April 12, 2016

Saturday, March 22, 2014

12 Clumsy Princesses

When Susanna Leonard Hill visited last week to talk about her March Madness writing contest, I was just sharing information with you, Readers. [Find the post here.]

I did not expect Susanna's guest post to include these fateful words: Thank you so much for having me here today, Laura!  I hope I'll get to read an entry from you!

My twisted brain read Susanna's innocuous and friendly "I hope I'll get to read an entry from you" as CHALLENGE! Because I am one of those sick people who have completely and unrealistically high expectations of themselves. And now Susanna has thrown down the gauntlet!

I cannot walk away from a CHALLENGE.
The contest does involve fractured fairy tales, after all. Gauntlet throwing makes sense, right? And I can't leave a glove sitting in the middle of the floor. I'm a MOM. Sheesh.

I admit, I've been thinking for some time [years] of messing with "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I like this fairy tale. It is oozing with feminism.

The story is about girls who take charge of their own lives (adults can read into that). For example:

  • When their dad locks them up, they sneak out to go dancing with guys of their choice.
  • They don't need their father's $$. They have their own magical kingdom. With silver trees!
  • The man who earns the right to marry a princess has to prove that he's their intellectual equal by figuring out what they're up to at night.

From the New Yorker article
"Frames from Fiction: Cutting up Books."
For Susanna's contest, we are writing fractured fairy tales for young children. And I wanted my princesses to be a little more tomboyish and funny. That's how I came up with the idea for "The Twelve Clumsy Princesses."

Get rid of the stalker-prince, spying on the princesses' secret forest. Cut (ouch, ouch, ouch!) the first draft down to the required 400 words, et voila!

By Laura Shovan
Once, there were twelve clumsy princesses. The king insisted that his daughters learn to dance, but they had twenty-four left feet.
Each evening, before the King said goodnight to his daughters and locked their bedroom door, maids put out twelve pairs of silken shoes. The king hoped the girls would sneak off to dance the night away with eligible princes. But in the morning, all twelve girls were snoring in a most unprincess-like manner, their slippers untouched.
“Didn’t anyone tell them how this story’s supposed to go?” the king moaned.
When the girls came down for breakfast, the king was shocked. Uma, the eldest, had a bruise on her dainty cheek. Twyla, next in line to the throne, had twigs in her golden hair. And were those grass stains on Theodora’s knees?
As each princess sat down to eat, the king grew more upset. Not one of his daughters looked like she’d been to a secret, midnight dance. Even Daisy, the youngest, had dirt under her fingernails.
The king roared, threatened, pleaded — but each princess swore she spent the night dreaming princessy dreams.
That day, the king made a decree. Whosoever discovered where his daughters went at night—and why it did not involve dancing—could marry the princess of his choice.
But the princesses had grown famous for their clumsiness. England’s prince was afraid they might splash his tea. Persia’s prince was afraid they might scare his horse. Siam’s prince was afraid they might dent his crown. Not one prince would come.
“I give up!” the king exclaimed. He sighed and sobbed, cried and caterwauled. The king was so exhausted, he fell asleep on Daisy’s little bed.
That night, when the moon rose, twelve pairs of eyes opened. Twelve pairs of hands moved Uma’s bed, revealing a hidden door. But only eleven pairs of feet tiptoed down secret stairs. One princess stayed behind.
“Come on, Papa,” Daisy said, pulling the sleeping king’s hand.
The king followed Daisy through the door, down the stairs, into a moonlit garden. There were his daughters, building a treehouse in the branches of a sturdy maple. As the princesses sawed and hammered, the King noticed they did not look clumsy at all.
 “Are fathers permitted to enter?” the king asked.
“Yes, Papa,” Daisy said. “But you must follow one rule.” She pointed to a sign above the treehouse door.
By Royal Decree: No Dancing.

Susanna, I hope I have lived up to your challenge -- even though I know it was more of a kind invitation. This story is EXACTLY 400 words without the title. I'm saving my 500 word version just in case. (It has delicious details like the princesses stepping on their exasperated dance master's feet, and poaches eggs with salmon cream for breakfast.)

Readers, if you'd like to play along and post your own fractured fairy tale, Susanna's contest instructions are here.

Even if you don't have a fractured fairy tale to share, be sure to stop by Susanna's blog where you'll find links to all of the entries. It's sure to be fun reading.

From Fairy Tales at Severn


Kathy Halsey said...

I like this version much better than the original. Very funny & smart princesses. I took the same story & made it THE TWELVE DANCING WALRUSES.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

This is so delightful, Laura! I love it! Much better than the original - I love that they're building a treehouse :) I didn't mean to throw down the gauntlet, but I'm glad I did it accidentally if it encouraged you to write this lovely story! :)

Erika W- The Jersey Farm Scribe said...

This version is SO much better than the real one. Extremely well done!

Joanna said...

I don't know the original but I LOVE this!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Kathy. Sounds as if your princesses must be just as clumsy as mine. I'll check it out.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Susanna, Erika, and Joanna. My hope is that this version is *a lot* less creepy than the original. There's nothing I love better than a tomboy princess.

Unknown said...

I do know the original and this was originally oppositional! Nice job!

Anonymous said...

I will still root for them to learn to boogie! Nice job!

CA Clark said...

Love it love it. 12 dancing princesses was one of my favourites and you have done it full justice in this twist. well done.

Anonymous said...

I always loved this story, Laura...and I totally love how you fractured it.
Great twist and love the tree house.:)

Anonymous said...

I love that they decided to do their own thing. Great job.

Dawn Young said...

What a great surprise. Love their hidden talent! Great twist!

Linda B said...

Finally found a few minutes to read your grand tale, Laura. How wonderful that you found a way to make princesses real girls. I think you should seriously carry this into a picture book. Most of the princess books I'm seeing are all about pink dresses, sparkly shoes and tiaras! Your story is a wonderful fracture!

Sarah Maynard said...

What a fun story! Well done! I really enjoyed it.

Kathy Cornell Berman said...

How refreshing--a story about princesses who are clumsy,independent, and very clever.

Darshana said...

sweet story. nice job. i haven't read the original but i like this.

Joanne Roberts said...

Maybe the old tale needed an update, but I'm glad you included the classic illustration by Kay Nielson - a favorite of mine. And who wouldn't prefer a tree house to a ball?

Lindsay Bonilla said...

I like that they are doing something decidedly un-girly and un-princessy! :)

Laura Renauld said...

I'd love a sequel involving a kingdom of tree houses!

Sylvia Liu said...

Awesome- these are my kind of princesses.

Unknown said...

So...not a pink treehouse? Love the feminist, I'm-a-lumberjack-princess-and-I'm-okay take. (Keep picturing pretty pink doc martens, though.)