Monday, April 2, 2012

Hansel and the Hippie

Melynda and I will be talking at the University of Phoenix (the SLC) campus tomorrow. I'm pretty excited. But with all of these new things going on, I've been so busy. I spent almost all day Friday and Saturday setting up signings and speaking engagements. I went in to almost every place--it was wild and fun meeting new people.

With all of this going on, it's hard to get any writing done. So for today, I thought it might be fun to repost one of my favorite stories from last June. Here it is:

I've been teaching the girls how to tell a story. I said it's like a worm.  "You know how you can cut a worm in half and it'll still live as two worms?" I asked.

"Yeah."  They nodded.

"Well, when you write a story, if you figure out the beginning and end, you can put all sorts of juicy stuff in the middle.  It works better since you know where you're going.  Otherwise it's like a runaway train."

"With a juicy worm middle?"  The Hippie crinkled her nose like she hadn't heard anything else.

So, the next day while The Hippie was complaining about reading, and The Scribe shushed her.  Doctor Jones took a bath and The Zombie Elf accidentally put shampoo in his eyes.

I nearly screamed.  "Fine!" I yelled so loud everyone stopped babbling.  "If everyone will stop crying, then we'll have story night!  It's The Hippie's turn to read."

So, after Doctor Jones smelled like sunshine and The Zombie Elf's poor eyes no longer hurt (but still pulsed red), we settled down for The Hippie (my six-year-old) to read a book.

"Once upon a time."  She cleared her throat.  "Two children lived with their father who was a woodcutter.  Now in this house, there was nothing to eat, so the woodcutter's wife pulled her husband aside and said, 'take the children into the middle of the forest and leave them there or we'll all starve'."  At this point all of my children gasped, except for Doctor Jones who cooed and tried to eat a piece of garbage off the floor.

"He didn't do it, did he?" The Hippie asked.

"Haven't you heard the story of Hansel and Gretel?" I asked.

"Yeah, but Grandma Gertie told us a better version.  The kids went into the forest even though their parents told them not too.  Then they got lost because they'd been bad."

I laughed at the ceiling.  Leave it to Gertie to weave a moral into the story.  "Well, this is the real story.  You won't believe what happens next.  Go on."


"The woodcutter took them deep into the forest.  He told the children to stay put while he cut wood, then he never came back."  The Hippie read about the forlorn children and the trail of breadcrumbs.  She read about a yummy house and a wicked witch.  They all paled when Gretel pushed the fiend into the oven, then nodded when Hansel found his wood-cutting-father in the woods again.

When The Hippie finished, she shut the book and frowned, less than pleased.

"What's wrong, honey?" I asked.

"I don't like that story.  It wasn't written well.  It's a bad worm."

"Are you kidding?  It had adventure . . . candy . . . magic.  Plus, it's pretty famous."

"That doesn't make it good."  She folded her legs Indian-style and stared at me.  "Take that bread.  What kind of a kid would leave a trail of food in the forest?  Animals eat food.  That makes me think they were either dumb or wanted to get lost."

"Maybe she was little."

"She wasn't younger than six and I'd know better than that.  Anyway, the worst part of the story is that they forgave the father.  He left them in the forest.  How did they know he wouldn't do it again?"

I swallowed.  Social Services would have taken those kids away in a heartbeat.  Sure he didn't try to eat them like the witch did, but he was almost as bad.  He left them for the animals to get!  Maybe that evil wood cutter should have gotten the death penalty!  Plus, what happened to his wife?  I love how they never "say" step-mom.  What happened to that beast who wanted to have all the food to herself?  I hope she died of obesity!  I shook my head; in all the years that I've heard the story of Hansel and Gretel, I never once questioned the forgiveness factor. 

"They killed the witch, right?" The Hippie asked and I nodded.  "Then why didn't they forget about their father and just live in the candy house?  That's way better than living with someone who left you in a forest."

I seriously didn't know what to say.  "So you wouldn't have forgiven him?  He was their dad."

"He wasn't a good one,"  The Hippie said.

The Scribe smiled, really big and nodded.  "Yeah, there's a difference between forgiving and just being stupid.  Hansel and Gretel, well, they were stupid." 

So, that was the end of storytime and now part of me regrets telling the kids how to write a story--especially since I had nightmares that night.

My kids will never look at fairytales the same, which kinda sucks worse than brimstone.  I told Cade what The Hippie said.

"She wouldn't forgive the father?" he asked.

"No, can you believe she even thought of that?"

"Wow," Cade said.  "I better not get on her bad side."

Anyway, I have two questions for you: 
What would you have done?  
Would you have forgiven your father, 
or gone to live in the magical candy house?


  1. Don't you hate it when kids remind of us of ourselves?

    I'd have to forgive; I l know it all washes out in the end.

    Good skill with the speaking engagement.

  2. haha I have to agree with the Hippie, if anyone took me and left me out in the woods to fend for myself, father or not, I'd stay in the candy house and not forgive them.

  3. You need to get those kids an Amazon account and have them start reviewing. They'll be great. Heck, if I wrote slighter more age appropriate stuff I'd ask them to be beta readers in a heartbeat...brutal though they would probably be. :)

    Awesome story.

    Good luck on all the new speaking engagements! Oh and another big thanks for posting about Bill yesterday. I super appreciate it.

  4. That story made perfect sense to me when I was growing up. Although I could never understand why they left the candy house so quickly. I'm sure I would have stayed until it had been eaten all up.

  5. Ever since I was a small child, I knew that there was something wrong with most of the Grimm stories, particularly this one. Please thank the Hippie for clarifying it for me. Her review was spot on. I loved the way she pointed out the forgiveness part and the problem with the bread crumbs and why go back with that daddy of theirs. You have some bright kids. Good luck with the talk.

  6. Inger said it all for me! I read my kids the Grimm stories & the Mother Goose rhymes without realizing how frightening they could be for children. Your stories are much better. Have you thought of publishing a book with your--& the girls' stories? You've already got Senack out. Think about it!!

  7. Cade really needs to watch out. Probably you, too.

  8. I love somebody who thinks like me. I wouldn't have trusted that man again and slept with one eye open. Staying in the candy house in the forest sounds like a great idea! ;)

  9. I am right there with your kids. I read this story as an adult to my child and she was smiling along while I was freaking out about what a horrible story this was. I think the only version I ever heard was Gertie's as well! Anyways, I would not forgive the father, nor would I come back home. I would eat the house, take the riches and move along.

  10. The part about bread crumbs was always a road-block for me, too. Good critical thinking, there, Hippie.

  11. Does it really surprise you that she wouldn't forgive the father? It took her a year to forgive Parker for leaving her in the back yard! hahah

  12. Great story! I would love to be able to write like that!

  13. I would have gone to the Candy House for sure.

  14. I guess we were really gullible as children! :( I never questioned the story at all! AND read it to my children. They do have I can blame them on fairy tales!

  15. I'd entice a nice, sexy man to live in the candy house with me. Hansel and Gretel really is a frightening story.


  16. Are you responsible for the time warp? Has it been so long since you posted this? Hope you guys have fun speaking at the campus :)

  17. That is so great that you are opening so many doors and coming across so many opportunities :)

  18. Glad to see that there are still new ways to interperate old tales!!

  19. i loved the story---happy easter