Friday, October 22, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Also known as “The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods,” this is another classic story that has been forever immortalized by Walt Disney. Prior to Disney’s immortalization, however, it was immortalized as a ballet by Tchaikowsky. It was this ballet and not the original story that Walt and his team used to bring the story to the screen. George Bruns even adapted the familiar themes of Tchaikowsky’s score as the songs used in the movie.

This story is one of the best examples on record in favor of censoring classing fairy tales. The eraliest known version of the story, which was popular in 1636, is one of the most grizzly and horrific fables ever told. The prince stumbles upon Sleeping Beauty but, rather than just kiss her, he rapes her unconscious body then goes back to his wife. Sleeping Beauty awakens (somehow) and bears the twins the prince left her with. The prince’s wife (somehow) gets wind of these kids and has them killed and made into supper for her husband (even though the cook lets the kids go, the prince is still made to believe that he is eating his own children).

(Incidentally, the book Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati was a great help in researching these historic facts about the stories on this blog so if you’re interested in learning more about the history of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, zippers, Pepsi, Uncle Sam and the practice of hanging  a horseshoe over your door for good luck, seek out this tome.)

The version of the story that appears here is the same basic plot as Tchaikowsky and Disney used, with one or two touches of my own, usually employed when I couldn’t remember the story very well. To which I’m sure my reader(s) will say “But, Templeton, my boy, why didn’t you simply reread the story if you couldn’t remember it?” And my answer to that is, “Yes, that would’ve been a good idea.”

…anyhoo, here’s the story:

nce upon a time there was a great kingdom, the Kingdom of Borealis, which bordered the Fairying Forest. The Forest was the home of the Fairies, who lived together in harmony, in a society not too dissimilar from our own. There were houses and schools and families just like in our world. And, as in all societies, there was government. In this case, a council of Seven Wise Fairies. The Red Fairy, the Gold Fairy, the Blue Fairy, the Silver Fairy, the White Fairy, the Green Fairy and the Black Fairy. Each possessed a different type of power and together they kept peace and prosperity in the forest.

Now, some years prior to the events of this story, a decision was reached regarding the human population of Borealis. It was decided that since we humans have no magic, it was the responsibility of the Forest Fairies to watch over them. A vote was called for and the motion to make Borealis an official Protectorate of the Fairy Government passed six votes to one.

And so, for many centuries, both kingdoms got along very well and lived in peace and harmony. The King and Queen of Borealis always valued the Fairies’ counsel above all others. So, when the Queen gave birth to her first child, it was only natural that the Council of Fairies be invited to the Christening.

Unfortunately, there was a problem. As a matter of tradition, Fairy guests always ate from gold plates. But one of the gold plates had been damaged some years ago. There were now no longer enough for all seven Fairies. This didn’t bother the King and Queen, because it gave them an excuse to not invite one of the Fairies who no one really liked anyway.

This proved to be a terrible mistake.

On the day of the christening, the child was introduced to the world and given the name of “Aurora,” which means “the dawn.” On this day, she was also betrothed. That is, promised to be married to Prince Philip from a nearby kingdom. Philip, being five years Aurora’s senior, had little interest in her, but did as his father told him.

The party was a terrific success. When the six fairies arrived they each took turns bestowing a gift on the newborn child. Beauty…grace…song…purity of heart…intelligence…and the Blue Fairy was just about to give her gift when a thunderclap was heard. A wind that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere roared through the chamber, blowing out every candle. Billowing black smoke appeared as if from nowhere and when it cleared, there stood the Black Fairy…mad as a whole forest full of hornets’ nests.

“Well!” she said, her voice as cold as ice. “I see we are all having a wonderful time tonight. The food smells delicious. And everyone is so nicely dressed. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was some sort of party. But, look! Here are the King and Queen! That means it could not be a party. For, you see, any party that the King and Queen would attend would surely be a state function…and in that case…I would’ve been invited!!”

“Please, your grace,” began the King, “let me explain. We wanted to invite you, of course we did. But we only had enough gold plates for six. And since you have declined each and every invitation we have extended, we assumed…”

Silence!” bellowed the Black Fairy. And as she did, a terrible tempest wind blew. “I care little for your puny excuses. And it is not important that I would have declined anyway. You insulted me and for that you must pay!”

