The Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses has long been one of my favorite fairy tales. Rebellious princesses. Check. Enchanted gardens. Check. A suitor who is clever and kind. Check. Dancing. Check. The word slipper. Check!
There’s something so appealing about this story featuring twelve beautiful and clever princesses who sneak out every night to travel through an enchanted wood and across a little enchanted lake to a place where they can dance all night and sip and sup on delicacies. The poor King, however, can’t figure out why his beloved daughters are falling asleep at the breakfast table and wearing out their slippers each night. So, he promises the hand of one of his daughters in marriage to the man who can discover their secret. The clever princesses outwit a series of suitors until they finally meet their match in a traveling soldier. In this version, the tale ends with a happily married pair and a kingdom where the princesses are allowed to go dancing whenever they want, and as late as they want!
There are many retellings of this story available, but I particularly like Jane Ray’s illustrations. They are intricate, shimmery, and soft. She portrays twelve sisters with beautiful and interesting faces and hair that ranges from golden to raven. Some wear glasses, some are tall, some have curls – each is distinct. There is also a beautiful white dog among the pages with golden spots, and many other such details to pore over.
I recommend this story to anyone who loves fairy tales. For the child who demands princess stories, this is something that is a little off the beaten path. For this, it’s worth taking the trip over to the 398’s! (That’s the Folk and Fairy tale section – ask a librarian if you need guidance.)
Posted by: Parry