The Seven Ravens

The Seven Ravens
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 5-6 Year Olds)

seven-crows-anne-anderson Illustration -Anne Anderson

the-swan-princes-aka-six-swans-anne-anderson Illustration -Anne Anderson

There was once a man who had seven sons, and still he had
no daughter, however much he wished for one. At length his
wife again gave him hope of a child, and when it came into
the world it was a girl. The joy was great, but the child was
sickly and small, and had to be privately baptized on account of
its weakness. The father sent one of the boys in haste to the
spring to fetch water for the baptism. The other six went with
him, and as each of them wanted to be first to fill it, the jug
fell into the well. There they stood and did not know what to do,
and none of them dared to go home. As they still did not return,
the father grew impatient, and said, they have certainly forgotten
it while playing some game, the wicked boys. He became afraid that
the girl would have to die without being baptized, and in his
anger cried, I wish the boys were all turned into ravens. Hardly
was the word spoken before he heard a whirring of wings over his
head, looked up and saw seven coal-black ravens flying away.

The parents could not withdraw the curse, and however sad they
were at the loss of their seven sons, they still to some extent
comforted themselves with their dear little daughter, who soon
grew strong and every day became more beautiful. For a long time
she did not know that she had had brothers, for her parents were
careful not to mention them before her, but one day she
accidentally heard some people saying of herself, that the girl was
certainly beautiful, but that in reality she was to blame for the
misfortune which had befallen her seven brothers. Then she was much
troubled, and went to her father and mother and asked if it was
true that she had had brothers, and what had become of them. The
parents now dared keep the secret no longer, but said that what
had befallen her brothers was the will of heaven, and that her
birth had only been the innocent cause. But the maiden took it to
heart daily, and thought she must save her brothers. She had no
rest or peace until she set out secretly, and went forth into the
wide world to search for her brothers and set them free, let it
cost what it might. She took nothing with her but a little ring
belonging to her parents as a keepsake, a loaf of bread against
hunger, a little pitcher of water against thirst, and a little
chair as a provision against weariness.

And now she went continually onwards, far, far to the very end of
the world. Then she came to the sun, but it was too hot and
terrible, and devoured little children. Hastily she ran away, and
ran to the moon, but it was far too cold, and also awful and
malicious, and when it saw the child, it said, I smell, I smell
the flesh of men. At this she ran swiftly away, and came to the
stars, which were kind and good to her, and each of them sat on its
own particular little chair. But the morning star arose, and gave
her the drumstick of a chicken, and said, if you have not that
drumstick you can not open the glass mountain, and in the glass
mountain are your brothers.

The maiden took the drumstick, wrapped it carefully in a cloth,
and went onwards again until she came to the glass mountain. The
door was shut, and she thought she would take out the drumstick.
But when she undid the cloth, it was empty, and she had lost the
good star’s present. What was she now to do. She wished to rescue
her brothers, and had no key to the glass mountain. The good
sister took a knife, cut off one of her little fingers, put it in
the door, and succeeded in opening it. When she had gone inside, a
little dwarf came to meet her, who said, my child, what are you
looking for. I am looking for my brothers, the seven ravens, she
replied. The dwarf said, the lord ravens are not at home, but if
you will wait here until they come, step in. Thereupon the little
dwarf carried the ravens’ dinner in, on seven little plates, and
in seven little glasses, and the little sister ate a morsel from
each plate, and from each little glass she took a sip, but in the
last little glass she dropped the ring which she had brought away
with her.

Suddenly she heard a whirring of wings and a rushing through
the air, and then the little dwarf said, now the lord ravens are
flying home. Then they came, and wanted to eat and drink, and
looked for their little plates and glasses. Then said one after
the other, who has eaten something from my plate. Who has drunk
out of my little glass. It was a human mouth. And when the
seventh came to the bottom of the glass, the ring rolled against
his mouth. Then he looked at it, and saw that it was a ring
belonging to his father and mother, and said, God grant that our
sister may be here, and then we shall be free. When the maiden,
who was standing behind the door watching, heard that wish,
she came forth, and on this all the ravens were restored to their
human form again. And they embraced and kissed each other,
and went joyfully home.