“Your grace,” said the Blue Fairy, taking control. “Please be reasonable. The King and Queen meant you no offense. And I am certain that any request you might make of them will happily be granted to make up for this unfortunate incident.”

“Unfortunate incident? Sister Fairy, do I not sit on the same council as yourself? Have I not the same powers as you and our five colleagues? Then why am I so easily cast aside? Why am I so expendable?”

“No one is saying that you are expendable.” Though practically everyone in the room was thinking it.

“Enough! The time for talking is done. I will take my leave of this place and never return.” This made everyone very happy, until the Black Fairy added, “But first…I have something to give the baby!”

Instinctively, the Queen lunged for her child, but it did no good. The Black Fairy waved her arms and spoke a prophecy. “Princess Aurora,” she declared, “will indeed grow up with the gifts that have, this day, been bestowed upon her. And up until her eighteenth birthday, she will be very happy. But before sunset on that day, she will prick her finger on a needle and die!” With these ominous words, the Black Fairy disappeared, cackling as she did so.

The Queen was struck with despair. She held her baby closer to herself as though her love could save her from this fate…and perhaps it could, because just then the Blue Fairy said, “If you please, Your Majesty, I believe I can help.”

“You can? Can you lift this terrible curse?”

“No, I cannot. The Black Fairy’s Dark Magic is too strong. But I can save Aurora’s life.” She took the baby from her mother’s arms and held the tiny princess tenderly. “Little One,” said the Blue Fairy, “on your eighteenth birthday, you will prick your finger on a needle. But it will not be fatal. It will simply put you into a deep, dreamless sleep. During this time you will not age, nor wither, nor die. You will simply wait for Love’s First Kiss. For when your true love’s lips touch yours for the first time, the spell will be broken, you will awaken, and all will be happy forever after.”

The words of the Blue Fairy were of great comfort to the King and Queen. Nonetheless, they decided that it was better not to take chances. A proclamation was made banning the use of all needles or needle-like implements. All the sewing needles, knitting needles, spinning wheels and other tools were taken into the center of the town and burned in a bonfire. But the King and Queen felt that this was not enough. As they were struggling to think of a solution, the Blue Fairy appeared to them with an idea.

That was the last night that Aurora would spend at the castle for many years. Under cover of darkness, the Blue Fairy stole away with the baby in tow. She would care for the child in the Fairying Forest for eighteen years, until it was safe to bring her back to her family. It was a great risk she was taking, as it was forbidden for humans to live in the Forest. They could visit from time to time, and the hunting was well known as the best in the country, but as soon as night fell, all humans had to leave.

But, the Blue Fairy had no choice.

And so it was that, for the next eighteen years, the Blue Fairy raised the child secretly in the Forest. She called the young princess by the name “Rosebud,” just in case the Black Fairy was still trying to find her. For if the evil Fairy found that the Blue Fairy was caring for a human child, princess or no, her rage would be uncontrollable. You see, the Black Fairy had been the only council member who had been opposed to the idea of granting the humans the protection of magic. She felt their lack of magic made them weak, inferior, and therefore undeserving of such protection.

But for eighteen happy years, no one saw or heard from the Black Fairy. Peace reigned throughout the land. Sad though they were to say goodbye, the King and Queen were comforted to know that their daughter was safe and in good hands. And all parties eagerly awaited the girl’s eighteenth birthday, the day when she would return to the castle, reclaim her birthright and live out the rest of her life in happiness and prosperity.

As for Prince Philip, he was fully aware that as soon as the exiled princess was of age, he would have to marry her. But he simply tried to ignore the fact. The way you block out something you are anticipating and dreading, like chores or visiting your unmarried aunt. Not that Prince Philip dreaded the idea of marriage…well, actually, yes, he did. Philip enjoyed his life. Living by his own rules and doing as he pleased. Hunting in the nearby forests, riding through the kingdom, helping his subjects. He knew that a marriage, however nice the girl might be, would throw a monkey wrench into his lifestyle and he did not want it…especially since monkey wrenches hadn’t been invented yet.

Unfortunately, he could ignore his fate no longer. For finally the day came when the princess was to return, and soon he would marry. And not just marry, but marry someone he had met only once, when she was only a few days old, whom he had not seen since. Whom no one had seen since! His father tried to reassure him that this union would be the best thing for both kingdoms. He also reminded his young son that five fairies had bestowed various gifts upon the baby so that she would be a pleasant companion.

