Category Archives: Fairy Tale Retellings

The Pirate Princess

Once there were two kings who longed to be fathers, but neither had any children.  Wanting to remedy their situations, both kings set out and soon came to the cave of a sorcerer.  They explained to the sorcerer and each other that they wished for children to be born to them and their queens.  The sorcerer told them what he had seen written in the stars:

“You,” he said to one king “are destined to have a son, and you,” he addressed the other “will soon have a daughter.  Your two children will be destined to marry.  If you permit this, you, your children, and their children will share a great blessing.  If not, their marriage will happen anyway, but only after many have suffered.”  Having heard this, the two kings vowed to each other that their children would marry.

Before a year had passed, the kings’ children were born.  One was a boy and the other a girl, but both kings were so busy ruling their kingdoms that they forgot their vows to each other.  But this did not prevent them from meeting the sorcerer, for when they were old enough, they were both sent off to study in a foreign land with this man as their mentor.

The prince and princess met while studying together.  They became friends, and over time they fell in love.  The sorcerer said nothing of their destiny, for he wanted them to be kept together only by their love.

After they finished studying and returned to their kingdoms, all could see they were unhappy, but nobody knew why.  When the prince told his father why he was so sad, he included who this princess was and which kingdom she had gone home to.  Hearing this, the king remembered his vow to the other king and wrote him a letter.  The letter, which said that their child shall now be wed, was delivered by the prince in person, but when the princess’ father received it, he was afraid.  Having also forgotten about his promise, he had since betrothed his daughter to the prince of a very rich and powerful kingdom.  Terrified of what this prince’s father might do to him if he canceled the betrothal, this king decided to keep the prince with him until his daughter had married the other prince.  While the prince was staying with the princess’ father, he was not allowed to see her.

The prince and the princess lived apart but under the same roof until one day, the princess’ servant told her of a prince being hidden away in the castle.  She described him, and the princess knew it was her true love.   She asked her servant which bed chamber he was staying in, and as soon as she knew, she started passing by this room frequently.  After the prince caught a glimpse of her in the mirror, he arranged to meet her in secret.  When the prince learned she had been betrothed to another, the two of them ran away in secret.  They climbed out of the window and ran to the prince’s ship.  Then they set sail, and by the time the king discovered they were missing, they were already far away.

They sailed until they were in need of fresh food and water.  When they spied an island, they sailed there, anchored the ship, and walked into the forest together.  The princess climbed a fruit tree and tossed fruit down to the prince, who filled a sack with it.  While she was picking the fruit, however, the princess was spied by the cruel and selfish son of a merchant.  He saw her through a telescope while on his ship, and he was so astonished by her beauty that he decided to capture her.  He set off with several soldiers, all of them armed with weapons.  When the princess saw them coming, she told the prince to hide, not revealing himself no matter what happened.  She tossed her ring to him, vowing that if they were separated, they would one day be reunited.

The merchant’s son approached the princess and spoke sweetly for her to come down from the tree, but she refused.  Then he ordered his men to cut the tree down.  Before he could do it, however, the princess agreed to come down and go with the son of the merchant.  She, however, had plans of her own.

Before boarding the ship with the merchant’s son, the princess made him vow not to touch her until they were married.  He agreed, but when he asked her who she was, she wouldn’t reveal that information until they were married either.

When they arrived in the homeland of the merchant’s son, the princess told him to inform his family that he had his future bride with him.  She also asked him to give wine to all his sailors to celebrate.

The merchant’s son did as he was asked, but before long, all the sailors were drunk.  They decided to leave the ship and explore this new town.  As soon as all the sailors were gone, the princess, he had not had a drop of wine, sailed away by herself.  When the merchant and his family found the ship and sailors missing, the merchant angrily drove his son out of the house.

While searching at sea for her lost love, the princess was once again captured, this time by a king who had built his castle on the shore.  The king asked the princess to marry him, and she agreed on three conditions: the king would not touch her until they were married, the ship would not be unloaded until then, and she would be given the eleven cleverest women in the court as her ladies in waiting.  All conditions were met at the king’s castle, including the ladies in waiting.  One day, the princess told these ladies of her secret plan, and they all snuck off onto the ship.  As soon as the princess was sure the coast was clear, the twelve of them sailed away.

They sailed until they came to an island, which they soon saw belonged to a band of blood-thirsty pirates.  The pirates tried to kill the ladies, but when the princess agreed to share the wealth she had stolen from the merchant, they put down their weapons.  They celebrated their agreement by drinking wine, and soon all the pirates were drunk.  As soon as the wine had put them all asleep, the princess and her ladies killed the pirates.  Then they collected all of the pirates’ treasures from the island, loaded them onto the ship, and made themselves uniforms so they would look like sailors while at sea.

