Tuesday, August 4, 2015

TTT: Top 10 Fairytales I Want to See Retold (Even if I Have to Do It Myself)

Image Credit
It's Top Ten Tuesday Time again, and the theme this week is awesome: Top 10 Fairy Tales/Retellings /Tales you want retold, etc. If you want to participate, here are the details. As always, thanks a bunch to the lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish who host this weekly meme.

Anyhow, I have a lifelong obsession with fairy tales, folktales, legends and myths. My voracious reading habits had my childhood librarians scrambling for new collections on interloan every week.

The point is, I have read hundreds of retellings, but there are plenty of untapped tales out there, which leads me to my take on this week's theme:

Top 10 Fairy Tales I Want Retellings Of, Pronto

1. The Marsh King's Daughter - Hans Christian Andersen

Artist: Anne Anderson

$100 says here's one fairy tale that Disney will never touch. I honestly think I want to read a retelling because I'd be impressed if someone could make this crazy weird story into a good book! First off, the narrators are storks, which is probably the least strange thing about it. It is a mixture of Viking and Egyptian settings, Christianity and Norse Mythology. There is a gorgeous ghost priest, a bratty heroine, and a frog-skin suit. Interested? The link above takes you to a condensed version (it's also really long!).

2. How Six Men Traveled Through The Wide World - The Brothers Grimm

It's basically the version of The Avengers that Marvel didn't go with. 

We have six unlikely heroes: 
1. An angry soldier (he served his country well and only got three farthings)
2. A man who can pick up trees as if they were corn (specific here)
3. A huntsman who can shoot the eye off a fly two miles away (Take that, Hawkeye!)
4. A man who can blow great gusts out of his nostril, enough to power seven windmills two miles away (I'm not joking)
5. A runner who removes his legs when they get tired. He can run faster than birds fly when both legs are on.
6. A man with a cap on one ear: if he straightens it, a frost fills the sky and all the birds drop dead (a really useful skill, somewhere, I think). 

Anyhow, they think that maybe, all together, they might be able to get on in the world. You think? If this can't be a book, I want it to be a movie that parodies Avengers and The Expendables. (There was a great semi-retelling of this story with sisters instead, and I cannot remember what it was called!)

3. The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear - The Brothers Grimm

If you haven't noticed, I like strange fairy tales. TSoaBWWFtLF needs a much shorter title if it's going to get anywhere in the world, but it has always been one of my favorites. Regardless, this story is exactly what it says in the title: there's a boy who doesn't understand fear (or in some versions, he doesn't know how to shiver), so he gets sent to a terrifying haunted house that has plagued the locals. Naturally, nothing frightens him, so he deals with it in a practical fashion (it's pretty funny too). After macabre weirdness worthy of Neil Gaiman, the boy eventually winds up with money and a wife who teaches him how to shudder (a sensible girl, she uses cold fish down the back, that always works).

4. The Clever Wife - Chinese Folk Tale

"The Clever Wife" is a typical fairytale theme, but one of my favorites is the great Chinese story about Fu-hsing's wife. One of the best parts about this story is that Fu-hsing actually realizes how wise his wife is, and he both values and supports her. He's so thrilled about his wife, that he posts up a scroll about her. The local magistrate sees it and misunderstands, and he brings loyal Fu-hsing in to examine him. The magistrate sets him three impossible tasks. Naturally, Fu-hsing's clever wife is up to the task, and they outwit the magistrate as a team. Now that's a relationship.

5. The Death of Koschei the Deathless (Marya Morevna) - Russian Fairy Tale, collected by Andrew Lang

If you want some high-octane action and daring, look up any Slavic tale featuring Koschei the Deathless. A powerful, immortal sorcerer or king, he is often an antagonist. In the tale above, he plays a role in the story of Prince Ivan (basically the Russian version of the ubiquitous Jack). Don't be fooled by all the giving sisters in marriage at the beginning: this story is basically reversed East of the Sun and West of the Moon with Ivan hunting down his warrior princess wife, Marya Morevna, after Ivan makes the mistake of pitying the crafty Koschei. This book just begs to be written.

6. The Son of Seven Mothers - from Tales of the Punjab, collected by Flora Annie Steel

An inventive Indian tale about a boy who is raised as the communal son of his father's seven wives. His father is duped into discarding all seven in favor of a witch, mayhem ensues, and The Son of the title goes on an epic adventure. Another story that is just waiting for the novel.

7. Manabohzo, the Mischief-Maker - Native American Folktale

This giant trickster is basically the North American version of Loki, always pulling pranks and duping those around him. His adventures are usually hilarious, and his clever schemes are delightful. He spends most of the above story making everyone look ridiculous.

8. The Stones of Five Colors and The Empress Jokwa - Japanese (and Chinese) Fairy Tale

Twenty-five feet tall, an able ruler, and a smart woman, Empress Jokwa once mended the broken heavens. This is that story (and there are warriors, an evil wizard, and lots of adventures). Still, I have a lot of questions about this marvelous tale. How does Jokwa feel about being so tall, for starters.

9. The Happy Hunter and The Skillful Fisher - Japanese Fairy Tale

Image Copyright: Iya-chen
I love this Japanese story about two talented (but rival) brothers, and think it would make a great novel. Or a manga (check out the awesome illustration by iya-chen above). Basically, the Hunter and Fisher decide to switch roles for a day, which doesn't go well. The Hunter loses his brother's prized fishhook, which brings the Fisher's simmering resentment to the fore. Despite the Hunter's best efforts, his brother is still furious. Eventually, the Hunter goes on a quest for the hook, and gets into a lot of adventurous scrapes. But will his brother ever forgive him?

10. The Master Thief - Nordic Fairy Tale

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. The youngest son of a poor man seeks his fortune, falls in with a band of robbers, and becomes a Master Thief. Basically it's a string of adventures where he cons people, finds a wife, and becomes the leader of the robber band. It's pretty funny too.

So there you have it. Did I pick any of your favorites, or add ones you'd never heard of? (Bonus points if you've read The Marsh King's Daughter). What fairytale would you like to read a retelling of? Would you read any of these if they were novels?