“I do not doubt it, father,” bemoaned the Prince. “But I do not like the idea of marrying someone I don’t know against my will. Can’t you understand that?”


Prince Philip had no choice. That morning he woke, dressed and got in a carriage. He rode to the Kingdom of Borealis with a heavy heart. The King and Queen greeted him, but evaded the question when he asked where his fiancĂ©e was. They had managed to keep the curse a secret for some time, and they felt it best not to burden the young prince with the informatio now. For his part, Prince Philip assumed it was a tradition, not seeing the bride before the wedding. He was shown to his quarters and told that he would be married at sundown. This gave him the rest of the day to himself…and he noticed a lush, green forest near the castle when he rode into town…

An hour later, when the steward came to ask if he wanted anything, he found only a note on the pillow which said, “Gone Huntin’.”

The Fairying Forest was a beautiful place. Imagine everything nice about nature rolled together and sprinkled with magic fairy dust. The trees seemed to dance in the wind. The dewdrops sparkled like diamonds. The beams of light which shone through the high branches were as deep and radiant as moonlight.

These were the observations made by Prince Philip as he surveyed the territory. He knew at once that he would do well here. And sure enough he hadn’t been in the forest more than twenty minutes before he saw a beautiful deer. She was standing by a pond, having a drink. Philip ducked down behind a shrubbery and pulled an arrow from his quiver. The deer had no idea he was there. He lay the arrow carefully in the bow…he pulled the string taut…and then…


The Prince jerked and his arrow flew into the forest, narrowly missing a sleepy owl. The deer heard the noise and ran into the trees. Philip was furious. “Now look what you’ve done!” he said as he turned to face whoever had shouted.

Actually all he got out was “Now look wh—” before he saw who had shouted. The most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Dressed like a peasant in a long skirt and laced bodice. A sweeping, curvy figure and a simply enchanting face. Long locks of golden-brown hair fell past her shoulders. Her lips were full and red. And her eyes…my goodness! Her eyes!

“How could you even think of shooting a poor defenseless deer?” she said. Somehow she was even beautiful when she was angry.

“I…I…” was all the Prince could say, he was so taken by her beauty.

“What if she had been a mother? What would you have done for her poor children?”

“I’m sorry,” Philip said at last. “I didn’t mean any harm. I’m a sportsman, you see.”

“A sportsman? Hunting is not a sport, you fool! It is a necessity. You hunt because you have no other means of food or you don’t do it at all. What’s sporting about shooting an animal for fun?”

“It takes skill, patience and strength to be a good hunter. That’s what I call a sport.” The girl simply turned and walked away but Philip caught up with her. “Wait, wait,” he said. “I think we got off on the wrong foot. My name is Philip. What’s yours?”

“Rosebud,” said Rosebud, noticing for the first time what lovely, dark eyes Philip had. “And maybe I was a little harsh. You aren’t from around here, are you?”

“Why no. I’m in town for…for a wedding.” He neglected to mention whose wedding.

“That’s nice…are you hungry? I live not far from here.”

Rosebud led Philip to the cottage the Blue Fairy had made for her. They had lunch together and talked of this and that. And as they talked and learned more about each other, both Rosebud and Philip were falling more and more deeply for each other. It was nearly sundown before Philip finally left, and it was not his decision to do so. The Blue Fairy arrived and chased him away…with a carving knife.

“What are you thinking?” she yelled at Rosebud. “Letting a man in here? Didn’t I tell you how dangerous that was?”

“I like him,” said Rosebud. “He’s very kind and handsome and—”

“I don’t care! I told you no strangers. That is final. Besides, it doesn’t matter if you like him. You are promised to another.”


“Rosebud…I have been keeping this from you for too long. Sit down.” Rosebud sat and the Blue Fairy told her all about her past. How she was born a princess and how the Black Fairy had cursed her on the day of her Christening. How the Blue Fairy had gone to such lengths to protect her. How she had cared for her these last eighteen years and how today, on her birthday, she was to return to the castle and marry the Prince.