Snow-White and Rose Red

Snow-White and Rose Red
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 5-6 Year Olds)
*Audio file at the end


There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In
front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees,
one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two
children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called
snow-white, and the other rose-red. They were as good and happy,
as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only
snow-white was more quiet and gentle than rose-red. Rose-red
liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking
flowers and catching butterflies, but snow-white sat at home
with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to
her when there was nothing to do.

The two children were so fond of one another that they always
held each other by the hand when they went out together, and
when snow-white said, we will not leave each other, rose-red
answered, never so long as we live, and their mother would
add, what one has she must share with the other.

They often ran about the forest alone and gathered red berries,
and no beasts did them any harm, but came close to them
trustfully. The little hare would eat a cabbage-leaf out of
their hands, the roe grazed by their side, the stag leapt
merrily by them, and the birds sat still upon the boughs, and
sang whatever they knew.

No mishap overtook them, if they had stayed too late in the
forest, and night came on, they laid themselves down near one
another upon the moss, and slept until morning came, and their
mother knew this and did not worry on their account.
Once when they had spent the night in the wood and the dawn
had roused them, they saw a beautiful child in a shining white
dress sitting near their bed. He got up and looked quite kindly
at them, but said nothing and went away into the forest. And
when they looked round they found that they had been sleeping
quite close to a precipice, and would certainly have fallen into
it in the darkness if they had gone only a few paces further.
And their mother told them that it must have been the angel who
watches over good children.

Snow-white and rose-red kept their mother’s little cottage so
neat that it was a pleasure to look inside it. In the summer
rose-red took care of the house, and every morning laid a wreath
of flowers by her mother’s bed before she awoke, in which was
a rose from each tree. In the winter snow-white lit the fire and
hung the kettle on the hob. The kettle was of brass and shone
like gold, so brightly was it polished. In the evening, when
the snowflakes fell, the mother said, go, snow-white, and bolt
the door, and then they sat round the hearth, and the mother
took her spectacles and read aloud out of a large book, and the
two girls listened as they sat and spun. And close by them lay
a lamb upon the floor, and behind them upon a perch sat a white
dove with its head hidden beneath its wings.

One evening, as they were thus sitting comfortably together,
someone knocked at the door as if he wished to be let in. The
mother said, quick, rose-red, open the door, it must be a traveler
who is seeking shelter. Rose-red went and pushed back the bolt,
thinking that it was a poor man, but it was not. It was a
bear that stretched his broad, black head within the door.
Rose-red screamed and sprang back, the lamb bleated, the dove
fluttered, and snow-white hid herself behind her mother’s bed.
But the bear began to speak and said, do not be afraid, I will
do you no harm. I am half-frozen, and only want to warm myself
a little beside you.

Poor bear, said the mother, lie down by the fire, only take
care that you do not burn your coat. Then she cried, snow-white,
rose-red, come out, the bear will do you no harm, he means well.
So they both came out, and by-and-by the lamb and dove came
nearer, and were not afraid of him. The bear said, here,
children, knock the snow out of my coat a little. So they
brought the broom and swept the bear’s hide clean, and he
stretched himself by the fire and growled contentedly and
comfortably. It was not long before they grew quite at home,
and played tricks with their clumsy guest. They tugged his
hair with their hands, put their feet upon his back and rolled
him about, or they took a hazel-switch and beat him, and when he
growled they laughed. But the bear took it all in good part, only
when they were too rough he called out, leave me alive, children,
snow-white, rose-red,
will you beat your wooer dead.

When it was bed-time, and the others went to bed, the mother
said to the bear, you can lie there by the hearth, and then you
will be safe from the cold and the bad weather. As soon as day
dawned the two children let him out, and he trotted across
the snow into the forest.

