On our weekly visit to the library my 4 year old tot picked up a book called “The Elves and the Shoemaker” by John Cech. It was a great read, short story with unusual illustrations. It reminds one of the old belief that the best solution when trying to solve a difficult problem is simply to “sleep on it”. Things might just be put right while we’re fast asleep.
After reading the book we continued reading the author’s note about the origins of the story. I was quiet surprised that it was also a story collected by the famous German brothers – Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. It was a story in their 1812 collection of stories called “Children’s and Household Stories”. A diametric opposite of the fairy tales this was a story of a humble shoe maker and his wife distressed and in financial trouble till the elves come to their rescue. Another great read for the weekend.
Following my earlier post, I would like to share some books that could help you and your tot travel the globe. The authors have attempted to share local legends, traditions, philosophies and ideas that you can sometimes only encounter in books.
– Retold by Karen Backstein & Illustrated by Annie Mitra
This is a simple story a great read for tots 3-5 yrs old. As Wikipedia very accurately describes, this story originated in Indian subcontinent from where it has widely diffused. It has been used to illustrate a range of truths and fallacies. At various times it has provided insight into the relativism, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behaviour of experts in fields where there is a deficit or inaccessibility of information, the need for communication, and respect for different perspectives.
It is a parable that has crossed between many religious traditions and is part of Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu lore. The tale is also well known in Europe. In the 19th century the poet John Godfrey Saxe created his own version as a poem. Since then, the story has been published in many books for adults and children, and interpreted in an ever-increasing variety of ways.