Rosebud…excuse me, Aurora, was devastated. As you would probably be too, if you were suddenly asked to change your entire life in a matter of hours, especially on your birthday. She didn’t want to marry some stranger. She didn’t want to live with a King and Queen she didn’t know. She liked her cottage, she didn’t want to leave the Forest. So she did what, again, you would probably do in her shoes:

She ran.

She ran deep into the Fairying Forest. The Blue Fairy tried to catch her, but Aurora was too fast. She ran, her streaming tears blinding her, until she could run no more. Then she simply collapsed to the ground and began to sob. There she stayed for several minutes until she heard an odd voice saying, “Are you all right, child?”

Aurora looked up and saw a withered old crone. An old woman with a wrinkled face and a long Black robe.

“No,” said Aurora. “I’m not all right. Everything I am is a lie. I’m being forced to marry against my will. I—”

“There, there, child,” said the Old Crone. “I will protect you. Come into my house and I will fix you a nice warm pot of tea.” Aurora let the Old Crone lead her into the house. It was a very small hovel. Just a bed, a table, a chair, a small stove and…in the far corner, something Aurora had never seen before.

“What is that?” she asked.

“Just Granny’s old spinning wheel. Have you never seen one, dearie?” Aurora shook her head. “Well, let me show you how it works.” The Old Crone led Aurora to the spinning wheel and sat her down. “Now you just run the thread through here and wrap it around the spindle. Like this…now you try.”

Aurora didn’t know why, but she could not refuse. It was as if the Old Crone was hypnotizing her. She pumped with her foot and guided the thread with her hand, and as she reached up to touch the spindle…

“Ow!” she pricked her finger. She saw a few drops of blood fall. She began to feel sick, woozy. She stumbled back and the Old Crone made no effort to help her. Soon Aurora was unable to fight anymore and gave in to the blackness. She fell back onto the bed, fast asleep.

The Black Fairy threw off her disguise and laughed. Her plan had worked. She stalked out of the cottage, satisfied that she had won. Then she turned to the cottage and cast a magic spell. A thicket of briars sprang up around the cottage, thick and twisted and deadly.

“What have you done?” cried the Blue Fairy, who had finally caught up with Aurora.

“I have won,” said the Black Fairy. “Your Princess sleeps within this cottage and will never wake…unless of course her true love finds her and breaks through this thicket. But, wait. You sent her true love away less than an hour ago!”

“So, you have been spying on me.”

“Of course. It was the only way to ensure that my plan would work. And now, those arrogant humans will get just what they deserve.” The Black Fairy threw back her head and laughed. As she did so, she melted away into mist and vanished. The Blue Fairy was horrified. She had no idea what to do. The first thing she had to do, unfortunately, was to tell the King and Queen what had happened. But, she noticed, she had left her wand in Aurora’s cottage, so back she went…

And when she got there, she was surprised to discover the young man she had thrown out had returned.

“What are you doing back here?” cried the Blue Fairy.

“I’m sorry if my presence offends you, ma’am,” said Philip, politely. “But I cannot stay away. I know it sounds strange but…I love Rosebud. I will do anything to be with her.”


“Yes, anything. Even betray my father.”

“What do you mean?”

“I am supposed to be at the palace right now, marrying the princess. But I won’t. I don’t love Princess Aurora. I love Rosebud, the girl I met in the forest today. And I’d rather live in this hovel with her for a hundred years that spend one moment in the palace with someone I don’t—”

“Wait…you are Prince Philip? Aurora’s betrothed?”

“I am. Or, rather, I was.”

The Blue Fairy could hardly contain her joy. Without another word, she led Philip deep into the forest to the Thicket of Briar.

“Why have you brought me here?” asked Philip.

“Because your true love is inside. You must rescue her.”

Philip needed no more convincing. He drew his broadsword and began hacking and chopping at the thicket. Slowly, gradually, he cut a path through to the door which, of course, had been locked. He broke it down and was inside. There he saw her.

“Rosebud!” he cried.

“No,” said the Blue Fairy. “Her name is Aurora. This is your true love and your betrothed! She will awake when you kiss her.”

And so, after taking a moment to absorb this new information and reflect on how life’s funny if you think about it, Philip stepped slowly toward Princess Aurora. He knelt beside her and looked at her sleeping form. So delicate. So beautiful. He held her limp, lifeless hand in his. Then he leaned in and placed upon her lips one perfect, gentle kiss. In an instant, Aurora blinked her eyes and awoke. She looked into the eyes of her beloved and smiled.