Henceforth the bear came every evening at the same time, laid
himself down by the hearth, and let the children amuse themselves
with him as much as they liked. And they got so used to him that
the doors were never fastened until their black friend had arrived.
When spring had come and all outside was green, the bear said
one morning to snow-white, now I must go away, and cannot come
back for the whole summer. Where are you going, then, dear bear,
asked snow-white. I must go into the forest and guard my treasures
from the wicked dwarfs. In the winter, when the earth is frozen
hard, they are obliged to stay below and cannot work their
way through, but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed the
earth, they break through it, and come out to pry and steal. And
what once gets into their hands, and in their caves, does not
easily see daylight again.

Snow-white was quite sorry at his departure, and as she unbolted
the door for him, and the bear was hurrying out, he caught against
the bolt and a piece of his hairy coat was torn off, and it
seemed to snow-white as if she had seen gold shining through
it, but she was not sure about it. The bear ran away quickly,
and was soon out of sight behind the trees.

A short time afterwards the mother sent her children into the
forest to get fire-wood. There they found a big tree which lay
felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was
jumping backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could
not make out what it was. When they came nearer they saw a dwarf
with an old withered face and a snow-white beard a yard long. The
end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the
little fellow was jumping about like a dog tied to a rope, and did
not know what to do.

He glared at the girls with his fiery red eyes and cried, why do
you stand there. Can you not come here and help me. What are
you up to, little man, asked rose-red. You stupid, prying
goose, answered the dwarf. I was going to split the tree to get
a little wood for cooking. The little bit of food that we people
get is immediately burnt up with heavy logs. We do not swallow
so much as you coarse, greedy folk. I had just driven the
wedge safely in, and everything was going as I wished, but the
cursed wedge was too smooth and suddenly sprang out, and the tree
closed so quickly that I could not pull out my beautiful white
beard, so now it is tight in and I cannot get away, and the silly,
sleek, milk-faced things laugh. Ugh. How odious you are.

The children tried very hard, but they could not pull the
beard out, it was caught too fast. I will run and fetch someone,
said rose-red. You senseless goose, snarled the dwarf. Why
should you fetch someone. You are already two too many for me.
Can you not think of something better. Don’t be impatient, said
snow-white, I will help you, and she pulled her scissors out of
her pocket, and cut off the end of the beard.

As soon as the dwarf felt himself free he laid hold of a bag which
lay amongst the roots of the tree, and which was full of gold,
and lifted it up, grumbling to himself, uncouth people, to cut
off a piece of my fine beard. Bad luck to you, and then he swung the
bag upon his back, and went off without even once looking at
the children.

Some time afterwards snow-white and rose-red went to catch a
dish of fish. As they came near the brook they saw something
like a large grasshopper jumping towards the water, as if
it were going to leap in. They ran to it and found it was the
dwarf. Where are you going, said rose-red, you surely don’t
want to go into the water. I am not such a fool, cried the
dwarf. Don’t you see that the accursed fish wants to pull
me in. The little man had been sitting there fishing, and
unluckily the wind had tangled up his beard with the fishing-line.
A moment later a big fish made a bite and the feeble
creature had not strength to pull it out. The fish kept the
upper hand and pulled the dwarf towards him. He held on to
all the reeds and rushes, but it was of little good, for he
was forced to follow the movements of the fish, and was in
urgent danger of being dragged into the water.

The girls came just in time. They held him fast and tried to
free his beard from the line, but all in vain, beard and line
were entangled fast together. There was nothing to do but to
bring out the scissors and cut the beard, whereby a small part
of it was lost. When the dwarf saw that he screamed out,
is that civil, you toadstool, to disfigure a man’s face. Was
it not enough to clip off the end of my beard. Now you have
cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen by
my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your
shoes. Then he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the
rushes, and without another word he dragged it away and
disappeared behind a stone.

