – it’s hard to believe Wilbur even has the slightest chance in winning.  Many fairgoers stop to see Wilbur and are impressed by him but seem more impressed by Uncle’s size.  But E.B. White doesn’t worry the reader too much with Uncle’s better chances – just because he is bigger – doesn’t’ necessarily mean he is better. 

Chapter 18 – In the Cool of the Evening

  1. That evening Templeton sets off to investigate the fair.  Charlotte asks him to bring back a word, adding she’ll be writing her last web-word tonight.  She mentions this a few times throughout this chapter but nobody seems to take notice.  Since Templeton fails to respond and Wilbur is asleep, nobody questions her.  How did it make you feel and what did you think Charlotte meant by it?  Why do you think this will be the last time Charlotte writes in her web?
  • On his return, Templeton unrolls the piece of paper, revealing the word ‘Humble’.  What does this word mean?
  • Charlotte repeatedly says that she’s too tired to sing and too tired to talk, she can only concentrate her energy on creating the word in her web.  Here even Wilbur starts to notice Charlotte’s increasing frailty.  Have you ever felt so tired you couldn’t talk?  What do you think is happening to Charlotte in this chapter?

While all this is going on in the crate, Fern is too busy growing up to even think about Wilbur.  Mrs Arable is delighted when her daughter runs off to the Ferris wheel with her friend Henry Fussy and when she announces later at home that she has had the best time she’s ever had ‘anywhere or any time in all of [her] whole life’, it becomes clear to the reader that poor Wilbur has moved down her ‘best times’ list since chapter 15, where he was noted as her favourite living thing.  There is such a feeling of change in these chapters – which in some ways feels quite unsettling – but as with all things in life nothing is permanent, change is unavoidable and inevitable and although the unknown is often scary, it’s not always bad – more often than not, a lot of good comes from change.

Can’t wait to hear what you all thought about these three chapters. 

See you next week for the final four chapters 19, 20, 21 and 22.  Any recommendations for our next book would be wonderful.

#KS2 #LoveReading #KeepReading #BookClub #AmReading

Family Fairy Tale Writing Competition!

After the ‘Fairy Tale Quiz’ illumination, and now I know you know so much about the world’s most meaningful yet strange traditional tales, how about having a go at penning and showcasing your own?!

Everyone can take part.  Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours and if you’re one for talking to animals, even your pets could help out.

  • You could recreate and put your own stamp on a classic tale, a famous fable or folklore story, with a modern-day twist.
  • Or you could create your very own original fairy tale following the fairy tale rules (which I will explain shortly). 
  • Maybe you could write yourself into the story, use local or familiar locations, or twist the tale to relay a personal interest in a unique way.
  • You could even mix-up characters from different fairy tales, to bring them together in a new story, like they did in the musical ‘Into the Woods’ – wonderful film and show if you ever get to see it. 
  • Again… there will be prizes.
  • The winning story and three runners up will be announced and published on July 17th July 2020
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is happily-ever-after.jpg

From ‘kissing a few frogs’, to simply ‘finding our happily ever after’ all of us, including grownups, delight in reading, watching and singing these fantastical tales.  Modern and grownup rom-coms mirror these stories, which we all fell asleep to as children, not to mention them highlighting the real-life excitement we all feel when it comes to any kind of royal wedding, especially here in England!  We are all clearly still hooked. We can all relate to them. Especially when the stories gets down to the more troll and ogre-packed realities of daily life.

So, what do we need to do to create our own fairy tale?  Well, all fairy tales include certain basic elements or, for the purpose of this competition, ‘RULES!’  There are certain rules that you should try hard to follow to gain extra marks from the judges.

Rule 1:        Begin with ‘Once upon a time,’ ‘Long ago,’ or ‘Once there was a’ – so no real ‘time’ or ‘era’ is fixed.

Rule 2:        The story takes place in a faraway land.

Rule 3:        Things tend to happen in threes and sevens in fairy tales (three bears in Goldilocks, three wishes in Aladdin, seven dwarfs in Snow White)

Rule 4:        Wishes are often granted.

Rule 5:        There are often otherworldly characters such as dragons, fairies, elves, giants or talking animals.

Rule 6:        There are magical elements such as magic beans, fairy dust and rings, harps, a wardrobe, or even surviving being swallowed whole by a ‘big bad wolf’!

Rule 7:        A difficult problem is solved at the end of the story – as with most stories. 