Then she pulled him close and gave him a real kiss!

And so, once again, we have a happy ending. Aurora married Philip (a little later than planned, but not bad) and they lived together for many years. The Blue Fairy was made head of the Fairy Ruling Council, who, using all their combined power, managed to strip the Black Fairy of hers and she was forced to wander the Forest for the rest of her life as one of the weak, inferior humans she despised.

And, except for Aurora always having a little trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, everything was truly happily ever after.


If You Liked My Story, You Might Enjoy:
  • “Faerie Tale Theatre” (TV) Christopher Reeve is the Prince, Bernadette Peters is the Princess
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959) Walt Disney’s lavishly produced, groundbreaking animated feature was the first to be made in Cinemascope and is widely considered one of the most visually stunning of all his films. Features the song “Once Upon a Dream”
  • “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show—Fractured Fairy Tales” The segment called “Sleeping Beautyland” depicted the prince as an entrepreneur who turns the snoozing princess into a theme park. The character was modeled to look like Walt Disney.

Next Week, for Halloween: “The Boy Who Left Home To Learn About The Shivers”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood

This is perhaps one of the most enduring fairy tales of all times. And, like Cinderella, its elements have passed into the basic lexicon of our society. The lesson it teaches is universal: take extra care with strangers.

In most early versions, both Grandmother and Red herself were eaten, but as time wore on, and sympathy for Little Red grew, she was rescued by her father, a huntsman, or, according to playwright James Lapine, a baker. It wasn’t until the Brothers Grimm got their hands on it a hundred and twenty years after the story became popular that Grandma was rescued!

Some versions are more gory than others. I, for example, have omitted the bit where the wolf catches Grandma’s blood in bottles and tricks Red into drinking them! Think about little things like that before you scold people like me and Walt for “cleaning up” fairy tales, okay?

olves are wonderful animals. Beautiful creatures with much to offer. They only eat the weakest sickest member of any given herd so that the herd itself stays strong. They are one of a very few wild animals that mate for life. And, though somewhat chilling, their howl is one of nature’s most beautiful and haunting sounds. Unfortunately, there is an old saying that goes, “one bad apple will spoil the bushel.” And the same is true of wolves. One or two bad ones have become famous and these remarkable animals have been maligned ever since. This is the story of one such bad apple, a rogue wolf by the name of Treebark. A real villain with a heart of coal.

Once upon a time and long ago, there was a little girl called Red. Now, Red was not her real name, mind you. But that’s what everyone called her because she loved the color red. Red loved red passionately. Her toothbrush was red, her favorite foods were strawberries and apples (red delicious, of course), her favorite comedian was Red Skelton, her favorite singer was Helen Reddy…

Sorry, I got carried away there.

Also, her favorite thing in the whole wide world was a special cape and hood which was of a style that was popular at the time called a “riding hood.” It was bright red and her Grandmother had made it for her, which is why she was always called Little Red Riding Hood…or Red Riding Hood for short…or Red for shorter…or, on occasion, “R” for shortest.

Anyway, Red’s Grandmother lived in a house inconveniently located on the opposite side of Wolf Woods, wherein lived close to a hundred wolves. But Red wasn’t afraid when she went to visit her grandmother. A clean, well-lit path cut through the forest to allow travel, and the wolves seldom ventured out far enough to interact with their human visitors…usually.

One day, Red’s Grandmother became very ill. In fact, between you and me, there were concerns about whether or not she’d make it through the night. So, Red’s Mother asked her to take a Basket of Goodies through Wolf Woods to Grandmother’s House. Red, whose best friend in the world was her Grandmother, was more than happy to oblige, and left as soon as she got back from school. Now, Red had made this trip before on numerous occasions. And she had always promised her mother that she would stay on the path and not wander into the woods. For, friendly though the people were with the wolves, there were other dangers to consider. So Red had no reason to believe that today’s trip would be any different.

What she didn’t know is what was going on deep in the forest at that very moment. The wolves were holding an impromptu tribunal for one of their own.

