I got consulted on fairy tales today.

How much fun.

Friends in Illinois had been talking at the dinner table and wondering what category Harry Potter and Eragon fell into, fantasy or fairy tale. Then they weren’t sure what the difference was. So this morning I got a call from K asking me about it.

We talked about the definition of fairy tale. I told her that, generally, it is a short tale, told first and only later committed to writing. It does not have to have fairies in it, must have an implicit moral, and may or may not have originally been told for children. It quite often has unbelievable events, such as a wolf talking or a witch being beaten by two children.

And I quoted to her my favorite comment about fairy tales by G.K. Chesterton:

Fairy tales are more than true –
not because they tell us dragons exist,
but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

The whole discussion made me want to go back to fairy tales tomorrow for class instead of moving ahead. I think I’ll go back and do “Little Red Cap” for setting and theme after all.

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