Rule 8:        There is a wedding and often royal characters such as kings and princesses.

Rule 9:        Good triumphs over evil.

Rule 10:      The story ends ‘happily ever after‘.

Extra support on how to write a fairy tale

1. The hero

The hero is usually someone humble, innocent, or kind-hearted. As you talk about familiar fairy tales, point out how the ‘good’ character is someone the reader cares about—the hero of the story!

Examples: Aladdin, Snow White, Rapunzel, the Three Little Pigs

2. The villain

There is always someone who has wicked intentions in a fairy tale.  This is the villain and the villain teaches the reader one of life’s most important lessons – that there are wicked people in the world.  I believe it’s not always helpful to let children believe the world will always go their way and be easy or that every person has good intentions.  The villain will usually want to control or harm the main character because they either want something they have, or need to get rid of them to gain power.  They usually have magic powers to do this. 

Examples: Jafar in Aladdin wanted the princess and power, Ursula in the little Mermaid wanted the mermaid’s voice, Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty wanted revenge for being banished. 

3. The magical element

Most fairy tales include a magical ingredient.  Choose a character to befriend or guide your hero, or add a magic element that helps your hero and enchants your story.  This could be including those magic numbers of three or seven.

Examples: Fairy godmothers, genie in a magic lamp, three wishes or enchanted objects.

4. The faraway land

Where your story is set is very important.  A forest could be a tranquil setting with woodland creatures and patches of sunlight in a grassy clearing, or it could be sinister and dark forest with nocturnal carnivores lurking about.

Examples: under the sea, a forest, castle, tower, cottage, garden, caves or deep in a mine. It’s your world – so you choose.

5. The lesson

A fairy tale usually teaches us a lesson about good conduct or good character.

Examples: loyalty, bravery, kindness, integrity, hard work, sacrifice

6. The challenge

Your hero will need to face a challenge. They might be on a quest where they have to overcome obstacles to get to a destination.  There may be a character to rescue or a curse to break, or the main character may need to find true love.

Examples: Snow White must stay safe from the evil queen, the giant wants to eat Jack, true love will break the Beast’s spell 

7. The happy ending

It isn’t a fairy tale without a happy ending! How is the challenge resolved? What leads to happily ever after? How does the villain get what is coming to him?

Examples: The glass slipper fits Cinderella’s foot, the Beast turns back into a prince, the Ugly Duckling turns into a lovely swan

Fairy tales make it clear to the reader that this isn’t the real world.  The characters are unfamiliar and otherworldly just as the far away land is… but the problems and feelings the characters face are often very real.  Fairy tales are a bit like ‘social stories’, which help to reiterate important life lessons such as, those around behaviour, and basic morality, giving children a way to imaginatively and safely live and experience certain real-life problems. It helps them to understand some really confusing and difficult feelings that they may struggle to articulate.  And yet, these happily-ever-after stories are so reassuring and ever so hopeful, showing us that somehow, no matter how dire the situation or problem is, everything will be alright in the end.

I’m not interested in spelling or grammar – handwriting or sentence structure. What I am interested in is creativity and imagination, plot and story. I want you to make me feel part of your tale, to grip me and teach me. So, doodle and google, write-freely and most importantly have fun, be playful and light. For all storytelling is communication and good communication is the fuel for life.

Happy Writing and Good Luck!

Mrs Kinton’s Book Club – Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (Chapters 13-15)

So, with many of us back to school, which is wonderful (it’s been so lovely to see all your smiling faces again) I understand you’ll be very tired and your reading may slow down a bit.  Life is regaining something that looks a little bit more like ‘normal’ for some.  For those of you who are still at home, you’re not forgotten and I will still be continuing on with our book club for you, as well as coming up with other ‘creative’ and ‘wordy’ ideas to keep your imaginations alight and your curiosity inspired.  So without further ado, let’s get on with looking at chapters 13-15 of the wonderful Charlotte’s Web.  The questions I’ve asked force you to dig a little bit deeper but I hope they are making you look between E.B. White’s words with admiration and wonder.

