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Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults
by Clive Johnson

256 pages, ISBN 978-0993202940.
Available as paperback, Kindle and Audible versions.

Fairy stories have captivated the hearts and minds of children over many centuries. With their stories of witches and fairies, enchanting castles, and beautiful princesses, they contain all the right ingredients for exciting a young mind. But as is well known, the truths that can be found within these timeless compositions are rich in meaning and metaphor.

In this innovative book, seven traditional tales are beautifully retold. Appealing to children, these are also intended to inspire new meaning for adults. Combined with each classical retelling is a short story that aims to maintain the spirit and messages contained in the children’s versions.

These parallel stories are specifically written for adults, set in a wide range of environments, and featuring characters who encounter a whole host of very real human challenges and dilemmas.

Loan sharks and wife-beaters, compulsive gamblers and manslaughterers all feature here. But so too do stories of transformation and redemption, and journeys of self-discovery and unlikely friendship.

Each pair of stories is accompanied by a commentary on how they might be interpreted. The result is a collection of wonderful tales that may continue to enthral children, whilst offering fresh levels of meaning that might be appreciated by an older audience.

Please note: The traditional tales that are included in this title (and having familiar titles) are suitable for children. Each new, parallel tale is intended for an adult audience.



Selected excerpts from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories

Fairy stories "The wolf is able to out-think Little Red Riding Hood and out-manoeuvre her, while avoiding the risk of falling into trouble himself when he is within earshot of the woodcutters in the wood. He is an accomplished thief, a brilliant schemer and the perfect charmer. Like many, he is ready to seize an opportunity if he thinks he can get away with his wicked way, even if this means seriously abusing someone who’s much younger and more vulnerable than himself".
– Little Red Riding Hood

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The old and infirm grandmother is incapable of protecting herself, let alone her granddaughter. This task is rightly left to Little Red Riding Hood's mother, who while not on the scene for most the time, fully understands her daughter’s tendency to stray from safe paths. She ultimately becomes her confidante when the child realizes that her mother usually does know best".
– Little Red Riding Hood



– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The recounting of the sailor’s stories provides an escape from the drudgery of the porter’s everyday life. Significantly, it's after darkness falls that the stories are related – the time that's usually reserved for sleeping and dreaming. In the dreams of the sailor – that are really also his dreams – the porter can see possibilities that might allow him to move beyond his current station, to achieve wonderful things, but possibly too, ones that might require him to come face-to-face with danger.

The sailor knows that he must return to reality at some point, and he acknowledges as much to his brother, the porter, both with his words, and by offering him a gift during each of his visits".
– The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The story's presentation of two characters allows each to project something of his inner self onto the other. The porter projects the part of his shadow that begrudges the greatness that he sees in the life of the sailor, but the sailor responds by observing that there’s a higher self in his brother.

Often what we project reveals something about ourselves, both the good and the bad that we repress. This is perhaps why we can learn so much about ourselves through our interaction with others, if only we might allow ourselves to turn inward when we notice ourselves judging those who are close to us, not to mention the strangers that we meet too.

Ultimately, both personalities in the story have their merits, and both need to complement each other if Sinbad, or any person, is to achieve ultimate happiness and wholeness".
– The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The choice of construction for the three houses is sometimes pointed to as being symbolic of humankind's progress. In earlier times, we built houses of mud and straw, later discovering that wooden shelters were often more sturdy. Only in more recent times, when bricks have been mass-produced, have most houses being made from strong masonry.

It's possible to see that the development of personality, as presented through the experiences of the three pigs, might be observed in a single person. Indeed, this is possibly what the author of the original story intended. If we are able to shed those aspects of our personality that lead us into trouble, can learn from our experiences, and take fresh decisions that make use of our learnings, then we might be able to grow and conquer any adversary or obstacle that might stand in our way".
– The three little pigs

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The older pigs project their carnal natures onto the wolf, especially their preference to devour. With the younger pig, there’s a stark contrast with the wolf; one displaying virtuous attributes, the other ignoble. It is the older pigs’ devouring natures, if it is unconscious to them, which leads to them being consumed".
– The three little pigs



– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The long period of rest speaks of a time when beauty has been lost, an allegory of the Fall that separated mankind from the Divine. The worthy gifts that had been bestowed upon the princess are no longer present, and all appreciation of beauty is gone. The subjects of the kingdom who live beyond the castle walls and perimeter of the thorn bush lose hope of recovering the happiness that was once theirs. Sustaining lives of drudgery and hopelessness, they even start to forget the joy that had once prevailed in the land.