“Step forward, Treebark of Narria,” said Greybeard, the Chief Wolf. Treebark stepped forward as every eye of every wolf in his pack glared at him in disgust and shame. Treebark felt no remorse. “Treebark of Narria,” Greybeard continued, addressing him by his family name as a matter of protocol, “you stand accused of crimes against the pack. You have behaved not in the interest of your fellow wolves, but only in your own. You have attacked a defenseless animal without provocation. You have failed even to show remorse for your actions. Do you deny these charges?”

“No,” said Treebark. And in that one syllable he succeeded in displaying his utter contempt for all things wolfish.

“Have you anything to say in your defense before this council passes sentence?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I do,” said Treebark. “You’re weak! All of you! We are strong, fierce creatures. With the right motivation we could rule this forest and beyond. We could act with total impunity. But, no. We have to be civilized. Hold trials and call each other by our family names. Well, go ahead and pass your little sentence. The worst you can do is kick me out of the pack, and I wouldn’t stay if you begged me!”

Greybeard did indeed banish Treebark from the pack. He left smiling. The other wolves became worried at what he might do, but only briefly before getting on with their lives. Never dreaming that, while his name would never be spoken among their number again, his actions would live in infamy…

When Treebark left the tribunal, he picked a direction and walked aimlessly. He muttered and mumbled to himself, cussing out the other wolves as he did so. He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he was hungry. And there was a certain kind of animal he’d always been eager to try. As he came upon the path, he saw one such animal walking along happily. Seeing his opportunity, Treebark leapt out at the animal and said, “Hello, little girl.”

“Hello, Mr. Wolf,” said Little Red Riding Hood, politely.

“Where are you off to on this fine day?” Treebark was being exactly as charming as it’s possible to be when you are a sinister, bloodthirsty monster.

“I’m off to visit my Grandmother on the other side of the wood. She isn’t feeling well.”

“I am sorry to hear that. But, look, if you continue on the path it will take you another half an hour, maybe longer, to get there. I can show you a shortcut through the woods.”

“No. Sorry, Mr. Wolf, but I promised my mother I would stay to the path. Goodbye, Mr. Wolf!” Before Treebark could think of anything else to say, Red skipped away down the path. He was angry at himself, but then an idea struck. He had at least half an hour to run through the woods, beating Red Riding Hood to her Grandmother’s House. Once there, he could devour Granny and set a trap for Red herself. A two course meal!

Treebark licked his chops with glee and bounded into the woods, moving as fast as he could. In the process, he knocked a bird’s nest out of the tree it was nestled in. The bird who belonged to it was furious as she now had to build the whole thing from scratch, which meant waiting another day to lay her eggs. She shouted after Treebark but the wolf didn’t listen. It’s doubtful if he even heard. He had only one thought on his mind: Lunch!

When he arrived at Grandmother’s House, Treebark knew he’d need a plan to get inside. He thought of one quickly and knocked on the door. The thin, feeble voice of a usually vibrant old woman, pinned down with illness, came from within. “Who is it?” she asked.

“Good afternoon, can I interest you in a new set of encyclopedias?” said the wolf, doing his Best Encyclopedia Salesman Voice.

“No, thank you,” said Grandmother. Treebark thought for another moment, then knocked on the door again. “Who is it?” said Grandmother.

“Pizza man,” said the wolf, doing his Best Pizza Delivery Boy Voice.

“I didn’t order a pizza,” said Grandmother, wondering if pizza had even been invented yet. Finally the wolf hit upon the winner. He knocked on the door. “Who is it?”

“Certified letter for…er…Grandmother!” said the wolf, doing his Best Postal Employee Voice.

“Oh, just a moment, I’ll let you in.” Treebark stifled a chuckle as he heard Grandmother undo all seven locks on her front door. When she swung open the door she was shocked to find, not a Postal Employee with a Certified Letter, but rather a huge, slobbering wolf with sharp teeth and claws looming over her. Needless to say, but I will anyway, she screamed and ran away. Treebark was nipping at her heels the whole way, until Grandmother dove into the cellar and locked the door behind her.

Treebark banged on the door with all his might but couldn’t get through. Eventually he remembered Little Red Riding Hood. If she saw the front door open and no sign of Grandmother, she’d get suspicious and probably call the police or something. So, thinking even more quickly than before, Treebark ran into Grandmother’s closet, found a nightgown and cap and a pair of her spectacles. With his cunning disguise in place, he shut the front door, leaving it unlocked, climbed into bed and waited for Red to come.