Chapter 13 – Good Progress

  1. While Wilburn sleeps, Charlotte sets about changing the word in her web from ‘Some Pig’ to ‘Terrific’.  She cheers herself along as she works.  Why do you think it’s important to cheer yourself along whilst you’re trying to do something challenging on your own?  Do you do it? I know I do.
  2. Lurvy, once again discovers the word in the web and before long it is announced publicly for the world to view.  The Zuckerman’s start to treat Wilbur differently, changing his straw regularly and arranging for the ‘famous pig’ to visit the county fair.  But E.B. White sees no reason to shield his readers from the smelly reality of farming – ‘so he pushed the straw to one side and stretched out in the manure’.  Do you think fame will change Wilbur?  It certainly seems to be changing the Zuckerman’s.  Can you think of any famous people, whose fame has gone to their heads and spoiled them?
  3. Charlotte knows that finding the best word to write in her web is of great importance.  E.B. White continues to play with words and language here.  Charlotte emphasises how words have different meanings and she therefore rejects the word ‘crunchy’, as inappropriate because it conjures up the idea of crispy bacon and she orders Templeton to go back to the rubbish dump to find a more appropriate word.  They finally settle on the word radiant.  What does this word mean and do you think it a fitting word to describe Wilbur?

When I finished reading this chapter I was curious as to why E.B. White ended it with ‘Fern got up and went home.’  He has never done this before, the reader just assumes Fern goes home at the end of the chapters in which she appears. Charlotte’s bedtime stories about her cousins help Wilbur to settle and before long he is asleep.  It would have been perfectly acceptable to conclude the chapter with the sentence, ‘But Wilbur was already asleep’.  Having already read the entirety of the book, I think E.B. White wanted to pin-point the moment where Fern begins to change.  Chapter 13 is the last time readers see Fern visit the barn.  She’s going home to her human-beings. 

Chapter 14 – Dr. Dorian

  1. Mrs Arable is worried about Fern and wishes her daughter would play with other children outside instead of watching the barn animals day after day.  When Fern recounts the story about the fish caught in the web her mother decides to visit Doctor Dorian.  Do you think this was a sensible thing for Mrs Arable to do and if so why?
  2. The doctor remains calm and very open-minded about Fern being able to talk to animals.  To me he seems more of a ‘Sigmund Freud’, who was an Austrian doctor of mental health issues who studied the conscious and unconscious mind, back in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.  He doesn’t seem like the stereotypical doctor looking at physical illnesses.  E.B. White seems ahead of his time referring to a mental health doctor, who are now commonplace in our era.  Do you think it’s important to talk about mental health and why?
  3. Why do you think that Mrs Arable considers Fern’s behaviour abnormal and worrying but Avery, her little brother’s behaviour, full of mischief, no imagination and destructiveness, is totally normal and perfectly acceptable and goes unquestioned in any way?  Mrs Arable says ‘Avery is always fine’.

Did you know that the names Homer and Dorian are names from the ‘Ancient Greek’ civilisation, which relate to literature and education?  I love the fact that Doctor Dorian is ready to believe Fern about animals talking and insists to Fern’s mother that there is nothing wrong with her.  Again E.B. White points out that nature is the true miracle in life

Chapter 15 – The Crickets

  1. The crickets have started singing, which is a sign that autumn is on its way.  Fern and Avery are aware school will start soon, the sheep fret and break lose, and Charlotte knows she has little time left.  Only Wilbur seems cheerfully ignorant.  How do you know autumn is coming where you live and how does it make you feel?
  2. Charlotte tries to explain to Wilbur that she may not be able to go to the fair with him but Wilbur brushes her words aside.  When Charlotte says she might be able to come after all, Wilbur reply’s ‘I knew you wouldn’t forsake me just when I need you most’.  Do you think this is selfish of Wilbur? What else does it say about his changing character?

This chapter seems to open on a vaguely threatening note to me.  There is a great sadness in the cricket’s song and it seems to me like a warning.  Human or not, everyone is feeling worried by what is to come.  Wilburn however, seems like a first-born child when he hears the news that Charlotte will be laying eggs.  Charlotte, like a parent, is patient with Wilbur but something is definitely shifting in their relationship.  As the crickets keep saying, things are about to change and Charlotte seems to be preparing Wilburn for that change. 

Can’t wait to hear what you all thought about these three chapters. 

See you next week for chapters 16, 17, and 18. 

Mrs Kinton’s Book Club – Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (Chapters 10-12)

Mrs Kinton's Book Club 1

I hope you’re all still enjoying reading Charlotte’s Web.  I know a lot of you are reading it alongside other books which is amazing.  I often have a couple of books on the go.  At the moment I am dipping in and out of a well-read book called ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and I’m also reading George Orwell’s ‘1984’.  So, let’s take a look at chapters 10, 11 and 12 of Charlottes Web and see if you can answer some of these questions.

