The Story of the Snow Children

The Story of the Snow Children

by Sibylle von Olfers

first published in 1905 in Germany

English translation by Polly Lawson – Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2005

20 pp.

Ages: 2 +

Interests: fairies, princesses, snow, winter, parties, magic

Also by this author: The Story of the Root Children (1906), Princess in the Forest (1909), and The Story of the Wind Children (1910)

You might also like: Peter in Blueberry Land (1901) – very similar in story, style and look

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Tangled (2010)


Tangled

Rated: PG for brief mild violence

Length:  100 min.

Age: 5 and up.        Commonsense Media sez: 5 +

Scary Factor: not overly scary, mostly just suspenseful chase scenes; scary-looking thugs in tavern are revealed to be sweethearts; Rapunzel is briefly menaced near the end by villains

Violence: Rapunzel repeatedly knocks Flynn unconscious with a frying pan for comedic effect; Mother Gothel stabs Flynn at the end; Mother Gothel falls to her death – though she disappears before she hits the ground, aged right out of existence

Intense: it appears as though Flynn dies in a very sad scene at the end, but he revives; psychological abuse Mother Gothel inflicts on Rapunzel may trouble some

Bad Behaviour: no bad language; there is beer in the tavern, but this is underplayed

Interests: princesses, fairy tales, magic, romance, horses, action, chases
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Top 10: Princess Movies

Yes, this week it’s a Top 5 x 2! The princess issue is a controversial one these days, but so many little girls love love love their princesses that it’s hard to avoid the whole genre. If you’re giving in to requests for the Disney Princess franchise, but unsure of which movie to start with, I list them here in order of age appropriateness. (And I include one non-Disney.) Generally the newer films are much scarier than the old ones, more violent and with ever more terrifying villains.

There is a raft of other, mostly live-action “princess-themed” movies out there (Princess Diaries, et al), but I’m sticking to the basic fairy tale and revised fairy tale versions here. (Click on the titles with links to go to full reviews.)

So dig out your tiaras, friends… here we go…

1. Disney Princess Enchanted Tales – Follow Your Dreams (2007) – age 3+

Real entry-level fare. A straight-to-video offering, includes two short stories about the everyday lives of Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Jasmine (Aladdin). Mediocre entertainment, but innocuous for even the youngest princesses.

2. Cinderella (1950) – age 4+

The villain here is just a very mean lady, no evil magic or mayhem involved, so this isn’t as scary as many other movies. At the same time, it’s got an overload of lovey dovey romance, which isn’t such a perfect fit for the very young.

3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – age 4+

This one started it all, in terms of princess movies, but also in terms of feature-length animation. Still lovely to look at after all these years, this movie has aged beautifully. Snow White predates the sexier Disney princesses, so she’s actually got a somewhat realistic shape for a young girl. And the dwarves are still pretty funny.

4. Thumbelina (1994) – age 4+

Aha, not a Disney movie, I know. This lesser-known Don Bluth film tells another classic princess tale, this time by Hans Christian Anderson, and stays pretty faithful to the original. Teeny tiny heroine is kidnapped by toads, menaced by bugs and almost married off to a mole, while the brave prince of the fairies searches for her.

5. Sleeping Beauty (1959) – age 4+

The reviews at the time were not kind, but I really like this one. It’s elegant and gorgeous, with some dignity and restraint. A fairly straight-ahead presentation of the traditional tale (with a few alterations). The music is sublime. Maleficent is truly spooky, and the dragon at the end is scary but the battle is quite short.

6. Tangled (2010) – age 5+

Even though this was rated PG for mild violence, and all others on this list are rated G, it is much less scary than the titles below. Some bonking with a frying pan, and a stabbing (he recovers).

7. Beauty and the Beast (1991) – age 5+

One of the modern-era Disney flicks, the violence is heightened in this one. The Beast is truly terrifying at the start, but soon becomes nearly cuddly. Lots of slapstick and fighting. Two terrific song sequences.

8. The Little Mermaid (1989) – age 5+

The first modern princess movie from Disney, and the one that revived the entire company. This set the pattern for the Broadway-style musical films that Disney still churns out. Music and characters are good, but villainess Ursula the Sea Witch is very, very scary. And they give the Anderson tale a happy ending.

9. The Princess and the Frog (2009) – age 5+

A total twist and remodelling which bears no real relation to the old Grimms tale. Characters are engaging, voodoo sequences quite frightening, one death near the end makes this more suitable for older preschoolers.