It happened that soon afterwards the mother sent the two children
to the town to buy needles and thread, and laces and ribbons. The
road led them across a heath upon which huge pieces of rock lay
strewn about. There they noticed a large bird hovering in the
air, flying slowly round and round above them. It sank lower and
lower, and at last settled near a rock not far away. Immediately
they heard a loud, piteous cry. They ran up and saw with horror
that the eagle had seized their old acquaintance the dwarf, and was going
to carry him off.

The children, full of pity, at once took tight hold of the little
man, and pulled against the eagle so long that at last he let
his booty go. As soon as the dwarf had recovered from his
first fright he cried with his shrill voice, could you not have
done it more carefully. You dragged at my brown coat so that it
is all torn and full of holes, you clumsy creatures. Then he
took up a sack full of precious stones, and slipped away again
under the rock into his hole. The girls, who by this time
were used to his ingratitude, went on their way and did their
business in the town.

As they crossed the heath again on their way home they surprised
the dwarf, who had emptied out his bag of precious stones in
a clean spot, and had not thought that anyone would come there
so late. The evening sun shone upon the brilliant stones.
They glittered and sparkled with all colors so beautifully that
the children stood still and stared at them. Why do you stand
gaping there, cried the dwarf, and his ashen-gray face became
copper-red with rage. He was still cursing when a loud
growling was heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them
out of the forest. The dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he
could not reach his cave, for the bear was already close. Then
in the dread of his heart he cried, dear mr. Bear, spare me, I
will give you all my treasures, look, the beautiful jewels
lying there. Grant me my life. What do you want with such a
slender little fellow as I. You would not feel me between
your teeth. Come, take these two wicked girls, they are tender
morsels for you, fat as young quails, for mercy’s sake eat them.

The bear took no heed of his words, but gave the wicked creature
a single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.
The girls had run away, but the bear called to them, snow-white
and rose-red, do not be afraid. Wait, I will come with you.
Then they recognised his voice and waited, and when he came up
to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there,
a handsome man, clothed all in gold. I am a king’s son, he said,
and I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf, who had stolen my

I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was
freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment.
Snow-white was married to him, and rose-red to his brother,
and they divided between them the great treasure which the dwarf
had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived
peacefully and happily with her children for many years. She took
the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window, and
every year bore the most beautiful roses, white and red.

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Little Briar Rose

Little Briar Rose
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Idea for 5-6 Year Olds)
*Audio file at the end

briar-rose-anne-anderson Illustration -Anne Anderson

A long time ago there were a king and queen who said every
day, ah, if only we had a child, but they never had one. But
it happened that once when the queen was bathing, a frog
crept out of the water on to the land, and said to her, your
wish shall be fulfilled, before a year has gone by, you shall
have a daughter.

What the frog had said came true, and the queen had a little
girl who was so pretty that the king could not contain himself
for joy, and ordered a great feast. He invited not only his
kindred, friends and acquaintances, but also the wise women, in
order that they might be kind and well-disposed towards the
child. There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but, as
he had only twelve golden plates for them to eat out of, one
of them had to be left at home.

The feast was held with all manner of splendor and when it
came to an end the wise women bestowed their magic gifts
upon the baby – one gave virtue, another beauty, a third
riches, and so on with everything in the world that one can
wish for.

When eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the
thirteenth came in. She wished to avenge herself for not
having been invited, and without greeting, or even looking
at anyone, she cried with a loud voice, the king’s daughter
shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall
down dead. And, without saying a word more, she turned round
and left the room.

They were all shocked, but the twelfth, whose good wish still
remained unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo
the evil sentence, but only soften it, she said, it shall
not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years, into which
the princess shall fall.

The king, who would fain keep his dear child from the misfortune,
gave orders that every spindle in the whole kingdom should
be burnt. Meanwhile the gifts of the wise women were plenteously
fulfilled on the young girl, for she was so beautiful, modest,
good-natured, and wise, that everyone who saw her was bound
to love her.

