Godbey: Fairy tales too scary for children

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

By Jack Godbey


I have fond memories of my mother reading a children’s story to me every night before bed, and I soaked up every word with the scenes playing in my head as she read. Those books were some of my most treasured possessions. As I grew older, my interests changed from stories to how many milk crates I could jump on my bicycle, and the books were put away in the attic for safekeeping.

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┬áHere we are, 50 years later and as I was going through my closet this past weekend, I saw an old Montgomery Ward box in the back of my closet. I pulled it out and opened it up and there was the entire collection of my Grimms Fairy Tales. I began to flip through them and read some of the stories for old times’ sake. It was then that I made a startling discovery. These stories are not fit for children at all. In fact, some of them scared the cornflakes out of me. Take Little Red Riding Hood for example. First, what type of name is that? Sounds like she may be an aspiring rapper. Still, she was a young girl in the woods alone. Where was her parents? Maybe social services should be notified about this. The little girl was being stalked by a wolf whose life’s mission apparently was to tear her limb from limb and eat her. The wolf then broke into her grandmother’s house, kicked granny out of the bed and killed her, and then assumed her identity to trick the little girl. The wolf then swallows the girl whole as if she were a Big Mac, only for a lumberjack to cut open the wolf and allow the girl to crawl out of the wolf’s stomach. This sounds more like a Steven King novel to me. I always wondered if this was the same wolf that blew the Three Little Pigs house down. If so, he’s got a lot of nerves calling himself the big bad wolf. A young girl and three pigs outsmarted him. Not that big or bad.

The story of Snow White could easily be the script of the next big horror movie. An apple poisons a beautiful young woman. See what eating fruit will get you? She wasn’t poisoned eating a pork rind. Just saying. Seven little people essentially kidnap Snow White. The evil queen hires a hitman to bring back the heart of Snow White to prove she’s dead. I swear I saw this exact plot on an episode of “Criminal Minds” once. Scary stuff. And they wondered why I peed in the bed when I was little. It was because I was terrified!

I remember reading Hansel and Gretel and had no idea what was really going on in the story. So, as I’m re-reading the story all these years later, I’m shocked to realize that the two kids were abandoned by their parents in the forest. Who does this? I say find those parents and give them an old-fashioned butt-whooping. So, evidently, these kids have been kicked out of their home, and they come upon an old lady who is apparently a cannibal and wants to murder and eat them. I guess the old lady never heard of DoorDash. She can get something from Taco Bell delivered to her in the woods. She doesn’t have to eat children. Oh well. Still, she lures them in with gingerbread cookies. Isn’t that always the case? I’ve been lured in by cookies in my life more times than I can count. Anyway, the kids eventually push the old lady into a hot oven and kill her. If I’d known what this story was about back then, I wouldn’t have got a wink of sleep my entire childhood.