Hansel and Gretel and the Huuuuuge Elephant

August 3, 2004

My wife Allison informed me today that if our kids aren’t considered “socialized” by the public school system or by other state organs, it won’t be because they didn’t watch Sesame Street or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, but rather–it will be my fault.

Let me explain. I tend to tell the girls creative versions of the well known fairy tales. So, to my wife’s surprise the other day, my oldest daughter began telling her the story of “Hansel and Gretel and the Witch Princess,” which was my latest concoction. I just thought it made more sense to include a Witch Princess who was the daughter of the Witch King of Agmar (Lord of the Rings) and the White Witch (Chronicles of Narnia). My daughter loved it and won’t even listen to the original Hansel and Gretel anymore. Instead, she either insists on hearing about the Witch Princess or makes up her own version.

My wife and I had a laugh when she told us her own version over lunch: “Hansel and Gretel and the Huuuuuge Elephant,” set in a humid Indian jungle rather than a deep dark Germanic forest. The newcomer to the story was of course Colonel Hathi of Jungle Book fame. He tramped around and knocked on the door of the Seven Dwarfs’ cottage (where Hansel and Gretel were staying with Snow White) and they all galloped away with Bambi at the end of the story. There might not be much didactic value to her story (or my fairy tale distortions for that matter) as there is supposed to be with the Grimms’ fairy tales, but they sure are fun.

But I can see Allison’s point. If, hypothetically speaking, my daughters are asked in school to relate one of these fairy tales, and they tell instead one of their creations, I can see how the public school administrators might just be giving me a call and telling me to sit them down in front of Sesame Street instead.