Once upon a time in a far away place… PART 2

Part 2 continues my conversation with Angela Sunde. Fairytales, both traditional and modern yet again proves to be a topic there is much to talk about. Hope you agree! Please leave comments!!

Hansel and Gretel

In this post, Angela talks about writing Pond Magic and gives some hints to anyone wanting to write their own modern fairytale for children.  We also spar in a competition: THE FAIRYTALE PLAY-OFF at the end of the post. See if you can name the quotes!

SG:  Angela, you studied the Grimms’ Fairytales as part of your uni degree in New Zealand, majoring in German and Spanish. And you taught ‘Fairytales’ to your German classes both in senior high school and upper primary.  I wonder if you have a distinct sense that children nowadays (and their parents) aren’t reading or being told the traditional fairytales we enjoyed when we were kids. Or am I just pessimistic?

AS:  No, I think you’re right. Luckily, the children in my classes always loved studying fairytales and acting them out. All the boys wanted to be the wolf. Nowadays, I think cinema has taken over the role of telling folktales. Movies like ‘The Princess and the Frog’ and ‘Shrek’ fulfil the desire of children to escape to a world where anything is possible.
Unfortunately, the marketing of these movies also comes with a price tag for the parents as they are tricked into buying the accompanying merchandise.
However, because of the popularity of these movies, I believe children are still keen to read a modern fairytale where a child just like themselves must overcome a great problem and ‘conquer evil’ (or the class bully). My book, Pond Magic is just such a story.

SG:  Remember Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea? How the Queen found out the poor girl was really a princess by hiding a pea under 20 mattresses and 20 eiderdowns quilts where the girl was to sleep. The next morning, the girl complains, “God knows what was in that bed: but it was something hard, and I am black and blue all over.” The King and Queen decided only a princess could be that sensitive!
That’s me whenever we go camping! One tiny little pebble under my camping mattress and I’m tossing and turning all night.
Of course, Andersen was pushing a little moral in his story – “true quality is what is within a person not in outward appearance”. This could also apply to the characters in Pond Magic, would you say? AS:  Yes, like every good fairytale, Pond Magic has a moral. The main character, Lily Padd learns to accept the cultural differences of the French exchange student who has come to stay and becomes a more tolerant, supportive friend. So while she is undergoing a ‘frog’ metamorphosis on the outside, an important inner metamorphosis is also occurring.
In true fairytale fashion, Lily, the hero, solves her problem with the help of magic and her new tolerant self, and of course the evil bully is punished. It’s a very satisfying ending.


SG: When writing fairytales, particularly modern versions, is there a formula children’s writers could follow?

AS:  A modern fairytale writer can use any of the traditional elements of fairytales. A traditional fairytale must have certain elements (to be accepted by a purist like me):

  • Three parts – a difficult situation in the beginning where the hero is treated badly – the path of the hero, who must overcome danger and/or other problems – and the solution, where using magic the hero (Lily)wins and evil is punished (Rick the bully).
  • Characters and places in traditional fairytales are not real; the characters have no real names and time stands still.
  • There is only one world and anything can happen.
  • The characters are opposites: very old or very young (Lily and Mrs Swan), very big or very small (Lily and Maureen), very good or very evil (Rainier and Rick) – there is no wishy washy in between.
  • The magic numbers and repetition – 3, 6, 7, 12. e.g. 7 Dwarves, 3 wishes etc. In Pond Magic, Lily must repeat the spell three times.
  • Precious metals and minerals – castles made of gold, people turned to stone etc.
  • The hero is alone; an only child, abandoned, cast out, the youngest/oldest/poorest, only girl, orphaned etc. (Lily is the oldest)

Angela, we’ve almost run out of time! But to finish off, I have a little treat for you:  THE FAIRYTALE PLAYOFF!! Da-daaaaa, roll of drums.
That’s where we take turns coming up with sentences we know from well-known fairytales, QUICKLY!

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair.
AngelaMy, what big ears you have, Sheryl! (Haha, no cheating, Angela. Everyone knows it’s grandma!)
SherylI’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.
AngelaNibble, nibble little mouse. Who is nibbling at my house
SherylMirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
Angela:  Help! Help! The Marquis of Carabas is drowning!
SherylI’ve run away from a little old woman, a little old man, and I can run away from you, I can!
Angela: And out of the houses the rats came tumbling…
Sheryl: When you are sixteen, you will injure yourself with a spindle and die!
Angela: But he hasn’t got anything on!