Once the lady pirates were at sea again, they sailed a long time until they reached a distant port.  They docked the ship and went into the city, where they witnessed a great commotion.  All the people were running in one direction, and, as the ladies soon found out, the king had died without any heirs.  The queen was about to drop his old crown and have whoever caught it become the new king.  Suddenly, a hard object fell right on the pirate princess’ head.  It was the crown!   Thinking she was a man, everyone bowed down to her and chanted “Long live the king!”

It was first arranged that this “young man” was to marry the queen, but on closer inspection, “he” was clearly very young, and they decided this person should marry the daughter of the chief vizier instead.  The queen agreed to this, for she no longer wanted to rule.  Once along with this young woman, the pirate princess confessed she was a woman and told her everything.  Together, they came up with a plan.

The next day, the princess called all the sculptors into the palace and ordered them to make sculptures of their new king.  These were to be put up at all the crossroads, and soldiers were to arrest anyone who show emotion while seeing the sculptures.

Through this endeavor, the three people the princess was looking for were arrested.  These included her beloved, the merchant’s son, and the king who had captured her.  They all recognized her in the sculpture and thus showed emotion.

On the day of the wedding, all three of this people were brought before the princess.  She asked what had happened since she had seen them last, and each one told his story.  While the king and the merchant’s son had come here by pure coincidence while seeking their daily bread, the princess’ true love had come looking for her after finding her clothes and the bodies of the pirates on the island.                           Being kind-hearted and forgiving, the princess let her ladies in waiting go home to the kingdom where they lived.  She also gave the merchant’s son back his ship, which was full of many more valuables than before.   Then she finally approached her true love, and they agreed to be married that very day.  After hearing their stories, the people of the kingdom were so impressed they wanted this couple to stay as their new king and queen.  They did, and everybody lived happily ever after.

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Elijah’s Violin

There once was a king with three daughters.  He loved them all very much, and they had many lovely times together until he had to go to war.  Before he left, he asked each princess what she would like him to bring her back.  The eldest said a diamond shaped like a star and the middle sister a gown made out of gold.  The youngest, however, asked for nothing.  All she wanted was for her father to return safely.  Her father did not want her to be without a gift, so he gave her three days to think of what she wanted.

While the princess sat on a rock outside the palace, an old woman appeared.  When told of the princess’ problem, she said, “You must ask him for Elijah’s violin.”

Three days passed, and the king, who now had to hurry off to the war, asked his daughter what she wanted.  The princess asked for Elijah’s violin, and the king, planning to meet this request, left.

The king was victorious, and when the war was over, he began searching for his daughters’ gifts.  The golden gown and star-shaped diamond he found, but he could not find Elijah’s violin, and no one else could tell him where to find it.  So he looked everywhere he could, finally coming to a cave where an old man lived.  This man (who was really Elijah) told the king it was in possession of this country’s king.  When the king asked how he could get it, the old man told him that the king’s daughter was imprisoned in stone, and whoever managed to release her would be given anything he wanted.

“But how can I do that?” he asked.

“Take these three strings from Elijah’s violin, and burn them when in the presence of the princess,” said the old man.  The king did as he was told and ventured to the palace.  He announced his wish to save the princess and was brought to her right away.  Her body had indeed been turned to stone.  She couldn’t move, but she could talk, and she told him how she had been turned to stone by her reflection which had escaped from the mirror. Remembering what the old man said, he took the violin strings and threw them into the fire.  As soon as he did so, the princess changed back to flesh and blood.  The king advised her to blindfold herself and break the mirror her reflection escaped from.  She did this, and all were certain that such a thing would never happen again.

The king and queen rejoiced to see their daughter free, and asked the visiting king what he wanted as a reward.  He requested Elijah’s violin, which he soon had in his possession.  As soon as he got home, he gave it to his youngest daughter.

The princess was overjoyed to have this violin, and when she started playing it, lovely melodies flowed out.  As she played, though, she suddenly noticed a handsome young man standing beside her.  Startled, she asked him where he came from, and he explained that he was a kidnapped prince whom she had freed from his dungeon with the tunes of her magical violin.  The two of them talked for a long time, and soon they became friends.  Every time she wanted to see him, the princess played the violin and he appeared.  He visited her many, many times, and after awhile, they fell in love.  The prince gave her a ring and promised they be married someday.

One day her eldest sister heard her talking to a young man in her bedroom and became very jealous.  When the young princess wasn’t looking, this wicked girl snuck into her bedroom and searched through it.   She found the ring the prince gave her, and spitefully threw it out the window, breaking the window in the process.  She then took the violin and began to play, but it played a sad tune, since the ring had been lost and danger awaited the prince.  The prince arrived, but as he entered through the window, he wounded himself on the broken glass and was forced to turn back.

