About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Entranced with a most politically incorrect Russian fairy tale

So I did actually read my fetus some fairy tales last night, much to my husband Tom's enjoyment. Perhaps the one that we enjoyed the most was the Russian Tale Wondrous Wonder Marvelous Marvel, it can be found in Alesandr A. Afanasiev's collection of Russian Fairy Tales ($18 in paperback).

The tale in a nutshell is this, a merchant asks his wife what she would like him to bring back from overseas, and she asks for a wondrous wonder, marvelous marvel (this is repeated many times through out the story and is quite fun to say over and over again). The merchant finds his wondrous wonder, marvelous marvel in the form a goose that will lay itself down on a tray on command, be cooked and eaten, and then come back to life again. He brings the goose home to his wife and she thinks it is very cool. The next day when he is off selling goods at the market the wife's lover comes over and she tries to cook the goose for him, but when she grabs the goose she is stuck. The lover then tries to pull her from the goose and becomes stuck himself. The goose then walks to market with the stuck wife and lover attached. The husband removes the goose and demands to know who the man attached to the wife is. He then beats the lover, takes his wife home and whips her. With every lash he says here's your wondrous wonder, your marvelous marvel.

Politically correct this story is not, but then...did the wife and lover not deserve to be beaten? Here is what a professor at Swathmore college has to say about the story (taken from his on-line notes for a Russian Fairy Tale class):

“The Wondrous Wonder, the Marvelous Marvel,” pp. 13-15: magic uncovers a very prosaic sin – the main character beats the wife's lover, then his wife. (Many tales treat magical items misused that the misusers stick to, or can’t turn off [they don’t know the second half of the spell, or the “off” spell], etc. -- they are frequent punishments in fairy tales for taking something that isn’t yours, or in this case offering the goose feast to the wrong man: meat as figure for sex, or nourishment as an expression of love? – a Very Eastern European thing.)"

I wonder when fetus is out, if I can edit the tale for him/her because I really like it, even though the beating is more than a bit politically incorrect. Perhaps he can say here is your wondrous wonder, marvelous marvel as he is kicking her out of the house? Maybe the lover could be arrested? When and why did all fairy tales told to children require happy endings? Why do we shield our kids from pain? And does it work?

I noted in an earlier post that teens love books about recovering addicts, and people with truly messed up lives in general. I have not had a chance to get to the root of why this is so, but could it be a desire to read about pain, as pain is certainly experienced in everyone's life? In so many of the Disney stories, the main characters have a parent die, is this so they can experience pain, and then recover? Bambi, the Lion King, Snow White, Aladdin, Ariel, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Cinderella... all have one or both parents die. I guess our current fairy tales are only happy at the end.


  1. very funny! Our Russsian fairy tales are great!

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