She did at last and knocked on the door. “Come in,” said the wolf, doing his Best Grandmother Voice (wolves are experts at voices, as well you know, and can imitate practically anybody). Red came in, thinking that Grandmother sounded funny because she was sick, but when she saw the figure lying in the bed, she knew at once that it was the wolf she had met on the road. Of course, she had no reason to suspect anything sinister was going on, so she played along and simply said, “Are you feeling any better, Grandmother?”

Treebark, unaware that Red was onto him, said, in his Granny Voice, “A little, dearie.”

“Grandmother!” said Red with fake shock, “What big eyes you have!”

Treebark again thought quickly and said, “All the better to see how you’ve grown, my dear.”

“Grandmother! What big ears you have!”

“All the better to listen to your sweet voice with.”

“Grandmother! What big arms you have!”

“Come here and give Granny a big hug, dearie.”

“And, Grandmother, what a big mouth you have!”

“All the better to eat you with, my dear!” And with that, Treebark forgot all pretense and dove at Red. Now Little Red Riding Hood knew something was wrong and screamed and ran for her life. The wolf, luckily, tripped on his nightgown, so Red had time to run for the cellar door only to find it locked, but as soon as Grandmother heard Red’s voice yelling, “Help! Help! He’s after me!” she unlocked the door and pulled her grandchild in after her. Treebark pounded on the door, but Grandmother had locked it right away. Now the wolf was furious.

“Fine!” he bellowed when he had grown weary of trying to break down the door. “You can’t stay down there forever. And I’ll be right here waiting for you.” To their horror, Red and Grandmother saw that the wolf was quite right. There was no food or water in the cellar. They were trapped!

But just then, when things looked blackest, a ray of hope fluttered past the window. The little Momma Bird whose nest Treebark had upset had rebuilt and was now prepared to follow the wolf’s trail and give him a piece of her mind. When she arrived at Grandmother’s house and saw what was going on, she was horrified. She hated the thought of that horrible beast eating those innocent people, so she flew off in search of help.

She found it in the form of a Hunter, who was having a very bad day. He hadn’t caught so much as a squirrel, when the little Momma Bird fluttered in front of his face and explained to him what was going on. Eager to help (and to save face in front of his hunter friends by catching something), the Hunter followed the Momma Bird to Grandmother’s House and knocked on the door.

“Who is it!?!?” barked the wolf, forgetting that it was not his own house.

“Er…Mr. Wolf: You may have already won ten million dollars!” said the Hunter, doing his Best Contest Spokesman Voice. Hunters are actually not that great at voices, but the wolf bought it anyway and, eager to win ten milion dollars, abandoned his place in front of the cellar and went to answer the front door…which proved to be the last thing that Treebark ever did.

And so, it looked as though everyone would end up happily ever after. Grandmother got well again and decided to move closer to her family so that Red wouldn’t have to wander through the woods quite so much. The pelt of Treebark brought a handsome price to the Hunter who was forever grateful to Little Red Riding Hood and her entire family. And the little Momma Bird has five babies, all of whom grew up into beautiful little birdies.

As for the wolves, they never knew of Treebark’s treachery, but if they did, they wouldn’t have been too worried. No one was likely to take this one incident and blow it out of proportion and condemn all wolves the world over…

But then word got out about the pigs…but that’s another story!


If You Liked My Story, You Might Enjoy:
  • The Big Bad Wolf (1934) Walt Disney’s sequel to Three Little Pigs featuring Red Riding Hood and Grandma
  • Little Red Riding Rabbit (1944) Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Red is brinigng a rabbit to grandma instead of “goodies”
  • “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”/”Fractured Fairy Tales”: Riding Hoods Annonymous. In which the Wolf is in a self-help program to kick the Riding Hood habit and joins the PTA
  • “The 10th Kingdom” (TV) Scott Cohen as “Wolf” plays the grandmother trick on Kimberly Williams
  • “Faerie Tale Theatre” (TV), Malcolm McDowall as the Wolf, Mary Steenburgen as Granny
  • “Into the Woods” Red and the Wolf sing “Hello, Little Girl” by Stephen Sondheim

NEXT WEEK: "Sleeping Beauty"