When the princess returned to her room, she knew something was wrong.  Wanting to see her true love, she began playing the violin, but he did not appear.  When she saw the broken window and the blood on the curtains, she guessed what her elder sister did.  She knew she must try to save her prince, so she began to think of what to do.  Suddenly, she had it!  She pretended to be ill, and admitted no one to her bedroom.  While in her room, she escaped through the window and set off on her quest, bringing the violin with her.

Along the way, she met the same old woman who advised her to ask for Elijah’s violin.  She told her what happened and asked if there was any way she could save the prince.  The old woman told her to pluck three strings from the violin and burn them while in his presence.

The princess journeyed until she was tired, then stopped to sleep.  In her dreams she all of a sudden understood the language of birds, and they told her a map could be found on the leaves of their tree.  When the princess woke up, she plucked a leaf from the tree and continued on her way, consulting the map until she found the palace.  When she got there, she presented herself to the king and asked to be alone with the prince.  As soon as she was with him, she plucked three strands from the violin and threw them into the fire.  While they burned, the prince’s wounds healed, and he opened his eyes.   He and the princess were soon married.  They lived happily ever after, playing Elijah’s violin and sometimes using it to heal people.

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Katanya

Once upon a time there was a poor old woman who longed for a child.  Every day she prayed for God to give her a little girl or boy.

God saw how lonely she was, and He sent Elijah the Prophet to visit her.  Elijah put on his usual disguise as a merchant and traveled to the woman’s humble neighborhood.

When the woman went to market and begged the merchants for food, (she could no longer afford food of her own), all the ill-humored merchants shooed her away.  Dejected, she was about to leave the market when she noticed another merchant whom she had never seen.  As she walked over to him, she saw all he had were six brown dates drying in the sun.  “Could you spare just one?” she asked.

“Surely,” said the old man, “Take whichever you like.”

Five of the dates were little, but one was very large for a date, and that was the one she took.  “Thank you, kind sir,” she said, and she went on her way.

When the woman got home, she placed the date on the windowsill where  sunlight shone.   Looking at it, the woman quickly decided the date was too beautiful to eat, and she went out to see if she could find food elsewhere.

The sun continued to shine on the date until it was quite warm.  Soon it began to stir, and all at once it broke open and out popped a girl no bigger than the tiniest finger.  She wore a dress of many colors.  As she looked around, she saw that the house was quite bare and in need of cleaning, for the old woman’s broom had only a few straws left.

The first thing the girl did was lower herself out of the window with some string she had found.  Once outside, she picked some of the short grasses and tied the bundle together with a piece of straw.  “Oh, what a perfect broom!” she cried.

Back up the string and onto the windowsill she climbed, and then she started cleaning the house.  She swept from corner to corner, until the floor sparkled like new.

Meanwhile, the old woman was walking on the road, searching for food, when she ran into the very man who gave her the date!  He smiled and gave her a large olive.  She thanked him and he continued on his way.  The old woman went to eat the olive, but almost bit into a shiny gold coin!  She hurried after the old man to give the coin back, but he was nowhere to be seen.  The coin was hers to keep.  “What a lucky day!” she thought.

But she was even more surprised when she got home, for there was her house, all neat and shiny!  She couldn’t believe her eyes.  “Who did this?” she asked out loud.

“I did, Mother,” said a tiny voice.

The old woman looked around.  There on the windowsill, where the old woman had left the date, was the tiniest girl in the world.  The old woman blinked to see if she was dreaming.  “Did you call me Mother?”

“Yes, Mother,” said the girl.  And that is when the old woman understood that the kind old man must have been Elijah.  She hugged the tiny girl very carefully and asked her name.

“No one has given me a name,” she replied.

“Then I will call you Katanya, the little one,” her mother said.

Katanya and her mother lived happily together in their little hut, and they loved each other very much.  Katanya’s mother made a little bed for her inside a teacup, a fur hat from a bunny’s tail, shoes out of tiny nutshells, and dresses from rose petals.  But of all her clothes, Katanya loved the dress of many colors best.

Katanya helped her mother by sweeping out the house with her tiny broom.  She also cleaned between the boards of the floor, an easy task for someone so small.  While she did her chores, Katanya sang.  She had a voice as big and beautiful as a fully-grown girl’s.  Katanya’s voice filled the city with gladness, bringing joy to everyone who heard.

One day the prince was riding down the street when he heard a lovely song drifting from an open window.  He wished to meet the girl with this beautiful voice, and eventually, he did.  The king sent a servant to the house of the old woman and invited her to come with her daughter to the palace.

The next day, and many days after that, Katanya and her mother visited the palace.  Katanya became very close friends with the prince.  Finally, after many happy days together, they fell in love and were married.  Katanya became Princess Katanya, and at her wedding she wore her dress of many colors.  Her mother came to live at the palace, too, and they all lived happily ever after.