 Chapter 10 – An Explosioncharlottes web

  1. After waiting patiently for an idea, Charlotte suddenly realizes how she can save Wilbur’s life.  All she needs to do is play a trick on Mr Zuckerman. ‘If I can fool a bug,’ she thinks, ‘I can surely fool a man.’  Have you ever played a trick on someone – if so how?
  2. A little later, Fern and her brother, Avery, wander over to the farm.  After pestering their aunt for a few minutes, they head to the barn to use the rope swing and then pick raspberries.  Finally, Fern decides to visit Wilbur.  Have you ever visited a farm and if so what adventures did you get up to?
  3. I nearly forgot about the rotten egg which E.B. White added into Chapter 6.  But E.B. White planned very well and planted the rotten egg there for this very moment.  When the children reach the pigpen, Avery notices Charlotte in her web.  He attempts to catch her but loses balance (thank goodness), landing on Wilbur’s trough. The rotten goose egg under the trough explodes, and a terrible smell fills the air.  Have you ever smelt a rotten egg?  Could you describe what it smells like?

When I read this chapter I learnt a lot about Avery’s character.  When we first meet him he is ‘heavily armed’ and in this chapter, we learn his complete disregard for animal’s feelings – he just wants the creature – spider or frog.  He doesn’t seem to know that animals can talk and none of the barn-animals attempt to call Avery away from trying to reach Charlotte.  Thank goodness E.B. White had planted the rotten goose egg to stop Avery in his tracks.  I also thought a lot about how E.B. White portrays Templeton.  His obnoxious traits seem to shrink and his pride seems to swell as his rotten egg saves the day.

Chapter 11 – The MiracleCharlottes Web Quote

  1. Why do you think this chapter is called ‘The Miracle’?
  2. The next day is foggy.  When Lurvy brings Wilbur’s breakfast, he notices Charlotte’s web, which is glistening with dew.  Then he notices in the centre of the web the words ‘SOME PIG’.  What would you do if you saw a word spun into a spider’s web?
  3. The farmers and their families seem impressed by what Charlotte has written and agree that Wilbur certainly is ‘SOME PIG’.  Charlotte’s plan is beginning to work.  Both the minister and Mr Zuckerman chose to publicise the miracle and, to me, seem to use the news to boost their own self-importance.  The Zuckerman’s change Lurvy’s job, with his main task being to feed Wilbur in front of an audience and the minister preaches a sermon about the web.  Do you think this fuss is what Charlotte expected or wanted and do you think this settles Wilbur’s safety issues?

The Minster preaches that the words in the web are ‘the coming of wonders’ basically a ‘miracle’, which, we, the readers know, the words prove no such thing.  We know that Charlotte had planned the entire event.  Mr Zuckerman and the minister are trying desperately to understand and give meaning to the event, which they can never ever understand.  Nature itself is the real miracle here.

Chapter 12 – A Meeting

  1. Charlotte calls a barn meeting.  She needs a new word to spin into her web.  They terrificsettle on the word ‘terrific’ but Wilbur says he is not terrific.  Charlotte then tells Wilbur ‘that doesn’t make a particle of difference’ and explains that ‘people believe almost anything they see in print’.  What does Charlotte mean by this and do you think that it’s true?  Do people believe almost anything they see in print and can you give an example?
  2. Templeton does not seem to be a character that can be changed.  When asked to forage for old bits of advertisements for Charlotte to find a new word to spin, he refuses to go, until the oldest sheep points out that if Wilbur dies, he won’t have any leftover slops to eat.  ‘Wilbur’s destiny and your destiny are closely linked’ the old sheep explains.  Other than both Templeton and Wilbur loving food and being quite greedy creatures, what else do you think links them?

 I think this chapter shows the other barn animals really coming together for Wilbur.  The old sheep is kinder than the last time we met her.  E.B. White also seems to be creating a sense of Charlotte running an advertising campaign based on human gullibility or naivety, which I love.  Adverts and miracles can stem from the same force when people are led to really believe in something, just as this book does with pushing compassion and understanding.

Can’t wait to hear what you all thought about these three chapters.

See you next week for chapters 13, 14, and 15.