Okay, I have to call it a draw!! I think we could keep going right off the page. See if you can work out which 10 fairytales the quotes are from … no google-ing though! 🙂
Thank you, Angela for a fun-filled chat with you (on my back verandah, drinking tea and eating yummy food!) All the best with Pond Magic and here’s to the next one! Cheers!

Pond Magic's book launch



About sherylgwyther4kids

I'm an Australian author writing for young people.
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18 Responses to Once upon a time in a far away place… PART 2

  1. Dee White says:

    Love the post, Sheryl and Angela,

    I think I worked out all the quotes…except for Angela’s last one:)


  2. Joanne Sandhu says:

    Great teamwork, girls. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the last quote is The Emperor’s New Clothes?

  3. Elaine says:

    Great post Sheryl and Angela. The last one stumped me, but now you have told us, it is obvious.

  4. Angela Sunde says:

    Thanks Sheryl for hosting me. I could talk about fairytales forever!

  5. Lorraine says:

    Angela and Sheryl- what fairy tale chemistry- loved the exchange in this- love fairy tales also- can hardly wait to read Pond Magic- well done!

  6. Karen Brooks says:

    Loved, loved, loved the two part conversation, and the fairytale play off! LOL! Thank you so much and best of luck with Pond Magic, Angela!!!

  7. Shirley Marr says:

    Delightful ladies! I love fairy tales. And now having learned the magic formula for making my own modern fairy tale I want to give it a go myself!

  8. Angela Sunde says:

    Thanks everyone. My hubby said I shouldn’t give away the secret. But I believe in sharing – only good things come from it.

  9. Glad you enjoyed our little chat, everyone. I can’t wait to receive my newly-purchased copy of Andrew Lang’s ‘The Blue Fairy Book’. It’s got The Goose Girl in it – you know the one where Falada, the princess’s beautiful white horse has his head cut off and nailed to the gate-way. And every day he says to the princess, “Alas, young Queen, how ill you fare! If this your tender mother knew, her heart would surely break in two.”
    Maybe next, I’ll buy The Green Fairy Book, then the Red Fairy Book! 🙂

  10. Mabel Kaplan says:

    Wonderful! Fun! Thank you!
    Yes, I knew all the quotes.

  11. Thanks Sheryl and Angela for the interview. Elements of fairy tale genre can be found in almost any good kids story. Especially the the “moral”. A good kids story must have a lesson to be learned. Even in kids Sci-Fi stories. LOL. Loved your Fairy tale play off. Got 9 out of ten. Karen T. :))

  12. Janeen Brian says:

    Hi Sheryl and Angela.
    what fun – and so informative. I wrote a couple of books for Pearson Education- The Brothers Grimm and a retelling of the Tinder Box (my favourite as a child) and I loved revisiting the stories and the power they held over the reader. As I did the research, I was stunned at how the original stories had changed, but not in essence . I love the fact that fairytales take me back to a faraway place, somewhere deep inside, somewhere where I still fizz with possibilities.


  13. Thanks for the great “fairytale” posts, Sheryl and Angela. I thoroughly enjoyed both and also the play off at the end. One of my favourite books from childhood was The World’s Best Fairytales, and I always remember in grade four, Miss Yule, had the most gorgeous huge picture book of Scandinavian Fairytales, and every child waited, thinking their turn to take home that precious book overnight would never come. But when it did, bliss. Love the fairytale formula. It’s set these little brain cogs awhirring.

  14. katswhiskers says:

    But who is this Marquis of Carabas? I’ve never heard of him. Mine is therefore a score of 9/10.

    You two always have fun together – and this is just another example. May you have much to celebrate, Angela, as Pond Magic spreads over the world. 🙂 xx

  15. Angela Sunde says:

    Chris, I’m glad it’s set your cogs whirring. There can never be enough fairytales in the world.
    Janeen, I can hear you fizzing from here!
    Kat, the Marquis of Carabas was Puss in Boots owner. Well, Puss pretended he was a Marquis.

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