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Thumbelina

Once there was a woman who longed for a child, and finally, her wish was granted.  A fairy gave her a seed, which she planted in a flower pot, and grew into a wonderful flower.  It looked like a tulip, only much prettier.  One day the woman was so overcome by the flower’s beauty she kissed it, and the bud opened.  There, sitting inside the flower, was a beautiful girl no bigger than her thumb.  The woman loved her new daughter very much and called her Thumbelina.

Thumbelina and her mother spent many happy days singing and playing together until one day, a toad heard Thumbelina singing, and she was determined to capture her as a wife for her son.  That night, she snuck in through Thumbelina’s window and snatched her in her little walnut shell bed.  Then she brought her to the foul-smelling swamp where she lived.

Knowing Thumbelina wouldn’t want to marry her son, the toad placed her on a water lily leaf, making her unable to escape.  While the toad prepared for the wedding, Thumbelina awoke and saw where she was.  Seeing she could not escape, poor Thumbelina began to cry.  She cried even more when the toad and her son approached, saying she had to marry this hideous creature.

After the toads left, fish gnawed at the water lily’s root, breaking the leaf free.  Thumbelina took a stem as an oar and rowed away from the toads!   She had many great adventures rowing down the stream, meeting fish and many other creatures.  These adventures lasted the whole summer, but when autumn came, a fish gave her a warning:

“Winter is coming,” he said.  “The stream will become very cold, and if you fall, you would soon freeze to death.  You’d better row your leaf to land and find shelter before autumn ends!”  Thumbelina was frightened, for she had fallen into the water many times, but the water was warm and pleasant then.  Heeding the fish’s warning, she rowed her leaf to the bank and climbed up onto dry land.

Once on the land, Thumbelina wove herself a bed from blades of grass and found a leaf for a blanket.  This is where she slept, and she ate honey from the flowers and drank dew from leaves.  When winter came, all the birds flew to warmer places Thumbelina had never seen, but longed to travel to.  All the trees and flowers wilted, and even her leaf blanket shriveled up to nothing.

Poor, freezing Thumbelina searched a cornfield for shelter.  Suddenly, she found a small door just her size.  She knocked, and a little field mouse answered.

“You poor creature!” said the mouse.  “Please, come out of the cold and have some lunch with me!”  Thumbelina came inside and saw the field mouse had a very nice home.

“If you help me keep house and tell me stories,” the mouse said, “then you can stay here all winter long.”  Thumbelina was most grateful for this, and she gladly did as she was asked.

Thumbelina lived happily with the mouse until one day, a mole came to visit.

“You will like this mole very much,” promised the mouse.  “He is very rich and learned.”  Rich and learned he was, but Thumbelina did not like this mole at all.  He lived in darkness all year round and hated birds, sunshine, flowers, and all the other things she loved and missed.  The mole, however, liked Thumbelina very much, and secretly wanted to marry her.

One day as the mole gave Thumbelina and the mouse a tour of his home, the three of them found a bird lying lifeless in the passage.

Thumbelina knew the mouse and mole disliked birds, but seeing this swallow lying in the passage made her very sad.  The bird looked like he might just be sick, not dead, but Thumbelina dared not help him while the mole and mouse were watching.  She promised to help him at night when they slept, even though he could not hear her.

That night, Thumbelina crept over to the bird and covered him with a hay blanket.  She rested her head on his soft feathers and heard his heartbeat.  He was alive, just greatly weakened by the cold.

The next morning, Thumbelina returned to the bird, who was beginning to stir.  He wanted to leave this dark place and fly in the sunshine, but, as it was still winter, Thumbelina promised to take care of him if he stayed.

Thumbelina kept her promise, and when spring arrived, the bird bid her farewell and flew back to his nest, after giving Thumbelina a special whistle she could call him with.

The following autumn, Thumbelina needed the bird’s help.  The mole had asked her to marry him, and the mouse insisted she say yes.  Not wanting to marry this creature, Thumbelina took the whistle and called for her friend.  Down he flew, and, since he was about to fly to a warmer place for winter, Thumbelina climbed on his back and went with him.

When they got there, the swallow showed Thumbelina to a palace where he and other swallows lived.  It was surrounded by flowers, and the swallow told her to choose a flower for her home.  She was just about to do so when suddenly, the flowers opened!  One by one, out flew delicate little people with wings!  They were just Thumbelina’s size, and many of them looked a lot like her.

“These are the flower fairies,” explained the swallow.  “They will welcome you and help you find a flower to call your own.”  The flower fairies did exactly this, and they fashioned Thumbelina her own pair of wings so she could fly around with them.  Very glad to be in this beautiful place full of little people like herself, Thumbelina lived happily ever after.

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