Mrs K’s Fairy Tale Quiz Winners

After two weeks, we finally have a winner for Mrs K’s Fairy Tale Quiz.  Thank you so much to everyone who took part!  The response to this fun half-term quiz was overwhelming as is your response to all things ‘FAIRY’!  I’ve received emails – snailmail – comments and texts with answers and responses.  I’m so proud of you for having such knowledge!  But for now… here are our fairy tale extraordinaire winners and runners up…  Where were you Welbourn Staff!!!

WINNER – HARRY  –  Congratulations Harry – you nearly got them all right!

RUNNERS UP – KATIE, LIBBY, ELISE  –  well done all – there were only a few points between you all!

Prizes are on their way.  Here are my answers to the quiz.

answers pic


  1. In the tale of ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff‘, what lives under the bridge?billy goats

The Three Billy Goat’s Gruff is a famous Norwegian folktale that will charm any child.  A mean and hungry troll lives under a bridge. He’s hungry for a meal and would love to snatch and eat any goat attempting to cross his bridge.

  1. Beauty and the Beast’ is set in what country?

‘Beauty and the Beast’ was originally written by the French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740.  This original tale was initially influenced by the Ancient Greek story of Cupid and Psyche.  It has been rewritten many times, therefore there are many versions of it but all of them have been set in France.  In the most familiar, contemporary version of Beauty and the Beast, we meet Belle in a small provincial French town.

  1. Who said ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling’?

Henny Penny, who is sometimes known as Chicken Licken or Chicken Little, is a European folk tale.  The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common saying indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is about to happen.

  1. Who did the three bears find in their house?

Golidilocks and the Three Bears is an English 19th Century fairy tale.  There have been three versions of this story.  The original version tells of a badly-behaved old woman who enters the forest home of three bears whilst they are out.  She sits in their chairs, eats their porridge and sleeps in their beds.  When the bears return and discover her, she wakes up, jumps out of the window, and is never seen again.  In the second version the old woman is replaced with a little girl called Goldilocks, and in the third version and by far the most well-known version the bears are replaced with Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.  Therefore, what was originally a frightening oral tale became a cosy family story with only a hint of menace.

  1. In ‘The Three Little Pigs’, which pig made his house out of sticks?

The Three Little Pigs dates back to 1840 but the story itself is thought to be much older.  All the pigs built their houses out of different materials.  The first built his out of straw, the second built his out of sticks and the third, cleverly, built his out of bricks.  The ‘Big Bad Wolf’ blows down the first two pig’s houses made of straw and sticks but is unable to destroy the third pig’s house.

  1. In ‘The Shoemaker and the Elves’ what gift do the Shoemaker and his wife give the elves?

This German story was originally split into three different stories.  They are all about a poor shoemaker who receives much-needed help from three young and helpful elves.  In return for their help the shoemaker and his wife make and gift the elves clothes and shoes.

  1. What happens to ‘The Ugly Duckling’ at the end of the tale?

The Ugly Duckling’ published in 1843, is a literary fairy tale written by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Anderson.  The popular tale has been adapted into operas, musicals and animated films.  By the end of the story, the ugly duckling has grown into a magnificent white swan.

  1. Who first penned and published ‘The Little Mermaid’?little mermaid

 ‘The Little Mermaid’ was written by the Danish author Hans Christian Anderson.  It was first published in 1837 as part of a collection of fairy tales for children.  The story follows the journey of a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea as a mermaid to gain a human soul.

  1. What did ‘Hansel and Gretel’ leave as a trail, in order to find their way home on the second time they were left in the woods?

 ‘Hansel and Gretel’ also known as ‘Little Brother and Little Sister’, is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812.  The story is set in medieval Germany.  Being the children of a poor woodcutter, their stepmother decides to take the children into the woods and leave them there to fend for themselves as they have no food or money to feed or clothe them.  The first time they are taken into the forest, Hansel leaves a trail of pebbles so that they can find their way home.  But the second time he leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, which the birds eat and they do not find their way home.

  1. From what tale does this quote come from….

 “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” —

J.M. Barrie – Peter Pan (Mrs Kinton’s favourite story of all time!)

Peter Pan is a free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up.  He spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on a mythical island called Neverland as the leader of the Lost Boys.  He has fairy, mermaid and red-Indian friends, pirate enemies and occasionally ordinary children from the world outside of Neverland!

  1. (Pop question) Who sang… ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’

1970’s rock legend band ‘Queen’

  1. Who said …

‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’

  • Albert Einstein –

Albert Einstein, the physicist behind the Theory of General Relativity and other great theories of the 20th century, is often considered one of the greatest scientists of all time.  But did you know that he also loved folklore and fairy tales?

