Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and Children's Movies Aren't for the Faint of Heart

Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and Children’s Movies Aren’t for the Faint of Heart by Debra H. Goldstein

My daughter and son-in-law recently had a beautiful (okay, I’m partial) baby boy. While they were in the hospital, I was charged with caring for their almost three-year-old daughter, who loves to be read to and is just beginning to be interested in movies. What I rediscovered is that many fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and children’s movies aren’t for the faint of heart. A number of them are downright frightening.


For example, one of her favorite chapter books to be read to her contains stories of The Frog and The Toad. All seems pretty innocent between the two good friends as they help each other find a missing button or take care of each other when one feels ill, but there are also stories where the twist or final moral isn’t as kind. In Shivers, the Frog recounts an encounter he had as a child frog with the Old Dark Frog who eats little frog children for supper. The child being read to is left to decide if it happened or not. A calendar trick used in Spring teaches that a little deception can allow one to accomplish a goal.


Then, of course, there are those fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. We think of them as children’s stories, but really they were adult versions with adult themes. For example, what is soothing about The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage? These three live together, each doing their own share of the tasks: the bird collects wood for the fire, the mouse brings in water, sets the table, and lights the fire, while the sausage keeps all three well fed. When the bird decides they should all switch jobs because the bird is doing more of the backbreaking work, the story ends with the sausage being eaten by a dog while going out to collect wood, the mouse imitating the way the sausage seasons food by throwing itself into the pot and dies, and the bird, while trying to fetch water, falls into the well and drowns. Not particularly comforting to an adult, let alone a child.


To this day, I can’t watch Bambi without having a panic attack when the fire kills Bambi’s mother. Similarly, the wicked witches and stepmothers in Cinderella, Snow White, and other stories/movies, don’t leave me with happy feelings.


Growing up, did a fairy tale, nursery rhyme, or children’s movie leave you scarred for life?