It happened that on the very day when she was fifteen years
old, the king and queen were not at home, and the maiden
was left in the palace quite alone. So she went round into
all sorts of places, looked into rooms and bed-chambers just
as she liked, and at last came to an old tower. She climbed
up the narrow winding-staircase, and reached a little door.
A rusty key was in the lock, and when she turned it the door
sprang open, and there in a little room sat an old woman with
a spindle, busily spinning her flax.

Good day, old mother, said the king’s daughter, what are you
doing there. I am spinning, said the old woman, and nodded
her head. What sort of thing is that, that rattles round
so merrily, said the girl, and she took the spindle and wanted
to spin too. But scarcely had she touched the spindle when the
magic decree was fulfilled, and she pricked her finger with it.

And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell
down upon the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep.
And this sleep extended over the whole palace, the king and
queen who had just come home, and had entered the great hall,
began to go to sleep, and the whole of the court with them.
The horses, too, went to sleep in the stable, the dogs in
the yard, the pigeons upon the roof, the flies on the wall,
even the fire that was flaming on the hearth became quiet
and slept, the roast meat left off frizzling, and the
cook, who was just going to pull the hair of the scullery boy,
because he had forgotten something, let him go, and went to
sleep. And the wind fell, and on the trees before the
castle not a leaf moved again.

But round about the castle there began to grow a hedge of
thorns, which every year became higher, and at last grew
close up round the castle and all over it, so that there
was nothing of it to be seen, not even the flag upon the
roof. But the story of the beautiful sleeping briar-rose,
for so the princess was named, went about the country,
so that from time to time kings’ sons came and tried to
get through the thorny hedge into the castle.

But they found it impossible, for the thorns held fast
together, as if they had hands, and the youths were caught
in them, could not get loose again, and died a miserable

After long, long years a king’s son came again to that
country, and heard an old man talking about the thorn-hedge,
and that a castle was said to stand behind it in which a
wonderfully beautiful princess, named briar-rose, had been
asleep for a hundred years, and that the king and queen and
the whole court were asleep likewise. He had heard, too,
from his grandfather, that many kings, sons had already come,
and had tried to get through the thorny hedge, but they had
remained sticking fast in it, and had died a pitiful death.

Then the youth said, I am not afraid, I will go and see
the beautiful briar-rose. The good old man might dissuade him
as he would, he did not listen to his words.

But by this time the hundred years had just passed, and the
day had come when briar-rose was to awake again. When the
king’s son came near to the thorn-hedge, it was nothing but
large and beautiful flowers, which parted from each other of
their own accord, and let him pass unhurt, then they closed
again behind him like a hedge. In the castle yard he saw the
horses and the spotted hounds lying asleep, on the roof sat
the pigeons with their heads under their wings. And when he
entered the house, the flies were asleep upon the wall, the
cook in the kitchen was still holding out his hand to seize the
boy, and the maid was sitting by the black hen which she
was going to pluck.

He went on farther, and in the great hall he saw the whole of
the court lying asleep, and up by the throne lay the king and

Then he went on still farther, and all was so quiet that a breath
could be heard, and at last he came to the tower, and opened the
door into the little room where briar-rose was sleeping.

There she lay, so beautiful that he could not turn his eyes away,
and he stooped down and gave her a kiss. But as soon as he
kissed her, briar-rose opened her eyes and awoke, and looked
at him quite sweetly.

Then they went down together, and the king awoke, and the
queen, and the whole court, and looked at each other in
great astonishment. And the horses in the courtyard stood
up and shook themselves, the hounds jumped up and wagged their
tails, the pigeons upon the roof pulled out their heads from
under their wings, looked round, and flew into the open
country, the flies on the wall crept again, the fire in the
kitchen burned up and flickered and cooked the meat, the joint
began to turn and sizzle again, and the cook gave the boy such
a box on the ear that he screamed, and the maid finished
plucking the fowl.

And then the marriage of the king’s son with briar-rose was
celebrated with all splendor, and they lived contented to the
end of their days.

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