  1. In which popular tale would you find a talking cricket?

 ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ is an Italian fairy tale written in 1883, by Carlo Collodi of Florence, Tuscany.  Pinocchio was a puppet carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto.  Geppetto always dreamed of having a real boy not just a puppet.  So, when the puppet did become a real boy, Geppetto named him Pinocchio.  Pinocchio had a frequent tendency to lie which caused his nose to grow!  In the original book, the cricket was simply known as the ‘Talking Cricket’, who had been living in Geppetto’s house for more than 100 years.  Pinocchio actually kills the cricket in the original tale but when Walt Disney created the film of Pinocchio the cricket was named Jiminy Cricket and becomes Pinocchio’s sidekick and conscience.  (Phew!  I like Walt’s version better.)

  1. In Grimm’s German version of the tale of ‘Rapunzel’, what is the name of the witch who imprisoned her?

In the German fairy tale Rapunzel collected by the Brothers Grimm, the name of the witch who imprisoned Rapunzel was Dame Gothel or Mother Gothel.  Dame Gothel means ‘godmother’!

  1. Which of these is not one of ‘Snow White’s’ seven dwarfs…

          Sneezy, Dippy, Doc, Grumpy, Dopey, Happy

 ‘Snow White’ is a 19th Century German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812.  The seven dwarfs did not have names in the original fairy tale, again it was Walt Disney who individualised them and gave them names and character.

  1. Doc
  2. Grumpy
  3. Happy
  4. Sleepy
  5. Dopey
  6. Bashful
  7. Sneezy

Therefore Dippy is not one of Disney’s dwarf names.

  1. In the story of the ‘Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Anderson’ where does the Snow Queen live? 

 The Snow Queen’ first published in 1844, was written by the Danish author Hans Christian Anderson.  The story is one of Andersen’s longest and most highly acclaimed stories.  It is regularly included in selected tales and collections of his work and is frequently reprinted in illustrated storybook editions for children.  The Disney film ‘Frozen’ is based on this fairy tale and it was based in Norway.

  1. In the original tale, how is the ‘Little Mermaid’ made to suffer?

Written by Hans Christian Anderson – ‘The Little Mermaid’ is deeply in love with a human prince and begs the sea-witch to make it possible for her to walk on land.  The sea-witch advises ‘The Little Mermaid’ not to go after the prince, because if it doesn’t work out between them, and the prince does not fall in love with her, the mermaid will die.  But the mermaid is determined: she gives up her voice, and heads to the surface, to ‘walk on legs that cut like knives at every step’ (OUCH!).

  1. What do you think is the lesson taught in ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears?’

This is a classic cautionary tale about the dangers of going off and exploring unknown places. But where does curiosity give way to downright rudeness?  To me, Goldilocks is not a particularly nice child.  She’s allowed to wander off on her own (where are her parents?) and when she finds a home which is clearly not hers she walks right in and helps herself to whatever she can find.   Readers are often relieved to discover Goldilocks makes a quick escape out of the window, running back into the forest, saving her from what could have otherwise been a devastating conclusion!   Therefore, the moral of the story is possibly self-preservation (keeping yourself safe) and transgressive social rule-breaking.

  1. What does ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ want from the miller’s daughter?Rumplestiltskin

This fairy tale was collected by ‘The Brothers Grimm’ in 19th Century Germany and published in 1912.  The miller’s daughter gives up hope of ever being able to spin straw into gold as the King and her father have demanded when an imp-like creature appears and does it for her.  Initially, he does it in return for her necklace.  Then a ring.  On the third day, the miller’s daughter has nothing left to pay with so promises that she will give Rumpelstiltskin her firstborn child.

  1. (Gross, final question) In the original tale of ‘Snow White’, what does the evil queen do with (what she thinks is) Snow White’s heart?  (This fairy tale used to really scare Mrs Kinton when she was a child)

Snow White is a 19th Century German fairy tale collected by ‘The Brothers Grimm’ and published in 1812.  In the original tale the huntsman is ordered by the wicked queen to take Snow White into the forest to be killed and as proof that Snow White is dead, the queen demands that he returns with her lungs, liver and heart.  The wicked queen then plans to eat the organs so that she can become as beautiful as Snow White.  The huntsman, however, does not kill Snow White and returns with a bore’s lungs, liver and heart instead.  Phew!