If not for finding our true selves, this too is a journey worth taking for restoring beauty into our lives. Beauty matters because it stirs our souls and inspires; beauty gives hope, and brings an appreciation of the joy of being alive. By becoming beautiful – adopting the qualities of graciousness, gratitude, and other attributes that were gifted to the princess – we can walk through the thicket without hindrance".
– The Sleeping Beauty

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The young men who first try to break through the thorn bush quickly falter in their efforts. A few who still remember what awaits them on the other side of the bush wait to see if they might learn from the experiences of those who attempt to cross it first, but still rush straight into the hedge before they are properly ready. All efforts to reach the heavily protected but nearby target are thwarted.

It’s only when the time is right that a foreign prince arrives to make his attempt to reach the castle. He is freely allowed through the bush, being gifted an opening that he had done nothing by his own efforts to earn. But the time is right, and when the princess is awoken, the prince’s very presence is enough to melt her heart".
– The Sleeping Beauty

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "In her testing out the bears’ preference for porridge, chairs, and beds, Goldilocks explores which identity fits her best. Will it be the cold, hard choice of the father, or perhaps the hot and soft preference of the mother? Goldilocks concludes that it’s Little Bear’s station that fits her best, but she has already outgrown his chair, and might do better to form an identity that is her own and suitable for her stage in life".
– Goldilocks and the Three Bears



– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "What is clear from the story is that Goldilocks is an outsider. The three bears form a family, each having their own role to play, and each being clear of their relationship to each other. Goldilocks might be attracted to join their comfortable household, but she isn't made to feel welcome by them. Ultimately, she knows that she cannot become a part of the bears’ family group".
– Goldilocks and the Three Bears



– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "In this story, there’s no happy ending. In fact, there’s barely an ending at all. It's not clear what effect Goldilock’s intrusion has on the bears, while Goldilocks runs away, possibly to get lost in the wood. It may be necessary and right to want to explore, but in order to grow, she – like all of us – must know that it's right to respect others, while learning to face up to the difficult predicaments that we might find ourselves encountering".
– Goldilocks and the Three Bears



– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The land of the giant is where Jack learns that the real world is beset with dangers. To survive, he must rely on his own initiative, and know when to accept offers of help that are made to him (as in the case of the hospitality and protection provided by the giant’s wife)".
– Jack and the beanstalk

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "Despite gaining a valuable treasure to provide for his family after his first visit, Jack cannot help but retreat into the fantasy land for a second and third time, even though he is aware of the great dangers of doing so. It is only after his third visit that he realises that he must overcome his attempts to escape reality, and face up to his responsibilities in the real world.
– Jack and the beanstalk

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "His stealing away from his mother to climb the beanstalk, and his hiding from the ogre when in the giant’s mansion (his Oedipal father), point to Jack's embarrassment of exploring his sexuality in the full glare of his parents. However, he persists with his exploration, and ultimately matures into a man who is able to face his parents on adult terms".
– Jack and the beanstalk

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "Some have suggested that the princess’s complaints about her uncomfortable night expose her as some kind of diva or precocious child who is never satisfied. Their reasoning is that she becomes obsessed with something as insignificant as a pea, making this the subject of a tantrum, while overlooking the riches that surround her in the form of the twenty mattresses and the hospitality of the royal household.