10. Aladdin (1992) – age 6+

Not one of my favourites. The songs zip along so fast I couldn’t keep up, the racial slurs are frequent, Jasmine is plucky but scantily clad at all times, Robin Williams  tells jokes no child will get, and the scary is very.

So which ones are actually great films? My short list…

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Magical and enchanting. Prince is stiff and Snow White’s voice is annoying, but that’s the worst of it.

2. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

I said it before, I’ll say it again: Elegant and gorgeous.

Hmm. Pretty short list. Both are absolutely beautiful, have just enough loyalty to the original tale to retain a little magic, and just enough of the dark side to have some bite… without beating us over the head with the awesome forces of the powers of evil, yadda yadda. And no A-list actors doing the voices, either – another irritating and distracting trend of late.

The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska

The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska

retold by Eric A. Kimmel

illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger

New York: Holiday House, 2006

28 pp

Age: 5+

Interests: princess, folklore, frogs, Tlingit, First Nations

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Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1955

Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper

translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown

New York: Macmillan, 1954

30 pp.

Age: 3 +

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, magic

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The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The Princess and the Frog

Rated: G

Length:  97 min.

Age: 5 +                 Commonsense Media sez:  6 +

Scary Factor: villain Dr. Facilier calls upon evil spirits for help several times; three frog-hunters in the swamp shoot guns and whack each other around quite violently; shadow demons chase Prince Naveen; several close calls with alligators and other creatures in the swamp; death of a ‘good guy’ main character near the end is rather shocking and very sad; death of Facilier as demons drag him down into hell (presumably)

Intense: death of a main character is very upsetting, his funeral is shown with grieving friends, although in the end it is rather uplifting

Bad Behavior: some drinking in restaurants and parties, plus one brief gag re. a drunk at the masquerade ball

Language: “hell”, “crap”, insults (“stupid”)

Interests: frogs, swamps, New Orleans, jazz, magic, princesses

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The Magic Fishbone

subtitle: “A Holiday Romance from the Pen of Miss Alice Rainbird, Aged Seven”

by Charles Dickens

originally published 1868

this edition: illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, Vanguard Press, New York, 1953

36 pp.

Age: 4 +

Interests: magic, fairies, princesses

Also by this author (for children): The Cricket on the Hearth, A Christmas Carol

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The Serpent Slayer; and Other Stories of Strong Women

retold by Katrin Tchana

illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman

Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2000

109 pp. – each individual story averages about 6 pages

Age:  5 + (some stories suitable for 4)

Interests: folk tales, princesses, pirates, fairy tales, magic, other cultures

Other books by this illustrator: St. George and the Dragon, Rapunzel

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Aladdin (1992)


Rated: G
Length:  90 min.
Age: 6 and up         Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: villain Jafar is creepy and evil; the huge lion creature guarding the treasure is truly frightening; it devours a thief at the beginning, though this is not seen; in one scene Aladdin nearly drowns; villain’s magic in the climax at the end is pretty scary and huge – turning into an enormous snake and then an even bigger genie

Action: Aladdin is continually fleeing guards with swords – played for laughs but may be stressful; the scene when Aladdin’s in the cave is pretty heavy action-and-danger-wise (Indiana Jones-esque)

Bad Behavior: when the sultan is imprisoned Jafar’s parrot tortures him by force-feeding him crackers – this might be disturbing, or maybe just disturbing for adults!; Genie smokes a cigarette at one point

Sex: all females are scantily clad; a few kisses

Racism: many stereotypes of Middle-Eastern peoples and lifestyle; heroes sound American, while bad guys have Arabian accents

Language: very slangy; also name-calling: “stupid” “dumb” “idiot”

Interests: Arabian legends, magic, desert, folk tales, other cultures

Next: picture books of 1001 Arabian Nights, old movies like The Thief of Bagdad

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)


Rated: G

Length: 75 min.

Age: 4 and up.                      Commonsense Media sez: iffy for ages 4/5

Scary Factor: no real danger until the climax, when Maleficent turns into a dragon to battle the prince (scene is relatively brief)

Intense Scenes: far more suspense and chills than outright scares – Maleficent is wonderfully threatening; scene in which Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle is eerie and enthralling.

Bad Behaviour: Boozing – the two kings drink endless toasts to each other and a minstrel gets quietly sloshed under the table.

Language:  “fools! idiots! imbeciles!” barked by Maleficent at her underlings; she also mentions the powers of “hell”

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, knights, castles, dragons, magic, fairies

Next: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Thumbelina

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.