However, this interpretation seems unlikely given that the princess holds off from saying anything about her condition until she is asked the next morning. Neither does she complain about being drenched by the rain when brought into the castle, nor seem to be concerned by what must have been her un-prepossessing appearance. But when she is asked how she passed the night, she doesn’t shrink from telling the truth in plain and unambiguous terms".
– The princess and the pea

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "Image doesn't matter here. We’re not told that the princess was beautiful, but only that she is the right person to marry the prince. Indeed, the fact that she arrives at the castle in a bedraggled state highlights the fact that what is meant for us doesn't always appear in quite the way that we might expect – in the case of a princess, perhaps, as a beautiful young woman who is immaculately coiffed and dressed. It takes great sensitivity to see through the outward appearance of a person, to appreciate their true self".
– The princess and the pea

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The many mattresses that are laid one on top of another represent the multiple layers that need to be stripped away to reveal the core that’s buried underneath. Being able to tune in to the heart with full authenticity involves stripping away at the many layers of pretension that conceal our true selves.

Hence, far from being a story about over-sensitivity in women, as many nineteenth-century readers might have interpreted the story, it is an allegory of deep sensing and self-knowing. Sensitivity in this story is presented as a virtue to be cultivated and esteemed, not as a weakness".
– The princess and the pea

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The sun’s rays sparkled on the carpet of flowers around her like the bright beams of a star light up the night sky. Birds sang cheerfully in the nearby trees. Bright-eyed rabbits hopped from one little clump of flowers to another. A gentle trickle of water flowing in a nearby stream added its refreshing echo to the melody of simple sounds in the forest. It was very beautiful.

Little Red Riding Hood was enraptured by the beauty, and started to wander further and further from the path to gather more and more beautiful flowers".
– Little Red Riding Hood

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories “Welcome again, dear Sinbad", he began. “We share our name, but I tell you truthfully, that we are more than brothers.” He chuckled to himself, sure that he spoke the truth. “My stories might seem to be strange to you, and my home may be filled with undreamed-of treasures, but I tell you truly, my experience can also be yours.”
– The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "Suddenly, the sky became overcast with a dark shadow. I feared that a great storm might soon rip across the island. But no sooner had I run for cover, than I realized that what I had thought was a cloud was in fact a gigantic bird, the like of which I had never seen before. It was then that I suddenly remembered hearing tales of such a mysterious creature, a bird known as a roc, which was said to dwell on its own beautiful island. I had thought such tales to be mere fantasy, but now I could see for myself that they were true".
– The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "The little pig realised that the wolf was again trying to trick him, and so when the next morning came, he rose at four o’clock in order to be at Merry Garden first.

The pig’s journey took longer than he'd expected, and he had to scale the tree in order to pick the apples. To his great fright, while he was still perched on one of its branches, he saw the wolf approaching him".
– The three little pigs

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "Soon, a wild thistle bush grew up around the castle. The bush grew so quickly and so tall, that soon it was impossible to see the castle behind it. The hedge became impenetrable even for the most valiant of the many young men who tried to fight their way through it. At first, many tried, and later others who had watched them, while biding their time until making attempts of their own. All ended up being torn to shreds by its knife-sharp thorns.

After some time, no one attempted to reach the castle any more. After still more years, the people of the kingdom even began to forget that there once was a castle that had drawn great attention from across the land".
– The Sleeping Beauty

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "After a while, she came to a clearing in the trees, where there stood a charming little cottage. Smoke was billowing from its chimney, and Goldilocks noticed that the door to the house was open. She thought that she might wander over, to see if she might discover what sort of person might live in such a house".
– Goldilocks and the three bears

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "Early the next morning, Jack set about his long climb. It took many hours before he reached above the clouds, and then finally he came to the place where the beanstalk reached its full height.

Jack looked around, and saw before him what looked like a desert landscape – a barren land strewn with rough stones and occasional clumps of grass. Exhausted after his climb, Jack sat down on one of the large stones, wondering what he might do next".
– Jack and the beanstalk

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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Fairy stories "One night, there was a ferocious storm that swept across the kingdom. Ancient trees that had seen many centuries come and go were torn from the ground and thrown over the land. Terrifying lightening ripped across the sky, turning the darkness of night into a bright bluish light. Thunder roared in all directions, and the rain fell so heavily that soon many of the streets turned to rivers".
– The princess and the pea

– Excerpt from Fairy Stories & Fairy Stories: Traditional tales for children, Contemporary tales for adults  by Clive Johnson.

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          Website Updated January 2015 by Clive Johnson